The Foodie and The Fitness Buff

It is safe to say that I have three great loves in life:
1) Writing
2) Fitness
3) Food

But I find two of these loves are always butting heads. It’s hard to be a fit, healthy, fitness buff when I care so much about finding the best pancake in Toronto.

It used to be a lot easier. Like back when I lived in my small bachelorette apartment in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Sorry to Fredericton, but your restaurants suck. Even for New Brunswick.

So any great food I ate came out of my closet-sized kitchen. A place where I typically churned out easy healthy meals made for one. Having no friends meant I had no one to share great food with. Such as say, two dozen cookies.

Then I moved to the city. And there was so. much. food. Indian, Italian, Mexican, French, Greek, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, Meatitarian. Things I’d never heard of and only dreamed of.

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I can walk down my street and pass a bakery on every other block. I can cross the street and get the world’s best homemade sausages. I never eat at the same restaurant twice, and yet I’ve barely made a dent in the 10,000 establishments my city has to offer. I spend my days reading restaurant reviews and drooling. Or exotic recipes featuring ingredients I can actually buy. Toronto sent my foodie head spinning and I am now more fascinated by food than ever.

On the flipside, I am also now a fitness professional. I am supposed to be the image of a healthy life. Low body fat, lean muscle, clean eats. I am always telling my clients to eat the freshest, healthiest foods. But then I have plans to go do something crazy like eat bacon covered in chocolate.

I have noticed that those who eat for fitness simply don’t care that much about food or cooking. That’s not to say they don’t care about eating what’s tasty. But they just don’t love it like us foodies do. They’re content eating cottage cheese and raw almonds for lunch because they care more about their fitness goals than what they eat.

But to me, food is more than just a way to fuel my body. It’s an experience. An art. Something to be sought out and assembled with care. Flavours, textures, emotions are all very important to me. It makes me feel like a fraud in the fitness industry. Because after my session of intervals and pyramid sets, I’m meeting up with my roommie to try the best cheeseburger in town. Or maybe whip up a batch of fish tacos.

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A lot of people work out so they can eat what they want. I’ll admit, I sometimes do this too. If I know I’m going out drinking, then I make sure I get a long run in. But fitness doesn’t burn off everything. Burning 400 calories on the elliptical doesn’t make up for my 900 calorie monte cristo (wait – I still have to blog about that!). And as the old saying goes “You can’t out train a bad diet.”

I’m not saying healthy food can’t be delicious. Because I’ll be the first to tell you massaged kale salads are probably the best lunch ever. But I just can’t do fat-free muffins. Or make a pizza without the cheese. It’s wrong. And why eat food when it’s not the best that it can be?

Loving food at the level I do and maintaining a healthy bodyweight is hard. I don’t think anyone should pretend it’s easy. I also want to be a good role model for fitness. But I don’t feel like that’s possible when my favourite ingredient is butter.

I am still learning about creating a healthy balance with each passing day. If I had melt-in-your-mouth croissants for breakfast (ahem, like today), then I should probably prepare a protein and produce heavy lunch. But make sure that’s damn tasty too. Because we all know the healthiest stuff can be the tastiest stuff too.

So that is my tale of the Foodie and The Fitness Buff. Two loves that are always butting heads. Two loves that I refuse to choose over, but will never fully succumb to while the other still exists.

Thank god I still have writing ;)

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Posted on February 20, 2011, in Lessons Learned and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Girlfriend. You need to write a book. Now.

    And P.S. I totally, totally understand what you mean. Sometimes I wish I didn’t love food to the level that I do because it’d be easier to maintain my goal body. But hey…Mitch says part of the reason he loves me is that while I try to eat healthy and I love working out, I also am down for a good brunch or a Mexican food feast. At least I got that goin for me ;-)

  2. I often wonder how much of a “foodie” I am. I used to think I was a total foodie, and then I think culinary school humbled me and now I feel like it raped me from “foodie” status.
    I’ve been at the almonds and cottage cheese stage, and whatever…..what use is a “goal” body if you feel miserable in it?! I wouldn’t want anyone to judge me on my body, so I try to eat what I please to make myself happy. “goal body” can suck it!

  3. This is quite the awesome post, Susan!

    “And why eat food when it’s not the best that it can be?”–I would totally agree!

    I do eat for “fitness” I guess to an extent. I think it’s a lie to say that every meal, every moment, I’d prefer to have a huge salad. I think at times most of us just want chocolate/chips/comfort food/etc. But that we eat the salad b/c 1. it’s good for us, 2. it will fill us up, and 3. we know we can always have dessert or said comfort food…after the salad is done :)

    I am not a foodie like Ina Garten is a foodie but I do care deeply about the taste/quality of the food. If it doesnt taste good, I dont want it. Period!

    Such a great post!!

  4. Hehe – you know I’m in the same situation, girl ;) And I totally think it’s all about balance and making more healthy choices than unhealthy ones, but let’s face it, people will judge (cough, coworkers, cough) :-P
    However, I’m not sure how much of a foodie I really am. I love food – and love cooking it, but I haven’t had a lot of dishes out there yet in life!

  5. I completely and utterly agree with this entire post! Well said :) It’s awesome to have such a love for food; there are so many people out there who just don’t appreciate it (and I will never understand why!).

    Keep doing what you’re doing…it seems like you’ve been doing a good job balancing the two thus far, and the most important part is that you enjoy it!

  6. I feel much the same way . . . I know I should eat much cleaner to gain the benefits of all the exercise I engage in. But the truth is I resent that lifestyle!

    Why can’t I lift weights and indulge in carbs?

  7. I would consider myself both a fitness an food enthusiast as well and really do think it is about finding balance. On one hand- I eat a LOT of vegetables, I love the chickpea, and I’m known for my healthy lunches. On the other hand, I will definitely try the chocolate covered bacon or the foie gras poutine. I love food…of all kinds.

    Like you, I don’t do pizza without the cheese- but I try to eat the pizza with a salad so that I get my greens in too :)

  8. Just one more reason why I love you and feel like I need to shout “Amen!” from the rooftops when I read your blog my friend!

  9. I hear ya, sister! Totally relate to these tensions. Or at least my late night cheeseburger and frosty cravings do ;)

  10. Nicely put together. A constant battle ;)

  11. Every bit of this post resonates with me so much. Love food. Love fitness. Love writing about the two (and lots of other stuff). It’s a hard thing to balance.

    I usually have to decide what matters to me the most today. Do I want to work off whatever I’m indulging in later?

  12. Great post, I really enjoyed reading it and I can definitely relate in some way. ;)

  13. I totally agree with this! I guess I love food more than I love the idea of having a perfect body. I’ve always said I’d prefer to be slightly rounder than to have to give up the enjoyment I get from food. I try to balance my eating with my exercise and of course to balance my meals to better accomodate for indulgences, but I won’t give up dessert or worse, cheese for the rest of my life. I hate when people tell me that I need to cut out dairy and grains if I want results…I guess I don’t want results that bad! I just want to be the best I can be while keeping everything I love in moderation!

    • YES! I have people in my line of work who are always making food and workout suggestions to me for better “results.” But I’m happy with what I eat and love my workouts. Why do they think I need to improve when I’m already okay with how I am?? Ugh.

  14. I love this post! I think it is awesome that you have such a love for food (I do too!) and the experience of eating something incredible will always beat out that last 5 pounds for me.

  15. i think I go back and forth on this spectrum of being a ‘foodie’ I mean I really love food, I mean good quality food. If I go somewhere and eat something and its just subpar, I will not keep eating it because its not worth it

    BUT I do also have some clear fitness goals in mind, and when that comes I thin it can be dominant over me being in my ‘foodie’ persona…I mean I love the food I eat, always. I would never just take a bag of brocolli, steam it in the microwave nad eat it like that. blah. I would take it roast it with some olive oil seasonings and salt and pepper and just bring it one step to another level so I truly enjoy it

    I may have no made any sense, but I do know that I want to come to toronto and experience the food!

  16. I want to come to Canada and hang out with you. I loved this post so much. I am a foodie who wants to be a fitness buff. (I’m slowly working on it.) And I also love writing.

    Food is an experience for me also. I love to travel and try the regional favorites. I can’t imagine going to Chicago and not trying the pizza. Or going to Portland and not trying the breweries. That would be a sad life for me.

    • Yes! And I can’t make too many modifications when eating at nice places. I feel like I should experience the food the way the chef intended. Dressing and all :)

  17. I’m a jekell and hyde fitness/food hybrid too. The balance is tough but it’s definitely worth striving for.

    Great post!

  18. It is a dilemma that balances on a razors edge. Keeping up the image of the fitness professional would certainly add a bit of extra pressure! But doctors can tell you to quit smoking while they pull a pack out of their pockets!

    I guess celebrating food and exercise (and writing for that matter) is going to be a good way to enjoy life as a whole. I know I don’t believe that we were put here to beat ourselves up over chocolate covered bacon!

  1. Pingback: A Toast to Toast Restaurant | The Great Balancing Act

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