At school. At home. At church. On tv. Even in Comic books.
No matter where I went, someone was proclaiming, “You are what you eat” like they were the one who coined the phrase.
I’ll tell you a secret.
I never listened.
But you probably already knew that.
So now, decades later, I get to hear it again from my wife, various health care professionals, and other mean people. Only now, they often follow the phrase with a question, “So, if you believe that, then what does that make you?”
When my wife asks me that question, I almost lose it. I hold my head high, stick out my chest, and say, “Listen here, woman! I’ll be the one asking the questions in this house! Now go and fix me something filled with sugar and gluten.”
I don’t really say that. I’m not stupid.
Instead, I smile sweetly and quote the food pyramid from the 1970’s: “Well Honey, I’m 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of grains, 3 servings of dairy, and 2 servings of meats.”
Ok, that doesn’t happen either.
Honestly, my head hangs in shame, tears well up in my eyes, and I reply, “I’m a large pizza, a half gallon of ice cream, a bag of microwave popcorn, a gallon of soda, and one serving of broccoli.”
She shakes her head, takes a deep breath, and says, “John…”
“I’m sorry,” I interrupt. “Was that your broccoli?”
She has never laughed at that.
So I’m going back to the message I learned as a child.
I am what I eat.
My body will be made up of the foods I put into it.
If I consume healthy foods and water, I will see the benefits of eating healthy foods and water.
If I eat a lot of fat, greasy food, I will become a fat, greasy dude.
(Disclaimer: Some have claimed that this post is basically recycled lines from a 1980’s movie starring Matthew Broderick. Those claims are outrageous and absolutely true.)
Radio Host: It’s a beautiful day in John’s body with a temperature expected to hover around 98.6. Morning workout and healthy breakfast enter his room and find him in bed long after it’s time to exercise eating packaged donuts and drinking a Coke.
Morning Workout: Healthy breakfast!
Healthy Breakfast: What’s the matter?
Morning Workout: Oh, it’s John.
Healthy Breakfast: What’s wrong?
Morning Workout: What’s wrong? For Pete’s sake, look at him and what he’s eating.
Healthy Breakfast: (leans in close) John?
Morning Workout: He doesn’t have a fever, but he says his stomach hurts and he’s seeing spots.
Healthy Breakfast: What’s the matter, Buddy?
John: (looks down at his food) Oatmeal? Blueberries?
Morning Workout: Look at his tummy, it’s large and flabby.
Healthy Breakfast: (Pats John’s stomach and makes a frowny face) Oooh.
John: Ok, I’ll get up and exercise. (Starts to get up)
Morning Workout and Healthy Breakfast: No! (Pushes him back into bed)
John: I have to eat something healthy. (Tries to get up again)
Morning Workout and Healthy Breakfast: (Pushes John back into bed) No!
John: I have to work out. I want to eat a good breakfast so I can have a healthy body and a fruitful life.
Morning Workout: You are not going to exercise in this condition.
Proper Hydration: (Enters John’s room. Crosses her arms and taps right foot)Oh fine, what’s this? What’s his problem?
Healthy Breakfast: He doesn’t feel well.
Proper Hydration: Yeah, right. Look at what he’s eating and drinking in bed. I wouldn’t use that to fertilize the lawn.
John: Hydration? Is that you? Hydration? I can’t see that far. Proper Hydration? I… (falls back into bed)
Proper Hydration: No big breakfast or workout, Junior? Granola? Morning walk?
Healthy Breakfast: Go on now, Proper Hydration. (turns to comfort John) What he needs is a McGriddle and a Coke.
Proper Hydration: He gets to eat like that in bed? I can’t believe this. If I was bleeding out of my eyes, you guys would make me provide hydration for those who exercise and eat well. This is so unfair!
John: Hydration, please don’t be upset with me. You have your health. Be thankful…
Proper Hydration: That’s it. I want out of this health and fitness relationship.
John: (Pulls blanket up to his neck). I’ll just sleep late. Maybe I’ll have a few slices of pizza around noon.
Morning Workout: (Sits on the edge of bed, tucking John in) Now, I’m teaching about fiber to that new couple from Vermont today so my office will know just where I am if you need me, ok?
Healthy Breakfast: I’ll check on you too, Pal.
John: It’s nice to know that I have such loving, caring habits that look the other way at times. You’re both very special.
(Morning Workout and Healthy Breakfast smile at each other)
Morning Workout: Now you get better Pumpkin.
John: Ok, Pumpkin…
Morning Workout and Healthy Breakfast: We love you sweetie.
John: I love you too. And it’s all about me me me me me.
Morning Workout and Healthy Breakfast hold hands as they exit.
John: (Leans up in bed with donut crumbs falling down his chest, looks at the camera and smiles) They bought it.
John: (Stands up, opens a Slim Jim and cracks open a second Coke) Incredible. One of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a second. How could I possibly be expected to exercise and eat healthy on a day like this.
Acting like I’m not feeling well in order to treat myself poorly and eat what I want is a little childish and stupid, but then again, so is exercise.
Life moves pretty fast, but it won’t if you follow my example. If you don’t stop and really look at what you’re doing to yourself once in a while, you could miss it.
*Image by Toronto artists Sarah Keenlyside and Joe Clement
The older I get, the more medical professionals ask me if I’ve had any recent falls.
It’s like they’re thinking, “This guy is so out of shape that he’s bound to have fallen in the past few days. He couldn’t possibly balance all of that bulge.”
I understand it’s all routine procedure and they aren’t personally attacking me (maybe) but the whole experience does show me that I need to be more serious about my own health and fitness.
I’m thrilled about this and I plan to have a good attitude about it…
Yeah, right, that’s it.
Fact is, I don’t like watching my weight, I’m not a fan of exercise, I despise consistent healthy eating practices. And might I just add that kale is a tool of Satan used to destroy the happiness of men (and reasonable women) everywhere.
What do I like to eat? I’m glad you asked. I like eating unhealthy foods, better known as “anything that tastes good.” I especially like carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks. I’m a big fan of red meat and I’m a consistent consumer of trans fat. I’m voting for gluten in the next presidential election.*
Well, you get the picture. I need help. I need accountability.
A lot of men my age do.
Now, I have lost about 20 lbs since the beginning of the year. I’ll tell you the secret. If you want to lose weight, live with my wife during a world wide pandemic where she sees everything you eat for months… and walk a lot.
Seriously, now that things are opening back up, I don’t want to find all the weight that I’ve lost. So I’m starting on a new journey to be healthy. A few years ago, I posted a daily blog where I listed out everything I ate for the whole world to see. As time went by, I also listed my water consumption and exercise log. The accountability was amazing and the feedback was helpful. I lost 48 lbs during the process.
I’m not planning on doing that again, but I am interested in writing about my fitness journey. It seems to keep me committed.
So I welcome your suggestions, especially if you’re starting to receive AARP applications in the mail or if you grew up listening to 80’s music on cassettes. Post your comments below, message me privately, text or email me. Let me know what helps you stay healthy. Thanks in advance.
P.S. I’m not really voting for Gluten. It’s not even registered as a candidate.