a guest post by Steve Barker
I love McDonald’s double cheeseburgers. They are salty little cakes, garnished with a squirt of ketchup, a dab of mustard and a pickle slice. McDonald’s doesn’t even waste time with lettuce. I take small bites around the edge anticipating that one middle bite where I taste everything at once. That amazing bite sends a tsunami of saturated-fat-induced dopamine through my body.
Those double cheeseburgers are terrible for you, so bad for you that politicians want them banned and bored housewives rally against them. They take the blame for the obesity epidemic.
I usually eat three at a time. Not every day, not even once a week—about once
every two months or so. I hit the drive-thru the morning after an exceptional night of heavy drinking and always complement the burgers with a large cup of Hi-C Orange. It satisfies my hungover body like nothing else can. Most of the time I eat in my car because I don’t have the patience to wait until I’m home at my dining room table. I almost choke; I eat so fast, only stopping to suck up orange-flavored high fructose corn syrup through a plastic straw. I am one hundred percent aware that I’m not eating healthy food. It’s usually at the end of the binge when the passenger seat is covered in wrappers and I lick the last bit of salt from my lips when I start thinking about the sit-ups and push-ups I’m going to have to do immediately when I get home. Twenty-five sit-ups and 10 push-ups per burger is a rule I’ve made for myself.
Fast food is not to blame for the obesity problem. Sure, it’s certainly not helping, but what’s really to blame is America’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Joe D’Amico, a/k/a The McRunner, ate nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days before completing a marathon in an impressive 2 hours and 36 minutes. It’s as simple as burn more calories than you take in.
I would never recommend eating McDonald’s every day, and as much as I love salty and fatty foods, they are not something that I consume on a regular basis. Most of the time I’m a healthy eater. I subscribe to the belief that an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. I’m so fond of apples that I’d choose a crisp Fuji apple over a Snickers bar any day.
I’m in decent shape. Like most people, I’d like a little more definition in my abs and maybe some more bulk in my upper body, but I’m pretty happy with the way I look, which hasn’t been easy to maintain since I love beer, pizza and, of course, McDonald’s double cheeseburgers. Since I don’t want to deprive myself of those delicious things, I take the necessary steps to counterbalance the large number of calories I consume. I run between 30-40 miles a week, constantly do sit-ups and occasionally push-ups. I know running isn’t for everyone. I do it because I love it. I suffer from anxiety and have found running to be the best medicine. If I go more than three days in a row without a run I quickly become anxious and agitated. I do not enjoy sit-ups and push-ups, but they are something I just have to do if I want to continue a life in which I enjoy my meals and don’t feel guilty when I eat a whole bag of Cool Ranch Doritos while watching a “Jersey Shore” marathon.
Sit-ups and push-ups are the most convenient exercises. You don’t need a gym
membership or any special equipment. All you need is your living room floor. Anyone who tells you they don’t have time to work out isn’t really trying. Twenty-five sit-ups can be done in less than 2 minutes. If you have time to watch an hour of TV a day you have time to work out.
My average run takes a little over an hour. I find 4-5 hours a week to run. I know
that working an eight-hour shift, plus a commute and life’s everyday chores make it hard to find time for cardio. And cardio is the key to weight loss. Sit-ups and push-ups will give you a little definition and possibly burn off that grande caramel latte you had after lunch, but little actions will only give you little results.
Again, I know running is not for everyone, but there are other options. Swimming is the best, but unless you have a pool in your backyard, it can be expensive and inconvenient. Walking is great. Living in Seattle makes it easy for me to walk most places. If I go anywhere under a mile I always walk. When I take the bus I usually get off 2 or 3 stops in advance. That’s more because the bus makes me uncomfortable as opposed to health reasons. Jumping rope is a great way to burn calories, and all you need is a piece of string and a hard surface. If you live in an apartment I would not recommend this inside, unless you hate your neighbors, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a small space where you can work out. It’s easy to use the excuse that you don’t want to look stupid, but trust me, you skip rope for 30 minutes a day for a month and people will be complimenting you on how good you look.
And if you really can’t find the time, the little things are a good start. Always take
the stairs. Park in the back of the parking lot—once again, something I do, but more because parking lots make me anxious and driving straight to the back of the lot is a lot less stressful than doing circles trying to find a spot up close. You can do jumping jacks when you watch TV. The more you do the better you’ll feel, and the more you’ll want to do it more. It’s like a drug.
I enjoy a cold beer, a warm shot of whiskey, a menthol cigarette and the occasional toke, but for me there’s no better high than mile 8 of a 10 mile run, when Outkast’s “Bombs over Baghdad” comes on my iPod and I’m confronted with a 75-step staircase. I attack the stairs like William Wallace charging into battle, and when I get to the top and the hairs on the back of my calves stand up, I am victorious. I also know that my burger binge has been erased. Almost like it never happened. (I know there are more consequences than just body fat from eating double cheeseburgers, but we skinny people make excuses too.)
Because I choose to indulge in McDonald’s every once in a while, I was upset when they eliminated the Super Size option. It should not be the company’s responsibility to regulate how much of their food customers consume. If someone wants to mainline high fructose corn syrup and trans-fats, that’s his or her choice. They just don’t have the right to blame fast food when they develop diabetes or become morbidly obese.
Steve Barker lives his life by practicing a careful and opposing balance of extreme partying and extreme running, which he believes, when achieved correctly negates all vice through physical exertion. He is running a 5K with Brian in July while wearing a 50 lb. weight vest to equal Brian’s weight.