Sunday, January 22, 2012

Some days just require more food...

I blew through my calorie goals for today, but I'm having trouble feeling bad about it, since today started roughly 21 hours ago, and over 16 of that was at work. Other than the sorbetto, I feel pretty justified in my food consumption. I ate pretty big meals, but I was also pretty damn hungry. Large breakfast to start the day around 8am, which kept me happy well past noon - I didn't start getting "where's my lunch at, yo?" signals from my stomach until about 2, which was fine, we took lunch at 3! Chipotle for lunch, and I ate almost all of the burrito bowl, but stopped when I was full. Water to drink - diet soda is gross, and I can't bring myself to consume the sugar in any of the soda/juice/carbonated juice type beverages. I used to always have chips and apple juice with that burrito bowl, but not today. (Also, they have a brown rice option now, which I was pleased to see. I'm not sure how new an option this is, as I'm not sure when I last ate at Chipotle, but good for them!) There's always something a little bit anti-climactic about eating there for me - I eat black beans and rice/quinoa/similar so often at home! I do like the corn and hot salsa though.

It had been billed as a very long day that would afford lots of opportunities for sitting about drinking coffee, so I took my computer, hoping to do some other work, but it turned out to be a fairly steady work day, at least until after the party was in full swing around 9. We were invited to partake of the catering, and I tried to be judicious in my choices - I did have rather a lot of sushi (yum), and an excellent lamb kebab. Perfectly al dente carrots and tender asparagus. They had little pulled pork bbq sandwiches, and I LOVE pulled pork, so I asked for a spoonful of just the pork, so I could have a taste of it without all that bread. (Good, but nothing to write home about - they have better there.)

The choice I don't feel so good about was the raspberry sorbetto. Talk about a sugar rush! Woah Nellie! I've been off the sugar and (mostly) the white flour lately, and that hit me like a truck! Though not an entirely unwelcome truck, at about mile marker 13.5 of a 16 hour day - I think the sugar high powered me through the strike, and the inevitable crash came about half an hour before we left. The thing that was most interesting to me, especially in light of my recent reading, was how noticeable the impact of the sugar was when it's not a regular part of my diet. (Also, as a result of recent reading, I found myself thinking about the specifics of the metabolic reaction while I was eating the sorbetto, which I think kept me from eating more than half of it.)

I'm having a large hot chocolate as I write this, around 4am, thawing from this first snow day we've had. I used half the chocolate syrup called for (and still feel weird about the sugar - seriously, this book is scary, y'all) and it's perfect. Warming and filling and delicious. So yes, 2200 calories is more than I usually eat, but 16 hours is more than I usually work, and 21 is far more than I'm usually awake. If the worst thing that happened today was half a cup of raspberry sorbetto, well, I'll take it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hey thanks, Whole Foods, you're awesome sometimes.

I got to go to the farmer's market today and collect a whole bunch of wonderful things, and amuse myself to no end by going into the McDonalds to get cash so that I could then leave the McDonalds and buy grass fed beef from the farmers market. (A friend points out that the irony should have been fatal.)

The one thing I needed and was not successful in obtaining was milk - the dairy I like only hits Union Square on Saturday, and I'm working ALLLLLL day tomorrow, so no shopping for me, and the Whole Foods at Union Square only had chocolate from Ronnybrook. I had to rush home to put away the groceries and make some dinner before getting to go see The TEAM's "Mission Drift" (recommend highly, running through Feb 4th (ish?) at the Connolly Theater, you should go.) Dinner was quick and excellent, and I made it to the show in good time to get a decent seat (the sound designer tells me that the mezz is awful, and I'm inclined to believe him) and after the show, remembered that there is a Whole Foods down near the 2nd Ave F stop, so I swung in, increasingly hungry, to buy my milk. I avoided all the snack food, the baked goods, the energy bars, everything, but was just wishing for a piece of cheese or something.

And then there it was, in the fridge next to the check out. A basket of one and two ounce bits of various delicious cheeses.

I'm counting that as a cheddar cheesy win.

Win some, lose some.

Yesterday could have been a lot worse, but sure could have been better. (Pretty much across the board, really, from productivity to food choices...) I got up just a little bit later than I would have liked, but made time to make eggs and hash browns again (no cheese, no blackening, just salt and pepper, still delicious) but left the house in a hurry and forgot to fill my water bottle and grab some fruit for a snack. Whoops. Texted a friend who was working the same 9am call, to see if he was stopping by the coffee shop, but he was also running late. (Later than I, as it turned out.) The tea from breakfast would have to do.

The morning section of the call was frustrating, the more I know, the less I know about this show that we are supposed to start teching on Tuesday, and the building seems to make little to no progress every time I check in. Fortunately for me, the other guy on the call offered to get me that coffee when he went out, so that improved my outlook, if not my efficiency. At noon we switched over to helping the head in the next space to open, which is a modular pain in the ass. It's got limitless possibilities and an equivalent amount of headache. Brief spurts of activity, followed by being stymied halfway through a project by construction/gear/other departments/rental crap/what-have-you was the name of the day. On a ten minute break I ran across the street to the Food Emporium and bought a big bottle of water and an apple, which was a good move - since it was a weird split day, I wasn't on a meal break until 4, by which time I was VERY hungry. My friend who is the head over at my old job, just down the street, was scheduled to come join us at 4, and brought my other friend back with him, so the three of us went around the corner to Landsdowne for dinner, where I made a pain in the ass of myself by sending back the dressed salad. (I really appreciated that salad was an option instead of fries, I just didn't think to ask if it had dressing...) Eventually I ended up dismantling my buffalo chicken sandwich and tossing that over the new, dry salad the bartender was kind enough to bring, and I was surprised by how good it was. I don't have high salad expectations from bars, generally speaking.

After the whatever-you-call-a-meal-at-4pm break we floundered, lots of moving things from one place to another, but not sure how much progress happened. Instead of continuing until midnight as planned, we ended up calling the day around 8, and as we left, my friend made the universal sign for "let's go get a beer" and I am notoriously weak-willed when it comes to beer with friends! We managed to, not entirely on purpose, collect most of the crew as we walked over there, but I ended up at a table with my two dinner companions anyhow, and drank too much, and really enjoyed the nachos we ended up splitting. Could have been worse. The last straggler (I, also, am capable of being a bad influence) and I went next door to buck slice - the cheap, ubiquitous New York phenomenon of the $1 slice being the salvation of many a drunk train ride home - and I passed on pizza, but did steal three bites of his, it just seemed so wrong to NOT be partaking!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is this... Momentum?

This tumblr thing was a really good idea! I'm finding an unexpected sense of satisfaction in scrolling down the sidebar and seeing all the yummy and mostly sensible things I've eaten recently. Today's sprouts are particularly attractive, if I do say so myself.

Back to work tomorrow, which presents a more complicated set of challenges, especially as we get busier. Tomorrow should be a relatively simple day, only lunch break with which to contend, and packing fruit for snacks will help out, but Thursday promises to be a danger zone of long workday and no way to heat up food in the new building yet. (I'm not above visiting my old theater to use the microwave... They like me and I still have keys.) I expect to be there 9 am to 12 am, which means at least one meal is likely to be eaten out. I'll have to remember to photograph it and try to make the least destructive choices. (No cheesesteaks!)

We start tech next week, Tuesday - on my birthday, not that anyone's counting - in a building that is not yet complete. Tech is a challenge to healthy living every time, and many are the good runs of eating well that I have totally blown on a tech week, but I expect it to be more so than usual this time, as we will be trying to get everything done at the same time. Too busy to eat presents problems of its own! Of course, at least I don't have to worry about birthday cake!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Food on the Brain

One of the worst parts of conscious eating for me is that once I start critically thinking about my food choices, I can't stop. Not in a good building-better-habits sort of way, no, in a catch-22 I-am-totally-obsessed-with-food kind of way. I can have just eaten, be totally replete and still be incapable of thinking about anything other than when I get to eat again. It's totally in my head - the food is good, and filling, and there's more of it later when I want it. I'm a decent cook, I enjoy eating what I make, it's not like I'm not going to get to eat again and it's not even like I'm hungry at all, but there is a corner of my mind constantly thinking about food. This does not happen when I'm just eating whatever crosses my path. I eat whatever it is, and then, when I'm hungry, I start thinking about food again.

I don't know how to shake this, and I am very frustrated by it.

In Which I Employ an Excess of Superlatives (or, Who IS this Super Positive Person and When Will She Go Away?)

Last night I went to bed around 12:30 feeling totally down, just dejected and lonely. I wasn't even especially tired (I thought) and mostly went to bed because I didn't see any way that it would improve, so calling it quits and expecting better of the following day seemed the logical course of action. (It was that or emotional overeating, let's be honest.)

I don't say this to elicit sympathy, or to make you feel like I am a sad and lonely person (by and large, I'm not) but rather to highlight how brilliantly this plan worked!

Today was marvelous in nearly every way. I slept until about 10:30. (Remember how I didn't think I was tired? I was wrong.) When I went to bed last night, the radiator was simply CRANKING, the little one in my bedroom is off (when I moved in, my friends found that it was leaking and closed the valve - I'm certain that if I were to point this out to my landlord, he would fix it, but the truth is, it suits me just fine for that radiator to be off anyhow) but the big one in the living room keeps it uncomfortably warm when it's blazing away, so I had cracked the window right next to it. When I woke up this morning, the radiator had clearly eased off hours earlier. I'm informed that it was somewhere in the 18ºF range this morning. My apartment was SERIOUSLY cold. I got up, shut the window, and then just got back into my marvelously toasty bed and read for a while, until hunger drove me out of the nest of warmth. The luxury of being able to read in my down cocoon with no urgent need to do anything was so relaxing!

By the time my desire for breakfast overcame my disinclination to be cold, the temperature situation was beginning to rectify itself, so I got dressed and made myself a slightly larger than normal breakfast - two poached eggs, blackened hash browns with cheese, and a cup of tea. (One of these days, I really should consider a tea pot - but the 2c pyrex measuring cup works pretty marvelously for brewing loose tea, and has the added advantage of already taking up room in my overcrowded excuse for a kitchen.) I got to sit at my table, back together and returned to its rightful place in the window now that the Christmas tree has been (forcibly) evicted, and eat my breakfast in the sunlight. I didn't realize how much light was being blocked by the tree! It's like a whole new apartment!

Breakfast consumed (blackened hash browns were a perfect plan), I settled in to play a little bit of World of Warcraft, kill a few dragons, the usual. I haven't seen my dear neighbors in weeks though, so I texted to invite them to dinner - may as well give the newly resurrected table a work out. Not only did they think that a good plan, they were making a run to the Flatbush Food Co-op, of which they are members (and I am not), and did I want to come along? Well, sure. I could always use some good produce and some bulk beans. The Co-op taunted me with their special on organic avocados - I love avocado. It does not love me. My neighbors great people with whom to go shopping - they have the same appreciation for the variety and abundance in the produce section as I do. A trip to the Food Co-op isn't just an errand, it's an outing!

At home, groceries in hand, I decided to deal with the Indigo Girls song stuck in my head in the only way I could imagine - listening to them. I've been a fan of the IG for over twenty years and they are one of my first musical loves, and cooking dinner for my friends while listening to music that's been with me my entire adult life was a beautiful thing, filled with joy (and garlic. Which is sort of the same thing.) The neighbors showed up, with excellent green beans to contribute, and we sat down to a sumptuous meal of cheese tortellini in spicy vodka sauce, green beans, and fresh bread with roasted garlic. We are so fortunate to be able to have such abundance available to us, and to know what to do with it!

We played Bananagrams, chatted, and listened to music - generally had a delightful evening, and topped it off with some ice cream I can't recommend enough, Mexican Chili Chocolate from Steve's Craft Ice Cream.

I can't think of anything about this day that was not in every way superior to yesterday. Nearly perfect!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Calorie counting is the wurst

On the food front, today was a mixed day - I tried the whole take-a-picture-of-everything plan, and was mostly successful, but I missed the knockwurst and beer I didn't mean to eat for dinner! (It was good, and cheap, and by restaurant standards impossibly rationally sized, but it was still a fatty sausage and a beer.) I stopped by Whole Foods on the way home to get some milk, honey, salt and split peas (that leftover ham is burning a hole in my refrigerator) and ended up buying a bag of these tasty chips I tried earlier in the day - snack food I really don't need!

I'm frustrated by it because when I got home today, once I'd added up the day's consumption, I was pretty much on target for caloric intake, but I was still hungry. I had a glass of milk and an orange, which put me over for the day. I feel like it was a pretty decent day, wurst aside, but it was also a heavy day from a work perspective, and I worked HARD, lots of moving heavy things from one place to another, lots of pushing things around in the cold (really should have worn a second pair of socks for unloading that truck) and a ton of running up and down stairs. I got off the train too early on the way to the Whole Foods (rare google maps fail) and ended up walking almost a mile to the store. Being hungry seemed totally legitimate. The milk really did help, the nice protein and satiating fat, but mostly just took the edge off. Going to bed now, feeling still slightly as though I wish I had eaten something else. I'll be interested to see if I am starving in the morning. The eggs will be welcome at least!

Could have used a little more skepticsm, those guys.

I saw this on a blog when I got home from work tonight - a runaway Dallas teenager, missing since late 2010, turned up. In Columbia. The country to which this African-American non-Spanish speaking kid was deported. From what I can tell so far, she ran away, was picked up for theft, and gave a false name - a name which turned out to belong to a 22 year old immigrant with warrants for her arrest. So Immigration and Customs Enforcement got involved. And deported her. Apparently they fingerprinted her, but did not fully investigate her identity, or consider the possibility that this lone teenage girl might not be telling the truth about her name.

Now, I'm not entirely sure how they got through the whole deportation process, without at some point the kid saying, "Hey, wait... I'm an American" and SOMEONE believing her - or at least looking into it. It's not impossible that she never told them that, but I know that no matter how much I felt like I had fucked up, I would have piped up at some point before being ejected from my country of birth under a false name. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

So much advice...

I've been threatening to become a food blogger (and probably a bad one, if past performance can be any indicator of future achievement) for years, and I think that may have finally happened, only in a different way than I had anticipated.

I've been reading the unfortunately named Good Calories, Bad Calories, a book about which my mother was talking while I was home for Christmas. The title makes it sound to me like a diet book of the most banal sort, but that turns out to be misleading. So far, and I'm just starting out (my kindle tells me I'm 10% into the book), it is as much a book about the recent history of nutritional public policy as it is about food I should eat. Science writer Gary Taubes applied journalistic research and scientific skepticism to the piles of assumed information about human nutrition and disease prevention, hoping to find the science on which current thinking is founded, or to disprove it. It's making me question a lot of the assumptions I absorbed as a young person - maybe that grain heavy food pyramid wasn't such a good plan. Maybe the research doesn't back it up at all. Is there really a causal relationship between cholesterol and dietary fats and coronary heart disease? I found myself, on the train the other day, talking back to the book. (Fortunately using my internal voice, though it IS New York City, people probably wouldn't have noticed if I'd spoken out loud to my book.)

I realized, as the author talks about the funding for the studies and the alliance between industry and research, that I've grown skeptical of everything these days. Do you really believe what you just said, or are you saying it because your statement has been bought and paid for? What is real? What is believable? I question everything. And that's probably all to the good, skepticism keeps us honest and critical, and I can hardly consider that a bad thing!

My family and I have used on and off for several years now (apparently I joined in February of 2006), to motivate ourselves and to track our food and exercise, and my brother sent out an email yesterday, encouraging us to join him there again. Spark is a lot like WeightWatchers online, without the points gimmick, and without the price tag. Lots of forums and "teams", blogs and trackers. I do find that when I track what I'm eating, I both eat less of it and am more critical of it, so it can be a very useful tool for weight loss and general health. Unfortunately, I am LOUSY at it. I constantly forget to track, forget what I ate, forget a snack... Of course, there's an app for that. But I'm pretty bad at that too. What I DO enjoy is constantly taking pictures of my food. I mean, all the time. Made some delicious ham? Text someone to taunt them about it. Really pretty pot pie? Belongs on facebook. I do it all the time. I'm also pretty good at keeping up with social networking. It doesn't bother me in the slightest to check Facebook, Twitter and Google+ multiple times a day. (An hour?) So I've started a tumblr feed, to post all the food I eat. This is, I am aware, going to interest pretty much no one but me, so I plugged it into the sidebar here... Because sometimes it can be visually appealing, and because now, when I want to track what I ate today, it's all right there. In technicolor.

So I think this blog is going to become a lot about food. And health. And, inevitably, how frustrating weight loss is. But also about the preparation of food, the production of food, even the politics of food. Because there is a lot of information out there, and most of it disagrees. As of this writing, I prefer local to organic, whole to skim and real to processed. This could change at a moment's notice. And likely will. I welcome your thoughts and information, feel free to send me interesting links and articles, I'll probably repost them, and possibly argue with them.

And I'm not ruling out silly stories about life in the theater either. Those don't even have to do with food at all, though often they do.