Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
February 2, 2017
I found out something funny the other day at work, and it will kind of make your mind sort of explode. No, this isn’t about the last idiot on earth trying to cash in his Samsung Note 7 four months after the recall, “forgetting” about the fact they had been recalled and thus not being eligible for any credits. Yup, I had to learn how to apply for a goofy credit that doesn’t exist anymore. Anyway, something stranger happened instead. I was having some lunch, eating a rather boring and standard spinach salad with some carrot shards and cherry tomatoes. Nothing crazy to that degree, for I don’t really go ultra-vegan when I am work. I keep it pretty simple, because I usually spend most of my lunch hour decompressing. I was a little more exotic than usual that day, eating a whole pint of blueberries and munching on some salt and pepper peanuts. So even then, nothing unusual than a cheap meal for me. Anyway, a couple of my co-workers remarked on my lunch, having been forced to join them due to no other seating available in the small cafeteria we have. Apparently, I am the guy that always seems to eat healthy. I found it strange, especially when they kind of put it that way. Everyone in the place was eating some pulled barbecue of something, for a barbecue food truck parked itself right outside out cafeteria that day. Yet here I was, despite all the free food my company whips out the competing food trucks, I eat salads and stuff. Needless to say, watching people eat comfort food and then comparing them to me was kind of strange. We had some good conversation about my eating habits, and they kind of praised my healthy eating. “The healthiest thing my husband eats is grilled chicken” one of my co-workers said. My other co-worker stated this is the only salad he loves, pointing to the cole slaw he got with his barbecue beef sandwich (and even then he didn’t even finish it). Everyone got some laughs out of each other’s bad eating habits, and then a few minutes later they all took off to get back to work. I felt a little sad, for I guess this indicates I truly am a weird one in this world. Just the fact I try to eat a healthy lunch makes you noticeable.
Now my job is not the microcosm of the world in general, but it seems to be on quite a regular basis. Any reward within the center is greeted with some bad food, whether it be pizza or sandwiches. The other day we handed out Goldfish crackers, which brought back some horrible flashbacks for me from my old life. I used to eat an entire box of that stuff back in the day, and I am talking the huge 30-ounce box that costs eight or nine bucks. You got it, I would spend the day eating those little suckers, while throwing in some pizza or burgers in the process. Yup, I was a total fattie when it came to the Goldfish. I am still angry about the fact Pepperidge Farms still puts dairy in the plain and pretzel crackers. I mean, what the heck! Granted, this is a good thing because I might find myself coming home with a huge amount of crackers, giving myself the reason of “vegan friendly” for the gorging of the said product. Now, I still fall into this trap from time to time, buying potato chips from the fancy new store near me, which has two sections of chips rather than one. Of course, I go all pretentious with the Boulder or Kettle brands, mainly because they take the care of using better ingredients. It doesn’t matter if I eat the salt and pepper chips cooked with avocado oil from Boulder or get the baked chips from Kettle. They are still bad for you nonetheless.
Now this leads to the main point I want to make, especially now that the Super Bowl is upon us and the disgusting recipes are littering my darn page (can’t Facebook read the fact I am a vegan and keep that stuff off my damn page. Hahaha! I mean what happened to their supposed algorithms). Anyway, I will once again avoid the Super Bowl, primarily because I just don’t care and plus, there might be prime running real estate at Reid Park on Sunday evening. This is what I thinking about, not about sitting around a for a few hours and eating. Anyway, as we embark on a weekend full of soft drink and beer deals, I always have to explore the idea of good eating. I had a bit of a lousy bout of it when I had a session on Tuesday (that’s right, an actual session…more about it on Sunday!). I once again ate a little too much, getting in a couple of fat burritos before I went over to Parsons. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling bad because of the food, but the amount. I think much of the problem with so many people in this country (and especially my co-workers…) is the amount of food we continue to eat. I have written so much about the problem of portion control, especially at restaurants, that the subject could be a book. There have been some estimates, however liberal you might think they are, that a regular chain restaurant meal could be in the neighborhood of 2,000 calories! If you disagree, think about what you might get at the restaurant. Whenever I went to my old favorite haunt in Chili’s, I would get the steak nachos for an appetizer, a bacon cheeseburger with fries for the meal and drink soda as well. If I had enough space left over, I would get the Volcano Brownie and proceed to have trouble getting out of the seat. That’s over 4,000 calories in one sitting! Even if I just ate the darn burger and fries, that would have killed 1,290 calories. I can only assume the company might have made some stuff healthier in the wake of beef costs and other cost overruns, so who know what I could have been eating. I could have been eating something in the neighborhood of 5,000 calories…and I would have been all the happier.
There are plenty of reasons these days to maintain a better diet, not just from the obvious health and body weight maintenance aspect, but also because it can literally affect your health. These days the newest problem seems to stem from the idea of what is healthy in the literal sense. I once joked about this a year or two ago, making fun of the ridiculous campaign when Chef Boyardee kept trying to push the agenda that a can of their processed meat and semi-pasta atrocities were a full serving of vegetables. “It’s the best way to get your kids to eat veggies, just don’t tell them they are eating veggies!” Please! Either way, the nouveau riche trends of the current times are to try and sell stuff as a healthy alternative to something else. Buy these chips, they are better for you (maybe). These all beef hotdogs are healthier! (not really). Get this low fat ice cream, for it will make you feel better without the waist expanding problems (fat chance). This is a current problem I have to struggle with on a regular basis. Every now and then, I feel the need to eat something like Gardein Meatballs or some Beast Burgers from Field Roast. Let me tell you, while these are healthier alternatives to the real thing, they are not much healthier for you in regards to fat and calories. The biggest and best change is the fact they have less saturated fat and less sodium. Now I am not trying to take down the very products that I love and enjoy, I’m just saying it is a perfect way to transition out of the usual food stuffs you might have in your life. Anyway, the grand question always boils down to the idea of “What is healthy?” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/attention-shoppers-be-wary-of-health-claims-on-food-packaging-2017020110963
The interesting gist of the aforementioned article is the idea that the term “healthy” has a very loose meaning. Marketing campaigns have tried for years to sell certain kinds of food as healthier, and boy has this gotten some people by surprise. My favorite of course is the idea that any meat that is labeled grass fed is inherently healthier for you…that somehow it is better for you. The saturated fat is still there, the nitrates and salts and other ingredients to ensure freshness are still there. The only difference is the price tag is reflected to dupe people into believing the meat they are eating is still healthier. Trust me, a greasy steak is a greasy steak no matter what you put on it. And does a chicken fried steak get any healthier for that matter? It’s ludicrous when you truly think about it. Now here comes the harder issue going down the line….do all natural sweets made with better ingredients really change anything for you? Do the math, which is the most important part for you. Here is a pretty good example for you. One thing I really adore is Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars. They are essentially the vegan friendly version of the Fig Newton, which is why I used to eat them quite often. Back in the day I could eat a whole pack of apple or Fig Newtons without a blink. My parents used to get extremely angry at me for this, and my father literally put restrictions on me. Now, for most of you, the difference will be in the price tag. So what is the difference? Well, the Nature’s Bakery actually is less healthy for you! While it has less sodium and more dietary fiber, Nature’s Bakery has a few more calories per serving as well as slightly more fat. While these differences are nominal, they can certainly aid you if you are doing some extreme calorie counting. Now the one thing that does help Nature’s Bakery is the fact they come in smaller packaging, so if you eat one pack you would not be in too bad of trouble. The trouble with standard Fig Newtons is the fact you have a large pack at your disposal, and many humans such as my self have a major snacking mentality. Trust me, like I said, if Nature’s Bakery made a large pack like Fig Newtons did, I would be in serious trouble!
Now you might wonder why I always say that for there is a little hint of self deprecation and a large hint of truth to the situation. I recently came out on my Facebook page, indicating to the world what my views on life are. I generally keep my page positive, so revealing something deeper is usually a massive change for me. Usually I just post my workouts, the blog or funny dog stuff that might make me laugh. Anyway, one of the biggest bombshells came in the guise of my eating habits. I still consider myself a food addict after all of these years. I don’t deny the problem or try to tip toe around the issue. It’s no different than when I say I used to be a budding alcoholic or a pizza addict (and just this week, I found out there is a dating website called Pizza Lovers…oh vey! Good thing that site didn’t exists when I was eating four pizzas a week). Now, of course, my New Year’s resolution to try even harder clean up my eating habits, which has been hard considering I had a whole bunch of Gardein products in my freezer. I couldn’t help it one day, they had a “Buy Five” deal where the normally 4.99 products would be 2.99. So I literally bought 15 packages of stuff, and I am now trying to finish off the Black Bean Burgers. And then I made another mistake, feeling the need to get some Chao cheese and instead of just buying one pack, I ended up buying six. Ugh. This problem never would have been an issue if I didn’t have money. Strangely enough, I have gotten too used to having money in my pocket and buying food I don’t need. On the other hand, I have been buying more produce so that is good. There was a reason why I said when I start doing calorie restriction in March that is was going to be painful. Right now, I am keeping a regular eating regimen as I train for Ragnar and possibly for the Arizona Distance Classic (still thinking about that one). No matter what happens to you, its gonna be a tough battle when it comes to eating healthy. It’s like the situation I have deal with all the time in regards to Oreo cookies. Doesn’t matter if they are vegan friendly…they are still bad for you.
Now how would you eat healthy in a world filled with alternative facts and people blatantly disregarding facts? You have to actually read and see for yourself. Like I said about the fig bars…while Nature’s Bakery is slightly worse for you, you are more compelled to eat less. And even if you did tear up the entire pack, it would still be less calories than tearing up an entire pack of Fig Newton’s. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as that. Weight the options my friend. Either way, eat more fruits and veggies. You cannot go wrong with either of those.
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.