Planning & Preparation – Key words in a court reporter’s life


gildas-2By:  Elizabeth Gangl, RPR

Recently we had five of our grandchildren for a week, ages five and under.  All five have their “lovies,” the little blanket they NEED to go to bed.  Three have pacifiers they MUST HAVE to go to sleep.  The first day we misplaced someone’s NEED and someone else’s MUST HAVE and chaos ensued.  From that point on, you can bet we made sure the first thing done each morning was all the lovies and pacifiers were rounded up and put in a safe place for naps and bedtime.

After seven straight days of being VERY mindful about the location of items and being prepared in advance, it got me thinking about anticipating the needs and must-haves in the life of a freelance court reporter.  While this list can range from the suitable wardrobe to the right equipment to the correct supplies, let’s focus on being prepared for the proper nutrition needs during a day on the job.

We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we need to balance protein, carbs and fats, we should all drink more water, and the list of advice goes on and on.   Planning and preparing for nutritional needs and must-haves takes a LOT of time and effort.  Menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking real food is a commitment.  However, when you embrace this lifestyle, as my husband and I have, it eventually becomes the norm and gets much easier.

As freelancer court reporters, most of the time we know our job assignment for the next day.  We can plan for the type of testimony, length of deposition, time of day, sometimes even a heads up on expedited transcripts or rough drafts.  We can plan for what snacks and/or lunch we might need to make our day go as smooth as possible.  Preparing for the right nutrition is just as much a part of getting ready for the job as checking supplies and equipment.

And then life throw you a curve – you thought you had the day off and the phone rings far too early in the morning to be anything good; someone’s sick, can you cover for them, a client forgot to schedule a reporter, the time of a job got moved up.  We all know any number of things can happen to turn a day upside down.  Now you’re racing to shower, grabbing your equipment and getting to the job in record-breaking time.  On that type of day, the last thing on your to-do list is packing a nutritionally balanced lunch that will provide the fuel so you can work at maximum efficiency.

So what’s a body to do?  As much as we may not like being thrown into this type of situation, we’ve all been around long enough to anticipate them, so plan ahead and have a simple snack you can keep in your briefcase.  Something that won’t go bad so you can buy in bulk, you can eat them in the car, they are not messy so you can eat them during a quick break in the action and, while not the best meal, the right kind will keep you going until the magic words are said, “I have no more questions.”

It’s no secret that protein bars can be a great meal substitute when necessary.  What is a secret, or at least not transparent, is which protein bars are good for you.  There’s a lot of brands out there, so knowing how to decode the nutrition label is important.  A good rule of thumb in choosing a decent protein bar is ideally the carbs should be no more than 23g, the protein should be over 15g, and the sugar should be no more than 0-3g.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, spend a little time checking out all the varieties being offered now.  You may be surprised at how much sugar and carbs are involved and what little protein is offered.  In some cases, you’d be better off choosing a traditional candy bar!

A quick sampling of protein bars:

Kind:  16g carbs, 5g protein, 6g sugar.

Luna:  27g carbs, 9g protein, 9g sugar

Cliff:  44g carbs, 10g protein, 20g sugar

Think Thin:  23g carbs, 20g protein, 0g sugar

Kirkland Protein:  22g carbs, 21g protein, 1g sugar (Costco brand)

This is a very small sampling of what’s out there in the market.  I counted the varieties offered in a store the other day – 18 different types of bars.  Knowing what to look for makes the decision a lot easier.  You can see what a big difference there is in the ratio of carbs to protein to sugar. And, by the way, 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to a teaspoon.  Take a look at the Cliff bar – that’s 5 teaspoons of sugar!   Eating that for a quick snack will bring on that sugar high and subsequent crash in a big way – not what you’re looking for when you’re trying to take down every word being said and, boom, you just want to close your eyes for a long minute or two.

There’s a lot more to be said about the ingredients in protein bars – some good, some not so good, some downright bad – but reading ingredient labels is another topic for another day.  No one should ever rely on protein bars as a staple in their diet, but for now, go forth and be armed with a little more knowledge about how to decode the nutrition label.  If eating a protein bar, or two, gets us through the day without resorting to the vending machine or a trip through the drive-through, your body will thank you for it.