I am a runner. I eat pizza. I drink beer. And I look good naked*.
I realise that’s a bit of an odd opening line, so please let me explain:
There was a story in my Twitter feed this morning that caught my attention. In it, the author pretty much said that runners who eat crap food are doomed to be fat (and look unpleasant whilst naked) and that runners ought to stop eating such rubbish and stick to healthy foods. (OK, I might be spinning the summary to suit my needs. But that’s what I took from it. Sorry.)
The author lists out the types of foods that you shouldn’t eat, followed by the foods you should eat—much like health-conscience bloggers do on a regular basis. But I think she’s (mostly) wrong. I believe that you can be fit and athletic and eat the things she says not to. Likewise, you can be unhealthy and slob-like eating nothing but the stuff on her “do eat” list.
So, I’ve decided to give my thoughts on food, using her lists as a starting point.
First, she says to not reward yourself with junk food. What? You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m sorry, but if I’m going to push myself really hard at succeeding in something (physical, mental, or otherwise) I want to be rewarded with something special. And if cake or pizza or booze is special, then why shouldn’t that be my reward?
Next, she says no sugary drinks. Now, I can fall into the idea of not having sugary drinks on a daily basis—and certainly not multiple times a day—but I don’t see anything wrong with an occasional soda.
In her favour, the author says to avoid fake sugar, which I completely agree with. (So, have a full-fat soda, but skip the diet stuff. OK?) And I would say to avoid fake butter, too, because the real stuff is good for you. Full-fat, full-on, butter; none of that margarine rubbish, thank you!
But then she gets it wrong again by saying no processed foods. From pretzels and pasta to lunch meats and “fake cheese”, she claims it all to be “toxic to your system” and that you ought to stick to real, perishable foods. Yes, “real” foods should make up the bulk of your diet, but going back to my views on junk food being OK, I don’t fancy living in a Twinkie-free world! (And, thankfully, I don’t have to!)
She ends her food-nos by slagging off fast foods. Again, I don’t advocate eating a fast food diet, but I don’t see anything wrong with pulling into a McDonald’s drive-thru when you’re on the road or for an occasional treat if that’s what you like. (Personally, I’d rather pop into a gas station for a chilli dog, a bag of Funyuns, and a root beer. And maybe a pack of Zingers if I’m in a Hostess kind of mood.)
When it comes to her list of the good foods that you should be eating, I am in agreement. She suggests natural, whole foods including loads of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Fresh meats (preferably grass-fed cows rather than corn-fed ones) and lots of healthy dairy stuff. Yep, yep, and yep.
I just don’t think that those good, healthy, “whole foods” are the only thing you should eat—unless they’re the only things you want to eat. And by eating the junk food in with the healthy food, you are not relegating yourself to an unpleasant naked body.
What’s my point in all of this?
Moderation. Moderation. Moderation. And common sense and happiness.
Ultimately, it’s all about moderation and common sense—and finding a balance between making yourself happy and making yourself healthy. And not just in what you eat, but in how you exercise, too. Because you can’t eat all of that lovely junk food (even in moderation) if all you do is sit on the couch. Calories in; calories out!
I admit that I sometimes run just because I know I want to eat a lot of junk food. And I admit that when I’m running, I feel a twinge of excitement knowing that I am burning calories—which means I’m not worried about the junk food I’ve already eaten. After all, I’ve earned those treats by 1) getting regular exercise and 2) eating a mostly healthy, balanced diet of “good for you” foods.
It’s not that I eat junk food all day, every day—but when I do, I know that it’s a treat that I’ve earned. And that makes me happy. And being happy is good for your overall health. And being healthy means that you’re more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices. And healthy food is a healthy lifestyle choice.
Yes, I eat junk food. And I look good naked. (If I were to do more sit-ups and weight training, I’d be smokin’ hot naked; but I’m lazy so will have to settle for just “good” naked as opposed to “gross, please cover up!” naked.)
So the next time someone suggests to you that junk food will make you fat and unhealthy, call them out on the misinformation! Because junk food can be a healthy part of your diet! (Note I said part of your diet. You still need “real” food!)
* I admit that no one can fully corroborate that assertion, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Please accept this photo of me scantily clothed as partial evidence to that statement.