(Oh god, I’m a doughnut.)
I started working with a nutritionist this week. Well, let me clarify: I started doing a bit of editing for a nutritionist this week. (Truth? I need to work with a nutritionist to help me hang up all my caffeine and carb nonsense and get myself in gear, but we’ll save that mess for later.) In particular, this nutritionist is a mom of three named Margaret who, upon receiving a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and earning her master’s from UT, wound up having to use her nutritional science training on herself when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a week before she completed her postgrad degree.
As she spent the following years building a career in public health, she made it her mission to separate fact from fiction and educate people about the difference between the two when it comes to what we bring home from the grocery store. We’re under a constant barrage of mixed messages from the world around us about what’s healthy and what’s not — what’s been approved and what hasn’t — what’s a legit quick fix and what’s just a bunch of hooey — but the only thing that tells us what’s real is science, and even that’s an ever-evolving discipline.
Taking in Margaret’s background and weaving it through her website got me thinking: we really are what we eat. She focuses primarily on helping moms adopt healthier habits and translate them into family routines (i.e., you try taking that ice cream and mac & cheese away from your kid indefinitely, sans aftermath, without talking to someone like Margaret first and see where it gets you), and she’s armed with information about how processed foods affect behavior, concentration and, of course, overall health and well-being. Apply it to adults and it still rings true: when I’m hopped up on my beloved and beautiful joe, I’m jumpy, anxious and slightly unhinged, even though I love love love my vanilla lattes and don’t want to give them up. There’s an odd satisfaction in finishing off a package of Sour Patch Kids or diving through a fresh, hot vat of chips and queso, but when we make these things the norm instead of the exceptional treat, weird stuff starts to happen to our personalities, our energy levels… and let’s not even talk about our waistlines. I’m enemy number one of my own wellness and I know it. And the same thing applies to my brain.
I have this oddly endless depth of knowledge about random pop culture. I attribute it to being a child of the original MTV generation (back when it played music) combined with an insatiable need for knowledge of any sort — any sort — when I was a little kid. I was a reading machine. I fell asleep with the light on every night and couldn’t be woken up in the morning without an epic battle (sorry, Dad). In high school, I went through a celebrity biography phase that was weirdly specific to stars of the 1950s and 60s. I glued my face to the screen every time Pop-Up Video came on and devoured those digital bubbles like chocolate. And when E! came to power in the 90s, holy cow… off I Macarena’d into a ten-year absorption phase of the most vapid crap you can think of, and now I’ve got a solid career option pursuing bar trivia championships if I ever need a backup plan. I can draw you infographics about B-list celebrities’ dating histories. I can tell you what happened to Winnie Cooper as a grown-up (she’s a published mathematician who empowers little girls). I know FAR too many details of the life of one Jessica Simpson. I can tell you with great accuracy what the inside of Hugh Jackman’s New York apartment looks like, and not because I’ve been there… which, come to think of it, is seriously creepy of me.
I mean, I get it — celebrity obsession is the ultimate decompression. It’s thrown at us all the time anyway, so we lose ourselves in glossy, beautiful strangers’ lives and project all our fantasies and weirdnesses onto them without repercussion. We judge, we pick, we snort, we sigh… oh, Britney shaved her head. Poor thing. Her life must be worse than mine. Wow, Kate and Wills are grand together — let’s want that for ourselves.
At some point, I kind of hung up my hat, and now my entertainment industry knowledge sort of stops around 2005. I wonder if that makes me even more tragic, since now I’m not only full of useless trivia — I’m full of outdated useless trivia. The older I get, the more wholeheartedly I throw myself into work — each job has thankfully been more challenging than the last, so each one takes up more space in my head. But still, I haven’t paid nearly as much attention to real current events as I should. And by “real,” I mean the ones The Atlantic covers… not the ones involving any given Kardashian — whom, by the way, I hate that I used to love.
Only in the last few months have I started listening to NPR like I’ve always intended, and only now am I finally getting around to reading actual books again. Oh, they’ve been stacking up all over the place, but me looking at their insides with my eyeballs has been another story altogether. And I hate that, so I’m changing it. It’s now become my job to write about whatever I please, and I suppose I’d better have something awesome to say. So farewell, candy; hello, fruit. I might keep a stash of nonsense in the pantry just for fun, but I’m keeping the smart stuff on the counter from now on.