Think fast: what's the last thing you ate "out" because you were "in a hurry?"
Now, do you have any clue how many calories were in that item, or -- more importantly -- what its nutritional composition was? I'm going to guess no, because if you were like me you ate what you've had a taste for and was convenient at the time. The thought process generally doesn't go far beyond that, except for perhaps an occasional "I probably shouldn't have dessert with that."
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These days, though, I'm one of those annoying people who hold up the line by asking "can I see the nutrition on that?" Oh, yes I am. And it's a darned good thing, too, because the question's prevented more than one nutritional apocalypse -- or at least a stern lecture.
Last week, for example, I was running late one morning en route to physical therapy for my knee. So I missed breakfast. Afterward I thought of where I might grab something healthy to eat on my way to work and stopped at a bagel chain where I recalled a low-cal breakfast wrap from times past.
It seemed like a good plan: eggs, turkey sausage, spicy cream cheese, a cheese slice and a tortilla. How bad could that be, that's mostly protein, right? I got to the checkout, paid for my food and asked for nutritional information. The look I gave the manager when he handed it to me spoke volumes. "YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!?" A jean-splitting 720 calories -- for an egg wrap, people! I'm only eating a max of 1,400 calories a day!
Then the manager piped in: "The tortilla wrap actually has more calories than a bagel." I was horrified. I wouldn't consider eating a bagel at this point -- its all nutritient-depleted flour, solid carbs and has little fuel-for-the-body benefit. (Not to mention it being the harbinger of the aforementioned stern lecture.)
The tortilla -- alone -- was a mind-numbing 300 calories. A plain bagel at the same establishment has 263, according to its online site.
I asked for a fork, opened up the wrap and took out the eggs and sausage, cutting the overall damage to 311 calories. Not great, but better.
One of the lessons I've learned through all of this is how mindlessly I approached everyday decisions about food -- and how those bad choices tend to snowball. It definitely takes more time and energy to choose health, but isn't anything worth having worth the effort? I'm going with "yes."
Random niblets: The knee. Hmmm. It's still encapsulated in a brace and I'm doing physical therapy twice a week in addition to the three workouts with my trainer and one boot camp. They tell me the torn ligament is slowly recovering. But I'm approaching eight weeks in the brace -- and patience isn't my strong suit -- so I continue to battle frustration. I'm aiming to be brace- and limp-free by the finale May 3. Whether I'm able to work out my legs by then? It's a coin toss.
More niblets: Don't forget to check out all the recipes contestants, and the nutritionist from Jewel, are adding to thefittestloser.com. We really hope others benefit from all the lessons we're learning and the new ways of cooking food we're trying. If we like it, we're posting it.
• Catherine Edman is the cooperative advertising manager for the Daily Herald. She spent 19 years as a reporter at the paper, frequenting many drive-through windows on the way to cover night meetings, before joining the advertising staff in 2009.