When Did It Become So Cool to be Healthy?
I love your green juice, who makes it?
A few nevers: I never thought I’d make a health food smoothie.
I never thought I’d want to drink a health food smoothie.
I never thought I’d give up dairy products in the name of substitute milks or that raisins — “nature’s candy” — could become my “sugar splurge.”
I never thought I’d say “sugar splurge.”
And yet, it is 9:30AM on a Sunday morning and I am cutting bananas into small pieces with my fingers. I will throw them into a blender when I am finished, where they will meet a cup of almond milk, two spoonfuls of chia, a date (another one of nature’s candies) and just enough matcha powder to trick myself into thinking this is a super-green super-smoothie. Once “liquified,” as my Kitchen-Aid blender so aptly titles the act of mixing a combination of solid and already-liquid ingredients, I will pour my impostor smoothie into two mason jars. Then I will serve one mason jar to a man who has convinced me to call him my “husband.”
He might ask, “Spirulina?”
To which I will respond, “No! It’s a green tea concentrate called matcha — much healthier alternative to traditional caffeine; when coupled with chia, it will give us so much energy!”
We might reflect on the events of the previous evening: a macrobiotic “sushi” dinner followed by a Broadway show (I don’t want to talk about it, okay? We are doing this new “culture night” thing once a week and it was his week to pick the cultural activity) but only for a few minutes before we are both so taken by our aqua-breakfast, we almost forget we are late for a fitness class.
To provide context, let me take you back to this time last year. It’s a Sunday morning in mid-September during the period that gaps New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week. Spirulina man and I have just woken up. The night before, we potentially had dinner at a mainstay of this city in a centriole that has been dubbed the mecca of good — not to be confused with healthy — nourishment. I suspect I ate a pasta, though it is possible that if we were at Rubirosa, it was actually a pizza — and there is a 0% chance I didn’t consume at least 2-3 glasses of wine before going somewhere, anywhere to further imbibe. On this particular Sunday, I am craving pancakes. So is the man to my right. So, what do we do? We put on our jackets (which, mind you, we don’t need, but seem to serve as a signifier this time of year that summer has made room for the dawn of a new, presumably healthier, beginning) and head out.
Once we walk about a block and a half we find solace at a haven that doesn’t have pancakes but does have waffles, a totem of joie de vivre, and thus breakfast is served.
Presumably healthier? LOL.
So what has happened in the previous year? I’d like to believe that I’ve matured and as a result have taken health into my own hands for the purpose of maximum personal performance, growth and longevity. But every so often, when no one is looking, I march toward my death, to 16 Handles, for a cup of hyper-processed, completely artificial salted caramel and graham cracker “yogurt” covered in caramel turtles and cookie dough bites and sometimes rainbow sprinkles when I fear my cup doesn’t contain enough color. That I could eat what will indubitably kill me if I continue on this trajectory seems not to bode well in the favor of my newly healthy lifestyle. So the facade — the smoothies, the raisins, the casual name dropping of veganism must be attributed to another phenomenon.
Instagram? Maybe accounts with names like “gethealthynow” and “superchiawarrior” (hypothetical) have forced me to join a collective — a new movement permeating our society and bringing us one step closer to a lifestyle favored by some large pockets on the West Coast.
Accessibility? That I can’t walk four blocks without counting more Juice Presses and Organic Avenues than I can McDonald’s or Starbucks seems to connote a huge cultural shift in the Bloombergian direction of health-for-the-people.
Or maybe, put simply, we are a city of extremists. A populace so imbued with doing it bigger, better and louder than everyone else that, like toddlers being disciplined, we have actually been tricked into doing “the right thing” for ourselves. Sometimes I wonder if what drives a New Yorker to change is just an extremist mentality that is dressed up as a conflict and the subsequent solution. If that’s true, how are we to expect long term results? If it’s not, what the hell has made being healthy so damn cool?