Last weekend, I went to the casino with a couple of friends. I went to sleep around 6 a.m, woke up, had a coffee, did some push-ups, hit the tables, hit the buffet, hit the slots a little, went back to the tables, had dinner, gambled some more, started getting a headache from the drinks, and then went to sleep the next day at 4 am. That’s my typical gambling trip, give or take a few extra activities depending on who else is coming along.
This latest trip was a two-day trip. On a longer trip, the cycle repeats for the entire trip. Gambling trips are fun, but they’re also exhausting. The hours pass by so quickly that next thing I know, it’s 5 a.m., and the Sterling buffet is open in 6 hours.
‘How are we going to make the buffet in 5 hours?’
‘No way are we gonna be awake for it.’
‘Why don’t we just play some more and go straight there?’
‘Ok, good idea.’
Turned out to be a horrible idea. Our minds were half awake, but our taste buds and appetite had turned in for the morning.
That’s my typical day when I’m out for a pure gambling trip, and that’s the backdrop for my attempt to stay healthy on a gambling vacation.
The Struggle To Be Healthy on Vacation
When I was younger and had more time, I was at the gym 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day. I could bench almost 300 pounds and do about 50 pull-ups. I was a health nut. Now that I’m older and working, I’ve cut down to five or six days a week, never more than once a day. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I’d be either a high school teacher or a personal trainer.
Healthy living has always been part of my life, so I have some experience in the issue; however, I’m not a certified expert on the issue of health and fitness. I’m not a nutritionist and I’m not a personal trainer. Let’s get that straight, however, I think I have a unique perspective based on how often I am at the casino, and how often I eat at the casino.
So rather than give you advice, I’m here to tell you about some simple steps that I take to increase the odds that I’m going to live longer and healthier. I would like for all of us to live healthier and longer. Can’t win if you’re dead.
I promise that these are simple and practical steps.
EATING AT THE CASINO
How to Eat Fried Food and Limit the Damage
If I were to be really hardcore, I’d tell you to eat nothing fried. Makes sense. Fried food adds calories because of the oil content in the food. Also, when food is fried, it prevents the natural oils and greases from escaping from the food. Ever grilled chicken, steak, or sausages and looked at the grease that collected on the grill or pan? Well, that grease can’t escape when food is fried, so it goes straight to your heart and gut.
But in a world where it’s hard to avoid fried food, I’ve learned that telling people to not eat fried food is impractical. It would also be hypocritical because I love fried food too, and I eat it occasionally.
So eat your fried food within reason, but when you eat fried food, take this one simple step so that your heart will love you: eat the center of the food, and throw away the outside part of the food. The outside part is what soaked in most of the grease.
I was at the casino and ordered some crab cakes. The crab cakes came out like this, deep fried:
So rather than send it back, I just ate the center of the crab cake. It was pretty good. The crispy shell actually detracted from the crab meat that was inside.
Next, I ordered a steak with ‘buttered’ corn.
I told the waitress to tell the cook to use no oil on the corn, meaning no butter. If you insist on the butter, tell them to let you butter the corn. So I said I would be practical. Buttered corn without butter just isn’t as good. So butter your corn.
On the steak though, I always tell the waitress that I would like the steak cooked with no oil. That’s right, NO OIL. Many restaurants will give a coating of oil or grease to the steak to crisp the outside, however, a good steak already has enough intramuscular fat that it should be juicy and tender enough without adding oil to the steak.
This was the result of my no oil insistence (in addition to no gravy)…
If you ever hang out with me and have dinner with me, you’ll hear me say the phrase quite often, ‘no oil’. I know a bit about the restaurant business, I’m in the business. When an item is cooked without oil, it’s harsher on the cookware, and the food may not be as pretty.
Sure, you might say that the food doesn’t taste as good, but a good steak is already fatty though and doesn’t need more oil or grease on top of it.
Oh, and when you’re at a buffet and the chef makes an omelet at the omelet station (or anything that the chef cooks in front of you), tell the chef to use cooking spray and go easy on the cooking spray. The omelet or whatever he’s making will taste just as good with cooking spray. Yea, it might make it more difficult for the cleaning crew to scrub the pan, but hey, it’s their job to clean the pan.
You have to stand up for yourself and be a little bossy, but your heart and gut will thank you.
Notice that I still eat my steak, my fried food, and my omelet. It’s not about denying yourself. It’s about making a little hack that brings about smart changes.
It doesn’t take a lot to lose weight. Forget about losing 1 to 2 pounds a week. Just try to lose 1 to 2 pounds a year. To lose one pound a year, you only need to cut out 3500 calories out of your entire year’s diet. That’s less than 10 calories a day. Do you know how you save 10 measly calories a day? Just say, ‘no oil’.
Say, ‘tell the chef when he’s making the [item] to not use oil because I have a health condition’.
Your health condition is that you’re trying to stay healthy or lose weight.
COMPED DRINKS AT THE CASINO
I’m a big fan of comped alcoholic drinks at the casino. My steps are simple. If you’re going to drink, you may as well limit the damage. That’s my philosophy.
Go in this order:
Drink wine as your first option. For some reason, I usually don’t see wine drinkers at a casino drinking bottle after bottle, glass after glass. I guess wine drinkers are just more controlled.
If you don’t like wine (I hate wine), then have beer, preferably light beer. Light beer is my first choice.
If you don’t like light beer, then have regular beer.
If you want a cocktail, then order a cocktail that doesn’t have sweeteners or juice in them. My preferred cocktail is a Belvedere martini. Avoid the Long Island, as there are way too many different liquors in the drink, which cause the calorie count to pile up.
If you want a mixer, then order something without pure sugar or syrup as an ingredient. My personal favorite is a Belvedere Bloody Mary.
The worst are cocktails which have sugars, syrups, and mixers in them. If you insist on that, then go slow. Order a bottle of water with your cocktail.
That’s really all the advice I have on drinking. Again, it’s about limiting the damage. We are on vacation after all.
When I’m on vacation, it’s not so much about being hardcore and it’s certainly not about denying oneself, rather, it’s about limiting the damage.
If you do the above, after a while, you might find that your food tastes just as good if you limit the oil, your drinks are just as nice, and your time is just as fun. You just won’t end up busting your gut. Also, you might find that you’ve saved yourself some heartburn.
It doesn’t take a lot. Little steps and little hacks can add up to a lot. So next time you’re at the casino or any restaurant, say, ‘no oil’.
Your heart and your belly will thank you.