Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

The Eater & Exercise

I've come across a couple of articles this week addressing the fitness regimens of those in the food world. Chefs, chocolatiers, food celebs lately have been quite open about their issues with body image and their efforts to balance out their fortunate careers with corporeal realities. [Warning: Bitchy moment coming up] Though, I don't really want to hear how efficient and wonderfully laid back Padma Lakshmi is about her "weight gain" during filming for "Top Chef."

Training for marathons, 90-minute daily workouts ... it's all game. And quite frankly, it sounds masochistic. I never liked the word "regime." In French, it is the word for "diet" and quite apt that it's also used to describe totalitarian systems of governance. So yes, in my mind, "diet" and "Kim Jong Il" are closely associated. 

Weight has always been an issue in my life. I can empathize with Frank Bruni whose recent piece in the New York Times Magazine about his childhood of overeating and subsequent disorders rings a bell with this only child, overfed on convenience food, home cooking and anything else I wanted. Mom always felt bad that I was a latch key kid. She compensated with food. Needless to say, I turned into quite the blob. There are photos of me still in elementary school but scarily resembling world-class sumo wrestlers in training. 

I laugh at those now, but the reality was that my weight petrified me and was a component in pretty much everything I did in my life. At this point, I feel like I've cultivated enough self-awareness and reduced the self-loathing to a level that my love of food and cooking trumps the negative feelings.

Oh yes, I give myself the biggest guilt trips when I miss the P90X workout or don't go on a hike and instead do work. But this article in TIME Magazine says it might not be such an issue. The piece makes sense, particularly when I think of my Italian friends who never gave a thought to exercising but were always a healthy body weight. Gorgeous even. It's how we spend our our lives versus the money we spend on the trainers, apparently. 

Now if someone could invent a mobile computer that I can work on and take with me on walks and hikes, I might have the workout issue resolved. Or maybe, our lifestyles just aren't suited to the way we are built. Even this blog and my writing is counterintuitive to burning the calories I ate for my columns or the "research" that I love. 

I never said I wasn't a glutton. 

So I'm curious -- what do you, reader, think of the latest debate? Do we eaters need to furiously balance out our indulgences or is this a factor of our American sensibilities feeding paranoia into our already overstuffed psyches? What do you do for exercise, if at all? And if you don't, why don't you? As I sit here at the computer, sans my iPhone (still looking for it), I'm dying to know what everyone's take is.