Keep Moving – The Curtain Call (and naturally it’s all about food)

Unless something drastically changes in the next month, I see this as my final regular Keep Moving instalment. Going forward I envision this as a column I can return to should anything new arise, however as far as I’m concerned today’s topic is the last of the ones I planned to talk about. Maybe not when I started this, but as the months have gone on it’s become less and less interesting for me.
Along the way, we’ve looked at how we started running, what we do while running, how to get back into the groove and the struggles of injuries. Back in January when I first started writing this, I thought every month would be a completely different topic, however, I realised as soon as I wrote the second one it was going to be difficult to keep that going. And so I reassessed my tactics with it, and came up with three topics I wanted to address: the groove, injuries and food. And today we arrive at the last of those.

For regular readers of lagom hue, it will not have escaped your attention that we like food. It’s hard not to when Emma is making it! And food is a massive part of exercise. In some ways, you exercise so that you can eat that chocolate biscuit, although we all know that shouldn’t be the reason to run!

Food and exercise are nicely interlinked. Food provides you with the energy to go exercise but exercising too soon after eating (or exercising after eating too quickly) will not end nicely. If you’re going to exercise after eating, it’s logical to suggest to wait for your food to go down. Personally, we prefer doing it before breakfast and then allowing breakfast to replenish what we lost. Whatever works for you, works. Our reasonings are we don’t like running too late in the morning – heat is one thing, seeing other people is another.

But all this is boring and has been done before. If keep moving is to end today, I don’t intend it to be with a whimper.

There was a time when I used to skive off college, sit at home to watch either Doctor Who or the West Wing (or a sporting event if one was on) and never leave the house. The only times I would get up and do something would be to make my lunch. Now, lunches for me have always been a challenge. They’ve always had some element of carbs, well usually more than one. These days I’ve finally incorporated some salads amongst my plain bread and crisps (don’t knock it) but I’ll be the first to admit it’s my weakest meal of the day.

Back during my skiving days, I used to cook pasta every day. I have a strange liking for soy sauce on pasta, and it begun then. I used to think I was really daring by trying stuff like that on plain pasta, but I realise now how I am the exact opposite of adventurous. Regardless, the point was I always had a hot, fairly sizeable, meal for lunch. It wasn’t a bad meal – it had carbs in pasta, protein from quorn and veg in the form of cucumber and peas. It wasn’t a great one either, and most days in vast quantities without exercise rendered any potential goodness from it obsolete.

And here’s the thing: I was always hungry. No matter what I put on it, no matter if I had garlic bread with it or whatever else, I was always hungry around three – five o’clock. And so I scoffed all the Jaffa Cakes. Boy, we went through a lot of those … people think I’m bad now!

And slowly it became more than just pasta. Whenever I would have a hot meal for lunch, no matter how big it was, I was hungry a couple of hours later. If it was cold, I wasn’t. I thought nothing of it, I assumed it was simply a scientific reaction to eating hot food at the wrong time.

I went through a whole physics degree believing that nonsense.

(Ok, so I’m immediately doing a physics thing here and overanalysing that sentence. I’ve already found two potential sticking points about it. Firstly, it may come as a shock to some people who upon reading about my skiving then find out I did physics at degree level. Yes, I spent a lot of my A2 year at home rather than in college, however it didn’t detract from my ability to get in to a Russell Group to do a top subject. Where it did hinder me was in the success of the said degree, as I was already behind people who had simply bothered to turn up to all their physics lessons let alone those who were more naturally gifted.

Secondly, the sentence implies I was consciously aware of this issue at Uni. The truth is I wasn’t. Which got me thinking about what I ate for lunch there and it may come as a surprise to find out it was garlic bread and chips every day. Which is both a waste of money and heart attack on a plate, but also most definitely a hot meal every day. Applying hindsight shows that I should have reached the conclusion you’ll read soon much earlier than I did.)

As addressed earlier, Emma has recently steered me towards salads at lunch. And they’re hot salads, usually with a cous cous base. As usual, when eating hot meals I found myself hungry in the middle of the afternoon. And so I started preparing the =food with my breakfast and then eating it at lunch. This helped me in two ways, firstly because it made making my lunch on a work day easier as I was doing it every day anyway and secondly it was no longer warm when I consumed it. Problem solved.

At least until I injured my arm (which is getting much better by the day, thank you for asking), when I could no longer prepare food for myself. I’m not much of a foodie however I do like cooking and it was a frustrating time. Emma started making my lunches, however she would do them on her terms (completely fair enough) and that meant making them at lunch.

It’s now at the point where I can have a hot lunch and I won’t be hungry in the afternoon. So, why the change? I have a theory, one which my university experiences back up quite nicely.

I couldn’t run in the morning, so we were exercising in the form of walking and doing it primarily after lunch. And because we both have the tendency to be quite lazy straight after eating, we were forcing ourselves to be just a little more active. It’s helped. Which I can only assume means I have always been misinterpreting a hunger sensation for a desire to be active. The timeframe works, it’s a few hours after the food has gone down yet a few before more needs to be eaten and my experiences fit.

The three times in my life I’ve had hot meals at lunch contain within them an interesting similarity. At college, I was eating lunch and then literally lying on the sofa for the rest of the day. At university, I was eating lunch and then walking to my lessons and back and now I’m eating lunch and then walking around straight afterwards.
What I thought was hunger, was, as I’ve said, a desire to be active. But probably more crucially, a desire to starve off boredom. The science of food is a science we will never properly understand (at least not in my lifetime), and one of the reasons for that is because everyone reacts differently to certain situations. We all produce the same or similar chemicals but our minds process them in subtly different ways, I would assume. And anyway, I know that hunger is an oft-misplaced feeling – thirst is often misunderstood as hunger. Clearly I’m of the many to have mistook this common feeling.

So there we have it, food and exercise appear to be linked in more ways than the average joe like me would think. I apologise if you read this and was bored because you already knew what I was going to say, I’ll admit that besides a quick google search to see if hot meals at lunchtime make people hungry (surprisingly not), very little research went into this. It sounds awful, and my physics and journalist tutors are all currently shaking their heads at me, but I wanted to have a go at coming to a conclusion from my experiences and mine alone. It is by no means scientific, it’s barely even accurate but if it helps me get rid of that particular demon, then surely that’s a good thing?

Anyway, thank you for reading keep moving. I hope scrapping it doesn’t appear a cop-out to you, I just merely have different ideas I wish to pursue. Like I said, I’ll keep the page active should a moment in time come when either of us wish to revive it.

And for the eagle eyed amongst you, there was no way I could have predicted in February I would injure my arm around the exact time I was going to write about injuries and running. Sometimes the world just throws up these unhappy coincidences.

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