What a 23-Year-Old Event Manager Eats: The Food Diaries

The realities of post-college life—a 9-to-5 job and a long commute—have taken a toll on our diarist’s workout regimen. Our expert is here to help.
Our diarist once heard that drinking water when you wake up helps speed up your metabolism.

The Stats
Gender: Female.
Age: 23.
Height: Five-foot-four.
Weight: 114 pounds.
Location: Baltimore (home) and Gaithersburg (work).
Profession: Event manager.
Self-described activity level: “Prior to receiving my first full-time job (where I now sit in a chair for 10+ hours a day), I spent hours at the gym, worked out at least five days a week doing mostly cardio with some ab work, light weights, and lots of stretching. Now that my life is devoted to work (and driving to and from work), I try to squeeze in at least three to four quick workouts per week. I’m not always fortunate enough to have the time for it, but when I do, cardio is my top priority. I also ran my first half-marathon in March (a New Year’s resolution), so the first quarter of the year was spent running like a mad woman. I’m all for any form of exercise—it keeps me sane and gives me energy.”

Day One
5:45 AM: Alarm goes off, always feels way too early. I’m still not used to it, even after over a year at my big girl job. I wait five minutes and then get up while the boyfriend and puppy sleep—even the dog doesn’t want to get up this early. I take my Women’s One-a-Day multivitamin with a big glass of water. It’s always hard for me to drink water first thing in the morning, but I heard it speeds up your metabolism so I force myself to do it.
6:30: Not my week to drive to work, so carpool-mate picks me up and we’re off on the hourlong trek across Maryland to our office.
7:30: Arrive at work. The first thing I do is eat: Fage Greek yogurt with organic Cascadian Farm honey granola. My absolute favorite part of the day is eating this delicious combo. I also make a cup of Lipton black tea with one packet of Truvia and a little bit of honey. After breakfast I sip on water from my Bobble. (This is a gift from the boyfriend. It’s a water bottle with a filter at the top.)
12:30 PM: Lunch time! I usually eat around this time every day. I bring my lunch to work to avoid eating unhealthy foods and spending money unnecessarily. Today I have a Healthy Choice frozen meal, roasted red pepper marinara, some multigrain Wheat Thins with a little packet of Sabra original hummus, and water. There are two main things I should mention about this meal: 1) I eat a lot of frozen meals because they’re easy to make at work, however frozen meat grosses me out so I only buy the vegetarian ones. I’m a wanna-be vegetarian, anyway, but as you’ll see I do eat meat occasionally. 2) I’m also obsessed with hummus and could probably survive off it alone; I eat it everyday and never get sick of it. In my opinion, everything tastes better with hummus! After lunch I continue to sip water.
2:15: Mass e-mail comes out that there are snacks available for anyone who wants some. My office does this often. We cater lunches and all sorts of things here, so whenever there is leftover food they make sure we all know about it. This usually causes the majority of the office to immediately stop what they’re doing and sprint to the food. When I first started working here I joined the herd and ate every time these e-mails came out. I have now learned that I am not hungry at this time and therefore don’t need to eat whatever it is (cookies, brownies, chips) so I’m a good girl and stay in my cube.
4:20: Now I am a little hungry, so I have my afternoon snack, a banana.
6:45: Left work early so I could get home in time for my roommates’ birthday dinner tonight. I live with three girls and two of them have the same birthday (weird, right?) but we’re celebrating tonight by all going out to dinner. After much deliberation we decided on Metropolitan, a little coffee house/wine bar in Federal Hill, one of my favorites. I stick with water and we split an appetizer, crab-and-spinach dip. I have about three pita chips worth of it. For dinner I order the five-spice chicken-and-mango salad, which has grilled chicken breast and sliced mango over mixed greens with sesame ginger vinaigrette. Very delicious.
9:45: Glass of water before bed and within minutes I’m sound asleep.

Day Two
5:45 AM: I hate the sound of my alarm. But I’m up.
7:20: Arrive at work; make a cup of tea. No yogurt/granola today. As an incentive for my team, my boss promised us she would make breakfast for us if we succeeded in one of our projects. We did, so the smell of pancakes is soon drifting through the office. Although it smells delicious, I’m still a little disappointed that I can’t eat my yogurt today.
8:30: Breakfast is ready so we all dig in. I take two pancakes, one turkey sausage link, and one mini-blueberry muffin. I also have a glass of OJ. I don’t add any butter but drizzle a little bit of syrup on the pancakes for some flavor. I don’t like a lot of sauces on my food—everything I eat is mostly dry. People tend to think that’s weird but it’s just the way I like it.
12:20 PM: Lunch time. Today I have reduced-fat crunchy peanut butter on a honey wheat English muffin with multigrain wheat thins, a little thing of Sabra Hummus, and a 100-calorie pack of Kraft cheese with water. Pretty much just a bunch of little snacks at one time. Afterwards, I’m pretty full and sip on water out of my Bobble.
4:15: Afternoon snack, another banana. It’s been a boring day; I can’t wait for it to be over so I can get to the gym.
7 PM: Home from work and headed to the gym. My boyfriend and I usually go together, and after my three-mile jog on the treadmill, he helps me lift some light weights.
8 PM: For dinner we split half a bag of frozen edamame in the pod, boiled with salt, and some pretzel thins dipped in more hummus.
9:30: Big glass of water and lights out!

See Also:

Five Exercises You’re Doing Wrong

Why I Trained Through Injury

Smoothie Recipes to Keep You Full and Satisfied

Day Three
5:45 AM: Alarm goes off and for once I’m not exhausted when I wake up. Big glass of water/multivitamin, and I’m up.
7:30: At work and so excited to eat my yogurt and tea! I’m in my happy place.
12:30 PM: Today for lunch I have a Kashi frozen meal, pesto pasta primavera. It’s okay. I’m hungry so I am happy with it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. I also eat some multigrain Wheat Thins (by now, I think we can all see I am addicted to these as well) with water. No hummus today since I ate it twice yesterday, embarrassing. I am also not trying to eat too much for lunch since I know I’m going to be having a bigger dinner. We’re having friends over to listen to the U2 concert since I live right next to M&T Bank Stadium. We’re grilling out and supplying turkey burgers (I don’t eat red meat), hot dogs, and buns, so we’ve asked everyone else to bring sides. I should also mention that I go on walks with coworkers on my lunch break around the beautiful, man-made lake by my office. I don’t know exactly how long the distance is—it can’t be more than a mile—but we like to walk it anyway and since it’s pretty hot outside we usually come back sweating. I don’t really consider it exercise but it gets me out of my cage (did I say cage? I meant cube) for some fresh air.
4:20: Banana time.
7:30: Friends are here, the grill is going, and we’re all out on the roof deck enjoying Florence and the Machine, which is opening for U2. Turns out for dinner I have a turkey burger with a slice of provolone on a wheat bun, some chips, some watermelon, some pasta salad, and a cookie. I am totally unsure as to what the actual portion sizes of all of these things are, but it’s all about enough to make one plate. I stick with water since I have to be up early for work the next morning. Afterward, we are all stuffed and happy.
10:30: Everyone has left but the concert is still going on. Somehow I fall asleep, although it sounds like U2 is literally playing inside my house. I know I’m going to be tired tomorrow but it was worth it. Large glass of water and I’m out.

Day Four
5:45 AM: Yep, tired. I manage half a glass of water. Oh, and that multivitamin.
7:30: At work and I think about walking down the street to Starbucks to get coffee today but decide against it. I enjoy coffee from time to time, but if I drink too much it gives me the jitters so I usually stick with tea. And of course, yogurt and granola.
12:30 PM: Today for lunch I have a Smart Ones fettuccini alfredo with broccoli and, of course, multigrain Wheat Thins and a small packet of Sabra hummus and water. Our walk around the lake today consisted of dodging an abnormally large amount of goose poop while also being lightly rained on—still the highlight of my work day.
4:30: Afternoon snack, a banana. Am I sick of having a banana everyday every afternoon? Yes. Since this is the only fruit I eat on a regular basis I guilt myself into eating it everyday. Also, the bananas at the end of the week are never as good as they are at the beginning of the week. Maybe I will have something different tomorrow.
7 PM: Finally at the gym. After 30 minutes on the elliptical, stretching, and some abs, I feel much better. I listened to my boyfriend’s iPod since mine is broken, and I’m pleasantly surprised. Why has he been hiding all this good music from me? I must remember to discuss this with him later . . .
8 PM: Boyfriend and I split a California Pizza Kitchen margarita pizza. He has five slices, I have three. We also have some pretzel thins dipped in hummus.
9:30: Large glass of water and bed!

From the Expert
Registered dietician Deborah Jeffery of Fairfax Dietetics says, “Congratulations on sticking with your New Year’s resolution to run a half marathon! The real world with long work days and sedentary jobs can really wreak havoc on a person’s time for exercise and food preparation. Many times, young professionals see a weight bump up as a result of decreased physical activity and a failure to decrease their caloric intake accordingly. Excess calories from eating out and alcohol consumption compound the situation. The weight creeps up with the end result being a significant weight gain over a couple of years. This diarist has the routine and mind set to prevent this from happening.

“It’s great that the diarist makes time for the gym and actually enjoys the working out; she can feel the immediate mental boost and energy surge. Her diet shows that she is doing other things right, too: She’s eating three meals a day, which keeps blood sugar and mood stable, prevents excessive hunger, and allows for the adequate intake of essential nutrients. She’s conscientious about her fluid intake, which is primarily water, and prevents an excess calorie intake from sweetened beverages. Also, the diarist is following her hunger cues for between-meal snacking and resists snacking on empty calorie foods simply because they’re available.

“She states that she’s heard that drinking water in the morning will increase the metabolism. There are some studies that suggest drinking water and being well hydrated may increase the metabolism. But the increase is due to the total-water intake over a day’s time and not the fact that it is consumed in the morning. The metabolic increase is modest with only an additional 30 to 40 calories burned daily. Even so, drinking water in the morning is a good habit for staying well hydrated.

“Seriously lacking from the diarist’s diet is the recommended five servings—one cup each—of fruits and veggies to provide antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber. While bananas are good food and particularly high in potassium, she needs to mix it up with a variety of fruits. Choose produce in different colors to get a variety of nutrients. Fruit can be added to the morning yogurt or as a sweet dessert at lunch or dinner. Assorted raw veggies are good for snacking and dipping in hummus. Large mixed-green salads with fruit and lean protein could be added to her lunch options. Also to simplify meal preparation, frozen vegetables are a healthy alternative to fresh ones.

“One other thing: Sources of omega-3 fatty acids are important to include in your diet for brain and heart health. If the diarist enjoys fish, particularly fatty fish, she should include it in her diet twice a week. Otherwise, edamame, which she eats, is also a good source and should be routinely included. Other options are walnuts and ground flaxseed, which can be added to yogurt or sal
ads.”

Are you brave enough to keep a food diary? We dare you. Send an e-mail to wellbeing@washingtonian.com with your contact information, where you live, and a paragraph or two about why you'd make a good diarist.

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