An Accidental Epicurean

Epicurean

1. A person devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort.

I’ve always known that I love food. But after moving to Japan, I’ve discovered just how much, and not in the way most people would assume.

So I wasn’t gonna put it out there, with fear that people would think, “Oh look at Tori’s humblebrag”. But I’ve decided to share with you anyway my friends, that a little over a month ago I started following a pretty challenging meal plan. Like one that I actually follow, and one that’s like… 90% protein and veggies. It has been a big challenge, and the reason I wanted to share was not to humblebrag (because that is not what I’m doing), but because we all face challenges, and when we find a real one, it really changes us. This is about one of those challenges and how it changed me.

First, a little history…

My crazy sling. I like to call it my roboarm... Wore that thing for a LOOOOOONG time...

My crazy sling. I like to call it my roboarm… Wore that thing for a LOOOOOONG time…

  • 1998-2004 – 28 shoulder dislocations that I popped back in myself.
  • 2004 Dec – shoulder surgery on my right shoulder. (For torn ligaments, displaced cartilage bumper, bone scraping bone kinda stuff)
  • 2012 Dec – Whining to Kyle about wanting to lift harder, using my shoulder pain as an excuse for not wanting to push myself. Kyle answers with “Well, have you tried longer than a month?” My answer? “No.”
  • 2013 Jan – Started Strong Lifts 3×5. I lifted hard with my WITH MY SHOULDER. By hard, I don’t mean heavy… I mean HARD. The weight to me looked so tiny and stupid. But the movement of an overhead press was painful, difficult, and super tight in my right shoulder. I felt like I had a Hulk left arm and a stupid baby right arm. But I kept with it.
  • 2013 May – Changed to the Texas Method 5×5 Strong Lifts: Squat, Cleans, Dead Lifts, Overhead Press, Bench
  • 2014 Jan – Shoulder has almost ZERO pain now when I lift. It just lacked the muscle it really needed. That whole time I’d been too scared to do what I needed to do to stop being scared. Who would have thought. This challenge started to change a big thing inside me when it came to my bodily health!

And here is how I became an Accidental Epicurean

In my quest to be strong and healthy enough to do all the things I want to do in my life. I found food to be at the root of my happiness. If I wanted to be able to snowboard all day, run faster in soccer, squat an hour for Tahitian dance, throw a baseball for more than 20 minutes without it hurting, and stop feeling tired, I needed to make sure I was doing everything I could to achieve that. This meant building my supporting muscles so that I could be capable of doing it, and feeding my body all the good stuff.

Around February this year (2014) Kyle and I were talking again. I wasn’t really being that serious, but I kinda mentioned, “Dude, I’m gonna be 31 this year… I want to be in the best shape I have ever been in my entire life. I wonder if I could have like a rock hard bod by summer!?” to which my sweet Kyle said, “Babe, you look great! But you know what you’d have to do… is diet.” I laughed, of course. This is a girl who is like a garbage can. Or rather, as Kyle puts it, a billy goat. I could and would eat absolutely anything. My metabolism is really good, and I could afford that luxury. I looked at Kyle and was like, “Meh, I’m not that serious about it though, I’m just saying…” and Kyle came back quick with, “You can do whatever you want to do. But you know, you might really like the challenge. It’s right up your alley! Check lists and schedules and crap.” And boy, was he right.

I knew that if I were to go on a so called ‘diet’ I would want it to be one that consisted of  food I liked to eat. It also needed to fuel me for all the activities I did. I also didn’t want to feel food guilt, and I really wanted to be able to eat cheesecake. I didn’t want to be a fad diet that just went away, and I didn’t even want to CALL it a diet. I didn’t like the language of ‘dieting’ and ‘calorie counting’ so I did a lot of research for about a month on how food works, the best options for an active person who lifts seriously, following the guidelines I mentioned above. A girl can dream, right? I realized that if I wanted such a thing, I was going to have to make it myself…

So I did.

I started with just a base of what I wanted. Good caloric intake with a balance of fruits, veggies, and lots of protein, with limited starches. I sit at my desk ALL day just dreaming of food. So, I knew that I wanted to break up my food into a bunch of small meals so I could eat when I was just sitting there. A good rule for me was if I was honestly hungry, I should be eating, and let’s be real… I am hungry all the time. I came up with a meal plan that consisted of 5 meals a day at around 300 calories a piece. It went something like this:

  • Breakfast – protein + starch
  • Snack 1 – protein + fruit/veggie
  • Lunch – protein + veggie + (starch 3x a week or the starch at dindin)
  • Snack 2 – All veggies (or some fruit too)
  • DinDin – protein + veggie + (starch here if you didn’t have it at lunch 3x a week)
  • SUNDAY = CHEAT DAY!! Try not to eat an entire cake, and if you do, OH WELL!

When I first started it, it only had about 2-3 options per ‘meal’ and it was really a lot of the same things repeated. I learned how much more veggies I needed to be buying at the store, how much I was actually consuming when I ate certain things etc. How many calories made up what in my food.

Funny things started happening to me. I started  feel energized, I always felt strong, healthy, and alert. I no longer felt sluggish. Not only that, but I started experimenting with different things I had never cooked before. Beansprouts for pastas, sobas for spaghettis, chick peas, Alfredo with soy milk instead of cream, 1 piece of toast instead of two, the list goes on. I hadn’t tried something like this since wrestling season in high school, and back then, I didn’t have the food knowledge I possessed now! More importantly, I found it was really easy, with the help of google, to find substitutions for making things healthier for you!  I started looking at this ‘meal plan’ as more of a game. How many of my favorite foods could I make to still meet all my standards for food consumption and living!? SO FREAKING MANY!! SO MANY!!

I wanted to feed my body good things, and see if there were any results from it. More importantly, I wanted to enjoy all the food I was eating while I ate it! What’s the point if you only look at food as fuel!?

I can’t even express to you how awesome it has been to successfully create and execute a healthy balanced meal plan ALL BY MYSELF with little to no outside motivation. It did take a while at first to get used to what was a portion, what wasn’t, how much was too much and how much my eyes were telling me was too small. I can still remember the first time I’d measured out 3oz of chicken… and looked at a cup of marinara. I thought, “This is stupid. I’ll try it, but this is stupid.” It was NOT stupid. Thrown over 100g of bean sprouts, mushrooms, and garlic, and it was filling and delicious! And just when I thought it was going to be boring…

I hit a huge milestone a couple weeks ago!

I made up my very own recipe! I had my very first real creation. Using my knew knowledge of how food worked, stuck together, cooked, substitutions, and flavors, I set out to meet one of the biggest cravings I’ve had in a while: Greekish food. Yes people… food that tasted like it belonged in the Greek category. Just SOMETHING that resembled it! Here in the Land of the Rising Sun ingredients for things outside the general Japan Cuisine spectrum can be hard to find. Not only that, but who has time to be cooking every single stupid night for hours? I wanted all the things on my menu to be quick, easily available in Japan, and delicious. I thought up the patties all by myself, tweaked an already known Tzaziki recipe, and it only took me ONE TRY!! So, without any further ado, Let me Introduce to you

Spinach Patties with Tzaziki Sauce

337 calories for 2 patties, 3 oz chicken, and 1/4 cup tzaziki

For Tzaziki:

  • 1 cup reduced fat yogurt 137
  • 1 teaspoons minced fresh garlic 4
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cucumber peeled, grated on large holes 26
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Drain yogurt and remove water. In a bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, and 1/4 tspn salt. Sprinkle the remaining salt over peeled and grated cucumber. Let sit 10-15 min then squeeze in a cloth to drain excess water. Add drained cucumber and pepper to yogurt, mix well. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hr. Serve with spinach patties, chicken, or fish.

For Spinach Patties:

  • 1 tsp olive oil 20
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion 16
  • 2 cups spinach stemmed, chopped 14
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs 33
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 egg lightly beaten 65
  • 1 Tblspn oil for cooking 20
  • lemon for serving

Directions: 1) Heat 1 tsp oil on med/hi add onion and cook until translucent. 2) let onions cool. Mix together all other ingredients except for the cooking oil, and add the cooled onion to mixture. 3) Heat cooking oil over med/hi and pour in the mixture. 4) Shape mixture into two separate round patties in the pan. Cook each side until slightly gold. 5)Serve patties with chicken and sauce, and squeeze a little lemon over patties for taste.

For those visual learners:

 

1) Heat 1 tsp oil on med/hi add onion and cook until translucent.

1) Heat 1 tsp oil on med/hi add onion and cook until translucent.

chopped up spinach to really small pieces

chopped up spinach to really small pieces

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (yes, really only 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (yes, really only 1/4 cup)

 Mix together all other ingredients except for the cooking oil, and add the cooled onion to mixture.

Mix together all other ingredients except for the cooking oil, and add the cooled onion to mixture.

 4) Shape mixture into two separate round patties in the pan.

4) Shape mixture into two separate round patties in the pan.

Cook each side until slightly gold.

Cook each side until slightly gold.

5)Serve patties with chicken and sauce, and squeeze a little lemon over patties for taste.

5)Serve patties with chicken and sauce, and squeeze a little lemon over patties for taste.

YUM!! (Precooked Chicken on the George Foreman Grill)

YUM!! (Precooked Chicken on the George Foreman Grill)

I wish I could tell you all how much of an accomplishment something like this is. If you’ve tried to eat better, lift heavier, or push yourself beyond your limits, you can totally understand how I feel. Being able to come up with something on your own, put it all together, and have the end result be so beautiful and wonderful, is something priceless. So, if you’re interested,

HERE’s my Ongoing and Everchanging 1500 cal/day Meal Plan

Free and for the taking! 2 big rules I have for eating: 1) If you aren’t enjoying your food, take it off the meal plan. 2) Cheat, and cheat hard. I’m just so stoked to feel the way I feel right now, and if that little dinky meal plan can help YOU feel the same then GREAT! I’m extremely lucky for those few friends who’ve pushed me to challenge myself in this spectrum when I don’t feel like I need to:)

Love you friends!!

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One thought on “An Accidental Epicurean

  1. Dude! Thanks for sharing and I’m stoked you’re feeling so great. I’m on board with you….you have to enjoy what you eat so you have to treat it like a game to make this happen while being healthy at the same time. And to cheat! I love sweets, so I have them here and there and I don’t feel bad about it. Anyway, I’m so happy you’re feeling so great. I think I’ll follow and start pushing myself to be on an exercise plan because without it, my body is breaking down from old injuries. Keep up the hard work! xoxo

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