Abbe Pannucci does meal prep

By Abbe Pannucci, Round Table reporter

Bees do it, bats do it, bears do it and humans do it. Everyone gains a “winter layer” in preparation for winter hibernation. While bees hibernate in hives, and bears and bats in caves, a human in hibernation is more like a combination of serious Netflixing for a minimum of six hours a day and not going to the gym.

I was a victim of the dreadful “winter layer” this year. Some people come to peace with the extra 10 pounds “keeping them warm,” and for a while, I told myself I was, too. However, I was not. Yet, I couldn’t bring myself to go outside for a run in freezing weather this year nor could I resist the leftover Christmas cookies we somehow still have in the pantry even though it’s February. Also, my peanut butter intake increased substantially this season.

Despite my winter laziness, I still am working out some. I typically train four days a week at my boxing gym preparing for fights and “keeping in shape.” Clearly, it hasn’t been working this year. However, the Golden Gloves boxing tournament starts at the end of February and lasts until the end of April. This means if you are entered in the tournament, you have to stay the same weight from February to April. In the junior division, where I compete, officials are a little more lenient because they understand that kids grow and gain weight, but that still only means a two-pound limit.

I usually fight at a weight anywhere from 105 to 115. I am currently 120 on a good day. For an ordinary person, it’s not a huge deal to be 120, but considering my lack of verticalness (I’m five foot tall), it’s a bit of an issue. People who fight at 120 are usually cutting weight from 130 or even more. This means I could be fighting girls who are way taller than me and in reality 10 pounds heavier than me. That’s a no-go situation. Also, being lighter usually means you can move around faster; therefore, I need to get rid of the junk in my trunk so I can go 90 miles per hour instead of 50.

Time to lay off the cookies, Abbe.

To solve my problem, I decided to go on a meal prep diet and also get over the cold weather and run. A meal prep diet is the act of preparing food days in advance of eating it to control and count calories and stay on a strict diet/meal plan/schedule. Most professional fighters go on these kinds of diets a couple months before a fight to get back and shape and down to their goal weight. So, it’s not a totally outrageous thing… or so I thought.

I talked to the owner of the gym I train at who is a professional nutritionist to set me up with a legit plan. He did a bunch of calculations and figured out that I need to be eating 1,235 calories a day, which is about a 500-calorie decrease from what I was supposedly eating before. I also have to burn at least 500 calories working out for five to six days a week.

Right now you’re probably thinking, “Oh, 1,235 calories is not hard to do.” Well, in the words of Donald Trump, “WRONG”. Cutting to 1,235 calories isn’t hard when they can consist of any food; however, meal prep diets do not consist of just anything. To relieve you of any confusion you might have at this point, I will list my diet.

Breakfast: Whey protein powder and a banana

Lunch: ½ cup of brown rice, 1 cup of either broccoli or asparagus, and 6 oz. of either baked/grilled chicken or white fish

Dinner:  ½ cup of brown rice, 1 cup of either broccoli or asparagus, and 6 oz. of either baked/grilled chicken or white fish  

That’s it, folks. No snacks, no BBQ sauce, no peanut butter. Some friends I have from the gym told me that the forceful overdose of the consumption of Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts (a.k.a. lean chicken) is the worst part. The nausea hasn’t really hit me yet, but I sense my impending doom.

Basically, I’m pretty much just withering away emotionally. It feels almost like I went through a really bad breakup with the love of my life all of the sudden. Unfortunately, I am not withering away physically as fast as I thought, but it has only been a week, so I’m still optimistic.

Before I started this diet, I thought meal prepping was the most outrageous thing on the entire planet. No joke. If you’ve read any of my other diet installments, you know that food/ eating is my favorite thing in the world, so I always wondered why people would restrict themselves to chicken as dry as the dessert and vegetables that only taste good when they are covered in cheese or mixed into an omelet. I feel as though the famous Youtuber and weightlifter Dom Mazzetti captures the true meaning of meal prepping in his video “How To Meal Prep” (watch at your own discretion). Mazzetti also has a fantastic installment called “How To Eat Chicken Without Wanting To Kill Yourself” that I strongly suggest you watch because it perfectly sums up my feelings on the matter of eating steak’s hated stepbrother, chicken. So far, my opinion has not changed; however, if I get substantial results, I suspect it will.

Week 1

At this point I’ve been on the diet for a week and I do feel better in certain aspects of my life. I’m a little less tired and I feel faster and more motivated to work out. I’m not sure if that is a direct result of the food or if it’s more like the placebo effect where I think I’m changing (even if I’m not) and therefore I’m less tired and more active.

The only two measurable changes that occurred during week one is I lost about two pounds, I’m way more hydrated (because I drink water or tea whenever I’m hungry, which is all the time), and my pee smells really weird. Thanks, two cups of asparagus a day.

Week 2

Week two went by fairly quickly with almost another two pounds lost. Also, I feel like I look a little skinnier.

At this point I have figured out a strategy to add a bit of flavor to my food so that it doesn’t taste like the paper of the math test I barely passed last week. Sriracha and mustard. I put about two tablespoons of either mouth-burning Sriracha or five hot dogs worth of mustard on my prepared food each meal.

My mother looks at me like I am mental. All I can do is apologize for the ungodly amount of money we are spending on bottles of mustard and Sriracha and keep on chugging.

If you’re like my dad, you’re wondering what all that Sriracha is like coming out the other end. It’s really not bad at all, no joke.  

Week 3

Week three hit me like a truck. I was trying really hard, harder than I tried with all my other diets, to not eat peanut butter. But, alas, it is impossible. I succumbed to the glorious, smooth, nutty treat.

Weeks 4 and 5

Weeks four and five went fairly well. I had some social events on the weekends where I “couldn’t” avoid dessert. However, in the middle of week five, I learned that there was no one in the weight class that I signed up in for Golden Gloves.

*Bomb goes off in my head*

To sum it up, there was no reason whatsoever for me to do this good-food-lacking diet. I will be fighting a girl who is a weight class above me. Can you sense my angst?

I am not so mad about having to fight a girl who is bigger than me; it’s the whole only eating rubber for a month that makes me mad.

*A few days and an entire apple pie later*

So, I’m no longer angsty. I’m actually thankful that I embarked on this journey. I feel way better now that I’m not eating so much sugar and fats. And to be honest, I’m actually not that sick of chicken, broccoli and rice. I’m so not sick of it that I will probably continue on this diet until summer. Also, my tongue is no longer there thanks to the three king-sized bottles of Sriracha from Costco that I consumed.  

My plan for the future of meal prep is to still mainly eat chicken or fish and rice but switch out the broccoli once in a while for cauliflower or brussel sprouts. The thing I discovered about myself while doing this diet is that my main problem was portion control. I didn’t really eat foods that are super unhealthy, I just ate WAY TOO MUCH of foods that are okay for you.

Oh, well, it’s been real. Gonna go buy some cookies now.