The Food Diaries

A bride-to-be tracks her food and fitness for four days. With six months to go and 20 pounds to lose before her big day, was she able to stick to her pre-wedding shape-up plan?

The Stats
Gender: Female
Age: 28
Height: 5’8”
Location: Silver Spring
Profession: “An oddly-houred retail job.”
Self-described activity level: “In January, I decided to pick up running and have been following the Couch to 5K running plan. I also attend a weekly yoga class, and I tap dance. But I’m also, sadly, still 20 pounds overweight; I’m trying to make a dent in that number before the wedding. After reading a few of Mark Bittman’s articles and books—he writes for the New York Times—I’ve been trying to eat less processed foods and meat. It’s been a struggle.”

Day One
6:30 AM: Woke up, none too pleased. I would much prefer to be sleeping in on my day off. Checked e-mail, Twitter, news. Maybe we’ll try this sleep thing again.
10 AM: Much, much better. Significantly more day-off-like, wouldn’t you say? First things first: trying to figure out what I need to do today. If I’m intending to run this morning, I don’t want to eat a big breakfast. Oh, we have bananas!
10:15 AM: I take that back. The fiancé ate the last banana yesterday. He has suggested coffee, and I can’t say no. One fiancé-made double espresso.
10:30 AM: I’m eyeing the open box of Girl Scout cookies. Thankfully, they’re not flirting back. Cookies ignored.
11:30 AM: An hour lost to responding to an e-mail from the wedding planner. And all she wanted to know was if I liked the proposed timing of when to get my hair styled. Okay, now putting on running gear.
12:40 PM: Back from running. My Nike+ iPhone app says I went 2.64 miles in 38:30 minutes. I started running (well, jogging) in January, using the Couch to 5K app. The workouts are designed to mix running and walking to help you build up endurance. Today’s workout: 5-minute walk, 25-minute jog, cool down. I stopped three times, twice to cross the street, and once to take a leaf out of my sock. I’m seriously hungry.
1 PM: Late breakfast. Fiancé made three eggs, scrambled, with a plethora of fajita veggies and pineapple salsa. Too much food, couldn’t finish. Wish I drank more water.
4 PM: After two (yes, two) hours of watching my sister try on bridesmaid dresses, we have now have a dress plan! Just have to instruct the other girls. Decided we’d go for a “light lunch” at a French restaurant. In retrospect, I’m not sure that’s possible. I had a small piece of bread with butter . . . and French onion soup. There’s also a chance I had my fair share of the communal frites. And I drank approximately three glasses of water.
8:30 PM: Walked to and from Whole Foods, about ¾ mile round trip. Made a salad at the salad bar: mixed greens, cucumber, pineapple, tomatoes, green apple, dried cranberries, wheat berries, mushrooms, five tortellini, and balsamic vinegar. Washed it down with a glass of red wine.
9 PM: The fiancé picked up a cheese ball (yes, like from a holiday party) and crackers from Whole Foods. I couldn’t resist a handful of cheese-laden crostini, before putting them safely away in the fridge. Then we shared a Champagne mango.

Day Two

9 AM: The fiancé and I trekked down to a department store for a wedding-registry event. They let you play with the knives! Drank a paper cup of punch made with Champagne, lavender, lime, and orange juice, while getting an awesome demonstration on setting up your own home bar. At the waffle-iron station, I ate a waffle and later snagged a strawberry from the fruit plate.
Noon: Brunch with the boy, sister, and madre. Sweet, sweet coffee at last! Before our entreés, they serve us a fruit-and-bread plate, which includes three melon scoops, a teeny tiny blueberry muffin, and a small triangle of zucchini bread. I ordered a version of eggs Benedict that had crab instead of ham, plus potatoes and peppers. It’s served on English-muffin-sized biscuit halves.
3 PM: Waking from a mid-afternoon nap, I found the fiancé eating the cheese ball. I ate two of the little crackers with some cheese. Now to save-the-date designing!
8 PM: Taco salad for dinner, with lettuce, corn-and-bean salsa, tomatoes, salsa verde, grilled vegetables, and a serving of grilled steak. No giant tortilla shell. For dessert, we shared another Champagne mango.
9:30 PM: I discovered a Kit Kat bar in the apartment. And then I ate it.

Day Three

9:30 AM: Quick break at work to grab nourishment. Black coffee—albeit a bit burnt—and an egg-white English muffin from Subway with Swiss cheese, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, fresh spinach, and a wee bit of barbecue sauce.
12:30 PM: Lunched with a buddy at a Philadelphia-style sandwich shop. Walking there I proclaimed that I was “not ordering chips!” as putting potato chips on (yes, on) my sandwiches is a habit of mine. I kept to my water drinking and ordered a sandwich with portobella mushrooms, arugula, roasted-red peppers, and goat cheese. I took off most of the goat cheese (I really just wanted the flavor), and pulled off parts of the bread. We also split an order of risotto balls with cheese inside, dipped in marinara sauce.
2:30 PM: My workplace was sent a gift-basket-o-carbs. I refrained from all the chips! But ate a chocolate-covered pretzel stick.
6 PM: Home from work, ate a couple gummy bears.
7:30 PM: Home from my tap-dancing class. My teacher repeatedly had us doing portions of our routine faster and faster (and faster). It was more like tap-dance sprinting!
8:30 PM: Unexciting dinner. Similar salad as the one from Whole Foods on Day One, but I was seriously less appetized by it. Also had a small piece of meatloaf with mushrooms baked into it—equally drab. Finished with a stellar half a mango again. And two Girl Scout cookies.

Day Four
7:40 AM: A phone call? From my wedding-hair stylist? Before 8 AM? Some of us were sleeping . . .
9:30 AM: Actually awake now. Super hungry after last night’s disappointing dinner. Oatmeal with a sliced banana mixed in for breakfast. Yum!
1 PM: Back from a run. 40 minutes, 2.5 miles, including 5 minutes of walking on either end. Not a lot to eat in my apartment and in a supreme time crunch. Found a Trader Joe’s microwavable tom yam soup with spinach-mushroom wontons. 240 calories, 11 grams of fat, and no ingredients I can pronounce.
3:30 PM: Snack number 1: a banana.
5 PM: Snack number 2: another of those chocolate-covered pretzels from yesterday. At least I’ve been drinking water all afternoon!
6 PM: Chinese-food lunch break (I did say lunch—working late). I seem to be addicted to spicy soup today. I had an average-size bowl of hot-and-sour soup. We also shared an order of steamed pork dumplings, of which I ate three. There’s a strong chance I ate some of the crunchy fried noodles th
at they give you for your soup. The waiter also gave us some sliced oranges with our check. I had one slice.
7 PM: Skim cappuccino from the gelato shop. No gelato consumed, sadly.

From the Expert
Danielle Omar, a registered dietician in Fairfax, says: “This bride-to-be would benefit from a little meal planning. She goes way too long before eating and then turns to whatever’s around because she’s unprepared (she went eight hours between lunch and dinner on Day Three!). She should eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, add more protein to her lunch, and have a produce-and-protein snack in the afternoon. A tip for busy schedules: Don’t try to ‘tough it out’ during the day—you’ll likely just overeat at dinner.”

Are you brave enough to keep a food diary? We dare you. Send an e-mail to with your contact information and why you think you’d make a good diarist.

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