I learned something crazy the other day: high-level Ironman triathletes pee on their bikes during races.
That's right. In the middle of a 112 mile ride, they'll just let loose all over their $12,000 Cervelo bike.
These people sound insane, but I sort of understand why they do it.
While I've never peed while riding a bike, I've definitely been so committed to achieving a goal that I wouldn't let anything get in the way.
When I was a management consultant, I used to work savage 12 hour marathons where my boss was breathing down my neck and I know I'd be in big shit if my work wasn't perfect.
I wouldn't get up from my desk for anything (except of course, when I had to go to the bathroom...).
On days like this, the last thing we think about is what to eat. We just want something fast that will give us energy, so we run down to the food court and grab a slice of pizza, a pre-made sandwich, or even just an energy bar and get back to work.
But an hour later, you realize that you've made a huge mistake...
- The sugar high you were riding has now led to a crippling headache and energy crash.
- You feel heavy and bloated as your stomach wages war with grease and fat.
- Worst of all, weeks of eating like this is starting to add up and you need to loosen your belt just to sit down...
In this article, I'm going to give you a simple template for finding fast, healthy food court meals--no matter how busy you are.
When you walk into the food court, how do you feel? Overwhelmed?
That's how I feel.
In front of you are 50+ options to choose from, all tempting you with mouthwatering buffets piled high with food.
In the back of your mind, you know you should just get a salad or something healthy, but you're hungry and you want something that actually tastes good. And so you go the the same place you go everyday, grab some Chinese food and get back to work.
I get it. When you're crazy busy, you don't have time to worry about calorie counts and macronutrients.
We convince ourselves that it's ok to eat a little unhealthy because we need the extra energy for work. Or that we've worked hard and deserve to treat ourselves.
I remember a week where I ate a Subway footlong every single day for dinner because I had convinced myself that the vegetables balanced out the negative effects of the fake "ribs", sugary sauces, and bread made out of yoga mats (allegedly...).
But instead of paying for it later with an energy crash, I discovered a better approach.
The 'Anytime Meal': A simple template for finding fast, healthy meals in the food court
Here's the truth about eating healthy that almost no one talks about: it's not that complicated.
If I asked you to summarize what a healthy diet is in three sentences, you could do it. "Don't stuff your face. Eat lots of real food like vegetables and protein. Stay away from sugar, processed food, and deep fried stuff."
Simple, right? But we get distracted by HuffPo articles about the latest breakthrough nutrition study and forget about the basics. Don't eat too much. Eat real food. Don't eat crap.
The hard part about eating healthy isn't the information. It's applying that information in the context of your day-to-day life when work gets crazy and you're short no time. We know we should start eating better, but it's just easier to grab whatever is closest and get back to work.
But when even a 10% drop in energy at work could be the difference between getting promoted and getting fired, it's critical that we get it right. We can't afford to be a zombie for the first 2 hours of the day, or hit a wall mid-afternoon after a heavy lunch.
You can use food as a tool for performing better at work so that you can get rid of that lingering brain fog and feel invincible during late night work marathons.
Here's the solution: 'The Anytime Meal' Template.
This infographic is from a company I came across a few years ago called Precision Nutrition (a.k.a. 'PN').
They're the largest online nutrition coaching company in the world, and specialize in providing simple advice for busy people like us. I'm such a fan that I became a PN Certified Nutrition Coach last year.
The 'Anytime Meal' is made up of three parts:
- Lots of vegetables
- A solid portion of protein
- Some healthy fats.
Forget about everything else. No more calorie counts, no more meal plans, no more superfoods. Seriously... just erase everything you thought you knew about nutrition and focus on applying this simple framework consistently.
And by consistently, I mean 80+% of the time.
That's the reason this template works so well--it makes the consistency part easy. All you need to think about when you walk in the food court is three things: lots of vegetables, a solid portion of protein, and some healthy fats.
If you focus on making your meals look this this, everything else will take care of itself. It's the 80/20 of healthy eating.
My favourite 'Anytime Meal'
When I discovered this simple template, it became easy to find healthy meals in the food court. I'd just look at the menu options and run down the checklist in my mind. Vegetables? Protein? Healthy fat?
For example, Chipotle is my all-time favourite lunch spot. Here's what I order for an 'Anytime Meal'.
- "Chicken Burrito Bowl, with no rice"
- Vegetables? From the grilled peppers, onions, lettuce, and salsa.
- Protein? From the chicken and beans.
- Healthy fats? From the guacamole.
I used this template for years while working and travelling as a management consultant. I also used it while competing for Canada in international rugby. Whatever your goals, it will work.
It's not to hard too find options that fit this template, but if you need some ideas to get you started then I can help.
I've put together a one-page PDF with my 5 go-to options for creating fast and healthy 'Anytime Meals' in the food court. I used to crush these meals for lunch (and sometimes dinner) everyday when I was working as a management consultant. Just click here to download it right now.
Now I'm looking for advice from you. What are your go-to lunches and dinner when you are grinding at work all-day and all-night?