For a full month now, I’ve taken up an active lifestyle by swimming at least 3000m every weekday after school at Loop Shionoe. Exercise of course does the mind and body good, but I can’t ignore pairing it with a healthy diet. It was my nightly routine of cooking up an enormous vat of Strega Nona pasta, and then devouring it all while embracing a life of sloth late into the evenings. Now, I still do a lot of nothing, but at least I can justify it after working out. On the food front though, I’m working a lot harder to get myself the nourishment I need to foster muscle growth, good health, and the eradication of my fat stores. I tackle the later objective with smaller portions and fewer carbs.
I haven’t really been eating much for breakfast since I’ve been here, but given the increased metabolism from swimming, I’ve started to have about 200g of yogurt in the 10 minutes between my waking up and rushing off to work. Then at school, I just eat my lunch as as I have been. These school meals are so healthy and well balanced that I needn’t worry about what I’m shoving down my gullet, though, being given a mountain of leftovers and licking my plate clean as I have become known for can leave me feeling a bit of a glutton. I suppose I need that energy though. An online calorie counter claims that at my pace, I burn over 900 calories during an hour of swimming. I can eat another meal now and still break even.
The real conscious effort into what I eat begins after I work out. The first thing that I do when I get back is down a protein shake. Since these can taste notoriously bad, I’ve developed an ideal recipe. First, I chop up one of the frozen bananas that I keep in my freezer. These double as both a chilling mechanism and a great mask for the chalky flavor. I might also add a clementine or even a pepper depending on what is in season and what I have sitting around. Then, I add a scoop of my protein powder and finally top it off with a mixed vegetable juice. I use my handy dandy stick blender to homogenize the concoction before all at once pounding the icy cold drink. With my body fed what it needs following the strenuous exercise, I can take a little break before getting on with the rest of my meal.
Man Shake for after swimming.
The main goal with the rest of the dinner is to avoid overeating and especially to maximize my veggie intake. Now when I go shopping, I tend to procure little variety since all but what’s in season is rather expensive, but I at least get stuff that I know will be good for me. Cornerstones of my diet are chicken, ground beef, peppers, onion and tofu. Below is proof of my produce prowess. The meat with red stickers are all either 20% or half off. Whenever I see it marked down like that, I scoop it up and stash it away in my freezer. This is one of my most effective means of keeping below my 400 yen per night dinner budget.
Laundry detergent is pretty good too.
One of my favorite meals is simply a ground beef loaded with minced pepper and onion. Adding some really spicy peppers adds a layer of complexity to the dish.
Chicken is like a blank canvas, in that it has no flavor but what you give it. So I am always a big fan of boiling it up along with my usual slew of veggies, perhaps a small handful of macaroni noddles, and then topping it off with one of my many seasonings. Garlic pepper and Cajun are personal favorites.
Because my dinner time is usually around 7 and bedtime about 2:30, my stomach always starts rumbling and grumbling around midnight. My late night snack is usually the remaining half of the morning’s yogurt, raw carrots, or some of the clementines that I buy in bulk.
I’m trying to make the food I eat as diverse as possible, since burnout could occur if I do the same routines too often, but so far so good. I find that when paired with exercise, convincing yourself to eat healthy becomes a lot easier. The idea of negating an entire session filled with arduous sprints and tedious laps with a Big Mac can rarely be justified. Given that I’m not doing this with anyone to keep me accountable its probably only a matter of time before I lose to myself, as I do. But now a month into it, I’ll keep riding this wave of exercise, diet, and motivation as long as I can. Hopefully my steady wight loss and improving physique will be enough to keep me determined.