An Exercise Phobic (and Snack Lover) Takes on the Food Diaries

Our diarist hates to exercise, but her goal is to workout four times a week. Will the allure of cookies, funnel cake, and pizza throw her off track?

Our diarist can’t get enough of Trader Joe’s oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookies.

The Stats
Gender: Female
Age: 22
Height: Five-foot-four
Location: DC’s West End
Profession: Works at an art gallery
Self-described activity level: “I’m extraordinarily lazy, yet I walk everywhere. I recently joined a gym and my goal is to go four times a week. I try to convince myself that any amount of exercise I do there is more than I would be doing at home. I hate working out.”

Day One
8:48 AM: Alarm goes off. I go to the fridge and pour a glass of orange juice. I also pour myself a cup of Honey Nut Cheerios—no milk. Boyfriend rolls over and says that dry cereal is disgusting and falls back asleep. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t have much of a choice. I don’t mind, though; I like dry cereal. I throw it back and get dressed.
10:15: I usually walk to work but since I didn’t leave until 9:58 (oops!), I grab a cab. Made it by 10:02, so almost right on time. I pull a Red Delicious apple out of my bag and notice a small area that looks white and fuzzy. I pretend it’s just part of my napkin that got caught on the stem and eat it anyway. Hope it’s not moldy.
11 AM: I haven’t done any real work yet. I eat an apple-flavored cereal bar from Trader Joe’s.

11:30: Hungry for lunch, but I like to hold out until noon.
Noon: Lunch finally. Whole-wheat wrap with brown rice, some chicken I made with a Thai-peanut sauce (very light), shredded cheese, spinach leaves, red pepper. It’s gone in ten minutes.
12:40: The orange slices come out of my bag. They are small but so good.
1:15: I eat a small bag of Pirate’s Booty. I could devour this in about a minute, but I try and pace myself. If I could, I would only eat Pirate’s Booty. It’s so salty and cheesy and great. These individual bags are perfect for someone like me who can (and has before) eat the entire bag in one sitting. Fewer calories, same taste = perfect.
2:35: I brought some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They’re small, and the recommended serving size is five cookies. I took 8. Oops? Totally great for a midday snack.
3:30: So hungry, so hungry, so hungry. My boss hasn’t refilled the water cooler and I have no idea where the spare bottles are kept. The tap water smells like chlorine, so I’m trying to portion out the rest of my water bottle for the day.
4 PM: Minor freak out at work. I wish there was something here to eat.
4:30: Chug the last quarter of my water bottle. I think I’m dying of thirst.
7:30: Home from the gym. Ran/walked 2.5 miles in 35 minutes. Then I walked home, almost a mile. Also, I picked up a giant water bottle on my way to the gym. It’s gone now. (Water fountains in gyms scare me. The one at my gym is right next to the showers, which I find just a little weird.)
9 PM: Starving. Just finished cooking dinner: two bowls of pasta with some parmesan cheese, and steamed zucchini. I also made some chicken, but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s lunch.
10:20: One teeny, tiny oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and bed.

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Day Two
7:50 AM: No idea why I’m awake. My alarm doesn’t go off for another 45 minutes.
8:05: A cup of Honey Nut Cheerios and some water.
8:45: Some English Breakfast tea! My favorite. I don’t add anything to it.
9:50: Leave for work about 10 minutes late, which is funny since I’ve been up for two hours doing very little of anything (updated the ol’ resume, watched the news). The walk to work is only about a mile, but when I leave late I feel like I’m sprinting. Plus, it’s uphill, which my shins hate.
11 AM: Surprisingly, not hungry yet. But . . .
11:10:  . . . I decide to have some grapes anyway
11:22: Grapes are gone.  
12:15 PM: Lunch time: Leftover pasta (linguini) with a very light marinara sauce, some spinach leaves, cut up mozzarella, and a few pieces of that chicken I made last night. I’m too lazy to walk downstairs and heat it up, so I just eat it cold. I don’t mind it except the chicken is pretty dry and there is a chunk of tomato floating in the pasta. I hate tomatoes (hence the light sauce). After lunch I have a piece of chicken stuck in my molar. I will now spend the rest of the afternoon trying to remove it.
12:37: Have removed the chicken from my tooth. Success. Will now spend rest of day getting that leftover pasta sauce taste out of my mouth.
1:45: Pull the biggest orange in the world out of my bag. I had cut it into six slices earlier and take my time eating them while I do some work.
2 PM: My hands smell like oranges. Sorry, keyboard.
2:30: Finish that last slice of orange. Decide it’s time for the Pirate’s Booty. Yummmmmmm.
3:35: Time to eat those cookies I packed. Mmmmm, 10 small Trader Joe’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Totally worth it.
4:40: Apple cereal bar. And the last of my giant water bottle. Hopefully this will last me until I get home.
8:15: Home. Went to an event after work. Grab two cookies (how is no one else addicted to these?), think about what to do for dinner. Uhhh, pizza dough that’s one day expired? Done. Put it on a tray, some sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. Try all of the ingredients while making the pizza? Of course.
8:50: My first slice is very doughy. Probably didn’t cook it all the way but I’m starving so whatever.
9:25: Finished a second slice. Definitely not cooked. Oh well.
9:30: Stomach hurts. Should have cooked that longer.

Day Three
9 AM: Woke up late. Couldn’t fall asleep until midnight, then woke up at 5 AM. Fell back asleep around 6, then when my alarm went off I just listened to it instead of turning it off.
9:10: Breakfast: Cheerios and tea. Tea is too hot but I drink it anyway. No energy to think about what to make for lunch. I really need to go food shopping but don’t have time until maybe Monday. Ten bucks says I throw some lettuce and cheese into a container and call it a salad.
11:10: Time for string cheese. Does anyone else have a problem with crumbs from their string cheese? Someone once told me that string cheese doesn’t leave crumbs. I beg to differ.
12:15 PM: Lost that bet I made earlier. Lunch is a wrap: tortilla (five days past expiration date), chicken I made two nights ago, red pepper (definitely squishier than it should be), spinach leaves, shredded cheese, and some light mayo. Could be worse, I guess. Good thing I brought a new bottle of water with me today.
12:50: Break out the diet peach tea Snapple I bought on the way to work. It says 0 calories, 5 milligrams sodium—which means nothing to me so I just keep drinking it. To be honest I only bought it so I could finish it and have somewhere to put my spare change. Can’t wait to bring this baby home and start filling it with coins.
1:30: I have some carrots and celery that I cut up. It’s cold in here so I’m not happy that these are cold and soggy.
2:30: Orange slices. Not great. Very small. Very sour.
4:15: Annie’s organic cheddar bunnies. Basically organic Cheez-Its shaped like bunnies! I poured a bunch into a bag this morning (avoiding the Pirate’s Booty).
6:15: Walked home in the rain. Not happy. Grab a handful of those oatmeal chocolate chips while waiting for my mom, who’s in town this weekend, to call me.
8 PM: Mom and I go to a Mexican restaurant. I eat a couple of chips with salsa (when I say salsa, I mean that I dip my chip in and make sure there is nothing on it but the liquid part. Tomatoes = gross. Onions = disgusting. Their flavor = OK.) We also order an appetizer of guacamole, which I devour. Me + avocados = pure love. Do not come between me and anything with avocados. I order a chicken burrito, topped with lots of cheese, rice, and beans. I magically eat the entire thing in a total of 10 minutes. I don’t even realize it until it’s gone. I guess I was starving. I also eat the crispy bowl the guac comes in. Oh, and I had a strawberry daiquiri. I was pretty full after this.

Day Four
9 AM: Cup of tea and a small cup of Cheerios. I really need new breakfast food.
11:30 AM: At the Japanese street festival. I get some pad thai and a lemonade.
1 PM: Grab some chicken on a stick to bring to work . . . and a funnel cake. My reason: How many times do you get to go to a street festival?
2 PM: At work and eating cold, soggy funnel cake. I reason that cold funnel cake is better than no funnel cake, but immediately regret this decision since the powdered sugar has now given me a terrible stomach ache.
2:30: Eating cold chicken on a stick. I eat about three pieces and put it down. It is also cold and after all that sugar I never want to eat again.
6 PM: Dinner time. I have a pizza: barbecue chicken with goat cheese and some greens on a crispy piece of flatbread. I also have a Diet Coke. But I only eat about less than a third of the pizza, since I’m still feeling that funnel cake from earlier.

Day Five
9:30: Up. I don’t want cereal and I’m not that hungry. Make the mistake of eating a lot of cinnamon-roasted almonds that I bought at the festival the day before. Wash them down with water.
10:15: Mama takes me food shopping! I now have a fully stocked kitchen!
Noon: A friend from home is in town. My mom drops u
s off by the Washington Monument and heads home while we walk to the Tidal Basin. My friend is hungry so we split a vegetable roll bought from a tent at the Cherry Blossom Festival. It was pretty good. Continue to walk through the kite festival, then head to the National Gallery’s sculpture garden.
2 PM: From there we walk to Chinatown and head to Starbucks, where I get a tall iced black tea and put in a pinch of sugar. Surprisingly, not hungry even though I haven’t really eaten much. I’m hoping that all of this walking is making up for not having been to the gym in three days.
6:30: Home now, and I make some parmesan chicken with steamed broccoli and pasta sauce. Have half a piece of chicken and feel full but craving something sweet.
9 PM: Decide to have some ice cream that I got earlier (even though my mom told me not to).
9:30: Realize that I have unknowingly eaten more ice cream than the recommended serving. Being lactose intolerant, I know that this was a mistake that I will regret shortly.

Day Six
9:30: Up. Make a bowl of maple and brown sugar oatmeal and top it with a couple strawberries and a banana. This is delicious. Have a cup of tea while watching the news.
Noon: Head to the gym. I run/walk 3.5 miles in 45 minutes. Then I do some weight machines. I spent a lot of time at the gym today to make up for the last few days. I’m feeling good afterward, but realize I have a mile walk home.
2 PM: For lunch, I heat up a piece of the leftover barbecue chicken pizza from the other night and add a few slices of avocado. It’s still so great. I also have a few tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, because who doesn’t love cheese?
5 PM: I make some cupcakes for a friend. I taste all the ingredients. . . and lick the spoon after.
8 PM: Dinner: parmesan chicken again, pasta sauce, steamed broccoli, and sautéed mushrooms.
10:15: For dessert, I have a spoonful of peach sorbet and a couple of those cinnamon roasted almonds.

From the Expert
Enlighten Nutrition’s Elana Natker, a dietician who offers nutrition counseling, says, “I don’t understand why this diarist calls herself ‘extraordinarily lazy.’ Walking most definitely counts as exercise, and what’s better, it’s part of her daily routine. Every little bit counts. Overall, she makes some great choices and manages to eat plenty of fruit and water every day. Up until her food shopping outing with Mom, I was a little concerned about the lack of variation, but I’m guessing it was more a function of what was available at home at the time. Even so, good for her for not opting instead to eat out or order in!

“Despite her lactose intolerance, the diarist appears to tolerate cheese pretty well. This is not uncommon for lactose-intolerant folks, as hard cheese tends to have less lactose and more milk solids than fluid milk. Cheese is a good source of calcium, but not so great for vitamin D. It also provides a lot of saturated fat, which isn’t good for your heart or cholesterol. To boost her vitamin D intake, I’d suggest trying a lactose-free milk, or calcium- and vitamin-D-fortified soy milk.

“I’m delighted to see that she eats breakfast every morning, though it’s obvious on the days she had foods with a bit more substance she felt fuller longer. Yes, nuts are easy to overeat and provide fat (i.e. more calories), but it’s a heart-healthy fat, as opposed to the saturated fat in cheese. They also provide some protein and fiber. Switching out higher-fiber oatmeal for her lower-fiber cereal seemed to get her through her workout as well.

“Her diet could use a little variety in the protein department. I really only see chicken and cheese here. If she likes fish, I’d suggest trying to get some salmon on a regular basis. Not only is it rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats (good for the heart and brain), but it’s a terrific source of vitamin Dl. Beans are another great protein option, since they provide fiber, protein, and folate (a vitamin that women of reproductive age need), and they’re low in fat.

“All in all, I applaud this diarist’s ability to incorporate lean protein, fruit, vegetables, water, and exercise into her everyday routine. She allows herself the occasional splurge, but doesn’t beat herself up about it. She bounces right back with a healthy meal later.”

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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