June 19, 2008

All riled up

I like iFit&Healthy for finding out about the latest health and fitness news – they do a pretty good job of catching most of the breaking news, and reviewing all the latest books and products. However, their latest review of The Wall Street Diet only served to piss me off.

I know that the consulting lifestyle is hard to understand if you’re not living in it, but I hate it when people don’t get it and act as if it’s so easy for me to eat healthy and workout. For example, I like how the review says, “even if you are working 10 hours a day.” Try 12-14 hours most days. 10 is considered an easy day for me, and I feel like I’m free as a bird if I’ve only worked a 55 hour week. Add in another 2 hours a night for team dinners (that, as much as they are supposed to be “just fun, social events”, are really not optional if I want to stay on a project and get a good performance review) The iFit&Healthy review just makes it very clear that don’t even know the half of it.

They say, “For crazy-busy people who never cook… I do not think being busy is an excuse to not watching what you eat.” I absolutely love to cook – you guys know that. I’ve resorted to some pretty crazy measures in order to try to cook and eat healthy, but it’s not something that’s easy to do when you’re living out of a hotel. When I was living at home, I agreed with the reviewer who says it doesn’t take time to stay slim. I cooked every single meal, and for lunch, I brown bagged it – it definitely doesn’t take long to prepare a healthy meal, as I learned how to cook things in 15 minutes or less. However, if you’re traveling, there is often no way to cook short of grilling on the iron (and if there isn’t a grocery store near your hotel, you’re pretty much out of luck).

Plus, when I’m on the road, I don’t get much choice about what to eat – I’m at the whims of the restaurants I frequent. For example, one time I was at Boston Beer Works for lunch and I asked for steamed broccoli with my grilled fish. I specified that I did not want butter on my steamed broccoli (I’ve learned that at most restaurants, “steamed” vegetables means “steamed and then with a cup of melted butter on top”), and the waitress asked, “oh, are you allergic?” I paused, confused, and then replied, “no, why?” She answered, “because if you’re allergic, there is a special box I check to make sure we don’t put butter on.” So… if I’m not actually allergic, you’ll just put the butter on anyway? Thanks, very helpful! I’ve now learned to tell restaurants that I am “highly allergic” to butter in order to ensure that my food will be cooked butter-free. But honestly? Who knows if that works… I’m not back there in the kitchen watching them.

As I said, it’s really hard to understand the lifestyle unless you’ve lived it. When I started traveling, I complained to friends and family about the challenges of team dinners. Their responses were always something along the lines of, “well, can’t you just skip the dinner and get food on your own?” “What if you ask for grilled chicken and steamed veggies?” The answer is no, I can’t really do that. It’s expected that I go out to dinner with the team, and making all kinds of extra requests turns me into the crazy health nut who needs special attention – not good when the number one requirement of my job is to be flexible with everything. I could get a call at 7 AM on a weekend telling me that I need to have something done by 9 AM, and if I had a run scheduled? Too bad. (This happened to one of my coworkers on his last project). Another coworker is a vegetarian, but if we go to a restaurant that doesn’t have a vegetarian option, he sucks it up and eats chicken. It’s just what we’re expected to do – go with the flow.

They say in the review that the best tip in the book is to pack a snack… please. That advice has been around forever and can be found in just about any diet book out there. It’s nothing new, though at least The Wall Street Diet tells you things you can actually take on a plane (rather than the idiot nutritionist our company hired to teach us “how to travel healthy”, who told us to pack cereal and boxes of soy milk… which would never make it through TSA screening).

I think the most valuable information in the book is how to deal with social situations where it’s inappropriate to make healthy choices (e.g. if you’re at a client dinner at a steakhouse, it’s not okay to skip the alcohol or order a salad). It sounds silly to those who haven’t experienced it, but there are a lot of situations like this where it’s just not socially acceptable to make the right choice, and The Wall Street Diet is the first diet book I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot of them) that actually addresses these problems.

So forget what the stupid review says – I highly recommend this book!


9 thoughts on “All riled up”

  1. I admire your willpower- I wish I had more. I always mess up in the eating department. I will eat good for a few days, then scarf down too make cookies or make a trip to DQ. If this book works for you – great!

  2. I’m with Marci on this one. It’s one person’s opinion and I’m guessing that person hasn’t spent one day in your world. It sounds as though you can’t go healthy 100% of the time. In my opinion, just the fact that you’re making a conscious effort to be healthy is the biggest step. Go with what works for you. My $.02.

    *leaps off soapbox*

  3. Great post. I sympathize with you and the client dinners. Sometimes it’s not socially appropriate to eat what you want (salad, veggies, no alcohol etc…) I’ve been caught situations where I cringed at the thought of explaining, at an Italian restaurant, that I didn’t eat pasta or bread!

    I might have to check out that book!

  4. I totally understand how hard it can be. Thankfully the job doesn’t require me to travel nearly as often as yours does, but whenever I do I find myself at a company dinner (usually surrounded by all men) and getting chided for ordering a healthy appetizer as my entree or sticking with a water instead of the bottle of wine. It’s so bizarre to me sometimes, like what we have for dinner has anything to do with our business style.

  5. I borrowed your vodka tonic trick for the company booze cruise yesterday. Completely worked! Everyone was trashed by the end of the cruise and I was pleasantly sober and ready to go running this morning. Thanks!

  6. I totally used to think it couldn’t be that hard…and then you travel on days where flights are delayed or etc and it can be very hard to consistently make time to workout after being tired or find a good choice when there are limited options in the area. Kudos to you for making it work most of the time!

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