(Warning to my grandparents, extended family members, and Internet friends who might be offended by explicit language/prolonged use of the term ‘bowel movements’: This video is not for you. Proceed to the post below.)
“The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself.” –Louis CK
My lunch starts out as an innocent dining hall excursion. I’m still sweaty from yoga, and I really outdid myself with the high lunges in there, so endorphins are flying high. A hearty salad, I tell myself, piling lettuce and veggies and chicken in a bowl. Hummus is yummus, not to mention a great source of protein, so I add a big scoop to my salad bowl. Top the whole thing off with a little bit of roasted red pepper dressing and shredded cheese, and voilá, I’m sure I’m just a phone call and a photo shoot away from landing my face on the cover of Health Magazine.
As I leave the salad bar, I notice the loaf of fresh-baked oatmeal bread sitting on a cutting board nearby. I take a slice and slather it with butter, because everyone deserves a slice of fresh-baked bread after a good workout.
Then I pass the giant bowl of pretzels. I fucking love pretzels. I scoop some onto my plate next to the bread. And another little blob of yummus, just to keep the pretzels company.
Then there are the apples—they’re in season! I manage to balance both my salad bowl and my plate on one arm so I can reach into the apple basket with the other. I bite into the crisp apple, make a noise like an overeager customer in a Pizza Hut commercial (mmMMmm!) and add the apple to the quickly growing pile of food on my plate. Soon I’m sitting in front of my post-yoga feast—which in its final glory includes a glass of ice water, a glass of chocolate milk, and a double chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven—and I’m ready to eat.
I take my feast to the face over the course of about ten minutes. About ten minutes after that—when I’m walking back to my dorm room, still thinking about how awesome the double chocolate chip cookie was—I feel a little bit like I’m going to die.
It’s a subtle feeling of imminent doom, the post-feast-regret. You’ve eaten yourself into discomfort, but you can’t undo it now, you dumbass, so you might as well just go about your business. Usually I just take a few minutes to reflect on the situation, assure myself that next time, I’ll leave the double chocolate chip cookie out of it, and moan to Julie about how full I am. (She somehow refrains from punching me in the face.)
The balance between eating healthy and eating what makes you happy is a tough one to strike, especially in a college setting. Dining halls are enormous and the food is endless. With the right meal plan, you could conceivably eat nonstop for 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week. (This is not recommended by health professionals.) You can eat the same bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can put peanut butter on pizza and wash it down a glass of blue Powerade. You can skip the whole thing and boil some water to make Ramen instead. With great power comes great responsibility, Spider-Man, and unlimited swipes at a modern college dining hall carry a little bit of both.
So this week, I will be making a concerted effort to eat like a human being instead of a goldfish. (Julie told me once that if you keep giving a goldfish food, it’ll eat until it dies. I then googled “goldfish eating until they die,” like any self-respecting researcher would, and found that this fact isn’t totally supported by science, but the metaphor still works.) Balance is key.
I saw a thing the other day somewhere on the Internet that had a picture of Miley Cyrus doing that tongue thing she always does and someone had commented: MILEY YOU ARE MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. I do not know this someone. The term “spirit animal” always makes me think of 1) Hermione Granger‘s otter Patronus, and 2) the fact that an online quiz once told my friend Annabelle that her Patronus would be an elephant, in that order. (Imagine an elephant fighting Dementors! The logistics! The noises!)
My point is, I’ve never really thought of myself as the kind of person whose spirit would manifest itself as an animal. But if it did, that animal would probably be Louis CK.