Muscle Memory Massage

Food & Our Bodies

Even if the basic science behind food can be boiled down somewhat simply, individual relationships with food—and furthermore, physique—unquestionably cannot be.

“Calories in, Calories out,” they say.

Eh, kind of.

Math is math, and I won’t dispute factual numbers; that being said, what makes up those calories DOES matter.

Even if human physiology obeyed the laws of thermodynamics as they have been utilized in argument to assert that every calorie from every source will necessarily act the same in every body[1], in today’s reality, most of us would not ultimately choose to eat the exact same foods every day forever, even if it would guarantee our dream body.

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Before diving further into any of this, I do want to say that I know it has become passé to speak openly about food, body, size, and health – and I genuinely don’t care. I don’t believe that neutrally stating facts is a hate crime, and I also don’t believe we should baby people away from life-saving truths.

It’s important to converse about these issues with as much openness as possible. No one can aspire towards living a happier, healthier, longer life if the discussion isn’t even on the table.

And as a formerly obese person myself, let’s be honest: you know if you’re fat, and you know how it feels to be fat. Weight does affect your body (because, you know, physics at the very least) and food is for most of us, regardless of size, an obsession that’s pervasive and unshakeable. We all eat.

Let’s talk about it.

[1] To read more on this concept: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-3-9

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PART I:

Unremarkably, I was pretty average-sized until I wasn’t.

I was never a “twig” kid, nor was I the very big-boned kid. Unfortunately, however, both size and food became big in my life long before I did.

My siblings and I were restricted from ever eating chocolate, caffeine, or food coloring. A can of Sprite was a special weekend opportunity. No candy and rare sodas sounds healthy, right?

But nothing else was off limits. Cookies, ice cream, pastries, juice – the vanilla and dye-free options were all still in reach constantly. Not to mention Burger King, Wendy’s, Duchess, Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts, to name a few.

No problem, though! I was super active with sports like swimming and basketball, and I spent all my free time walking around and exploring the woods with my neighborhood friends.

Yes, I ate with gusto (food has lit up my happy brain for as long as I can remember), but my growing, moving body didn’t get “fat.”

As many of us did, though, I had a mother who fretted over my size and often to my face, even as a young child. I became self-conscious before most of my peers, and by middle school, my eating habits took on traits like secrecy, starving, and bingeing.

These and other negative food habits were spurred on by bullying from the truly slender girls at school, who called me things like a “beached whale.” Nay an original insult to be found, but it hurt nevertheless—and these moments are relevant to any and all of us who exhibit disordered eating.

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Come high school was when I really fulfilled the prophecies of my tormentors. A sudden, dramatic move from Connecticut to Georgia left me isolated, depressed, and resigned to the computer. My activity levels plummeted to zero, and I ate to feel better emotionally, even when it made me sick physically.

I gained a substantial amount of weight, quickly. I was 14.

Motherly intervention struck again, kicking off my yo-yo dieting journey, which (after spanning the length of my teenage years) left me physically ill and covered in stretch marks.

Rather than learn anything about food and exercise, I was shepherded through fads like the Atkins diet, time-gated eating, and even a bariatric program that utilized cocaine-like appetite suppressant pills in conjunction with weekly B-12 injections to the bum.

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After quitting the appetite suppressants in college, the weight came right back, albeit thankfully not quite to the heights I had once reached.

In my early 20s, I was lucky to have found an online fitness platform—entirely by chance—that I felt I could try to follow along with privately. I started off with 10-minute exercise videos, and they absolutely kicked my ass.

I was mortified, and I told absolutely no one about my efforts.

Eventually, after much confidence building, I started taking weight training classes to fulfill my undergrad P.E. requirement. Soon after, I even took up running on the treadmill at my apartment complex’s gym in the early hours of the morning before anyone else would see me.

It paid off, but I was essentially right back to where I had started as a kid; attaining a fit-looking physique purely by exercising, without much nutritional knowledge or assistance. By the nature of what I was doing, it did become difficult to sustain while eating at the bottom end of “poorly.”

My diet of McDonald’s, Sonic, Sheetz, Panda Express, and constant desserts had me feeling sick. I was also feeling more hesitant to make the most-delicious-decision-possible at every meal since I knew how much effort I had already put in that day towards my health.

Just as the proverbial snowball can roll downhill with bad habits, so too for good ones. (NB: the hill doesn’t feel quite as steeply graded when you’re trying to roll away from sugars and fast food.)

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I began teaching myself how to cook. Not every recipe was technically “healthy”—as I consider the term today—but it was a step in the right direction, and it led me towards a new type of delicious that made me feel good and strong and energized.

My weight has still fluctuated in my adult years—a fact that I have found extremely frustrating. In fact, I’ve gained back 25 pounds from June 2021-2022 which I had lost just the year prior, from June 2020-2021.

I’ve since come to realize that my weight gain never fails to correlate with those oh so fantastic, distressing emotional periods in my personal life.

This makes complete sense to me and for me, but it’s still shitty. I feel subservient to the foods that sing their siren songs to me from miles away when I’m upset.

Worst of all, while not nearly as dire as other life events, I’ve had several instances over the past few years where my eating habits have tanked as a direct result of becoming confused about which foods are truly healthy, and which are not.

This leads directly into the second component of this “food and the body” discussion.

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PART II:

I’ve sought nutritional advice online regularly for many years now, and I have heard it all…

  • Vegan is the only way to go. It’s anti-aging, cancer-preventing, and will keep the springtime of your youth going strong, damn near forever. Gigantic cows get their protein from grass, so we can do the same thing. Choose to kill other life and you’ll kill yourself.
  • Keto is a must. We’re carnivores who are meant to eat meat, and eating meat will satiate you so well that you won’t want or need to eat in excess. It’s sooo easy. Also, avoid products marketed as “low fat” or you’re 100% guaranteed to get diabetes.
  • It’s of the utmost importance to avoid certain fats. Death to all oils, or death to you – your choice. ONLY eat fats that come from good, fresh-caught, antibiotic-free fish, plus chia seeds and avocados. Maybe some macadamia nuts. Eat any trans fats and you’re going to have heart failure for sure.
  • It doesn’t matter what you eat, so long as it’s in moderation and you’re counting your calories. It’s simple math here, people. Exercise will essentially erase any crap you eat; you already get enough vitamins and proteins and stuff so nix supplements; just make sure you’re regularly moving and Track. Your. Calories.

I really could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. The point is that it quickly feels like an impossibility to make the “right” choices. Many schools of thought have even come to suggest that the proper choices are entirely individual, and you should just eat what you feel like your body wants.

I can tell you right now, there are VERY few among us who are in touch with their bodies enough to successfully eat with that level of intuition. Even after decades of learning and growing, my “intuition” still wears horns and leads me towards sea salt chocolate caramels rather than carrots and legumes.

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So what the hell do we do?

Well, that’s largely why I’m writing this article in the first place. I think we’re at a point where it’s more important than ever to highlight the difficulties of modern wellness as it pertains to food and the body.

This is NOT to give an excuse for us to fail, but rather to encourage positive change on our bodies globally – a sincerely daunting agenda.

What I’ve shared here is just my story, and I did so to illustrate that there are as many unique experiences of food and exercise, weight and self-esteem, and trauma and pressure as there are humans among us.

You just don’t know how a person got to where they are, what keeps them up at night, and what they know or don’t know about food.

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The curse of choice has made so-called healthy living a true labor – and not of the same variety that humans have learned to combat in the past.

It’s critical that we and our children understand that we still exist in the same style of body and mind that not so long ago had limited choices.

Humans chose to forage vegan options like plants, vegetables, and fruits by convenience in the wild. Later, it became possible and logical to control plant growth, so these same options were farmed intentionally, though there were still limitations of science and climate at play.

Game was hunted or trapped when possible or necessary, with the skills and tools available. Some groups followed large packs of game if it was their most profitable venture for the community. Despite the potential difficulties of securing prey, it would have been worth the large payoff by way of meats (which could be smoked and cured to last into colder months), hides, and other animal parts used for various crafting and healing purposes.

Some others of our ancestors had access to bodies of water with edible aquatic life, but as with the previous circumstances, they too had to adapt to unpredictable weather, supply, and the success of equipment available.

Resources were not available on demand; there was no special modification allowing for more than what working with the earth provided.

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It’s likely that our progenitors made use of what they could to survive, attaining nourishment from a variety of sources, depending on their location, the time of year, and how desperate they may have been.

It makes sense, then, that some of us may thrive better on different diets, depending on what our bodies have been programmed for by those in our lineage for centuries past.

One thing is for sure, however: our forbears were not eating buckets of sugar and mountains of grease every year.

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Today, food is a commercial product that has been chemically perfected to make us want more. Food has been weaponized against us in order to turn a profit. For all its advantages, capitalism does not care about your health, your body, or your longevity.

Children and adults everywhere need to be awakened to the fact that: eating foods that will promote health and not promote disease in the body isn’t as simple as it sounds because our willpower is being hijacked with more and more precision every year.

Fast food chains like McDonald’s have even worked on and trialed synthesizing scents to perfume their establishments with—masked scents that cause the human brain to want to eat more.

Seriously, it’s that bad.

There’s so much philosophical debate about free-will and the concept of choice, and while we may never be able to prove one way or the other as it pertains to a more existential level, we can easily observe that those liberties are being taken from us every day with what we eat, right under our noses.

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I really can’t stress how serious this is, as much as I want to. All I can do is encourage any of you reading this to look into both the food industry and food, itself. Help yourself and your loved ones better understand what you’re up against, and how awful the affects of poor eating will be on your bodies as the years pass.

For months, I have been developing a food guide that details the benefits of different, non-chemically altered foods on the human body, which I will share in an upcoming blog post. I’ve been using this knowledge recently to help myself make better food decisions, even when severely tempted.

At the same time, I’ve also been diving deeper and deeper into the absolutely wild science that the food industry has been harnessing to puppet us around from gas station candy aisles to drive-thrus. Hell, even our grocery stores are set up to help us fail. Ain’t that some shit?

If you’ve suffered through weight gain and loss, seen a family member develop dementia or Alzheimer’s, lost a friend to heart disease, watched a diabetic sibling collapse, or been frustrated with the foodscape in your daily life, it’s not your fault.

It is, however, your responsibility to do something about it. You deserve better.

The way our bodies perform is a direct result of the food we put in them, and while it’s not easy, it really is that simple.

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