Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cost Benefit Analysis

178.4 lbs. NOT A BLOODY WORD!!!!! It was the South that was supposed to rise again, not my GD weight!

2 lbs. spike after Sunday (well, I was sure of the spike, just not the amount. We could start a pool on these things). Pizza is the Devil’s creation; you heard it here first. However, the spike decided to hang around. Bastard.

After last night’s attempt to get in a full workout (notice the use of the word “attempt.” Its presence implies that I was not successful) at the later 7-8 PM hour, I was reminded of a joke by Steven Wright (Great deadpan BOSTON comedian). One of his lines: “I got arrested for scalping low numbers at a deli. I got 50 bucks for a 3.” There were LINES for the more popular machines and I could see myself with a velvet rope and a clipboard saying, “I’m sorry, you’re not on the list” and quietly accepting a twenty to admit them. I could make a fortune.

Please explain to me, why, more than 30 years after graduating high school (I have the dated diploma to prove it), I am still subjected to adolescent attitudes and behavior from people who also have high school in the rear view mirror. Case in point, last night, I saw an open machine, hopped on and started to work. I was then subjected to a prolonged stink eye from the friend of the woman who was on the machine next to me. Apparently, they wanted to work their thighs side by side and I thwarted that ambition. No, she wasn’t standing by the machine when I got on; nobody was near it who could make a legitimate claim to being next in line (I would have yielded. I’m not an asshole). Nope. She just glared at me; didn’t ask to “work in” or otherwise share the machine. She just went the passive aggressive route and stared. Sorry, kids, but you are rank amateurs compared to the manipulators who trained me. Ask me directly, I’ll cooperate and then some, if feasible. Use hints or body English or guilt, sorry, no hablo. I had my fill of that bullshit during the first 40 years of my life.

But that’s not why we’re here tonight.

A dear friend wryly observed the other day (during a Harry Potter and Satan’s snack marathon. Did I mention that pizza is evil? Write that down) that the Universe was teaching her lessons in “extreme frugality” and we compared notes on the challenges of nutritious, healthy eating on half a shoestring.

What it comes down to is this: When you have to choose how to spend a limited amount of money on food, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re making the decision as to which has the higher priority: your money or your health.

Since this is my blog, you get my opinion: I will go with my health.

Part of it is that I’ve been working too damned hard to undo the good I’ve done by embarking on a lousy diet simply because the crappy food is more plentiful. Ramen noodles abound but 1) the noodles are made from wheat and the gluten will have an adverse effect on my system and 2) the sodium from the bouillon packet will screw up my body chemistry as well. Sure, the meal costs pennies, but I can’t afford the other costs: bloating, elevated blood pressure, skin issues, sinus infections. The 59 cents spent on the meal is more than offset by the costs of medicine needed to correct the side effects (Sudafed, cortisone cream, etc.). Pass.

Organic food costs more than conventionally grown. Cost benefit analysis: some folks will go with the conventionally grown because the food dollar will go further and the organic generally isn’t as pretty. Other folks will buy less organic with the same because the cost THEY don’t want to pay is that of the possible effects of pesticides and fertilizer on their body chemistry and also believe that the organic is more nutritious (No judgment or opinion on that one from this corner. I’ve heard the arguments for pro and con).

I am also more likely to buy meat or vegetables rather than starch. Starch may be a LOT cheaper and more filling, but my unscientific opinion is that I get a better benefit from the protein or the veggies.

(Again, flogging My Net Diary. After Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, the best money I’ve ever spent on a phone app) Since I’m recording everything I eat and weighing and measuring in order to get the calorie count accurate, portion control has become my ally. Years ago, in this kind of situation before (Yeah, it’s taken this long to learn), I would give in to panicked eating and wipe out the food stores I had in short order. (For the record, I’ve never starved) Now, the food is getting stretched because I want to stay within my calorie budget.  I have grilled chicken breast from Fresh & Easy. I weigh out 100 grams at a time, whether I’m blending it with lettuce for a simple salad (I’ve become very meticulous about getting in my green vegetables) or brown rice, ground garlic and green beans or some other green vegetable for a quickie rice bowl. The 100 grams is a habit from the HCG protocol where your 2 meals per day consist of 100 grams of protein, 2 cups of a vegetable, a fruit and Blue Diamond Nut Thins (my choice because – say it with me – it’s gluten free). It may not sound like much, but 100 grams will fuel you pretty nicely. A package of that chicken costs $5.49, I get 4 meals from it this way.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling prosperous and beef-deprived, so I bought a package of frozen Kobe beef burgers from Trader Joe’s (and doesn’t My Net Diary scream at me about saturated fat). 1 patty is 660 calories. I also have a bag of brown rice pasta and a jar of Trader Joe’s organic marinara. I grilled a patty on my George Foreman  (and was amazed at the amount of fat that ran off, but that’s why I cooked it on the Foreman), broke it up into crumbles and added half the patty to 2 cups of cooked pasta and a half cup of sauce. By dividing THAT in half, I have two meals, 400 calories each and the pasta is filling. American chop suey or goulash or whatever you want to call it. Comfort food at a somewhat healthier level.

I drink a lot of water and I generally buy bottled water, including highly alkaline water at $2.00 a gallon. This is not as extravagant as it might seem because the price of bottled water is just about there.  I paid $2.29 for a gallon of bottled water from Trader Joe’s when I  bought the beef. The Trader Joe’s in Tarzana has a bottle filling station that costs $.39 per gallon for reverse osmosis (very highly filtered) water. However, this week, even that was a bit too much. I don’t like the taste of Los Angeles tap water. However, water is 90% of what I drink (the rest is iced tea). I grabbed my bottles, filled them out of the tap and stuck them in the fridge. You know what? Chilled, LA tap water isn’t so bad. America has the best, safest drinking water in the world and it is incredibly abundant and cheap. And I’m hydrated.

If you’ve seen “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (you love Johnny Depp, don’t you? It’s the eyes and the cheekbones, I know) and remember it, there’s the moment when our hero, Charlie Bucket, is torn between cashing in the Golden Ticket himself and having the adventure of 10 lifetimes or selling it to help out his impoverished family (Charlie’s a nice kid). Charlie’s Grandpa George hauls the kid to his side and says, “There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day. But this ticket, there’s only five of them in the whole world and that’s all there’s ever going to be. Only a dummy would give this up for something as common as money. Are you a dummy?”

Money comes. It always does. Maybe not as thick and fast and immediate as we’d like when we’re really scared financially, but it does show up. Like Grandpa George says, “There’s plenty out there.” Good health, on the other hand, once gone is not quite so easily re-established. I’ve done the research.

My momma didn’t raise no dummies.

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