Fuel for Thought

Imageby John Schrup

The other day, or 2001, I was at Auditorium Shores, before it became the dog park, when there was grass, doing some strides after a run.   Afterward, I sat in the grass and stretched and people watched, which is the best way to pass your time, any time.  Nearby there was a group of beginner runners sitting in a semi-circle around their coach, listening to him talk about nutrition.  (You know where this is going already, don’t you?)  I remember he was a total asshole triathlete.  Nothing against triathletes at all.  Some of my best friends are triathletes.  My respect for them all is complete, except for this dude.  Total asshole.  If you ever meet a triathlete and he’s the most self-absorbed guy you’ve ever met, it’s probably this guy.  One time, I saw him checking out his reflection—checking out his calves—in a window, and there were, like, a ton of people around.   Anyway, he was giving a nutrition talk.

And he was telling them to eat this many grams of protein and carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight, in this very specific ratio, after they did their workout so that they could replenish all their glycogen stores and shit.  It wasn’t that his information was wrong, because it wasn’t.  He was right on, for the most part.  It wasn’t that he was referencing kilograms, which is, um, Canadian I think, because there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that either.  (But I’d have bet that next to none of those people could convert kilograms to pounds, which is the American way to do things.)  And it wasn’t that he was recommending a particular product made by a company that happened to sponsor him, because being sponsored is totally awesome and mostly I’m just jealous that I’ve only been fast enough to be offered a partial sponsorship (product only) by this company that makes combs.  You know, for your hair. 

Anyway, this guy was talking about replenishing your stores and why protein is important to, you know, your health and stuff.  And as he was talking he was beginning to sound kinda like the teacher in the old Peanuts tv shows, except with more flexing, and I looked around at his runners, his pupils, sitting there so intently, and realized that he was basically teaching a graduate level class to incoming freshmen.  Again, not that they didn’t have the capacity to understand all that.  That’s not what I’m saying.  It was that they were all real, true beginners.  It might even have been a Running 101 class for all I know.  Hell.  I really, really felt for these wide eyed, smiling people because they were all a bit overweight (and some were really overweight) and he was feeding them all this information that had absolutely nothing to do with them.  Nothing.  To.  Do.  With.  Them.  They were there to learn something new, to challenge themselves, to change their lives and he had given them absolutely zero information that would benefit them.   If they had really jumped on the stuff he’d just unloaded on them, really put it into practice, it would have done nothing for them, other than maybe make them gain some more weight.

What he should have been saying was, ok, here’s the deal:  I think it is the best thing in the world that you want to take up exercise as way to change your life.  I appreciate the effort you’ve made to make yourself physically healthier so you can be a better person, so you can be of greater benefit to society.  This is why I do this job.  I want to help you so you can help others, so they can spread the gospel of good health.  For the next 30 days, I want you to eat food.  Yes, food.  Not food products.  For the next 30 days I want you to eat stuff that either grew up out of the ground or that you or someone in reasonable geographic proximity hunted or fished.  You know, your veggies, your fruit, your meats.  Nothing else.  Nothing in a box, nothing that was processed in any way.  So that means no pasta, no bread, no cheese (ok, maybe a little cheese, something good, something a little smelly), no CLIF bars.  Do it.  I promise you, promise you, if you do that for 30 days, you will feel tons better and you’ll lose weight.  You will feel so much better, you don’t even KNOW.  Yes, you can eat potatoes.  No, you cannot eat tortillas.  No.  Not even the whole grain ones.    30 days.  You can do it.  It will change your life.  First, we have to start with the fundamentals, you know, baby steps.  30 days.

But, nooooooo, he was feeding them all this bullshit science-y sounding crap that would be useful to, you know, Lance Armstrong.  This is the thing about Runner’s World and just about every other mainstream health/lifestyle article or publication.  (What’s that they say about people who use the word lifestyle?  They have neither life nor style?)  They try to impress us with all this information, all this data, all this lab coat talk, but they aren’t even speaking to the appropriate audience.   

We are all guilty of buying into it.  We all do it at some point.  Most of the information we get from our desired “bible-of-(insert your favorite activity here)” is delivered to us from vendors of products.  And there is nothing wrong with the vending of products.  Nothing at all.  Some of my best friends vend products.  But they’re trying to sell us something.  They want us to buy their products.  So it behooves them to create marketing that will make us all googly eyed and begin reaching for our debit cards.   And so most of that information, that, ahem, “science” is bullshit.  At least in our context.  In these modern times, with so much information available to us so easily, we can become experts, we can become elite level (or act just like one) with the click of a button.  

I promise, I have no idea what that was all about.  I just had to get that off my chest. This is kinda like the crappy band that doesn’t know how to finish a song, so they just sort of…stop.


7 thoughts on “Fuel for Thought

  1. Well said. I really believe that if one just eats “food” in the way Schrup defines it here, there is no reason to count calories or determine protein/carb/fat ratios or any other nonsense. 45-60 min of reasonable aerobic exercise 5-7 days per week, eating “food” whenever you truly feel hungry and only to satiation, adequate sleep and drinking primarily water – boom, you will lose weight, probably massive amounts of it.

  2. What about chocolate? Doesn’t that grow on – I don’t know – chocolate trees? 🙂 Seriously, I LOVE the idea of eating nothing but real food for 30 days, but wouldn’t it be more realistic to say – TRY to eat nothing but real food, but allow yourself some concession? For me, it helps to have some small treat, so I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself.

    • You are absolutely right, Angel. It isn’t so black and white, is it? A really luxurious piece of chocolate is good. A bag of M&M’s? Not so much. I’ve also tried to recalibrate the way I look at food: No longer to I feel deprived if I don’t have a piece of chocolate or, say, an 18″ Eastside Pies Lu.

      • …and there will be a special,skinny place for me in heaven surrounded by pancakes and syrup. But really, I’m going to try it. Is Rice OK?

        • Rice is OK. It’s kind of benign. Nutritional value (white rice) is almost nil. And, yes, should the occasion arise, my last request might be blueberry pancakes and maple syrup.

  3. Dude – I’m just saying, I did this for 80% of my meals (prescribed by Schrup) for 1 month… and I’ve never looked back. It’s the first 2 weeks of pasta with drawl that are the hardest, then you feel fantastic. Since mid-February, I’ve been doing this 80% thing, and I’ve lost 40 lbs. Yes, some of that could be the, you know, higher mileage, but most of it is the change in how I eat. I never have hangovers, and I feel awesome! Schrup suggested that we try it for a month, and everything he promised – the weight loss, the increased energy, and the general good feeling – came true. And the best part is that it’s easy, you don’t have to count calories, or think in kilograms, you just eat real food!

  4. It might even be so that Canadians read your blogs. Even Swedes! Other than your faulty (not your fault) measuring, it’s always a great read here.

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