Light and strong: food and burpees on the go.

Burpee/food break
I had meant to write a post every week this year! It started with a climber that asked me what he could do to eat well when he did not know how to cook, so I decided to make it a weekly food challenge. I had started the burpee challenge at the beginning of the year, so a food challenge seemed like a good complement.

Turns out that challenge has become my own now that I am in an accelerated nursing program. Even if I know how to cook, the time for elaborate or even simple meals is just not there. Add to it the fact that after eating black beans and quinoa for weeks and months on end, I do get really sick of it. Eating out is not healthy, does not give me a good variety or quality of vegetables, and is costly. What to do?

As the numbers of burpees have increased from ''1'' on January 1st, to ''160'' today, I have found that there is no way in hell I can do burpees all in one take without injuring my shoulders, hip flexors or ankles, the three parts of my body that have screamed at me so far during this challenge. Of course my brain was the very first one to scream, and it continues to scream loud and clear every single fucking day. No reasoning with it, so just leave it alone.

So I started to divide the burpees up, and do them as I go along the day; in an empty hallway, stairway or classroom, before a meal, after a bathroom break... I noticed that, as long as I didn't lose track of the numbers (sometimes I''l write myself a note on the phone), it worked. They keep me alert all day, especially when I have to sit through a 4-plus hour lecture, or feel ''fried'' after an exam. They ''air'' my brain. Even if I don't have the time to properly ''exercise'' that day, I know that I will have done a bunch of push ups and jumps by the end of the day. Burpees are magical in that they work and keep your whole body strong: arms strong enough to go back to long swims after a year break, legs conditioned for long injury-free runs and bike rides even if I must skip days or weeks for lack of time.

So I decided to do the same with food. Here and there. Incorporate it into studying. As long as I get a start in the morning, there is always something in the fridge for that moment of hunger pangs, be it from real hunger or a fried brain with too much coffee in it. Make quinoa/beans or chop a vegetable and have it ready for later while I make coffee or eat breakfast, roast vegetables for the next day while eating dinner or studying late at night... the key is to find ways to chop the task into little pieces and ''mix it up'' so it doesn't become an overwhelming boring duty. Keep it light. Eat little, and have no fear: after all, there are always cashews and a shiny apple in the bag.

These are the essentials I make sure I always have:

FRUIT: Bananas, apples, oranges. And one other fruit or two for variety so I don't go crazy. This week was melon (on sale) and cherries (on sale). Wash them right away when I get home so they are ready to go. Frozen fruit, a must: so that if I run out of time, which seems to happen every day, I can always make a smoothie and take it with me in the car- just have to be careful not to spill, which also seems to happen frequently... working on that.

YOGURT and apple cider. So I can put on fruit in the morning, or use for smoothies.. Apple cider also good to reach for when I get home late and that beer must still wait for... more studying and burpees.

NUTS: all nuts. Cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans are my favorites. I always have cashews in my bag. Almonds are great in smoothies, and all of them are great with fruit in the morning. I also sprinkle nuts on salads.

DRIED FRUIT: great for salads (especially cranberries, they go great with orange slices), also make for awesome snacks along with nuts.

GRAINS: this one has been the most difficult for me to keep up with. I have resorted to quinoa (it's a seed, not a grain!) and bulgur wheat, both of which I can throw boiling water on as I make coffee in the morning, and just let sit- they soak up the boiling water and are ready in 20-30 minutes. Oats are also great, they are so versatile! Throw in smoothies, bake into granola (15 minutes, that's it), use in cookies and scones... and of course oat meal. Corn tortillas (ORGANIC- this is important, as all non-organic are made w/ GMO corn), whole wheat bread for sandwiches. When I have a bit more time, I make brown rice. Whole wheat pasta also a good option.

BEANS: black beans are my choice. Soak and cook them while studying. No, no canned crap.

BUTTER and OLIVE OIL: a must at all times. For sandwiches, for sauteeing pretty much any vegetable that I get my hands on in the cast iron pan, for salad dressing, along with salt and vinegar.

PARSLEY and ARUGULA: I actually read once in Men's Journal that parsley is a men's must-have. They are right- even if I don't have the time to chop or cook, I can always squeeze arugula into my butter/cheese or butter/salami sandwich, or toss parsley on any salad, grain, or tortilla. And it looks good.

VEGETABLES: arugula, spinach, kale, watercress, corn, carrots, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, red onions, avocados (I know, it's a fruit, and so are tomatoes), peppers, squash... don't waste your money on lettuce. Remember, our bodies don't make vitamins... we need to eat them!

OLIVES: great on salads, great late-night snack

SALAMI and CHEDDAR CHEESE: both keep well

EGGS: what would I do without eggs? boil them for snacks, great in salads, great for last-minute omelets (sprinkle parsley on top...). They also keep for a long time (2 months).

TIN FOIL and a strong GLASS (or metal) ware with a leak-proof lid: for all those damn sandwiches and salads that must be eaten on the go

BEER: when all else fails.

Stay away from soda and processed foods... and health and strength will stay with you.

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