The 7-Eleven guide to eating out when you are weight training (because temptation never closes)

NB. I actually wrote this post on 3 March 2014. It was sitting in my drafts folder, so now I am setting it free.

 

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

It’s seems incredibly ironic that the day I scheduled to write this post on making good food choices when you are eating out, (whilst adhering to a weight training\nutrition program) I’d just been to a yum cha lunch and high tea the day before. Hmmm. But, this is life right? We are going to be asked to attend events (especially when you are a food writer), have well meaning family and friends try to steer you off course at great restaurants or just be super tired and find it easier to pit stop at [insert fast food joint name here] on the way home.

It happens. All the time. Every day.

Temptation.

Like a 7-Eleven, it dazzles us with it’s shiny packaging, accessibility, wide variety and offerings of things we wouldn’t of even contemplated. It’s super easy to go in and then come out with a myriad of things you don’t need (or want to eat) because it is just there. The trick is, to have a purpose. You can outwit the bright lights and still indulge, while keeping elements of guilt and nutrition in order. And we all know what that annoying, aching guilt trip we put ourselves on feels like:

Urgh, why did I eat that bucketful of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream? I thought I could just have a small bowl, but now I’m staring at an empty container and feeling sick. Man, I’ve got no self-control.

Don't Quit

Don’t Quit

OR

I’ll just have a handful of crisps.

[5 mins later…]

Okay, maybe another handful – just gotta round this one out with some even numbers.

[2 mins later]

Maybe I will just eat half the large packet, because I went to the gym three times this week and I’ll go again tomorrow to make it up.

[1 min later]

Packet gone.

Crisps= 100 points

You = 0 points

And we all know this scenario:

Waiter: Would you like to see the dessert menu?

Us: No, that’s okay. Oh, actually… I’ll just have a look.

15 mins and one Creme Brûlée later, we are bloated – cursing ourselves and working out how to work it off.

I know some of these examples are home-centric, but I really want to highlight the ease of relenting to desire and eating high sugar\processed\low nutritional value food. It’s incredibly seamless how we can shift into mindless eating mode, once our tastebuds get that hit of sweetness or salty potato chips – it is all over. A lot of times these foods are not designed to satiate us and we just keep consuming, consuming and increasing our addictive quota to them.

So how the hell do we win the 7-Eleven game? I’ve got seven tips I use to always help me make a relatively good decision, alleviate the guilt monster and ensure I enjoy what I consume. Because you know what? As I mentioned in last weeks post, I do love good food and I am all for eating delectable treats. BUT, when your goal (like mine) is to gain muscle, increase your fitness and overall health a bit of fancy sidestepping never goes astray.

  1. Protein rules: If you are looking at a menu and the allure of a carbonara pasta dish or toasted sandwich with hot chips is making your mouth water, think about protein. Protein is the key element that will fill you up, ensure you are hitting your protein totals for the day and help with blood sugar stabilisation. Carbohydrate laden dishes like these, are  packed with excess calories and may make you feel more bloated than full. If you really want the pasta – go for one with chicken, meat, lots of vegetables or seafood. Choose an entree size and have a salad as well. With the toasted sandwich, I would do the same and perhaps hold off the chips or share with a friend.
  2. Choose – booze is a rouse: Yesterday, at both the yum cha lunch and high tea I went to – champagne was literally on tap. It requires no effort to say yes and those dang champagne glasses are so small, I always lost count of how many I had. Because I knew I was going to be eating great quality and rich food, I bypassed drinking and had sparkling water\plain water instead. For me it’s about the calories. Yes, I had been to the gym that morning and did a weights session, but I would’ve easily had four glasses at the lunch and at approx 90 calories a glass that is 360 calories already. So you can choose, if you booze – opt to eat less of the ‘good stuff’ as alcohol is a the little known fourth macronutrient.
  3. Small servings: When there is a lot to choose from and\or you are keen to try different foods, I would encourage choosing entree sizes and sharing with friends or splitting a couple of main meals. This way you can enjoy your dining out experience and not blow out your calorie totals for the day. As with point #1 always add vegetables, a salad, good protein sources and if having entrees opt out of dessert. If having dessert opt out of entrees.
  4. Green tea: Yum cha fans will know that jasmine\chinese\green tea is typically always served. This is to aid digestion and assist in breaking down the food you are eating. I adopt this same principle when I am eating dessert. I always order a green tea, even though I love black coffee – I save this for the mornings and think more about how to aid the process of breaking down the fats and sugars. Even though it has caffeine, the tea is a rich source of antioxidants as well. If you are sensitive to caffeine and are eating out at night – even a herbal tea like peppermint is a good substitute.
  5. Eat clean at other meals in the day: I practise IF [Intermittent Fasting] everyday, so tend not to eat until 1pm each day. For dinner yesterday, even thought I was tempted to eat some chilli con carne I’d made and put lots of mozzarella cheese on it – I opted for a less caloric dense meal. Instead, I’d roasted a chicken the night before – so I warmed that up, shredded it and added diced cucumber, fresh tomato, a small bit of goats fetta, lots of lemon juice, splash of balsamic and seasoning and some inca incha oil. Pretty simple dinner. With eating out, ensure the other meals in your day are protein rich and filled with good fresh produce.
  6. Say no if you are full, 80% is the new 100%: Yesterday at the high tea, little vanilla macaroons came around after we’d consumed: tempura vegetables with miso and soba noodles, fried calamari with crisp vegetables, vol au vents peanut butter, raspberry and hazelnut mousse cake, green tea cake and choux pastry with custard and passionfruit fondant (you get my drift right?). I am more of a savoury than sweet person and I did sample a few of the sweet desserts, but when the macaroons came around I politely declined. I’d hit saturation, my sweet quota was maxed out and I was good. Previously I would’ve demolished everything in sight, been on a crazy sugar high and then crashed and burned and felt bleurgh. It truly is about fighting FOMO (fear of missing out), sitting at 80% full is great. Once your stomach catches up with your brain, you’ll feel satiated – especially when the food we ate was made out of great produce. I understand for those sweet tooths this is HARD. I get it. I used to be the same when it came to cheese. This is where sharing is good. Split treats with your friends and then drink water, fill up on it!
  7. Quality versus quantity: Ensure you choose food that comes from a great source. Junk food on the run will be your worst option here. You’ll now if the produce isn’t great, as you’ll still be hungry. Great food like local cheeses, desserts made with quality produce, fresh fruits and cream and also seasonal vegetables and market seafood or protein from good farms are really good options. If you are not eating out and need to grab something on the run – a kebab sans the bread is a good choice (opt for fresh cut meat), burgers with chicken (real chicken breast if you can) and salad boxes with protein are good too. Bypass the chips, soft drinks and other sugar filled add ons. If you are hanging for a sweet hit – try dark chocolate, yoghurt with stewed fruit, lsa, coconut sugar, banana protein smoothie or good old peanut butter!

calamarisalad

Eating out doesn’t need to be an experience where you are trying to dodge traps or announce that you are on a ‘diet’, deprive yourself or modify the meal to the point the waiter has a quizzical eyebrow raised at you. Treat yourself. It’s great to enjoy the experience of great venues and food really unites people – I truly believe it is a great element of society.

But just remember the 7-Eleven guide, remember what you came to buy. If you do get tempted by the bright, shiny lights – modify your intake for the rest of your day and always know temptation never, never closes. It’s you who becomes a conscious consumer and taking back control is an incredibly rewarding feeling. Also, once you see the muscle gains from adherence to your nutrition program – man it does something to your overall mindset. For me, seeing clear changes in my physique and lifting strength propels me forward and keeps me from wanting to eat low nutrition food. I just want to keep fuelling it with great produce as the results are SO motivating. I feel focused, disciplined and like optimum health is achievable.

Sparkling water makes everything a bit fancy.

Sparkling water makes everything a bit fancy.

Also, as a side note on alcohol I recently did Febfast and didn’t drink for 28 days. It was an interesting experience to be surrounded by so much alcohol at both events (I used to LOVE being intoxicated), but after absorbing research that confirms alcohol inhibits muscle gain, I found my why. And that is what this journey is about, finding the one thing that is enough to keep you focused on your individual goal. Next week, I’m chatting to some peeps on the program and finding out how the last 8 weeks has impacted their lives on this program – both good and bad. Till then, lift strong!

The Beginner’s Guide to getting started on weight training

It seems only befitting that the week I decide to discuss how to get going with weight training, I have really bad DOMS in my upper back and shoulders, some weird bruise and an unrelenting desire to eat. Yes, welcome. Welcome to the way not to introduce people to a challenging task… with all the potential side effects!

cheesecake, healthy desserts

This is a ‘protein cheesecake’ – classic NY style and delicious.

But hey, I am not going to sugar coat things. As you’ll read in points nine, ten and sixteen of my former post ‘20 things you didn’t know about me’, getting that sweet reward at the end, will result in some minor fractions along the way.

You may still be wondering what the hell DOMs is. It’s ‘Delayed onset muscle soreness’ and typically likes to linger 24 – 72 hours post exercise. For me the apex is normally 48 hours after. After a weight training session or even resistance training you can cause what is known as ‘microtraumas’ to your muscles. This damage results in soreness to the areas you exercise, but it does go away.

Sports Medicine has a good little article for those who’d like a more in-depth overview. For me, I always think of it in this equation:

Lift Heavy x New or Different (intensity\duration) = Sore tomorrow (and maybe more)

Sore tomorrow + Rest Days + Good treatment = Feel better

Sore tomorrow\Feel better = New, fit body!

I seriously just made that up then. Please do not quote me on it or take it as medical advice. But you get my drift right? I could throw in all those ra-ra sayings like:

“Short-term pain = long term gain” or “Go hard or go home”…

But I won’t. I mean I already did, but I think it’s about breaking it down and really thinking about what it is you desire\want\need from your training. That in turn, will motivate you to do the required movements to get to your personal goal. For me it’s really one word. STRONG. That is how I want to feel. Not only in my body, but in my mind and emotionally as well.

As a freelance writer, I am eternally interested in human behaviour and how we approach, communicate and motivate ourselves to do things. With the Sixteen Weeks ‘til Sexiness program I am in (through Roman Fitness Systems), my online coaching group consists of 70 members. We comprise all different walks of life, ages, occupations and even countries. Most are in the USA because it originated in NY, but there’s a fair few Aussies (yay) some hilarious UK folk and a smattering of residents from EU.

dumbells, weights, usa flag

Lifting the USA flag

We all do have one thing in common though. A burning desire to hit our own personal outcome (we are on a mix of three different programs: fat loss, muscle gain and recomp – for those are super duper into building muscle). I’m on the muscle gain. But we also share one other trait: we are fallible. Having 70 people to chat to about everything about is really fun. Things like:

  • I think I am going to slip up and eat something bad – help!

  • All these New year’s resolution people are taking up all the equipment at the gym – what alternative exercises can I do?

  • Macronutrients? How the hell do I count those?(more on that in my next post)

  • I really want a drink! (alcohol)

  • How do I get rid of DOMs? I am so sore, yeouch!

Funny quotes

That they are

And my personal favourite: all the recipes, I mean of course all the positive encouragement when you do a great gym session, hit your targets or just need a friendly ‘good on you!’

My first week, I had a series of false starts. The program was due to start on Monday 6 Jan, and I got it Tuesday 7 Jan (care of the time difference). My inherent desire to only read the good bits, somehow resulted in me mis-reading the initial emails and thinking it started on Thursday 9 Jan. Good one me.

Of course I had ceremoniously gone out to dinner at Il Bacaro Cucina e Bar on Monday night and outdone myself on prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella and figs, spaghettini with Moreton bay bugs and goats curd panna cotta with glazed strawberries and all the trimmings. Plus I washed this down with a very good hit of red wine. Anyone else done this? I can see most of you nodding your head, or waving a chicken drumstick around medieval king style.

The next couple of days I was still feeling worse for wear. My workout days were scheduled as Mon, Wed and Fri. I decided to not beat myself up (even though I desperately wanted to, why??)  and just do the first one on Friday. Instead, I read all the comments in the group, read through the program (very comprehensive), read the nutrition guide I was sent and the amount of calories to consume, read all about John Romaniello and all about Mike Vacanti – our incredibly knowledgeable and motivating moderator of the group. You got it in one – I read, read, read.

Mike Vacanti

Mike Vacanti our muscular moderator.

As a sidenote – I have to say at this point: Are all guys from NY good looking? There must be something in the protein powder there.

2014-01-14 19.20.28 HDR-2

I fluxed between wanting to go to the gym and wanting to postpone it till the following week. I ended up going on Friday afternoon and then doing a little swim in the bay after, which was a great way to end the week and the session (muscles like cool water). I reflected on the week that was in the cool depths of Elwood beach.

2013-11-02 18.59.05

One stand out comment came from a guy in the group, after another member (there were a few of us) lamented about missing the first week. He said something along the lines of “You haven’t missed the first week, you’ve gained. You’ve gained more than any of us. You now know what to do and what not to do, so you can just start. That is a great position to be in.”

I really loved that. It helped shift my thinking and I admire when people can present situations back in an optimistic way. Total kudos to that guy.

From what  I observed of the others in my group and what I personally experienced as well here are my Top Five tips on getting started:

  1. Understand your why: It’s incredibly critical you know your intent for strength training. Even if it as simple as you want to fit those jeans you bought a year ago or you need to shed some body fat and build muscle tone – great! I say this, because your why is the elixir that will get you to the gym after a hard day at work, drive you out of bed at 6am if you train early, head off on your lunch break instead of eating at your desk and most importantly get you to your end goal. My why is STRONG. I’ve sustained a chronic shoulder injury, torn hamstring and long periods of sitting (ah, the by-product of writing) – so STRONG is a word I use to remind me why I doing this. I am determined to build a functionally fit body, strengthen my discipline and walk around in a crop top (just kidding, scrap that last bit).

  2. Get accountable: Whether you join an online group, form a pact with friends, engage your partner or kids – tell someone about your plan and get them involved. People that care about you will care about your health and dreams. Let them be part of your journey or better yet, maybe a buddy to train with. The only reason I was getting myself to the gym to start off with, was because I was accountable to so many people and I do not like letting people down. I’m a part of a team. Now in the third week, I’m actually excited about going to fling iron around. Well – not quite at that stage yet.

  3. Plan and schedule your time: It doesn’t have to be fancy or detailed or rigid. I make recurring appointments in Google Calendar (I use all the Google products) complete with a breakdown of the exercises I need to do. I do this because on that first day, I put what I thought was my program in my bag, turns out it was a blank piece of paper. I couldn’t get into Dropbox through my phone as the internet was down and I was finally able to retrieve my program through my email! I learnt a grave lesson – be prepared and have back ups. We typically always have our phone on us (I use it to listen to music at the gym), so products that sync with your phone are great. That way – you’ll be ready to train always.

  4. Wear your gym clothes: I know this sounds crazy, but some days if I plan to go at lunch, I will wear my gym clothes to work. Some of you may not be able to do this, but if you can, it is a great way to just go. It really frames your mindset and starts forming a positive habit of going.  If I come home still in my gear and didn’t go, I get a bit disappointed in myself. Trust me, there are plenty of times I think “oh, I have to do all this STUFF!” But it is at that moment I just get up and go. You will be far better for it. I also take a spare change of clothes, in case I get over hanging out in tights and a singlet in the afternoon.

  5. Remember you are you: Where you are at is where you are meant to be and that is great. Too often we get caught up in “oh, she is skinnier than me” “he’s got a better physique” “I can only lift 5kgs” STOP! Starting points are different for everyone and the sole fact you are standing in a gym, training at home, in a park or anywhere really is testament to the fact you are making positive change. I was told years ago by a naturopath to “be kind to yourself “ and to this day it is the best advice I’ve had. Sheesh, the amount of times I berated myself for not doing things, or not being good enough or not being at a point someone else is at is huge. Competitiveness is good, seeing others as competition is not. This is your journey and being present in each training moment is the best way to be. Resistance training and results comes over a period of time, so just chip away.

quotes, motivational quotes

Motivation

This was a long one… phew! But training is all mental (well, yeh it does make us go a bit mental at times too..) Next week will be a quick and easy one – love that. The Top five benefits of programs like these and the top five downsides…. or should that be Bottom five? Ah, someone can fill me in between now and next week. Till then, I’m here to chat if you wanna say hi about your training journey.