Fact: no matter what nutrition guru you talk to, they will find something wrong with the way you’re trying to be healthy. Being certifiably chubby, I attract this attention the way a large, fatty steak sitting on the kitchen counter for three days attracts flies.
“Have you been coming to the gym often?” a little size two asks—ponytail bouncing as she jogs in place. She doesn’t even have to try and stay that small. I know it, she knows it, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry using the mirror to "discreetly" check out her rear knows it. Still, her feet move as fast as her metabolism and my energy drains just watching her.
“Yes, I’ve been very good,” I inform her. “I’ve been running for 20 minutes every day!”
“What?” she stops, eyes widening. “No, no, no, you shouldn’t do that. You need to vary your heart rate.”
Some yoga-yahoo hears us and half slithers, half dances to where we stand. “Too much strain on your muscles will make your body retain fat. It’s better to do flexibility training.” Limbs extend from places that couldn’t possibly exist in this dimension as I tilt my head over to try and politely make eye contact. Her head is twisting around her leg and I start to wonder if she’s had bones removed to make this possible.
“What do they call that move?” I ask her.
“The dodo bird.” At least I think I hear “dodo bird”. Her voice is muffled with her mouth pressed up against her outer thigh.
“It’s all about strength,” Bob the Bodybuilder interjects as he picks up 200 lbs dumbbells from behind me, alternating bicep curls on the right and left. “You tear the muscle, then they grow back even bigger. That’s what really burns your fat.”
I cringe at the thought of tears in any part of my body. Aren’t tears supposed to be bad? I’m certain I’ve heard terms like “tearing a ligament” or “tearing muscles” thrown around on Grey’s Anatomy and it never sounded like a good situation to me.
“I’ll stick to the running,” I say.
As if I’m not even there, they continue to go discuss the latest studies they read from one health magazine or another. It isn’t until they all manage to get on the topic of the latest fad diet by Dr. McSkinny that they find some common ground.
“You’re not following that nonsense are you?” Master Yoga asks.
“Nope! But I’ve stopped eating carbs and added more fruits and vegetables to my diet,” I tell the gym cult.
“What kind of vegetables?”
Although I can tell by their faces this isn’t as simple a question as it seems, I plow ahead. “You know… the basics: green beans, baby spinach, carrots, corn.”
They nearly faint in unison. “Corn? Do you know how starchy that is? It’s terrible for you!” It was a good thing I didn’t mention the potatoes.
Someone else pipes in. “It’s the green beans that you’ve got to stop eating. Do you know what’s in that crap?”
No. I absolutely don’t know what’s in that crap, but I’m careful to circle my head between a nod and a shaking in hopes they’ll let it drop. They don’t. I’m told I shouldn’t eat grapes for breakfast, because they’ll cause bloating, and avocadoes are out of the question.
A war ensues as they go back and forth:
Carb load for running!
Nuts and berries!
No you need meat!
Avoid milk products!
It’s official. Food is bad for you too. Avoid it at all costs.
They’re throwing lists of diet suggestions while putting down the others’ faster than I can recognize what foods they’re talking about. I start to slink back towards the exit as Ponytail lunges towards Bob while Yoga tries to untie herself to get in on the brawl.
“Well I’m just going to go home and get some sleep,” I say in farewell.
All heads turn towards me. “Oh, make sure you get plenty of that,” Bob says. The others nod. The one thing they can all agree on… lots of sleep.
So here’s my conclusion: forego eating and exercise to find a comfortable bed.
Because, after all, exercise is bad for you.