Maybe this is the most interesting title I've had so far, but it's a bit misleading.
Basically I'd like to take you through the eating habits I had until the age of 25 that caused me to gain weight and get fat.
Like most people who were competitive athletes their entire lives, I never gave any consideration to food choices or portion control. I ate what I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much of it as I wanted. I always burned everything off playing sports (basketball, football, track & field).
I began literally EVERY day with a giant bowl of cereal. Cereal was my favorite food. Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, Wheaties, Lucky Charms, the entire Cheerios family, Frosted Mini Wheats, I ate it all. Plus I used the largest bowls I could find, a popcorn bowl or salad bowl was barely big enough. Add in the fact I always used either 2% or Whole Milk and it isn't tough to figure out why I battled allergies and severe nasal congestion until my late twenties. If somehow I wasn't eating cereal, then it was either a stack of Eggo Waffles (tons of syrup) or my mom's pancakes, which really are worthy of some sort of pancake-tasting contest if such a thing exists.
Snacks were nothing original - Pringles potato chips (Sour Cream & Onion), Doritos (Cool Ranch), Oreos, Pop Tarts, Skittles, Jolly Ranchers, usual "junk food".
My meals (if you can even call it that) were also junk-heavy. My Mount Rushmore of Junk Food looks like this:
- McDonald's Quarter Pounder w/ large fries & Coke
- Domino's pizza (cheese & sausage) w/ dozen buffalo wings + 2 bottles Miller High Life
- General Tso's Chicken w/ steamed white rice
- Bojangles' chicken supremes w/ seasoned fries, sweet tea
*If Mount Rushmore had 5 heads I'd add a Philly cheesesteak from East Boulevard Bar & Grill in Charlotte.
I also LOVED fries. Love might even be too mild of a term. It wasn't unusual for me to be on a car trip and decide halfway down the highway that a large fry and chocolate or vanilla milkshake would make a good "snack" during the drive.
Wendy's deserves lots of credit too. Their "Late Night Menu" became a good friend my first few years after college, I'd drive 2 miles to the next exit and get an order of nuggets, fries (of course), and a Biggie Frosty. For a change of pace some nights I might just eat a handful of little marshmellows out of the cabinet before bed.
This is getting like an awards acceptance speech, since I am forgetting too many old friends.
Ramen Noodles were a big staple during the post-college years. I learned a trick from my college girlfriend about making "baked spaghetti", so I used Ramen along with sliced chicken nuggets, a handful of mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce to make a type of lasagna.
Please don't over-look the shoutout to sweet tea earlier. Bojangles' had the best (read: sweetest) tea with Chick-Fil-A pulling in second. I actually used to have my mom make a half gallon of sweet tea and bring it back to college. If I had no sweet tea in the house, I'd keep an empty Gatorade bottle of Kool Aid in the fridge so I could get my liquid sugar fix that way.
This is probably gratuitious at this point - but I think you get the general idea. People (especially co-workers) wonder why I am such a healthy eater, and why I am so disciplined about what goes into my body. The reason is because of 25 years' worth of piling garbage into my body with no regard for health or athletic performance. Who knows what type of athlete I could have been with even a rudimentary understanding of nutrition, or conversely the hazards of a diet heavy in starchy grains, sugars, dairy, and fried things.
It wasn't until during my first year in graduate school that roommate and friend (yes I am name-dropping here) Wes Miller told me "Dude, you're getting fat!?" I couldn't believe it, but the mirror rarely lies, and the truth hurts. Friends don't tell you what you want to hear, they tell you what you NEED to hear. And I needed to hear that.
I didn't look like the Nutty Professor (yet) but I was surely headed there. My six-pack had disappeared and my waist size was up to 36. When I left grad school I weighed in at 193.
Today I'm back to a 32 and weighing between 178-180. The points I wanted to make with this post were that we're all human and love crappy foods. I was no different. However please use the above eating lifestyle as a sample of how easily nutritional ignorance and lack of discipline can have you standing in-front of the mirror wondering how you got fat, just like I did.