The Pleasure Principal: Part 1

When you choose to eat healthy, are you depriving yourself of pleasure?

My decision to do a body transformation challenge has mystified most people around me, other than a few like-minded souls. Whether the comments or questions are many or few, they seem to have a common thread: the idea that I am living a life of deprivation and austerity.

Quite the contrary.

First of all, food is only one source of pleasure. A good book, a sunset, a walk in the park, a great movie, good conversation…each a profound source of pleasure that has nothing to do with food.

Next, let me challenge the notion that “bad” food is the only pleasurable food. Ripe berries, a perfectly cooked grassfed steak, a lightly dressed salad of mixed greens, a glass of sparkling mineral water, a good cup of coffee, a crisp apple, a bowl of hot oatmeal with cinnamon and unsweetened applesauce, scrambled eggs with salsa. These foods are all extremely healthy and extremely compatible with my current nutrition plan. I enjoy these foods every week, and I do mean enjoy them. I don’t eat foods I have to choke down because they are healthy, no sir, no ma’am.

There are many, many foods I enjoy. Some of them are healthy, some of them are not healthy. I choose to eat the healthy ones, the ones that will help me achieve my rather specific health and fitness goals this summer, namely, to burn body fat while maintaining or gaining lean, healthy muscle. End of story.

When you choose to go beyond health, to go for health plus the aesthetics of a lean physique, you make some choices. You don’t get to “have it all.” You get to have the lean body, or you get to have the donuts. I like donuts, but I know I will like being at the peak of leanness and fitness more.

Or, as Jack LaLanne first said it “Nothing tastes as good as being lean feels.”