Food & Fitness


In my incredible excitement on Wednesday after performing my first-ever pull up, I dragged my sister to the playground after work to show off my newfound abilities. I climbed up on the structure, hung from the fireman pole, and then lifted myself up effortlessly to roaring applause from all of the parents with their children that surrounded us.

Well. Not quite. Instead, I hung from the pole, and then proceeded to do an awkward little struggling dance in midair as I attempted to lift myself up with my little arms. It didn’t work out so well. I failed spectacularly at this attempt to perform a pull up! Perhaps I need to be super incredibly energized to be able to do it? I will have to start going to that playground on a regular basis and see if time of day has something to do with it.

At any rate, my sister politely encouraged me and congratulated me on my efforts. Then we decided to see if she could do a pull up (because she has never tried it before), so she hops right on up there, and doesn’t she manage to do about 3 or 4 in a row, as if its the most natural thing in the world! Note to self: if I want to get supersweet arms like my sister Devin, then I evidently need to get a job as a waitress.

Yesterday I started reading Marion Nestle’s What To Eat (why yes, yes I do spend virtually all my time happily engrossed in books. Can you tell that all things health is my passion?), and this paragraph just relates so much to our discussion on Wednesday that I wanted to share it with the rest of you. She writes:

“Supermarkets have one purpose and one purpose only: to sell food and make profit, and as large a profit as possible. Your goals are more complicated: you want foods that are good for your health, but you also want them to taste good, to be affordable, to be convenient to eat, and to reflect social values that you might care about. In theory, your goals could overlap with the normal business interests of supermarkets. After all, they do sell plenty of inexpensive, convenient, tasty foods that are good for you. But in practice, you and the supermarket are likely to be at cross-purposes. The foods that sell best and bring in the most profits are not necessarily the ones that are best for your health, and the conflict between health and business goals is at the root of public confusion about food choices.”

Isn’t that the truth. This leads me to ask the question, why do you eat what you eat? In varying social situations, the way we eat can change dramatically. One of my friends is very keen on health, so when we go out to eat we choose local places with more natural foods. Another group of friends- primarily consisting of guys- frequent Salisbury House and would appear to live off of deep fried goodness (one of them claims to have eaten a salad only once in his life). Someone else I know lives very sparsely, so our choices are usually limited to cheaper places. And another friend is incredibly picky so we only eat at very generic restaurants.

I must admit that I can be a handful to dine with. I request sauces and dips and dressings on the side, I ask how the meal is cooked and if such-and-such an ingredient is added, I like to exchange one part of the meal for something else or to omit something entirely, and I often want to know if I can have it on whole-wheat bread rather than white. Luckily very few people complain about my insistence on knowing as much as possible about the food I’m about to eat, and most restaurants are very accommodating (although I’m sure that when I go to my favorite restaurants there’s a collective “oh no, the crazy girls back again!” from the staff).

All of this requires a great deal of versatility and the need to adapt to all of these different circumstances. It can be a challenge to find somewhere healthier within a budget, and it can be especially tricky to go somewhere that offers the deep-fried food for my friends who want that as well as a somewhat healthier option for me to enjoy. I have one friend who always wants us to go out and indulge, so it is also quite a task to manage those get-togethers. Stopping traditions is a big step, and sometimes a very uncomfortable one to make. But it’s important to occasionally step outside the comfort zone, and take on new challenges to help us be our best and to help us be who we really want to be. It’s no fun to be held back by anything!


  1. the Bag Lady

    Curious about something… you mentioned that your sister is a waitress. Have you ever asked her how she feels about customers who ask so many questions and have “special” requests?

    My sister has a multitude of allergies, so when we go out to eat, she has to ask several questions (does it have MSG?, mushrooms, etc.) and we have received a variety of responses, running the gamut from pissed off to extremely accommodating.

    When I worked as a cook at a ski hill, the menu, believe it or not, was mostly deep-fried. If we were not crazy-busy, we would try to accommodate special requests for things not on the menu, but when we were insanely busy, it was a struggle. It was a situation where there were only two cooks, cooking for literally hundreds of people who all seemed to want to eat at the same time, and any special requests were my responsibility. When I had a wheel-ful of orders, it was annoying to break the rhythm we had going to clear stuff away to make room to make a special salad, or something. (In my defense – it was a tiny kitchen, and set up wrong.) But I always tried to make sure that if someone wanted something not on the menu, and I had the ingredients, I’d do my best for them.

  2. ashley

    Sagan, I love this post.

    I was a waitress for two years and didn”t mind questions or special-requests.. as long as the people were nice!

    As for the pull-up, I can’t do one at all! I had a funny situation: I’ve been working hard with my strength training and am proud that I can lift much more weight now than last month and more then than when I began. But a few weeks ago I took my friend Becca wo the gym with me. Becca never works out and I wanted to show her all of the cool weights. She lifted more than me on every machine. But I was the one who had been training! Crazy. I don’t know how some people can kick our behinds like that, but remember that YOU DID A PULL-UP. And that rocks.

  3. Charlotte

    Did you do your pullup after a run the last time? I find that after I’m all warmed up with some cardio the pull-ups come a lot easier:)

    And I already went and put that book on hold at the library! Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. Crabby McSlacker

    So I would be so much more petty and pissed off if my either of my sisters casually beat me at pull-ups! But none of us can do any so I don’t have to worry about it.

    Interesting issue about the special requests–I often wonder about that. I try to ask really nicely and don’t expect a “yes,” so it’s always nice when a restaurant will accomodate. I have friends who take a more entitled attitude and I have to say it makes me cringe.

  5. Sagan Morrow

    Bag Lady- my sister doesn’t mind as long as people aren’t rude about it. She also gets pretty disgusted at the amount of free pop refills that she has to give so she probably really prefers it when people ask for special things (nicely) as opposed to contributing to bad health by constantly being forced to refill glasses of coke!

    Ashley- that’s the same for me! My sisters never done a pull-up in her life and here I’ve been going to boot camp and all and then she manages it so smoothly. It’s pretty funny how that works.

    Susan- me too. Need to build up these puny little arms!

    Charlotte- interesting that you should mention that… when I did the pull up, it was about 10 minutes after I’d finished boot camp. You’ve given me hope! I will have to try it after boot camp again and see if that makes a difference.

    Crabby- when people are really forceful about it it makes me cringe too. That’s why I’m always super polite and leave a REALLY big tip. I know enough people in the food industry to know that you should ALWAYS be nice to the people handling your food! And being a receptionist/cleaner has put me in the position of dealing with difficult/rude clients on a multitude of occasions… I’d hate to act in that way to someone else.

  6. MizFit

    thanks again for the review/nudge toward an interesting read…youve answered my questions (Im late to he soiree :))as they were the same as other peoples’ 🙂

    thanks for this.


  7. zandria

    Congratulations on the pull-up! That’s a very exciting accomplishment, that’s for sure (one that I haven’t quite mastered yet!). And don’t feel bad about not being able to replicate it anytime you want to. Sometimes I can do three on-the-toes pushups, and sometimes I can’t even do one! Just depends on the day, for some reason.

  8. Scale Junkie

    Excellent post!

    I can’t do a push up so I’m thinking a pull up is completely out of the question but now you have a benchmark. You can work on defining your arm muscles and building upper body strength, soon you’ll be doing 100 pull ups!

    That was an excellent quote about the grocery store and we must remember that we are being sold to every time we walk in the door. Companies pay a big premium for product placement.

  9. Sagan Morrow

    Zandria- thats a good point that sometimes we’re able to do things one day and the next day it seems nearly impossible. If I keep working at it I should be able to do it again!

    Scale Junkie- you’re right; companies exist to sell us stuff and nothing more!

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