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The menu was laid out on a clean, light green background. It screamed “healthy and delicious” so effectively with its thin, smooth font choice and vibrant wording.
It was as though it was giving me an emotional “thumbs up” with every menu option. Phrases like, “A tofu and carrot mix” and “fried to perfection” dotted the page alongside, “thick vegan mushroom gravy” and “complimented with a bed of pico de gallo.”
There is nothing like eating vegan when its offered with such grace and skill—except for maybe a thick, real beef burger, medium rare—and fries, real fries, made from evil white potatoes and deep fried until my arteries shudder at the very sight of them.
I’ve been a certified personal trainer for almost 15 years now and I’ve seen the dietary trends in particular come and go. When new stuff comes on the horizon I do the research, I read the books and the websites and the testimonials and I sift through it all in search of the great and elusive “real deal” where healthy living and eating is concerned.
I do it because I really do want to be better and I want my clients to be better. We all want to live a long and healthy life so we buy organic and avoid GMO foods and ban high fructose corn syrup from the pantry.
But here’s the thing: it’s exhausting. Focussing on this too much can make us feel like Sarah Conner’s son in Terminator 2, tired of training for the war. We don’t really doubt the Terminator is on his way; we just want to have some fun for a change.
You should know that even “health focused” people sometimes just want a burger and fries, a terrible fast food burger and fries. So, in an effort to help bridge that divide that might spring up between us I thought I should come clean on a few things.
1) I like fast food, sometimes.
I don’t live for it and it certainly doesn’t do much for me. It’s the friend I avoid for as long as possible, the one that pains me later but in the moment, has the best, most dangerous ideas of what to do for fun.
2) I hate kombucha.
Hate is a strong word, I know. I’m probably the only person in my healthy circle of friends who hates it though I suspect it’s more likely I’m the only one who is willing to say it out loud. I don’t care for the flavor no matter how good it is for me and if it’s an acquired taste then that’s something but honestly, I don’t have energy for acquiring it. I just want a milkshake.
3) Milkshakes make feel nauseated an hour after I drink them.
I drink them anyway…because they are delicious. It’s worth it, especially if they come from Margie’s Candies in Chicago. Trust me on this.
4) I’m not going to stop drinking coffee.
I’m not even going to cut back. From time to time I think to myself, “Self, maybe we’d be better off without these cups of liquid love in the morning…” and then I slap my own face, like Cher slapping Nic Cage in Moonstruck and I feel better.
5) I like sugary, girlie, coffee drinks.
The more sugar, the more whipped cream, the better. Not everyday or even every few days but I like them and I’m not ashamed to admit it. When I order the non-fat milk in my grande toffee nut latte (you know, just to balance things out) and the Barista asks if I “still want the whipped cream” sometimes I order extra just to make a point.
6) When I’m at home, I’m going to use that fake, sugary creamer.
I’ve tried to switch to the “soy” creamer or the “coconut” creamer or plain milk. It takes all the fun out of that cup of liquid love and I resent that. They say resentment is a relationship killer so I’m going to stick with the fake, sugary creamer because as I stated, I’m not going to stop drinking coffee.
7) “Diet” versions of anything gross me out.
8) Sugar replacements taste like chemicals to me.
I know everyone says it’s because they’re just far sweeter than real sugar or even high fructose corn syrup but you know what? I think that’s a lie or it’s possible that my taste buds are just whacked out. It’s possible.
I know people who can cook it beautifully and it tastes nice, not awesome, but nice. Don’t tell me I just don’t have the right recipe because I’ve tried more than you know. I have never been able to duplicate this and believe me I’ve tried to do it over and over for health’s sake because it’s supposed to be a power food, mystical and magical. You know what’s magical? Chocolate cake.
10) Trendy eating habits are killing my soul.
Paleo, Atkins, Eat to Live, HcG…doesn’t matter. I’m not going to live forever. The clock’s ticking here and I’m tired of spending time trying to figure out which way of eating is “correct.” So from now on I’m subscribing to what my friend Sarah calls the “delishitarian” diet. If it’s delicious, I will eat it.
So, what next? The biggest and most important part of this list (that is sort of not part of this list) is this:
None of these things are going to be the end of me.
Your health coach isn’t perfect. Your yoga teacher isn’t pristine. Your personal trainer sometimes eats fast food. The truth is that even with all of these confessions it’s still possible, more than possible, for us to live a healthy life and to keep a healthy body in spite of these things.
It’s important to keep up on the latest advances in exercise and research on how best to eat but in the long run, the trick to living well is to know, love and accept the person I am. I don’t have to profess to love kombucha to be a healthy person (thank God.) We find our baseline on these things and we run our own race, even if it means going against the grain…don’t even get me started on grains.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Angela Doll Carlson
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: elephant archives