Where I used to be able to pack away large quantities of food and still remain technically underweight, today, a handful of potato chips is enough to have me retaining water like a sponge.
But the tide can turn from time to time. For me, all it takes is the return to a regular exercise regimen, like the one I have successfully incorporated into my routine last year.
When that happens, not only does my metabolic rate go up, but it’s like revisiting my teens and 20s all over again as I seem to be hungry… ALL THE TIME!
While logically, it should just be a case of finding an extra snack or two to tide me over until the next meal, it’s a little more complicated than that.
As much as you would think I could take advantage of the situation to indulge myself in the goodies I only consume in moderation (since I’m not technically underweight anymore), in reality, I don’t crave them when I work out regularly. The empty calories leave me hungry and wanting something else soon thereafter.
I tend to crave healthier snacks that sustain me better. If I don’t, I get so hungry that my arrival home is like a scene from “Animal Planet”, as I demolish leftover roast chicken like a lion devouring its prey.
The trick for me is to try to stay ahead of the hunger with convenient and nutrient-rich options.
I am lucky that because of my wheat intolerance, batch cooking has been part of my routine for almost 15 years. It just takes a little time and planning to prepare large quantities of food, store them in the fridge or freezer in individual reusable containers, and to take them out as needed throughout the week.
And for snacks, I maintain a selection of options on rotation like hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, and cheese with gluten-free crackers. Plus, I always have my favourite protein bars and protein powder on standby.
And yet, there are still days when there doesn’t seem to be enough food to fill the bottomless pit of my hungry stomach.
When that happens, the rumbling sound starts… that embarrassing, thunderous rumbling that is loud enough to set off motion detectors.
Fortunately, it’s not like a passing gas kind of sound, but the notes range from “haunted house moans” to “Swiss Alps avalanche”.
The most embarrassing occurrence was about 25 years ago, in the middle of a face-to-face meeting with a client… on their premises. My stomach was rumbling so loudly, I had to apologize and ask for a glass of water to literally drown the noise. It actually took three glasses of water to quiet things down. It was so loud I couldn’t help but make jokes about how something may soon pop out of my tummy like a scene out of the movie “Alien”.
In that case, I think I was actually suffering from dehydration, after a long drive, on a hot summer day, in a car with no air conditioning. But that was the first time that my rumbling tummy caused a disturbance. I was very lucky that my clients were good sports about it and took it in stride.
In the early 2000’s, when I was working out regularly, I went through a phase where every afternoon I was getting a rumbling stomach right around 2 o’clock, to the point that I dreaded late afternoon meetings. If it was in a large boardroom involving many people it wasn’t too much of an issue, but if it was a meeting with a captive audience in a small boardroom with bouncy acoustics, I knew to approach the meeting on a full stomach.
If I had back-to-back meetings through the afternoon, I had to excuse myself at 1:50 from the first meeting and grab a bite to eat before my 2:00 meeting to prevent my stomach from sounding like a volcanic eruption waiting to happen around 2:10.
There’s nothing worse than trying to deliver a compelling, professional viewpoint on a serious business matter, with the sound effects from an “Avengers” movie playing out in your stomach. If the sound effects are properly timed, the argument can be pretty effective, but sadly, it really is out of my control.
With my most recent regimen of fitness activities, my rumbling stomach seems to be an almost daily occurrence. The problem now is that the time isn’t as predictable as it used to be, so grazing throughout the day and making sure I have portable food and a large cup of water or tea is essential.
This works most of the time, but my colleagues and I have learned to laugh about it when despite my exhaustive precautions, the stomach still roars.
On the bright side, I absolutely love conference calls because I can attend meetings and keep my finger on the mute button to edit out my rumbling stomach when I don’t need to speak.
The irony is that when life gets in the way and I am not able to work out regularly, I can get by on three meals and the occasional light snack and I never hear a peep out of my stomach. But when good habits prevail, working out regularly, eating right and ensuring proper hydration, my stomach can’t help but share in its joy of a life well-lived.
All I can do is chalk the situation up to being human and life’s weird moments. I can try my very best to prevent the rumbling, accept it when it happens anyway, excuse myself when the tummy noise is really distracting, and to laugh about it when it does.
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