When my kids were babies, I never left the house without a diaper bag that held all the essentials to care for an infant. Mainly, the bag contained spare clothing, but also, especially for older babies and toddlers, it included lots of snacks, because nothing says disaster like a cranky, hungry baby.
Fast forward a few years and here I am again, packing bags before I leave the house for a day of meetings, errands and events. But this time, the bags I’m packing are for me. I’m babying myself – big time – and I’m not apologizing.
I’ve been on this health-and-fitness program since December, when I learned this bag-packing necessity the hard way. I’d wake up with the best of intentions. I’d eat my healthy breakfast. Then I’d leave the house for an appointment that wasn’t expected to last long. But it would, and in fact, it would drag on forever. And there I was, the hours ticking away, and I was away from home and I was hungry because I’d missed my morning snack. Sometimes that time would have crept into the afternoon. By the time I arrived home I was famished. I’d eat like it was The Last Supper.
In case you’ve missed first-hand experience with this, as it turns out, a cranky, hungry woman isn’t much fun, either.
I soon discovered that my mother’s saying, “Eat a better breakfast; feel better all day,” didn’t cut it with this plan. I learned that my weight-loss success required more than just a good breakfast, but good food all day long, every day. That meant breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and finally, a bedtime snack. Count them. That’s three meals and three snacks.
Thirty pounds heavier ago, the first time I met with Matthew Lister of Align Private Training, he told me that if I wanted to lose weight and be fit, I had to make myself and my health a priority. Workouts were mandatory, not optional. Also mandatory was eating those three meals and three snacks every day. Plus, I had to be good to myself. Get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water. Schedule my workouts like the crucial, life-saving sessions they were.
This was difficult. I was used to burning the candle at both ends. I was used to eating on the fly, and when I did, it was often high-carb, high-sugar comfort food (because, after all, I deserved it for working so hard and sacrificing so much).
After I started the program, I found I was eating more than I ever had before, but strangely, I was losing weight. Of course, the reason I was losing weight was that I was working out, while eating the right food. Good food. No crap. I virtually cut out bread completely, with the exception of an occasional turkey or chicken sandwich made with Dave’s Killer Thin-Sliced Organic Whole Grain and Seed bread, just 60 calories per slice. Pasta? I’ve had just one pasta event in seven months (I was teaching how to make it; it was a dinner party; I only ate a little; I can explain).
The former Doni, when on the run and hungry, would drive through In ‘n’ Out Burger for a cheeseburger with grilled onions (Julie Child told me it was her favorite, so it was mine, too) and an order of fries, all made OK washed down with a diet Coke. Or I’d zip through Fast Weenies for a hot dog, or Heavenly Donuts for a French cruller. Or I’d grab candy from a vending machine, like a Hershey bar with almonds; nearly like a health food because it contained almonds.
I knew those days were over, but I needed something to replace those dangerous unplanned feeding frenzies.
My solution was to create a new me: Doni the Girl Scout meets mother of a newborn. The result: I’m always prepared, and I “baby” myself by never leaving home without my bag full of snacks. I also bring a huge container of water, because this is the one time when it’s OK to drink and drive (water).
My bag is insulated, a necessity in Redding’s heat. I also bought some containers that come with their own little ice chillers, to help keep things cold. For good measure, especially if there are perishables in the bag, I’ll include a frozen ice pack.
The bag’s contents varies, but usually it’s a variety of options in the protein, carb (fruit) and allowable fat (nuts) families. Typically, I include things like jerky, string cheese, grapes, nuts and a protein drink.
Also, if I need a caffeine hit, I’ve discovered four-packs of small, 6.5-ounce cans of Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso & Cream Light (7o calories, 5 grams of carb). Both the protein and Starbucks drinks are not an every-day thing, but they’re on standby for dire situations, when I’m away from home and my usual food.
Mind you, the things I pack are usually snacks, not full meals, unless I’m traveling, in which case I opt for a full-on Coleman ice chest. But in the case of the small insulated lunch bag, I don’t eat everything, of course. In fact, nine times out of 10 I end up bringing home most of the food, uneaten at the end of the day. But the insulated bag is my culinary security blanket of sorts. It offers a selection from which to choose depending on what time it is, and how I’m feeling. For good measure, I also keep some jerky and nuts in my car’s glove box.
But eating is just one part of this plan. Working out is another. Sometimes, my schedule will get extra crazy and I lack the time to rush home and change into my work-out clothes. No excuses. The solution is I have a bag I keep in the car with extra work-out clothes and shoes, just in case I don’t have time to go home to change. (No segue, but here’s a crime-prevention tip: Always hide your work-out/gym bag in the trunk, lest thieves see it, think it’s a purse and smash your window looking for money, only to find sweaty clothes. You’re welcome.)
But I’m pretty fit. First, you’d have to catch me.
In the meantime, what are your favorite healthy-snack tips?