On any given Sunday (or, really, any day that ends with “y”), I have the consumption habits of a 13-year-old boy. I’m talking gigantic, carb-heavy meals that prominently feature either rice, cassava or potatoes, and a big ole chunk of meat that I can consume with aplomb. I’m the queen of the Popeyes two-piece and a biscuit. The co-founder and CEO of the Chicken Is a Breakfast Food 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Change.org petition pending. Me and savory foods—these are my besties, my best friends.
Unfortunately for my taste buds and general gluttony, I have been informed that I cannot continue ingesting a bazillion calories a day without discretion and remain on fleek. You would think that this is pretty straightforward, but I have comfortably operated for coming up on three decades by eating whatever in the hell I want by just out-exercising my gourmand tendencies, with varying levels of success. I may no longer be superlean and athletic by most people’s definition of the words, but I hit the gym four times a week on average, so I’m certainly not a sloth. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that if a medium-sized dog gave chase, I could last a solid couple of blocks before resigning myself to my fate.
Now I’m approaching that point in my life when I’m just feeling everything I eat. I wolf down a burger too late in the night and my gut is distended well into the next day. Late-night diner stops after the club have me more wrecked than the alcohol I consumed to get me there. And the pounds that sneak on after every sodium-laden weekend are somehow more stubborn than any previous weight gain as I continue to slowly lose the battle of my unscrupulous dietary habits with my waistline.
This has resulted in moronic conversations with my primary care physician, along the lines of, “How many miles do I have to run a day so that I don’t have to give up hot wings, and what pills can I take after so that my gastrointestinal system stops doing the A-town stomp?” So far I’ve met with little success, but I’m staying strong in faith that science will come through.
The reality, of course, is that I know what I need to do—eat more green stuff, put the salt and hot oil down—but it just doesn’t seem like a pleasant way to go about my life on a day-to-day basis. Is a life without plantains really a life worth living? Or oxtail? Or french fries? This is the land of the free!
Nevertheless, at the start of every month, I kick off with an earnest attempt to do s—t like make green smoothies and meal-plan and go to farmers markets and absorb all of my earthy friends’ good habits by osmosis … and then a stressful day at work happens, or I get my period, or the Knicks lose again, and I find myself blacking out and waking up at a Shake Shack. Whoever came up with the quote “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” has never been to Five Guys.
Carrots and hummus are straight … but they don’t warm my cold and tiny heart the way that fried fish does. Alas, if I want to live long enough to see Stevie Wonder finally get that haircut, Joseline Hernandez realize her Puerto Rican princess dreams or see children be our future, I’m gonna need to find some discipline and attempt something close to a balanced diet that goes beyond “I didn't want to look like that much of a pig, so I didn’t order a second burger even though I could’ve totally scarfed one down.” No time like the present to add a few years back to my life and avoid hypertension.
Of course, as I write this, I’m currently giving some work to a chicken thigh, but hey—tomorrow’s a brand-new day.
Shamira Ibrahim is a 20-something New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her as she waxes poetic about chicken, Cam’ron and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at Very Smart Brothas.