July 12, 2001 – Go Ahead, Live a Little!

First Lady Obama goes to lunch and makes the news! (credit: mediate.com)

Michelle Obama is in the news again.  But for a very unnecessary reason.  She ate a burger.

Really?  Our First Lady’s trip to the new Shake Shack in DC was worthy of blog space, air time and conversation?  Do we really care?

Let’s be completely transparent.  A lot of the coverage and/or criticism is just viewing her personal experience through someone’s political lens.  And even if you observe the story from a nutritional view, no crimes have been committed.  Most nutritionists who were asked about Mrs. Obama’s lunch felt that she did nothing wrong.  In fact, they encourage an occassional break from a well-balanced, nutritionally correct eating plan. 

Let’s put the political and nutritional views aside.  Some of this story has to do with our expectations.  We expect our First Lady to support her “Let’s Move” campaign 24 hours or day, 7 days a week.  We expect her dedication to her project to be so strong that she should not miss a day of exercise.  And no sugar-laden, fat soaked, heavily salted food item should be consummed by her. 

Simulation of the meal ordered by Michelle Obama

Information provided in news reports indicated that she ordered a burger, fries, chocolate shake and….Diet Coke.  The caloric grand total was between 1500 and 1700.  And the fat content for that meal is at least 60 grams.  According to nutritionists, this equals what some women eat on a daily basis, much less just one meal.  But what we don’t know is….did she eat the whole meal?  Somehow this info has been omitted from any reports.  She doesn’t impress me as someone with a large appetite.  My suspicion is that she took a couple of bites of her burger, ate a few fries, a couple of sips of her shake and her Coke…and she was probably full.  Or at least exercised her self-control and pushed herself away from the table.  And since she’s a smart lady, she probably started off the day with a light breakfast and will end the day with a light meal.  And how do we know if she exercised that morning or not? 

But it’s not just Mrs. Obama.  We place a lot of people in boxes…little squares that limit them from enjoying life. We expect to see the pastor of a church at the Old Country Buffet on Sunday afternoon after church.  But might be surprised to see him at the movies with his wife.  We expect the fitness trainer to exercise every day.  But we might be shocked if she went on vacation for a week…and didn’t even walk past the gym. 

US Navy 030625-N-2382W-074 Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Terry Todd from Little Rock, Ark., lifts weights in the gym aboard USS Kearsarge

I always coach my clients to take a break occasionally from hard work or disciplined efforts in achieving a goal.  We can’t become so disciplined and dedicated to work, dieting, exercise, studying, etc., that we lose our connection with enjoyment and pleasure.  Music, food, movies, art, sports, even rest…there are many elements of life that we need to relax us, make us laugh and just enjoy life.  Even God rested on the 7th day. 

Today is National French Fry Day.  Last week, my doctor told me I needed to lower my salt and fat intake.  I’ve worked hard for the past week, each day journaling my meals on WebMD, drinking 8 glasses of water, and exercising on the Wii (FYI- I’ve lost 6 pounds in the process).  But today, I’m going to some burger joint for a small order of fries.  Thankfully no one from the media will be following me.  And honestly…no one really cares.

For some reason, if you serve French fries in a paper cone, accompanied by a variety of sauces or dips, they become Pomme Frites. C'est magnifique! (photo credit: eastvillageeats.org)

Enjoy some fries today.  You deserve a break.

Carlton

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