Travel Days Always Cause Me To Eat Like a 300lb Man, And I Couldn’t Be Happier About It

I’m a fat, junk food-eating kid at heart. If there were no repercussions, I would probably consume somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,500 calories each day. I’m talking a gigantic breakfast burrito in the morning, pizza & soda for lunch, burger & fries from Five Guys for dinner, and most likely some snacks in between. Oh, and the Peanut Butter Cup Perfection from Cold Stone Creamery would be a nightly post-dinner occurrence.

You can have your grilled tilapia over quinoa and cranberry & walnut salad. I’ll take the junk food.

Unfortunately my life expectancy would probably plummet from its current range of 52-55 years old to the “dead at 35” range if I ate like this every day.

As a matter of fact, I eat this type of junk food almost none of the time anymore. Something about being 30 years old means there’s a 93% chance that every time I eat like this I feel like shit the next day. The number of Tums I consume to combat heartburn has gone from “never took a single Tums in my life up until age 28” to “if I’m eating a heavy meal I might as well just mix a handful of Tums into the main course and get a jump on that awful feeling.” It also seems like my girlfriend wants me to live long enough for us to own an entire herd of gigantic dogs…so she’s pretty motivated to help me eat healthy.

And this is exactly why I now look forward to “travel days” more than anything else in my life. It’s the only time I feel completely justified eating garbage. I’ve convinced myself that a day in which I travel far (longer than a two-hour drive or any length of plane ride) provides enough inconveniences to my normal routine that eating junk food is the only option I have.

And before you say “Yeah, but there are so many ways to avoid this behavior…you can pack a healthy lunch for a car ride or even a flight…or you can be selective and eat the healthiest options on the airport restaurant menus”…save it. The point isn’t that I act this way out of necessity. It’s that I want to have a built-in situation where I allow myself to binge on my favorite greasy and/or sugary foods.

OK, confession time. It’s not just on the days that I’m actually traveling. If I travel to San Francisco or Boston, which happens often, I eat every day I’m there like saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup are going away for good. Since I’ve lived in these two cities and have tried most of the good restaurants, I don’t feel compelled to seek out high-quality healthy meals from new places. So I eat bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s, steak & cheese subs from D’Angelo’s, carnitas burritos from Anna’s Taqueria, and just about anything else that makes a paper bag see-through if you rub that food on it for five seconds.

It’s a pretty amazing cycle actually. I spend every day at home eating healthy and exercising. So when I travel, I feel that it’s fine to have a few days of bad eating because I’ve earned it. And then when I get home from the vacation, I feel terrible about myself and work my ass off for a few days trying to lose the 13lbs I gained over that weekend. The net result will probably leave me at a soft, doughy 190lbs for the rest of my life, and that’s fine…because the fast food is just so damn good.

Now just so you know, I’m not completely disgusting. If I’m doing a long drive late at night (after dinner), I’m not going to be stopping five times for burgers & fries. In those situations I ease off the heavy meats and go for a lighter mix like this:

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That picture’s from a road trip to San Francisco from January. And that haul of snacks didn’t even get me through the first 150 miles.

So this week I head back to Boston for six days. I already have lunch plans on Thursday with a friend to devour a burrito (at least a burrito, perhaps a quesadilla as a second course) from Anna’s. I know I’ll have Wendy’s at least once and D’Angelo’s at least twice back in Fitchburg. On Thursday night I’m sure I’ll have a burger and several appetizers of the fried food variety at whatever bar I end up at while watching the Bruins game.

Since this is shaping up to be a particularly unhealthy trip, I actually made a grilled chicken sandwich to take to the airport with me in the morning. Maybe eating it on the plane can be my only meal while I travel on Wednesday. But knowing me, I’ll eat the chicken sandwich at 6AM on the way to the airport, grab a croissan’wich & hash browns from Burger King while I wait for my flight, and then get a giant bag of Peanut M&M’s for the plane. I also hear it’s supposed to be 80 degrees in Boston when I land…perfect chocolate milkshake weather.

And let’s be honest…am I really going to wait for my friend to get to Boston on Thursday for my first Anna’s Burrito? No, I’ll be going directly from Logan Airport to their closest location for that sweet, sweet carnitas.

And when I return to LA next week, I’ll feel terrible. I’ll be lethargic for a few days, and I’ll spend extra time in the bathroom. I’ll try to go for a simple two-mile run and wonder why it seems like I’m running with lead shoes on. I’ll be miserable.

But then I’ll cheer up when I realize I’m only two weeks away from my next road trip.

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Five Little Christmas Stories: Women’s Troubles, Family Problems, Yankee Flop, Jaywalking and Diet Coke

While I patiently wait for my Mac to get fixed (estimated by the Apple repair people to take “best case a couple days, could be up to a week, worst case a lot longer than that”…coulda just said “two days to infinity”), let’s empty out the notebook with some short stories that are vaguely relevant to my trip back to Boston and Fitchburg over Christmas. There actually is no notebook to empty because all my brilliant blog ideas get stored on a file on my computer, which you might have heard is in the shop. So these are all based on my fuzzy memory.

1). The Moment I Decided It’s OK to Stereotype Women

Poor Julie deals with a lot of shit from me, never more so than when I’m bugging her about how she’s making us late for something. I hate to throw her under the bus in such a public forum, but there’s some kind of built-in trigger inside her that will never allow her to be on time for anything. Sometimes it’s because of the 123 wardrobe changes moments before it’s time to leave. More often it’s not being able to find a crucial item as we’re about to walk out the door (wallet, ID, phone, sunglasses…by the way, you know how you avoid this problem? You simply put your belongings in the same place every time. I guarantee most men have their wallets, cell phone and keys either in the pocket of the pants they’re currently wearing or on their bureau…most likely on the same damn spot of the bureau every time). Anyway, where was I? Oh right. So I’ve been trying to give women the benefit of the doubt, because why should Julie ruin it for everyone else. But then there was the day I was leaving Fitchburg to go back into Boston last week. My sister (sorry, but the internet doesn’t have the capacity needed for me to describe how I have a sister, you’ll just have to trust me)…my sister decided to get a ride into Boston with me, and I told her we needed to leave the house at 1:30. After all, I had a set time to meet Julie and her Dad, and like me he’s a man who enjoys being punctual. It was 11am when I told her our departure time. Her response? “No problem, I can be ready in 30 seconds.” Really? Because I know you still have two loads of laundry to do and the casualness with which you’re sitting on the couch watching TV right now is making me very nervous. Fast forward to 1pm and she’s yelling down the stairs to me, “Ross, you said we’re leaving around two, right?” Long story short, if it wasn’t for her mother literally packing her suitcase for her, we’d still be in Fitchburg right now. So she gets her shit together by 1:30, oozing with pride at being on time. We jump in the car and she tells me, “OK I just need to stop by the bank and then get an iced coffee and we can get the hell outta here.”

Which brings me to my next point: You’re not allowed to say you’re ready and then spring last-second to-do’s on me as if they don’t count towards us being late. Another great example: Just last night Julie and I were getting ready to go see a movie. We both decided we should leave by 7:10. At that exact time, she says she’s ready. But then she craves a hot tea to bring to the movie so we just have to brew that bad boy up real quick. And do I happen to know where she can find our straws for the tea? No problem, we can just search the kitchen for a few minutes.

Here’s my final point on this topic. I get so stressed out from trying to plan to be on time for things that I’m worried it’s going to lead to my eventual death. So my one resolution for New Year’s is to not stress or make a fuss when we’re inevitably late for everything. I’ll just hope that the women in my life eventually figure out that being on time can be beneficial. Until then, I just want you all to know that it’s not my fault I was late to your wedding, our double date, your funeral. I was ready in plenty of time.

And now for some much shorter stories…

2). Where I Sound Like An Inconsiderate Prick But I’m Really Not

I love my family. I love my friends. I love my family’s friends. But when my Dad said he was having some people over last Sunday to see my new nephew and lay gifts at his feet, I couldn’t help but be worried (I don’t think my Dad technically called it a “viewing of the Messiah” on the invite, but I imagine the three kings’ visit to Jesus’ manger was a lot like what went down at this party, only this time there were about 75 more people and 40 more empty bottles of liquor). I was worried because you may have heard that Sunday is when a lot of awesome football is on TV. And when friends and family you haven’t seen in years are around, it looks really douchey to stare right through them at the TV while they’re trying to tell you how awesome their grandkids are. Of course chances are you won’t miss anything that amazing by taking your eyes off the TV and then just check in every now and then on the score. But my brothers and I thought that on December 20, 2003, when another family gathering was happening on a football Sunday. And you know what we missed because we couldn’t stare at the TV or hear the sound of it? We missed the Joe Namath “I wanna kiss you” moment. To this day I resent my family just a little bit for making me miss that. So I’ll reiterate that I love my family and friends, and I’m so happy they all wanna get together when I’m home. But can we please schedule these things on a Saturday next time? I don’t wanna have to pretend to have explosive diarrhea just so I can take my computer into the bathroom and pull up the Red Zone Channel while I sit on the toilet not actually diarrheaing.

3). The Worst Yankee Swap Of All Time

So my brother sent out an email on December 8th to the side of the family we were opening gifts with on Christmas morning to see if everyone wanted to do a Yankee Swap. All six of us immediately replied yes, and we set a $20 suggested limit on the gifts. Everyone involved is an adult with the ability to go to a store and make a purchase or go online and order an item. But when the dust settled on the worst Yankee Swap Ever, here’s what we had:

  • An electronic key finder that the buyer admitted was meant for only one specific person in the swap—always a good idea to buy a gift specific to a person when the game is literally a random drawing.
  • The first season of Homeland on DVD. Not actually a bad gift at all in theory, but we quickly discovered that almost all the potential recipients had either already seen it or had just gotten the DVD as a gift from someone else.
  • Two $10 scratch tickets that were purchased at about 5pm on December 24th when the buyer realized he had forgotten about the Swap entirely.
  • Two more $10 scratch tickets that were purchsed 30 minutes before the Swap was set to go down, not because this buyer forgot about it, but because he was literally holding out hope til the last minute that we’d change our minds about doing it (rumor has it he went into the gas station, bought the tickets, got back into his car, decided one of the tickets he was holding was lucky and didn’t want someone else to win a bunch of money, so he scratched it, won nothing and had to run back into the store to buy the 2nd half of the “gift” again).
  • A bottle of special hot sauce that at first seemed like a thoughtful gift, but later we discovered that this person found a random case of abandoned hot sauce so she decided to give a bottle as gifts to the whole family.
  • And then two actual useful gifts.

I dare you to find a less successful Yankee Swap.

4). The Strangest Monologue I Heard All Week

While waiting to cross the street in downtown Boston last Saturday, I heard a guy behind me say, “That’s the only thing I liked about California when I visited. They actually give tickets for jaywalking. Seriously, I got a ticket for that when I was out there. And I was happy about it…It’s the only thing about California that made any sense to me.”

5). Finally Taking Credit For Starting The Coolest Trend in Soda History

I’m beaming with pride as I write this: I was the first person who ever drank Diet Coke purely for the taste. Many people drank it before me because they were on a diet, or because they were diabetic, or maybe even because their mom was on a diet and it’s the only soda she’d allow in the house. But no one before me ever tasted Diet Coke and thought “Mmm, even if given a choice between regular and diet, I’d go with the diet.” I estimate I started this trend in the summer of 1989. After doing some research, I learned that Diet Coke came out in August of 1982. That’s a seven-year gap where someone could have presumably beat me to the punch. But no way. Because you know people probably resisted it over the first few years. People were used to that super-sweet taste of regular Coke and when they took a sip of this new diet concoction, they all probably said, “Ew gross, why couldn’t they make this taste more like the regular stuff?” But not me. A little six-year-old boy was running around his country club in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1989 saying, “This Diet Coke stuff is the shit…I wanna drink at least one a day.” Now you can’t go anywhere in public without someone gushing about how much they crave Diet Coke. A little credit would be nice. You know what else I could take credit for? Being the first person to decide fountain soda wasn’t just marginally better than canned or bottled soda, but infinitely better. Give me a good fountain Diet Coke and then shoot me in the face. I’ll go happily.

Final note on this: If you’re a Diet Coke connoseuir like myself, you definitely have a hierarchy of which fast food places have the best fountain soda. Burger King for sure has the worst. McDonald’s is OK, and Wendy’s is pretty good. But give me a choice and I’m going with the fountain D.C. from Five Guys or In-n-Out.

Oh and the best part about all this is that I actually got someone to admit last Friday night that I did start the “Diet Coke for pure taste” trend. Slowly but surely this thing is gonna pick up steam.

6). One Final Bonus Story Just Because I’m Feeling Guilty

I broke someone’s Yo-Yo at my Dad’s house on Christmas night. I have no idea whose it was or what kind of sentimental value it might have had. And I didn’t tell anyone. I just watched it break and then put it down on the coffee table like it was a working Yo-Yo that I was done playing with. So to whoever’s toy that was, I’m not sorry…it was a cheap Yo-Yo. But I guess I owe you like a buck twenty-six or something. Let me know who to make the check out to.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet on LA’s Toughest Physical Challenge

Do these stairs look intimidating?  I can’t tell if this photo does them justice, but they are fucking ridiculous.  I’ve tried walking up them twice now, and the next time I go, I’m taking camping gear and setting up shop at the halfway point on night one.  It’s about a three-day journey to the top at my pace.

I haven’t even begun exploring LA’s most difficult hikes or running trails, but I’m calling it already: this staircase at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City is the toughest workout you can get in the city.

Beyond the fact that it’s like a third of a mile straight uphill, the stairs are completely uneven and awkwardly spaced so you’re sometimes taking two or three steps in between each stair.

I’m throwing out the challenge to all comers now: visit me in LA and run all the way up the stairs (and live to tell the tale), and I’ll buy you In-n-Out Burger or Five Guys as a reward.

If you think you’re in shape, I promise you’ll rethink that after the staircase-of-death challenge.  Just look at the people in this picture who are either stopping mid-stairclimb to rest or actually having to sit down on the stairs.

The allure of the stairs is the promise of amazing views of the entire LA area at the top.  I tried to take a picture of the view, but threw up all over my phone instead.

Choosing Your Meals for Your Last Day Alive

Traveling back to San Francisco from D.C. on Monday, I probably could have predicted that I wouldn’t be eating healthy at any point during the day.  Breakfast was going to be happening in the airport, and then I’d probably be too tired and lazy to go to the grocery store for lunch or dinner.  The day screamed “greasy takeout food,” but I definitely couldn’t have predicted just how amazingly gross my food intake would be.

Breakfast was a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Five Guys…with a burger patty added to it.  Amazingly there were about 25 other people at this restaurant in Dulles Airport ordering the same thing at 6AM.  That was washed down with a Diet Coke.  By the way, if you’re reading this and have never been to a Five Guys, stop reading right now and get to one.  It is definitely the best “fast food” burger you’ll ever eat.

Lunch was a Super Burrito at Pancho Villa in San Francisco.  Super meaning it had the works on it…cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, bacon fat, chocolate sauce and more.

And then finally for dinner, it was cheesesteak time at Phat Philly.  This wasn’t a normal cheesesteak situation though.  My friend had a groupon-like deal at this restaurant where our meal included a 12-inch cheesesteak each, an order of waffle fries topped with bacon and cheese wiz to split, one beer each and of course a dessert for each of us.

I joked shortly after that if I found out I only had one day to live, my meal choices for that final day wouldn’t be much different than what I consumed on Monday.  And it got me thinking…if you really did have only one day left to live, what would you choose to eat on that last day?

For me it would be the three meals I ate on Monday, but I’d add a fourth meal that would be a porterhouse steak with mac-and-cheese as the side.  And I would end my life with dessert in the form of as much ice cream as I could possibly eat.

Rather than put up a poll asking readers to vote on what their final day of meals would consist of, I’d like to see if we can get people adding comments to this post with their opinion.  I’ll be honest, the comment levels on this blog are pretty weak…maybe with the proper guidance you will all finally add some value to my already valuable blog posts.

I’ll be checking on the incoming comments while relieving my body of all that food from yesterday…just hope my iPad is charged up enough for me to spend all those hours in the bathroom.