Monday, 3 December 2012

Food glorious food

I like food and I like a beer now and again. Nothing wrong with that.

It is however a lifestyle which, if overindulged, will cause a rapid and alarming expansion of the waistline. I have long promised myself that I would not become the out of shape 40 something that populates so many of our workplaces. A belly bulging over trousers is not a good look and health-wise it's a real worry. We are as a population getting fatter though and there's a reason why it is so common a sight.

Before cycling to work, my daily activity consisted of little more than walking to the car, from the car to the office, around the office a little bit and then a reverse of the process to get home again. Most evenings, I'd then crash out on the sofa infront of the TV to recuperate before sleeping and starting the whole thing over again in the morning.  Day after day. Month after month. I started to get fatter and unfit. I did used to work out now and again but arriving home tired does not leave one in the right frame of mind for serious exercise and so it's easy to let it slip.  Excuses I know, but also just a sad fact of modern life.

I've always had a decent appetitie but once I started cycling to work, I got noticably hungrier.  A casual Google revealed that, on average, someone of my build cycling at the speed I do burns off 600 calories in an hour.  I cycle for just under two hours a day and so I now burn an additional 1,000 calories or so every day.  My expanding waistline, and fear of my rising weight, meant that I had not been near the bathroom scales in a while so consequently I have no idea what I weighed in March when I started riding.  There's no doubt though that I've lost fat.  Previously "snug" trousers now have plenty of room around the waist and I'm not nearly so paranoid about wearing slightly tight T shirts any more.  All good really.

However, it does mean that I need to carry food with me to work and try to make sure it's something that will fuel my commuting well.  Being obsessed with carrying as light a load as possible, I tend to try and make sure that my food is pretty light too.  As a result, tins and large containers of liquid are out!  Furthermore, as I work in an office, kitchen facilities are minimal (toaster, kettle and microwave tops) and so anything thast needs cooking also needs careful thinking about. 

Dried noodles are pretty good but I find that heavily flavoured "Pot Noodle" type things end up tasting dreadful after a couple of days of a similar thing.  Oddly, the cheaper supermarket "Value" noodles are not nearly so bad.  Fruit is good fuel and I always try to bring a banana or two with me.  When I'm organised enough to remember to buy some, dried fruit and nut mix is cycling-nutrition gold!  I continually plan (but have yet to organise) a mixture of porridge oats, powdered milk and sugar that I could just pour boiling water on for second breakfast when I get to work.  Both received wisdom and my own experience have shown that a combination of good, high calorie food grazed throughout the day give me the most energy in my legs for the ride home.

But, if push comes to shove, as it frequently does at the end of the month, I'll pack pretty much anything.  Jam, cheese or peanut butter sandwiches are great and also very cheap.  Inevitably though I am ravenous when I get home  and have to try hard not to scoff half a packet of biscuits before dinner is ready.

Despite all of the above detail, I'm not too obsessed with losing weight.  I don't have much of a spare tyre any longer and I suppose all of these hard Winter miles will get rid of a bit more.  Just staying healthy and staying in shape is what matters most to me now, which cycling manages in spades.  Best of all though, with so much exercise in the week, I can eat or drink more or less what I want the rest of the time and it doesn't shoot automatically to my waistline! 

Another beer?  Don't mind if I do! 

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