Thursday, March 26, 2009

The fruitcake phenomenon

KatieP's post yesterday reminded me of something that's been bouncing around in my brain for a few weeks now.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly should be in no doubt about my philosophy on healthy eating. I believe that eating well and enjoying what you eat are not mutually exclusive. That any nutrition plan you adopt should be sustainable as a lifelong thing. And that achieving a top-notch physique doesn't require 100% adherence to any “clean” eating plan.

Lately, I’ve read more and more magazine articles, blogs and “celebrity” stories that promote the idea that if you want to achieve a fantastic body, you have to exist in a constant state of deprivation. I see body transformation contest winners, fitness models, bodybuilding competitors and just ordinary people seeking to improve their physique, who are trying to live on punishing diets. And when they inevitably fall off the “clean eating” wagon, they bombard themselves with criticism and self-loathing for failing to be perfect.

There’s one supposed fitness guru in particular who’s getting a lot of publicity at the moment. She definitely has a super-hot physique, and not surprisingly, many bloggers seem to want to emulate her. She claims to eat 100% clean all the time. (My mind boggles at the thought….) She also claims that she is always in perfect shape, shredded and ready to step in front of a camera at a moment’s notice.

Seriously? Who wants to live like that? My honest opinion: she’s a fruitcake.

Here’s my take on the idea of being in “perfect condition” year-round: It’s stupid. It’s unhealthy. It’s not a nice way to live. It’ll eventually make you a) sick or b) crazy.

First of all, think about the physical side of things. Get your body fat really, really low and all kinds of funky things begin to happen. Keep it there for any length of time and problems begin to show. Your reproductive system shuts down. You may think that’s not a big deal if, say, you never want to have kids, but there’s more to it than that. When your hormones get screwed up, you suffer some nasty physical and emotional symptoms. Dry skin, hair loss, decreased ability to cope with life, depression…and those are just a few of the possible side effects.

Bone density can be affected, your energy levels will probably suffer and your poor deprived brain will attempt some damage control and send in the troops, in the form of hunger and cravings. And it’s not just reproductive hormones that are affected – other glands can go haywire too, including thyroid and adrenals. Those, you don’t want to mess with. There’s a lot more that can go wrong, but you get the idea.

Getting really lean is fine. But regaining a few kgs of fat, post-competition, is important. It allows your body to recover and restore normal functions with no lasting damage. Obviously, you don’t want to be yo-yoing all the time, losing and gaining large amounts of weight – but 4 or 5kg, or even a little more, is a sensible amount of wiggle-room for most people.

As well as the effects on your body, think about your life and how it would be if you never, ever ate off-plan from your freaky protein-and-veggies diet. Imagine eating out. Fussing over the menu, grilling the waiter over how the fish is cooked. Sending back your salad because it contains egg yolk. Then sitting there while your companions eat their potato wedges and risottos and pastas….and their desserts. And wine.

Picture yourself at a friend’s house for dinner. You bring your own food in a Tupperware container. Not just for the few weeks leading up to a competition, but all the time. Or you insist that your friends cook you a separate meal. They’ll be whispering: “drama queen” behind your back. Eventually, they’re gonna stop inviting you, because you’re just too high maintenance. And no fun any more.

Imagine never tasting a piece of chocolate again. No Baskin-Robbins choc-peanut butter ice cream. No pizza. No brie accompanied by those funny, pointy lavash crackers. No birthday cake. I’m almost hyperventilating at the thought.

My point is: WHY do it, when it isn’t necessary? Why spend your life feeling deprived and miserable, when you can eat well without being a total freak about it? Me, I’m continuing to dirty up my meals with chocolate, peanut butter, ice cream, jam, cheese and whatever else I fancy. I know that as long as I keep the amounts small and obtain 90% or so of my nutrition from the good stuff, I’ll get to where I’m going.

And most importantly, I’ll arrive with my physical and mental health intact.


Anonymous said...

Bravooooooo Kekster!

Post of the friggin' year woman!

I think I know who you are outing as a fruitcake too.

Secret squirrel!

Kek said...

Yes, Miss K, I'm sure you do....

*makes the secret sign*

Anonymous said...

*makes secret sign back*

*and flashes boobies for attention seeking value*

little rene said...

I know who it is too! (I think?) She also sells "books" that are rubbish! I got duped into buying one :(

FANTASTIC post Kek! You can be one of my "pin up girls" too :)

I agreed with every sentiment expressed! Food is such an AWESOME part of life and I love it too!

I think you should write a cookbook ;)

Kek said...

Kitty, put them away - PLEASE. This is a PG-rated blog, ya know.

Rene, thank you. I'd love to do a cookbook, and may well get around to it. I could start with a good fruitcake recipe. ;o)

Anonymous said...

you rock Kek xx

Vix said...

I'm with Kitty (hmmm maybe aside from the boobie flashing?)...Gold Medal post right there.

Cinders said...

Well said and well written Kek - brilliant post :)

Anonymous said...

Rene I would use the term "book" as loosely as possible.

Kekster, sorry about the boobie flash, but I figure everyone has seen them - what? 1000 times already??


When are you exhibiting your hotness again this year woman?

I'm soooooo coming along againski!!

LizN said...

Amen sister. I believe the blog is only there to sell those half arsed ebooks.

THere's a time and place for everything but there is a social componenet of eating that cannot and should not be ignored.


Valley Girl said...

I agree with everyone, awesome post KeK, so true, we all need to be level headed in regards to everything in moderation, if only I knew this yrs ago, I wouldnt be where I am now:)
And Im sure she has blowouts, like who can be 100% clean all the time?
you'd go bloody nuts...

Aloso the cookbooks a great idea, as you have the best recipes, Im going to try the chicken, bacon pasta over the weekend...

you inspire people everyday.
Cheers Jools

Unknown said...

You, missy, are my freaking idol.


Kathryn said...

What's the point of having a perfect body if you can't enjoy life? To me that's like going out and buying your dream car and leaving it in the garage so stays in pristine condition.

Unknown said...

I absolutely agree with you Kerryn. I think that the main aim for improving your body with diet and exercise is to be able to enjoy life more- have a more functional existence. Severe deprivation does not equal enjoyment! You go girl!!

Raechelle said...

Ya' know...I was recently thinking that about her too...I mean-Yeah she's got a real fit bod...I've posted pics of her myself...and SOME of what she has to say is relevant...however-yeah-I like to eat-and I enjoying cooking with flavour-and I enjoy being fit...but would never want to have to worry about being "ready for the camera" every day for the rest of my life. A person does need balance-contrary to one of her recent posts-it doesn't mean we don't push hard at the gym. Yeah-fruitcake!

Nicole said...

Yep - totally agree with you Kek!Great post. Nicole xx

philippa_moore said...

I couldn't agree more with what you've said here Kek. I echo everyone else's sentiments when I say you've hit the nail square on the head. Yes, being healthy is important, but you have to enjoy yourself too. I can't imagine life without the good things, 10% of the time ;)

Keep up the great work!

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