… Mmmm Fooood

I hear there’s a big football (No, non-North Amers, not soccer, the other one with pads and stuff) game this weekend. I’m told that this game is often used as an excuse to gather together drink and eat copious amounts of food. Seems like as good an excuse as any to write about one of my favourite subjects.

Let’s start with a hard, maybe uncomfortable, truth.

Fat people like food.

That’s it.

Pretty simple.


The reasons may be conscious or subconscious, but the point is their brain signals to them food=good. It’s not a bad thing to enjoy food, the problem is when you enjoy too much of the wrong things and don’t compensate on your activity level, you’re going to run into trouble. It’s not even that fat people don’t like exercise. I know a lot of overweight people who are quite active. Some wish they could be more active, but the extra pounds they are carrying have ruined their joints.

Of course, the opposite is true, too. When people who don’t like food refuse to eat or eat and then purge, they’re setting themselves up for big health trouble.

The relationship you have with both food and exercise is just like any relationship you have with human beings. You need to maximize the healthy ones and end the unhealthy ones.

Like all relationships, it will be a work in progress. Unlike the toxic girlfriend/boyfriend you broke up with, you can’t kick food out of your life. You can’t change your locks on food. You can’t change your phone number on food. You can’t send your new boyfriend to explain how the world works to your old boyfriend. Sorry, you’re going to have to stay together for the kids’ sake.

You may be stuck with your relationship with food, but at least it’s an open one.

Newt Gingrich’s favourite.

To reach your fitness goals, you’re going to have to say to a few lovers, “It’s not you, it’s me,” when it really is you. It’s not that you don’t like them; you don’t like what they do to you. They’re the friends that are good to you but not for you. You want something they just can’t provide: nutrition.

Unfortunately, it won’t be a clean break up. Your favourite bad-for-you foods are the proverbial stage 5 clinger. They’re waiting for you to break up with that skanky ho you dumped them for so they can swoop back in. They’re never going to grow up and meet Mr. or Mrs. Right.

I know. Some of the former flames I thought I left in other provinces and even other countries have found me here in Ottawa. One has now formed an unholy alliance with one of my new loves. Covered Bridge Potato Chips are now being sold at Freshii, my favourite spot to grab a quick, healthy post-run meal.




I wonder if they talk about me? The ex seems determined to get back together with me, so is probably talking smack to the new love as we speak. Dear Freshii, don’t listen to her.

If you’re lucky, you’ll make it to your goal without backsliding. If you keep your fitness regimen as part of your maintenance plan, there may be a temptation to have the occasional quickie with the old flame. After all, you told them it was you and now you’re better, right?

You could always do for your former food flames what your real life, human friends helped you do: make them better.

I love to cook. A person who loves to eat should love to cook. In the Ten Minute Cooking School segments in his DVD extras, film director Robert Rodriguez likes to say cooking is like making love; you’re going to be doing it for the rest of your life so you better be good at it.

When I first went into Free Form Fitness to meet for the information session, the owner, Rob, asked me if I was on a desert island and could ask for one food item what would it be.

My answer: MacGyver. I’d claim to be a cannibal and ask for MacGyver as a meal only to use him to get my ass off that island!

And once MacGyver got me off the island?

Shepard’s pie.

Mmmm. Shepard’s pie.

Since potatoes of any kind were out of bounds on the early stages of the meal plan, I needed a substitute for the topping. A lot of recipes call for the ground beef to be cooked in ketchup or chilli sauce, which is thick ketchup with chilli peppers mixed in. Both are high in added sugar and were also no-nos on the plan. Corn was also a no-no, but I wasn’t much of a corn in shepard’s pie person

My phase 1 substitutes – the ketchup/chilli sauce is easy: salsa, the hotter the better. You only need a couple of dollops. Two tablespoons of salsa is 10 calories. Two tablespoons of ketchup is 50 calories. The meat and whatever veggies you use (I use carrot, celery, and onion) will absorb the excess juices. For the potato substitute, cauliflower puree. Steam the cauliflower, toss in a blender with some yogurt, a clove of garlic, and a pinch of sea salt. You may have to keep adding cauliflower to thicken the mixture to mashed potato consistency.

In phase 3 when complex carbs were back on the menu, roasted sweet potatoes became the topping with a little mozzarella cheese on the top for colour contrast instead of cheddar. Sweet potatoes are so naturally creamy they mash up quite well with adding any dairy. I call this version my cowboy pie, since cowboys are the shepards of the southwest.

Yeah … that’s it.

Pizza craving? I found this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza. One of those packages of pre-chopped cauliflower from the salad section of your grocer should be enough for a full sized pizza. It also holds up well for leftovers.

Fried chicken? This one is work in progress. Toss some almonds into a food chopper and chop to the consistency of crumbs. Throw the crumbs on a plate and season with your favourite herbs and spices. Wrap boneless breasts in plastic wrap and flatten by pounding with a heavy pan (This helps them cook faster and evenly in the pan. If you’re going to try baking the breast, you can skip this step). Dredge breasts in flour, beaten eggs, and then crumb mix. Fry in a pan heated with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Few minutes a side and you’re good to go.

Burger? Have a hamburger. Just don’t have the bun if you are in the early stages or sub a whole wheat/multigrain roll in the later stages. If you’re ordering at a bar, no fries. Get a soup or salad as a side.

Getting the nutrition equation right is going to be key as I train for my first half marathon … and my second.

That’s right, I wrote second. Registration for the Canada Army Run opened up this morning.  Since I was up late last night, I went to the website and registered not long after it opened. It’s September 23rd, a week earlier so it doesn’t conflict with Battle of Britain commemorations and the Terry Fox Run.

Yes, despite just starting the training for my first half marathon, I’ve registered for my second.   The popularity of the race means you need to register early. Ottawa Race Weekend Half Marathon is already 85% sold out and we’re a little less than four months away from race day.  Getting the coveted black jersey to add to the collection this year. I registered the 2:15 time, but am going to train to finish under that. I also indicated a size medium for the jersey. I wonder if that will be too big by September.

We actually had our first training run of the half marathon clinic on Wednesday. A quick 3K tempo run. Since most don’t realize the half marathon training schedule begins on Wednesday with our first clinic night the following Tuesday, there weren’t a lot of people. The two that wanted to run with the 2:15 group quickly fell back to the 2:30.  Since we have over 50 people registered for the clinic, I’ll have more next week.

In fact, I’m thinking of taking up this challenge:

I’ve always been a big Drew Carey fan. I loved his show. Now that he’s on daytime TV, I sort of lost touch of his career until he guest starred on episode of Community.  At first, I only recognized him by his voice. I think of myself as the last person to get starstruck, but when I see people, famous or otherwise, go through what I’ve gone through and have come out the other end the better for it, it powers me onward.

So Drew’s time will be my goal. Not my immediate goal, but my long term goal. I’ll keep doing half marathons until I reach it.



3 responses

  1. Cool post! I haven’t thought of the cauliflower strategy… good idea. My Drew Carey connection, if any, is through WLIIA. And Reason TV!

    1. I got the cauliflower idea from a cookbook of Vicky’s. I loved Drew’s posts for Reason. Not sure if he’s still doing them now that he has a day job again 😉

  2. […] and Claude!).  First experiment, kale. I’m not fussy on raw kale, but when I made the rigatoni dish a couple of weeks ago, I noticed how easy it was to cook in a frying pan. I’ve been flash […]

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