Tag Archives: Nutrition

What A Difference 30 Days Can Make

30 days ago I hadn’t run 2 marathons in a 3 week period.

It seems that we have found our way to the end of May already. Okay, okay, I realize that tomorrow is still a full-fledged member of the group of lucky days that identify themselves as May-days, but really May is all but over.

Where does the time go?

Over the past month I’ve been taking part in something known as The May Health Challenge (or #MayHealth on The Twitter), a challenge put forth by my friends Dr. Julie Gill and Dr. Mark Kubert of ClearPath Chiropractic here in Guelph. The goal was to:

Do something every day for the first 30 days of May that serves to improve your overall health.

It could have been flossing regularly, opting for stairs over the escalator or elevator, going for a 10 minute stroll in the eve, or saying no to that deliciously awesome warm piece of freshly made strawberry and rhubarb pie covered in coconut milk ice cream and fresh berries. Mmmmm, fresh strawberry and rhubarb pie1.

May Health included Kangooing with Amanda (not pictured), Mel, and Dr. Mark.

Great. I just drooled on myself and have a sudden craving for fresh strawberry and rhubarb pie.

I digress.

Back to May Health. After careful consideration I decided that my personal challenges were going to be:

  1. Drink more water,
  2. Stretch more,
  3. Sleep more, and
  4. Run two marathons.

What’s interesting is that on review items 1 through 3 seemed like the easier of the tasks. I mean, drink more water versus run two marathons – that should be a no brainer. And yet, truth be told, it was far easier for me to do the latter than it was to do the prior.

How’d I do exactly?

Well, I definitely managed to drink more water. Some days were better than others, and some days were down-right terrible. On a few occasions I’m sure the only H2O that entered my body came in the form of coffee or beer2. Regardless, I still think this challenge was a success because I was absolutely more conscious about my water intake, and overall my hydration level has definitely improved3.

Water. Get it in you!

Challenge number two is a difficult one to measure, partly because I stretch a lot as it is, partly because I didn’t capture any values to gauge my progress, but mainly because I forgot that this was one of my goals.

Hmmm, perhaps I should have printed them off and put them up in my office as a reminder?

Anyway, given that I managed to run two marathons without falling apart – plus several other long runs between them – I’m going to assume that my stretching plan overall was adequate. Did I stretch more during the month of May? No idea. Did I stretch daily? You bet your ass I did.

And then there was the sleeping challenge. Oh sweet sleeping challenge – my archnemesis. Sleeping was by far the greatest challenge on my list – evidenced by my results. According to my Sleep Cycle app, my average nightly sleep remains at 5 hours 30 minutes (based on 559 nights of data). Reviewing the values for the month, I actually managed to sleep 5 hours 34 minutes on average per night. Technically this is a win, but it’s nothing to write home about. Why? Well, statistically speaking this isn’t significantly different from 5 hours 30 minutes (p-value=0.706)4. And I’m nothing if I’m not a man of statistics.

So there you have it. Another May has come and gone, but this time it was filled with challenges and successes inspired by Guelph’s dynamic duo of Mark and Julie. Thanks to both of you for challenging us to take another look at our health and the minor, and not so minor things we can do to make it better.

Do I feel healthier? You know it.

Will I keep striving for better? Absolutely.

Am I still thinking about strawberry and rhubarb pie? Sweet baby Jesus yes I am.

1 Hey mom, if you’re reading this and are wondering how you might fatten up your son whom you are always worried about – might I leave you with the following four words:

  1. Fresh
  2. Strawberry
  3. Rhubarb
  4. Pie

2 Note, I did not count these things as a source of water.

3 How do I know this? Pee doesn’t lie people.

4 You just knew I was going to calculate a p-value.

Life Is Good

An excellent start to a most excellent day.

As anyone in the Guelph area (and pretty much anywhere in Southern Ontario) will know, today was a fantastic first day to the Victoria Day long weekend. I don’t recall a single cloud in the sky, the temperature was summer-like, and I’m pretty sure that I managed to get a bit of colour on my otherwise pasty white skin.

My day started with a coffee outside (thanks to the recommendation-slash-dare by Jeremy Newton1). Shortly thereafter, I made my way to Eggcetera with Manon for a very serious breakfast of bacon2 and eggs. This was clearly power food for our epic trip to the Farmers’ Market.

Best thing about today’s trip to the Market? Donuts AND fresh strawberries. Specifically, fresh Ontario strawberries. So freaking tasty3. I also picked up some tasty asparagus and another jar of raw honey4. The asparagus were introduced this evening – by way of my belly – to some elk, some corn, and some black beans. My belly is very happy.

After the market I met up with Kyle and Ian to go for a long run. My goal was to do anything longer than a 16k, given that this is my last run before the Ottawa Marathon next weekend. Eep. Anyway, the run was fantastic, the company was great, and I managed a little farther than a half marathon. Hopefully this means I’m ready for next weekend. The only thing that has me worried is the potential for another hot day. The temperature clearly slowed me down today, and I was knackered by the time I got home.


I want all of these.

So knackered in fact, that when I sat down on my bed to remove my extra-sexy compression socks I must have blinked. For an hour and a half. That’s right, I was so exhausted that my body decided that it absolutely needed a 1.5 hour nap.

Anyway, It’s not that the temperature will stop me from running next weekend, but I’d rather not be completely knackered after the marathon. Tired is to be expected. Knackered, not so much.

After waking, I set to finish my laundry, clean up the dump I had been calling a kitchen for the past week, and get groceries. In between, I treated myself to some delicious Starbucks, and I may or may not have purchased a new pair of shorts and a 6 pack of Hoptical Illusion.

Now I’m home. Elliot is purring beside me, there is a very pleasant breeze coming through the window, I’ve a book in hand, and I’m considering pouring one of those tasty Hoptical Illusions I purchased earlier.

First things first though – I need me some strawberries.

1 Or @ibakeglutenfree on The Twitter. Jeremy is also the gluten-free baker at Portions – a most excellent store in town for any and all of us who might have food allergies or sensitivities and who also like tasty things. If you haven’t been to Portions you should go, especially if you are looking for a gluten free diet that doesn’t taste like sawdust. Let me put it this way – his cinnamon rolls are freaking amaze-balls in gooey cinnamon-y roll awesome-sauce. He also makes non-dairy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. If not for self-control, he might become my crack dealer – whereby crack I clearly mean non-dairy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

2 Mmmmm, bacon.

3 I’m about to go prepare myself a small bowl of strawberries, raspberries, granola, and maybe a bit of almond-coconut milk. Begin salivating now.

4 I go through this rather quickly, as I put 1 tbsp of it in my oatmeal every morning, and usually have a spoonful or two of it prior to, during, or after a long run.

A Serious Case Of Deep-Fried Lethargy

Mmmm, get in my belly. Note: leftover calamari does not look as good as this

Holy crapshite, I am le hungry.

I just got home. Yes, I know it’s after 10pm, and I know that I left the house at 8am, and I know I’ve been working since 6am, and I realize that Elliot probably thinks I’m a part-time caregiver, but…wait…what’s my point?

Maybe my point is that I’m not only late, but that I’ve also eaten terribly today. Not in terms of quality, but quantity. Alright, I had a donut during a meeting so perhaps the quality of my Calories was also lacking. Point is, I ate like shite today. Between oatmeal for breakfast, the aforementioned donut, an egg salad sandwich at lunch, some fruit around 6, and about 3 gallons of coffee (give or take a gallon – with strong emphasis on take), I’d say I’m short on my daily requirements by about 15 trillion Calories (again, give or take – with strong emphasis on take).

Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that my day can be summed up as work-filled and food-lacking. And these are the types of maths that lead to my initial declaration: I am le hungry.

Sadly, I’m just too tired and lazy to do anything about it (i.e., cook). Fortunately when I opened up my fridge I was greeted by a lovely white box of leftover goodness. Leftovers from dinner last night with friends. Now, I won’t say that the leftovers are quality in terms of their nutritional breakdown, but they are quantity. And right now, that’s all I really care about.

So here’s to my leftover calamari, samosa, and coconut shrimp. May your deep fried goodness speed your way into my belly such that tomorrow I awake full of deep-fried nutritional awesomeness and not deep-fried lethargy.

I’m pretty sure asking my food to do stuff for me is how nutrition works.

UPDATE: Okay, it’s about 40 or so odd minutes later. I am no longer hungry. In fact, I’m the extreme opposite of no longer hungry. I am painfully full of deep-fried leftover deliciousness. And as much as I fight it, I’m feeling a rather serious case of deep-fried lethargy coming on. Oh nutrition – I have so failed you today!

I Ain’t Fatty-Fat-Fat-Fat No More

Welcome to another entry in a list of entries detailing my innate nerdiness and desire to track data; all Dan, all the time1.  In this case, I present for your perusal an iPhone app (as well as a web based app) known as LoseIt2. And what data do I track with LoseIt?  Only those data that are specific to my eating habits; when food was consumed, what food was consumed, and how much food was consumed.  It also allows me to track any and all exercise so that my net daily Caloric gain or loss can be monitored.

Now don’t fret folks, I am not using this application to lose weight.  Even I know that would be insane.  Instead, I am using it to try to maintain my weight.   You may recall that since I began living with my hiatal hernia, I’ve had a very difficult time eating enough food in a day.  Compound that with any sort of exercise routine and you can imagine the outcome.  For me, the result was a drastic weight loss of almost 50 pounds in only a few short months (as detailed here).  The vomiting and the pain sort of put a damper on eating big meals, or eating at all.  So clearly, consuming (and retaining) enough Calories to keep my weight stable has been a chore.

LoseIt has been a huge help in this challenge.  That is, it helps me see very clearly what I’ve consumed in a day, and I can modify my behaviour accordingly.  To maintain my weight at 145 lbs, I should intake about 2250 Calories (net) per day3.  When I’m off of this mark, a pretty little graph will tell me.  Green if I’m under, red if I’m over.

This is one of my not-so-good weeks. Although, in comparison to the 4 weeks prior, I guess it was about par.

Normally the green would be desired as it indicates “go”, as in “good”, or “go get ‘em tiger”; clearly cheers you want to hear if you were attempting to lose weight.  Red would indicate “stop”, as in “stop eating that deep-fried flan, fatty-fat-fat-fat”4.

Since I’ve started using it, I’ve managed to up my Caloric intake per day by snacking far more often; almost consistently to be honest.  But the outcome has been worth it.  I have managed to maintain my weight around 145 lbs (~65.77 kg) for a little while now.  I don’t appear to be losing weight anymore, and I am confident that I won’t have to start buying extra-extra small clothes5.

The program also informs me of the percentage of Calories that come from protein, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as some info on other nutrients (sodium, cholesterol, etc.).  I don’t normally care about this, but I do check it from time to time.  The only problem here is that some of the foods in the database do not have all of the nutritional information listed to produce an accurate daily representation of my nutritional intake.  Additionally, I sometimes wonder whether or not the food I’ve selected adequately describes what I’m eating.  For example, does the Tropical Trail Mix actually represent that home-made trail mix I eat?  Likely not.  But since I’m not losing weight anymore, I’m gathering that it is a good approximation.

A four week trend of Caloric intake by source. According to the intertubes, about 20-35% of Calories should come from fat, 10-35% from protein, and 45-65% from carbohydrates. I'm not sure how valid those numbers are though. It appears that I fall into these ranges.

There are other reports available, such as a simple summary identifying the foods that you most often consume.  Since I am a creature of habit (I sort of have to be so as not to upset the volcano gods that clearly live in my stomach), I am not surprised to learn that I eat the same foods almost daily.  Lots of fruit, salad, tuna, english muffins, and other good things.  I am also not surprised to know that I consume a large quantity of soy milk lattes.  The program tells me that I’ve had 187 of them in the past year (equivalent to 40,141 Calories6).  To be honest, I’m surprised it hasn’t been more.

Being the nerd I am, I am thinking about purchasing the Withings Scale, which works with the LoseIt application.  Basically, it would allow me to weigh myself on a daily or weekly basis, then automatically transfer my weight (and various other measures) through the magic and mystery that are the intertubes directly to the database that is the LoseIt application.  It means all sorts of extra charts and nerdy goodness.  However, I’ve not convinced myself yet that I want to shell out the large dollars for a scale.

Bottom line, this application is great.  I recommend it to anyone that is trying to watch their weight.  Of course if one is trying to lose or gain weight, one should always chat with a nutritionist first.  Thankfully, I can always rely on the expertise that is Dr. Beth, as she knows a thing or two about nutrition :)

1 Such entries as

2 Download the iPhone application here (it’s free last I checked).  The website can be found here.

3 This value comes directly from LoseIt. However, according to the Health Canada website, there is a formula to determine my Caloric requirement.  A formula, people.  And not just any formula, one that includes Physical Activity Coefficient.  I’m swooning.  Anyway, according to the formula, and based on my age and gender, I should consume

  • 2292 Calories per day if I were sedentary (I am not).
  • 2508 Calories per day if I spent 30-60 minutes per day performing moderate activities, such as walking 5 to 7 km/h (I do this every day just going to and from the school).
  • 2783 Calories per day if I spent at least 60 minutes per day performing moderate activities, or
  • 3234 Calories per day if I spent at least 60 minutes per day performing moderate activities, AND an additional 60 minutes performing vigorous activities.

I would say I fall somewhere between the third and fourth options.

4 Note that Fatty-fat-fat-fat was one of my nicknames when I was younger.

5 I have started buying extra small and small shirts. Talk about a weird experience, given that not so long ago I was buying large. With that in mind, I have a huge basket full of mens large shirts if anyone wants to look through them.

6 Which would be burned off if I were to run 10 kilometres per hour for about 51 hours straight.  Riiiiiiight.