I was warned before I moved to NYC just over a year ago that the abundance of food options would turn me into a grease monster (amongst other things) if I wasn’t careful. So what did I do? I laughed it off, moved to Harlem, and put on the 150th Street 15. When I got here last May, I was around 220 pounds. When I stepped on the scale at New York Sports Club this past Sunday, I was 235. I’ve never weighed that much in my life. On the surface, it isn’t that big of a deal. I carry it well…for now. Eventually the special power is gonna wear off, the metabolism is gonna slow down, and I’ll be sloppy as f*ck if I don’t watch myself. I don’t wanna be sloppy as f*ck. Sloppy people sleep with sloppy people and I don’t want no Bertha with a box-shaped butt in my bed. I also don’t wanna be the only one in my crew wearing an “I love blogging” t-shirt in the pool or walking around with the Bill Cosby build. I know he’s not fat, but still. He built funny.
I live in a “vibrant” part of Harlem. People are out no matter the hour, so there’s always some place open where you can get some really greezy goodness. Within a few short blocks, I have a Taco Bell, KFC, Crown Fried Chicken, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, 3 hood chinese restaurants, a Subway (5…5 dollar…5 dollar donation!) and 3
partridges deep-fried in Crisco bodegas serving deliciously filthy cheesesteaks. On my walk from the train station after work, fish grease intermingles with Newport smoke. I walk a few more feet and there’s another hood chinese spot serving 4 wing french fry (how the menu says it) for $4.50 and p*rn DVDs for $10 (behind the counter under the food containers).
Their General Meow, pork fried wice, and fried plantains are top notch bottom shelf foods. They have just enough sodium, MSG, and thin-fat to make my chest hurt like I just got dumped by the love of my life. Aight, that’s dramatic but I think you get my point. Oh wait…you don’t? There’s a Popeye’s across the street from my gym for crying out loud!
And the grocery stores? The pits. I’m not making a salad with brown lettuce and blue tomatoes. The meats (ll) change colors as soon as the cashier scans the barcode, and the cold cuts quickly begin to smell like they were dipped in athlete’s foot juice and rancidity. I’m serious about the state of the grocery stores up here where I live. I’m not a star and it’s not a game.
People have heard me voice these complaints on numerous occasions. Nearly all of ‘em tell me to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s (A less costly version of Whole Foods). I was officially convinced this past weekend to do my shopping at TJs. And on that bright day, I hopped into the Altima to make it happen. And as I drove down toward 72nd street, the chinese food spots became organic everything spots. The graffiti and damage to traffic signs faded to nothingness. The faces got lighter and lighter, and the smell of opportunity and privilege became as potent as the smell of rain in a field right before the shower. This area was different. If you live around here, you probably have a fat wallet and a fridge stocked with skinny foods. And in making this drive toward my “new” grocery store, I could see exactly why diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are issues in our community. It really takes a lot of f*cking work to eat healthy. A LOT!
I never made it to Trader Joe’s. The parking lot was $25 for an hour and there were too many hybrid cars reducin’ the pollution but clogging up the road, so I went back uptown to visit the world of fried-for-the-low. After almost getting to the promised land of granola and fit foods, every restaurant around my place started lookin’ more and more like a heart attack. And as you can probably tell by the tone of this post, it got frustrating. It’s still frustrating.
If I’m to drop this 10-15 lbs, I need to change my eating habits drastically. My part of Harlem doesn’t make it easy. Therefore, I gotta spend more time, energy, and money trying to get the stuff I need to hit my goals and keep the pounds off beyond the summer months. Luckily for me, I can afford to take these extra steps to accomplish the otherwise improbable. What about a lot of these other people around me?
Some of them honestly have no shot.
Will never eat steel-cut oatmeal from Hale & Hearty again,