Live to Eat Well, Exercise, Be Well in Mind and Body

Why The Perfect Diet Isn’t So Perfect: Part 1


The following story is fictional satire, though based on actual events. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It’s never a good sign when you don’t have time to make coffee in the morning; it’s a suspicious start to the day, perhaps even a bad omen. But if you can’t make it yourself, there’s always a willing barista at the local java shop who can hook you up. So, I made sure to leave the house with enough time to grab coffee and still make it to my 11 am appointment at the gym.

I stopped by my favorite beverage dealer and with my morning fix ordered and in hand, I headed for the exit. Oh, there was the group exercise yoga instructor. “Morning Wendy!” I greeted. She was looking extra skinny this morning, which was difficult to fathom. Was this what I was supposed to look like? Though I had eaten a hearty, healthy breakfast only two hours before, just looking at her made me want to find a snack.

“Morning!” Wendy greeted in reply, motioning for me to join her at a table for two. We exchanged chit chat for a minute before I naturally turned the conversation to one of my favorite topics – coffee.

“Oh, I don’t drink coffee anymore,” Wendy explained to me. “I don’t like the idea of being addicted to anything.”

Turns out she converted into an herbal tea drinker. I quickly tried to hide the small tear drop forming in the corner of my eye.

“In fact,” Wendy declared, “I’ve recently made the commitment to really clean up my diet and adhere to gluten-free veganism. It’s been almost two months and so far I feel really cleansed. And for the first time, I really have a body I can be proud of.”

Wendy said “really” a lot. I looked down at my Americano and felt like an addict and a fatty. I sweetly and quickly bid her adieu.

Fortunately, my 11 am appointment went well at the gym and I was feeling encouraged. That is until I saw my friend and fellow trainer looking lost and dejected, staring off into space. His face had the look of a sad boy, but his body was “perfect”; it was muscular and strong with very little body fat.

“Everything okay Ryan?” I asked. “You look concerned about something.”

Ryan sighed. “I don’t want to eat,” he said, followed by a short pause. I just looked at him, giving him time to explain. “It’s not that I don’t like eating,” Ryan declared, “but I’m so bored. I’m not sure I can stomach another sweet potato.”

Confessions from one personal trainer to another. Ryan’s diet required that he eat every three to four hours – healthy and delicious food like sweet potatoes, lean meats, eggs, nuts, lots of vegetables, protein shakes, oatmeal, some fruit, maybe a little nonfat dairy, occasionally some glutenful wholegrain bread. Over and over and over and over again. I didn’t have much solace to offer Ryan. As my diet was much like his, I too was bored. I gave Ryan a tap on the back, told him to “hang in there” and made my way to the staff lounge.

As soon as I walked through the door, I was hit by the smell of fish. Looked like tilapia and broccoli was on the menu again for Ms. Universe. A fierce and ambitious figure competitor, her diet was “perfect” – by which I mean she ate very little if no sugar, flour, grains, or saturated fats (except for coconut oil). And she was pissed at the world. Turns out the dopamine produced from her arduous workouts weren’t enough to compensate for the lack of serotonin she wasn’t getting from evil things like carbohydrates. Sucks to be her.

After a couple more PT sessions at the gym, I hopped on the Stairmaster to crank out some cardio while I watched a rerun of my favorite reality weight loss show. Celebrity trainer Chris Powell was busy explaining to his client how she could spend her “free day.” He confessed to her that every Saturday he let himself eat a serving of tortilla chips. Ooooo, big spender. I wanted to throw the remote at him. I think she wanted to eat him.   

Later that evening, I returned home from the gym to find the latest issue of my favorite fitness magazine in the mailbox. Yay! I liked flipping to the cover model feature first – to discover her secret to the “perfect” body (apart from professional makeup and Photoshop). A Paleo fanatic, she ate one egg, three egg whites, and berries for breakfast; a non-dairy protein shake for her post-workout meal; chicken breast and asparagus for lunch; a couple slices of turkey and a handful of nuts for an afternoon snack; salmon and a large salad for dinner; and some decaf green tea and more lean meat for a late night snack. She loved eating clean and didn’t experience heavy cravings for forbidden, bad food. But if she wanted to “cheat” she ate all-natural almond butter. Yum.

At this point in the day, I was feeling pretty discouraged. To comfort myself, I made myself a large bowl of ice cream (an extra scoop in honor of Wendy) and curled up on the couch to watch the latest episode of Biggest Loser. “I’m sorry Jillian,” I cried, “Please don’t yell at me!”

Series continued in Why the Perfect Diet Isn’t So Perfect: Part 2 and The Perfect Diet: The Finale.

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