I just ate a sundae from Baskin Robbins. It was made of chocolate oreo ice cream covered in hot fudge, caramel and topped off with whipped cream and crushed oreos. It was glorious.
There are very few fast food options around my day job, and fewer still that can be considered “healthy.” There is a Whole Foods store about half a mile away, but I really value my lunch hour and want as much time as possible to sit and read and not think about work. There’s also a Pockets which makes all kinds of salads but the problem there is I don’t like salad. I could do Jimmy Johns, which is stretching it as far as the “healthy” idea goes. And of course the ubiquitous McDonalds. My trough of choice usually ends up being the Boston Market about two blocks away. I like the food, and as long as I steer clear of the mac-n-cheese I can convince myself that what I’m eating won’t increase my chances of a coronary too drastically. The downside here is that the Boston Market is located right next to a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins combo. I have to pass it to get back to work. It calls to me. And today I succumbed to its siren song.
I walked back to work with the sundae in my hand, eating with the pink plastic long-handled spoon as I walked. Between bites I scolded myself, but the voice in my head wasn’t really committed to it. It was eclipsed by the blooms of happiness and sunshine that accompanied each bite of ice cream. I told myself I’d earned it. When it was finished I felt ridiculous. I’d earned it? What exactly had I done to earn a sundae? A good report card in second grade might earn me a sundae. I’m thirty-five years old. What does a grown man do to earn a sundae?
Here’s the weird thing: Eating bad food makes me feel great. During the time I am actually eating I feel good physically and I feel good about myself mentally, spiritually, whatever. I feel prepared to take on any task, overcome any challenge. Bring it on! I’ll get it done — just as soon as I’m done eating. Once I am done eating, however, the real physical effects of all that sugar, or grease, or whatever, actually kicks in and I feel like shit. And I tell myself that next time I will have more self-control. I tell myself next time I’ll get a salad, or just some chicken and mixed veggies. While I’m at it, I’ll start doing push-ups and crunches in the morning, ride my bike more, start running. I should look into a yoga class. Don’t I know a trainer? When does that gym open? And so on…
… until the next morning when I realize that I’d have to get up a whole hour earlier to go for a run or a bike ride, and push-ups when you’re carrying an extra eighty or ninety pounds of flab are almost a non-starter. Weights are heavy and make me sore. Cardio makes me sweaty and tired. And none of it works fast enough to make me feel like any of it is worth the effort. But you know what will make me feel better right now? Donuts. And one or two of those croissant sandwiches with ham, eggs and cheese. Lots of cheese. And that ineffectual voice in the back of my head will keep his fingers crossed that this candy bar isn’t the one that pushes me into the realm of borderline diabetes, and this hot dog isn’t the one that sends my cholesterol over the edge of a heart attack.
But you see, I only drink diet soda, so that makes it all okay.