Every week it is inevitable. I find myself holding my little number at the Publix deli counter waiting to order my 2lbs. of low sodium lunch meat. Maybe some cheese on occasion if I am feeling spunky. The last couple of trips to the grocery store have presented more than just the weekly decisions of “what’s for dinner”, but instead it has become a social experiment of sorts. By now, making my way around the aisles and the perimeter is just routine. I barely have to think as I reach for the weekly staples of fresh produce, protein, oatmeal…and of course some pop tarts for Stew and Yasso Greek Frozen Yogurt bars for my nightly sweet tooth.
But I digress…the last two trips to the store I have gotten a true and somewhat eye opening glimpse at why nearly 50% of our population is overweight and/or obese, and moreover, why the diet industry is struggling at achieving long term success. People are simply fucking clueless! And I feel really sorry for them. I want to stop them, help them, offer suggestions as they sit on the protein bar aisle looking at every label and eventually picking the one with the prettiest package simply because they are too overwhelmed to know which one is better. Alternatively, I see moms and dads packing their carts full of quick and easy meals for the kiddos…while they get lean protein, veggies and healthful meals for themselves but know the tantrums and headache of trying to get their teenagers to eat anything green is simply not worth the hassle.
Case Study One: Cookies For Breakfast
I park my car on a Monday morning around 8am. Fresh from the gym and determined to beat the crowd of weekly shoppers that storm the doors after they get their kids to school or off to summer camp. I like to enjoy my shopping experience and not dodge those big ass Race Car carts or people who stop in the middle of the aisle to look at their shopping list while I run into the back of them. So, as I am making my way to the door I watch a man…Very Fit, running shoes, Crossfit shorts, walking/strutting on his toes so everyone can gawk at the definition in his calves. He obviously cared a lot about hit body, his training and I would assume “eating clean” as it were. He had his daughter with him, could not have been more than 5 years old. Not overweight, but not thin. A little pudgy I would say…but hey, she was five. Did not think much about it. So here I go to the Deli Counter to put in the Breeding MEAT order…which lasts until about Wednesday, haha. This crossfit model standing there next to me ordering his paleo supply of Protein. As I glance around I see his daughter running up…I am thinking, oh maybe she got a little muffin or some fruit for breakfast. She was so excited. Oh, but wait…this is America, and this is the south. Yep, she had a huge rainbow sprinkle covered sugar cookie. Who wouldn’t be excited. I looked at her dad, he was so proud of her. “Did you get you a cookie, honey?” he asked…and I thought to myself. Hmmm, I would like to see you eat that for breakfast and then go train. I held my tongue of course, but I just have to wonder. WHY, people, WHY are we willing to let our kids create habits, make choices, eat meals that we would NEVER allow ourselves to have. Why, when I travel to West Virginia to visit Stew’s family and we go to the Golden Corral (and yes, you can make a healthy choice there if you try), do I see young kids with plates of Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese and Cornbread. BROWN, WHITE, BEIGE food…a whole frickin’ plate of COLORLESS food. This is not normal. Be the change our next generation deserves. It is worth the tantrums to instill these healthy eating habits early.
CASE STUDY TWO: The Uninformed Consumer
Social Experiment number two happened just this week as I again made my way on Monday morning to the Belle Meade Publix. As I made my way to the deli counter…man, I could do this in my sleep and I HAVE got to explore this online ordering option. I could save like an hour a week if I ordered my lunch meat online and did not have to stand there while 4 employees wander around hoping someone else will wait on me. So, I am standing there and to my right is a young girl…maybe mid to late 20’s. Flushed cheeks, workout clothes…it was obvious to me she was starting on a new phase of her health journey. Getting in her weekly food shop, hitting the gym. She looked a bit anxious and overwhelmed as she navigated around the produce section. For whatever reason, I kept ending up in the same vicinity…she was reading labels, assessing options. Picking up and putting back. I took notice. I started to watch as she grabbed whole grain bread, bananas, Orange Juice, Baked Potatoes, a bag of leaf lettuce (NO nutritional value), not one vegetable, not one fibrous fruit…Gatorade, cranberry juice, 10 bags (AT LEAST) of frozen smoothie mixes, yogurts…not Greek, which would at least offer a little lean protein, but just the garden variety fruit on the bottom. Oh, and of course the honey ham from the deli counter. I was sad for her…I know she thought she was making these quick, healthy choices…and to her credit there was not a lot of “junk” food. No frozen meals or pizzas, no chips and cookies BUT look at the list. ALL SUGAR, ALL CARBS. No lean protein (other than sodium filled lunch meat), no vegetables, no solid dairy other than sugary yogurt. So, she is planning to live on Smoothies, Sandwiches and Fruit juice for the next week…sabotaging all the hard work and effort she is putting in at the gym. Thinking, trying so hard to make the “right” choices, when out of ignorance, and no fault of her own she thinks she is supplementing that training with a low fat, healthy diet of SUGAR!
Now you know my philosophy on carbs. I LOVE me some carbs, but it is about balance people! It is about fueling your muscle with lean protein, healthy fats, quality carbs, it is about setting yourself up for success by knowing how to combine meals, how to space them out so that your body can deplete glycogen stores and get into fat utilization throughout the day, it is about planning ahead so that you can reach your macro nutrient goals and not get to the end of the day without any time or energy to adjust and hit your ranges. Be proactive, be an informed consumer, be mindful and find whatever it is you need to have the INTRINSIC motivation to succeed. The scale, the compliments, the new clothes. These are all amazing short term, extrinsic rewards, but the key to long term sustainable success is making the right choices because they are the right choices, because it feels good to sweat, and you are empowered by reaching new goals and having pride in how you fuel your body. These things will never go away…happy shopping.