Two key parts of the Good Life, however you choose to live it, are what you eat and what you do. Enter: Diet & Exercise. I know folks who spend many dollars on well-raised and well-produced foods, as well as expensive diet supplements. I bet you know similar folks too. I wonder whether these folks are spending money well, or could they achieve similar diet goals with less cost?
I’m a casual rock climber. Lately, I’ve taken up weight lifting to improve my climbing and generally get stronger. This added exercise made me adjust my diet: after I started lifting barbells a few days a week, I wanted to eat everything in the house, all the time — it was a big change to my well-tuned diet that had worked for years, but I needed more food.
I eat mostly ovo-lacto vegetarian, so building a three thousand calorie diet becomes a bit of a task. I only eat meat if I’m at a social function where there is only meat for dinner. This happens one to four times per month. I eat what I want when I can control my diet, and when others are making the menu, I eat what they’re serving.*
The most-asked question of vegetarians is, “How do you get your protein?” This becomes even more frequent if you’re lifting weights on a veg diet. I’ll agree with all the carnivores and omnivores out there, that gram for gram, there’s more protein in shrimp, beef, chicken, and all those other animals that taste so good. However, it’s incredibly easy to pile on the protein in a tasty way with nuts, beans, and other plants — add in milk, cheese, and eggs, and it’s no trouble at all.
Most importantly for my diet and budget, I don’t stress about what I’m eating. I eat the most whole foods that I can find and afford, and I eat enough of them to feel satisfied. On about $160 per month, I can cook and eat all sorts of tasty meals that help me climb 5.12, and develop my deadlift over 400 lbs., while maintaining my weight at 165 lbs. There is too much worry and concern over precisely designing an optimal diet, when your body is perfectly capable of turning most anything into the stuff it needs to develop. The more you focus on providing a good variety of quality building blocks for your body, by simply eating a mix of quality foods, the better your body will auto-regulate its growth and development.
* There’s a fascinating story about Buddhist monks eating meat in Reborn in the West. A monk gets invited to a barbeque in America, and they’re serving hot dogs. It’s a great vignette that makes you think about ethics, food, religion, nutrition, and all manner of interesting intersections between concepts surrounding food.