Whether it was five zip-lock bags full of chicken and broccoli, a few yogurts, or some cold cuts, I always tried to have something with me. Notice I said that I would take five bags, and not four. This was just in case I got stuck on a case or an arrest. If I was on overtime for a few hours, and I hit that 3-hour mark, then I'd eat again, and by keeping it with my in a small cooler, then I'd be sure to not miss a meal. Now there may be times when you may not have the time to prepare all of your meals, so this is when you really have to work hard to make healthy choices. If the only thing open is a convenience store or a fast food restaurant, then you have to customize your meals. A grilled chicken sandwich, or a salad with chicken would obviously suffice, but make sure that you ask about calorie content. Fast food restaurants in New York are required to give calorie counts now. There's no limit as to what you can eat, as long as you're counting calories. A good breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, and fat calories is 40-30-30 %. But if you can't hit those percentages, then make sure to stay within your calories. A little bag of peanuts or almonds always held me over when I had to grab something quick on the run.
Now let's talk about exercise and how to fit it into your work schedule. I have a couple of basic rules to remind you of. First of all, there are many different resources out there to help you know what to do in the gym, or at home if you can't get to the gym. They include the Biggest Loser Books, Jillian's books including "Winning by Losing", and even the Biggest Loser Fitness game for the "Wii" that shows you many exercises you can do at home. My suggestion is that you get one or more of these resources, and speak to a personal trainer at your local gym or health club about setting you up with a basic plan. One of the things that I learned specifically from Jillian is that fat burning during cardio training only STARTS after 40 minutes of cardio. That's right.... Fat burning only starts after minute 40. Therefore if you have only one hour a day to train, or walk, or jog, then make sure you use every bit of that hour. Here's the breakdown. The first 20 minutes is warm-up. The second 20 minutes works your cardio-vascular system. Only after that do you start burning calories, so what we learned is that you should do at least an hour of cardio a day to maximize your available time, and when you do that hour, it should be at high intensity, which will keep you breathing heavy, and your heart rate elevated. You should do this on an empty stomach. This allows you to start burning fat after 40 minutes, which is stored in the body, rather than burning excess calories from a meal. My cardio training usually involved 1-1 ½ hours a day, twice a day, either before, during, or after work, during which I would walk uphill, at an incline, on the treadmill. 3 miles per hour at a 15 degree incline, was my goal for the entire hour and a half. If I couldn't keep up, I would lower either the incline or the speed. Yes, there came a point in my fitness journey that my body felt good enough to start jogging, and that has resulted in my completing two New York City Marathons, the first of which I finished last year at age 42. In my case, this past thanksgiving (2009) only weeks after completing my second New York City Marathon, I tore my quadriceps tendon in my knee playing in a fun football game with the cops and the firemen in my town. This was our annual "Turkey Bowl" which every year ends up being renamed the "Idiot Bowl" when there's a "Weekend Warrior" (idiot) that gets hurt. This nickname comes directly from the wives of those idiots. LOL. This year, I am that idiot. I wasn't able to train at all for the entire winter, which facilitated my gaining upwards of 30 pounds in 4 months. I also wasn't able to work, and my physical activity was practically nothing, until physical therapy started. I was stressed, and at times, depressed, and although I do not use my injury as an excuse, I do blame it for my inactivity. I gained weight solely because I ate too much while recovering from the injury. Ugh. After all is said and done, now that my rehabilitation had improved my ability to about 95 %, I'm ready to hit the gym and the road again, and have also started my food journaling again too. So back to the drawing board. Remember my friends, that this is life long battle. Don't be mad or annoyed with those guys or girls that can eat anything they want all day long, and still look like toothpicks. That's a blessing that we didn't get. Another thing to remember, it's much easier to be accountable to a partner, and support is important, so try to find a partner who may be struggling as you are. I will be your accountability partner if you can't find anybody else. Remember that I'm out there on the battlefield just like you, and that I'm struggling with my addiction to food just as many of you are. It's strange to talk about food as an addiction, when we, in our profession, often deal with addictions of a much more serious, and often criminal nature. Believe it or not, I found it much easier to quit smoking cigarettes than I find it to give up pretzels. (Hey!!!...You laughing at ME?..). Weird, right?.