Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Somebody Bring Me My Running Shoes

     I checked my mailbox recently and found I had been chosen as the lucky recipient of a complimentary issue of a “healthy lifestyle” magazine aptly titled, “Gaunt With the Wind”.  The model on the front cover was a well-known actress in $1,200 designer shoes with an angular smile so bright I’m sure she could read by the glow.  As I flipped through this wholly unsolicited publication, I suddenly found myself engrossed in its content. 

      Apparently, 106 pounds is the cut off for appearing “healthy”.  If you are unlucky enough to carry a weight beyond that of a slender Whippet, the elite members of “Club Gaunt With the Wind” begin to offer forth all manner of advice on how to join their ranks.  I’m all for being healthy, but the advice proffered is so stupid, I had to write about it.  It’s what I do.

      One of the contributing writers for “Gaunt With the Wind” had written an article about different restaurant dishes that contain “SHOCKING HIDDEN CALORIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, or so the title claimed.  The flagrant abuse of the exclamation point caught my attention so I decided to read this “shocking” expose’.  Are calories really hidden?  I mean, is there a diabolical agenda of the super-sized underworld to pump us full of “hidden” calories so we will eventually be forced to succumb to their slick advertisements for seatbelt extenders and toilet paper wands?  Can’t people look at the ingredients in some of these menu items and just tell they have lots of calories?

      Whatever the reasoning for writing it, the author offered some helpful “substitutions” for fattening menu options.  As I sat reading this article and its ever-so-helpful suggestions, I started snickering to myself.  Don’t order the triple cheese chili cheese fries with cheese … order a small side serving of steamed broccoli, no butter or salt, and split it with 5 other people.  Don’t order the Fajita Salad with lettuce, two deep fried chicken breasts, tortilla chips, creamy chipotle dressing, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole-lard-mayonnaise … ask the chef to ladle a bit of fat-free, sodium-free chicken broth into a condiment cup.  Did you know there are enough calories in a super-extra-holy-crap-mega large order of fried cheese sticks smothered in a roasted tomato pizza sauce and a 2-inch layer of secret 12-cheese-blend to feed an entire country for an afternoon?!?  Isn’t that SHOCKING?  You should just order the child’s side salad with a light squirt of fresh lemon juice, no dressing for pete’s sake, ask the server to put 2/3 of it in a box for later, and then take a brisk 90-minute run around the perimeter of the local metro area instead.   

      Do people really listen to this crap?  By the time I got to the “brisk 90-minute run”, I was laughing so hard, there was mascara running down my face that I hadn’t even applied yet.  This article was “exposing” one insane extreme and replacing it with another.  The dishes and portion sizes being used as examples were nauseating in their grease-laden richness while the healthy options were bland, unappetizing, and nearly microscopic.  No one, with the exception of an ailing infant grasshopper, could subsist on the foods being suggested as reasonable alternatives to this flab-fest.  Whatever happened to balance?  Whatever happened to a middle-of-the-road approach?  It was irritating to know that some poor soul desperately trying to drop a few pounds could read this and believe the only road to health is paved with salt-free, fat-free, calorie-free, carb-free, sugar-free, egg-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, meat-free, preservative-free, hormone-free, alcohol-free, soy-free, allergen-free, fragrance-free, tree nut-free, taste-free foods. 

      After I wiped the tears from my eyes and stopped snorting and laughing every time I would think of the words “brisk 90-minute run”, I resumed flipping through the magazine.  Another article grabbed my attention.  Entitled, “Yes, YOU Have Time to Exercise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (more exclamation point abuse), the model pictured in the helpful “how-to” photos was a woman approximately 25 years old, with approximately 1% body fat, approximately zero children, and was wearing a $700 bikini approximately the size of a postage stamp.  Her name was “Tyffani” (raise your hand if you’re shocked) and she strongly advocated walking to work, skipping lunch in favor of simultaneously walking and snacking on pre-portioned raw vegetables, and using one’s purse and briefcase as bilateral dumbbells.  Perhaps, she reckoned, it would be helpful to take “the long way” home in the afternoons to sneak in a brisk 90-minute run.  (Why do all these magazines think everyone in America lives in New York City?  I live so far out in the sticks, the pizza man put me on speaker phone for a laugh when I called about delivery.)  Tyffani even suggested a few moves that could easily be done to promote balance and “core strength”.  I turned the page and started shrieking in laughing hysterics as she modeled how to balance oneself on a street-corner postal drop box.  I pictured myself in that position and the thoughts of a postal drop box with a dent in the top made me guffaw even harder.

      I burned more calories laughing at “Gaunt With the Wind” than I would have burned on that brisk 90-minute run mentioned on every page.  I had laughed myself into a coughing fit when The Yankee walked into the house, eyebrow raised.  “What’s wrong with you?”, he asked.  “Oh nothing,” I said, my eyes still watery from the laughing, “I’m just going for a brisk 90-minute run!”

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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