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:
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.