My newsfeed is filled with runners. It is filled with crossfitters. It is filled with people who are “going paleo” and are gluten-free and vegan and other food-related titles as well. It is filled with all sorts of people who work out a lot and care about their bodies. I am surrounded by you people. I cannot escape you.
It is also filled with lots of my new friends from the conference I recently attended, called FitBloggin’– more on that in a coming post. Anyway, the conference was a conference for fitness and healthy living bloggers, many of whom had either lost a substantial amount of weight or were in the process of doing so. Pretty much everyone had an active lifestyle and tried to eat healthy foods as much as possible, so it stands to reason that the meal options each day were very healthy and involved lots of lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbs. They made salads. I piled all the carbs onto my plate and sat in the corner and consumed them.
I have an active lifestyle, to be sure. But as far as trying to eat healthy foods or watching what I eat? Not so much. Now, there are a lot of reasons for that, some of which have to do with my eating disorder, but mostly, I just like eating what I want to eat. I find life very stressful otherwise. I like having pizza whenever I feel like it. I like drinking a craft beer or two every night if I want. I don’t want to think about calories and fat and whether or not my food is organically sourced, although I appreciate the idea in theory. It just doesn’t really interest me the way it probably should. As a result, I felt like an outsider a lot at the conference. What did I do every night after I spent hours all day talking about fitness and healthy living? I went to a new brewery, of course. And half the time, I had already been to one earlier in the day. Maybe I went to a food truck and got a grilled cheese. Maybe I got cheese fries. Maybe I got a cheeseburger. Maybe I’m addicted to beer and cheese. The point is, I wasn’t one of the people who meticulously packed all my own food to bring to the conference (and there were plenty of those people). In fact, I was the person who left during a break to go get a small cookie from a local coffee shop because I was going to lose my mind if I saw another plate of lean protein.
Sometimes, I feel like a fraud of a blogger as a result. Although I never really talk about what I eat (just mostly what I drink) on the blog, I feel like the fact that I run a lot and am training hard and getting faster somehow implies that I have some type of strict diet that I adhere to, and I most certainly do not. I avoid the foods that make my stomach upset, but that’s out of necessity, not out of a desire to eat better. At the conference, I felt this weird mixture of shame and total ambivalence about my eating habits. On the one hand, I sometimes think I should care more about what I eat. We hear all the time about how important it is to watch what we put in our bodies, and you are what you eat, and yada yada. I should probably be paying attention to chemicals and the whole list of things that could give me cancer, since I have lots of other health problems as it is. And part of me does think that is important. The other part of me just doesn’t care. Is that awful? I’m awful.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that caring about what you eat is wrong or stupid. More power to you if you are one of the people who diligently reads labels and knows the farm that your chicken was raised on and all of that. I think that is awesome. I don’t think it’s awesome to endlessly obsess over food and refuse to drink the occasional beer (unless you’re an alcoholic, then fair play) and never indulge in things you love to eat from time to time, because that seems like a sad way to live, but it’s obviously not up to me to decide what’s right for each individual person.
I guess what I have a problem with is all the judgement that goes along with what everyone is eating all the time. I’ve read many blogs written by obese people who are trying hard to lose weight and have people constantly make comments about what they’re eating, whether they think it’s too much or too little. The burrito guy comments on the size of the burritos I order every time I go to his store. Everyone and their mother is now gluten-free or dairy-free or paleo or whatever, and far too many are busy telling everyone why that’s the “right” diet, and I just find it exhausting. So I ask – what difference does it make to anyone else what any of us is eating? I mean, really? If you can tell me how my order of a large burrito affects your life in a negative way, I’m willing to learn, but I’m pretty sure you can’t. And you certainly can’t tell me that my love of craft beer influences your life in a negative way, because all that does is provide amusing stories. So don’t try.
My eyes were opened recently while I was in Portland to a whole new kind of “person with a weird diet.” I can’t think of a better way to phrase that, so my apologies to the phenomenal Angelika. Anyway, the woman I stayed with in Portland is vegan, and she has been for a very long time. And you know what? There was nothing condescending or judgmental about her. She didn’t care if I ate bacon when we went to breakfast. She went to breweries with me and hung out even if the beer they served wasn’t vegan. She asked me not to bring any animal products into her house, which was totally cool. The point was, she made a great example of her lifestyle and why it’s important to her without ever making me feel bad about mine. I think that’s a lesson that all of us, including me, could learn from, since I’ve been known to push beer on people from time to time. Occasionally.
So y’all, eat clean if you want. Be paleo. Don’t eat sugar by choice (GOD, WHY?). Go vegan. Only eat fish and things that are purple. I personally don’t care. But if you need me, I’ll be the girl with a craft beer in one hand and a cheeseburger in the other after every marathon, so don’t feel bad if you’re right there with me.