This Runner's Trials

Unhealthy little secrets

My first senior year of college (yup, it took me 4.5 years to graduate, don’t judge), I made the decision to go to grad school for public health.

I got this idea in my head that if I was going to be a health educator, I better walk the walk. Being the all or nothing person I am, I decided I’d only make healthy decisions from now on.

I was never unhealthy. I was the girl who prided herself on never touching a cigarette and flossing each day. But as a health educator, I was going to be a role model, so I needed to be even healthier.

  • I stopped drinking alcohol.
  • I stopped drinking soda.
  • I drove exactly the speed limit.
  • I limited my TV watching.
  • I slathered myself in spf 50 daily.
  • I became a germophobe. I heart hand sanitizer.
  • I was in bed by 10 pm every night.
  • I warmed up and cooled down before and after every run. I have no clue why I decided a 5 minute walk at the beginning and end of every run was “healthy”.
  • I baked all of my own “sweets”. I was really into fat-free and sugar-free baking for awhile. Don’t try it. Your tastebuds will hate you.

I was basically a huge nerd for a year or so. It was ridiculous. I’d get embarrassed if anyone noticed my tan lines or saw me eating a lollipop. I honestly thought people wouldn’t take me seriously if they saw me doing something “unhealthy”.

Then one day, I bit into the yummiest cake ever and all of my obsessive healthy behaviors went out the window.

Some of my crazy behaviors did stick; I rarely ever drink alcohol, I keep my skin nice and pasty, and I’ve only become more of a germophobe. But for the most part, I’ve embraced moderation.

But there still are some things I do that I’m embarrassed to admit. Especially now that I’m intertwined in the health blogger world, I know that few people engage in (or admit to?) these unhealthy little habits.

1. I drink diet soda. Yup, artificial sweeteners, ingredients I cannot pronounce, and all. I know soft drinks are unhealthy for a ton of reasons, yet I still drink them. I do limit my consumption to weekends only so they seem like a treat.

2. I eat fast food. Specifically, Chick-fil-a. When I was 17, I gave up fast food for Lent and never wanted it again. After grad school, I moved to Atlanta and all of my coworkers loved Chick-fil-a. I never had it before, but I was hooked after one milkshake. I only eat it on car trips now, but I do purposely seek it out on those blue interstate travel signs.

3. I watch a lot of TV. Gossip Girl, 90210, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Desperate Housewives, Jersey Shore. Practically one TV show for every night of the week. And I really look forward to plopping my butt on the couch each night and watching my shows.


What pains me about my unhealthy secrets is that each behavior is a vital player in the childhood the obesity epidemic. I don't want to promote these behaviors. The only reason I'm admitting to them is because I also spend a lot of time exercising and eating well. I've just learned that I'm cool with being the kind of health educator who advocates for a balanced lifestyle.

After all, who's going to respect someone who sticks to fat-free and sugar-free baked goods? Certainly not I.

Do you have any “unhealthy” habits? Come on, fess up :)

Comments (50) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Thanks for sharing. I always feel like I am the worst eater ever…this def makes me feel a lot better. You are awesome.

  2. I love this post! A great reminder that even the most ambitious, motivated people out there are still human! I have a major sweet tooth. As far as food goes, I eat whatever I want. I don’t crave things like fast food and fried stuff, but you can bet I’ve never met a chocolate cake I didn’t like (and devour).

  3. I’m a HUGE TV/ Pop culture fan. Love Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Chase, CSI (whatever), White Collar, HIMYM, Gossip Girl, um, anything free and available on hulu. I don’t get to watch TV in the evenings because of my son but it’s my guilty pleasure before I go to bed or if I wake up really early in the morning (when I should be doing something more productive… oops)

    And I drink real Coke. I love real Coke. I <3 it. I always try to give it up for Lent. I've only succeeded once and I always go back.

  4. I still drink diet sodas every blue moon, like once or twice a month. I watch TV a good bit, but you know in professions where you’re actually using your brain all day, you need to veg out in some way. I believe in engaging in a not so healthy activity every once in a while. If you’re so healthy no one can relate to you, are you really promoting a healthy balanced lifestyle? Or are you setting yourself up for eventual failure or coming off as very self righteous? I’ve been in both places and I’ll take the ocassional diet coke over that any day.

  5. One unhealthy habit?? I basically have coke zero addiction and my eating should be way better… All I can hope is, that it’s all going to balance out in the end.

  6. LOVE THIS POST. I think the word moderation should be the central point and word in anyone’s living vocabulary. Life is to short to “NEVER” or “CAN’T!” Hmm i would say my major unhealthy obsession is microwave popcorn. it may be 94% fat free, but it’s all cr*p! HAHAHHA

  7. Thanks for sharing!! I often feel like such a bad eater, as on most blogs I read their eats always seem so ‘perfect’!

    My biggest unhealthy habit is definitely my HUGE sweet tooth! It gets me every day! :P

  8. Moderation is key! I think everyone has some unhealthy secrets…I think it makes us human! :)

    One of my unhealthy secrets….I love creamer in my coffee. The flavored stuff that has no nutritional value whatsoever. :) I also love TV!

    • I’m so with you on the creamer! Since finding out I can’t have dairy products, I’ve fallen in love with Coffeemate. Thank goodness the pumpkin spice and gingerbread flavors are finally gone from the shelves!

      • Jen thats my guilty pleasure! My hubby always says do you want any coffee with your cream?!! I love Coffeemate even though its probably artificial crap… oops! Sooo good. Pumpkin Spice is the best!

      • You have to try the So Delicious coconut milk creamer…dairy & soy free, taste amazing and not near as unhealthy! They have original, french vanilla, and hazelnut…it will change your life-lol

  9. I totally agree. You know whats worse? A blogger who DOES have one of those little secrets and acts like they dont and that they never eat sweets, or drink beer, etc. bu they do… That annoys me even more!
    I totally believe in moderation. I eat chocolate everyday and drink a coke on the weekends. I eat pasta in creme sauce and I love breadsticks. This is why I dont blog about my food, btw.

  10. I used to be a Diet Coke addict. I don’t drink it nearly as often as I used to (usually if I’m out) but I still love it! I can definitely trust a health educator with a couple unhealthy habits. I feel like it makes it easier for me to work with someone who can relate to my own struggles.

  11. I just can’t be one of those perfectly healthy bloggers. I drink a Diet Coke or two every day, I use fake creamer in my coffee, we can’t afford local, free-range meat, and I eat ice cream every night.

    I try to focus on “better” and not necessarily “best.” The one scop Edy’s Light ice cream I eat now isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely better than the giant bowls of the stuff I’d eat when I weighed 200 pounds.

    My dad was nicknamed Mr. Fitness–he was a superduper healthy veggie eater that ran every single day…and he still died young. Life’s too short! There’s no guarantee.

  12. I’m looking into getting an MPH! :D A completely different route from the Bachelors in Fine Arts in Musical Theatre that I am pursing now…. I would change to a different major, but I’m only 13 credits shy of earning my degree and moving on with my life. I’ll graduate a semester early and take the necessary pre-reqs rather than wasting my time getting a different bachelors degree. ;)

    Anyway, unhealthy habits: I do have a major sweet tooth, but I tend to pick at it. Like I’ll have a bite of a cookie, leave it for awhile and then come back later. Makes me feel not as “guilty” you know. ;)

  13. I love diet soda and I am unashamed. I’m pretty sure the only way I would cut it out totally is if my doctor said ‘stop or you’ll die.’

    I have a major sweet tooth; this weekend we hosted my daughter’s 9th birthday slumber party and I pretty much ate my weight in butter cream frosting.

  14. let’s see, I drink diet soda, watch a lot of dumb tv, love sweets and probably consume way too much sugar, and I loove chick fil a! If they had it up north id be eating it all the time :) sometimes I feel guilty for my unhealthy habits but no one is perfect!

  15. I recently gave up diet soda. But I love myself some reality TV (especially MTV). In my defense I do spend a lot of time watching TV while running on the treadmill! But I think there is nothing wrong with plopping yourself on the couch at night for some TV…as runners, we deserve it!

    I will confess that every Monday night I eat a half a pizza. Monday night is pizza night for me and my husband and we literally split one! Talk about moderation! But I justify it with all my running :)

    • Ahh before my lactose issues, I’d eat a 1/2 of pizza every weekend too. Once I ate an entire pizza by myself. It was the best a night before a long run. Yum.

      • Haha! I love your response. True story — I used to be a pizza fanatic!! After cross country meets, my team would always go out for pizza and my best friend and I would split a large — we’d eat more than many of the guys at the team. I was so dismayed when people started growing up and limiting themselves to a mere 2 pieces. Seriously?! That’s barely worth eating.

  16. Great post; I think the moral of the story is that no one is perfect (at least, no one who wants to enjoy life!). I don’t have the same “unhealthy” habits but I definitely have some of my own. Let’s see…I’m not much for soda or Chick Fil A or trashy TV, but I do like beer and drink fairly regularly (although I try to keep it in moderation), I waste more time online with blogs and FB and mindless stuff when I should be doing more productive things and reading good books, and I often snack more after dinner than I should…I just have an urge for cereal and other carb-y/snacky things in the evenings. We’re all human, and we all have our little indulgences!

  17. After 15 years of working out daily. I now got for months w/o working out.
    I love taco bell.

  18. Let’s see…

    I love craft beer. I don’t drink much at a time, but I’m not willing to give it up either.

    I love sweets. I try to limit myself to one dessert a night, but some nights, it’s, umm, more than that.

  19. I love taco bell! Yummy. And cupcakes. And french fries. It’s awful. Actually. It’s wonderful. I love it.

  20. I definitely have to have dessert EVERY day and am a guilty diet soda drinker, too.

  21. I LOVE sweets and eat them after lunch AND dinner everyday. Chocolate, cookies, ice cream..are staple items in my kitchen. I DO buy high quality chocolate, organic cookies, haagen dazs ice cream with no preservatives..but still.

    I also insanely love bubbly and red wine and drink one or the other probably 3-4 nights a week.

    (and I never get to work on time, but that’s kind of unrelated. :))

  22. Amen! I’ll take balance over perfection any day. It’s hard to relate to someone who is perfect.

    But I definitely have had the same misgivings. I work in a field where professionally, I make a lot of recommendations that I don’t always follow to a T. I’ve dealt with the same feelings of guilt…but I think your perspective is a great one, and a healthy place to be! Sometimes I think the other divisions at work look at us skeptically when we bring in cakes or other treats for someone’s birthday, but seriously — life is about balance, and it’s also meant to be enjoyed. Being healthy does not mean never eating cake….or never messing up.

    And I watch way too much TV. It’s ridiculous really…though worse in the fall. Let’s just say I pay extra for a DVR just to make sure I don’t ever miss anything.

  23. Unhealthy habits.. hmmm. I enjoy laying out in the sun far too much than is healthy. If it was okay for me, I’d eat an entire jar of PB in one sitting!

  24. personally, i respect you so much more for sharing your unhealthy habits than i would if you hid them (honestly, it’s hard to believe that some bloggers are as “perfect” as they seem!).

    i only get to tell you ONE unhealthy habit? ok. i speed all the time when i’m driving, never more than 10mph over the limit, but still. i think most ppl do that, though, so i’ll tell you one more: i cannot stop eating from cheese plates. when i see them at parties i get excited, and then feel dread because i know i have no will power when i comes to cheese.

  25. You can’t be perfect all of the time. I eat more meat than I’d like, drink a fair amount of wine and have dessert almost every night. You gotta live a little! :)

  26. So funny! I’m glad to have a pasty pale friend–I’m afraid of the sun and wear SPF 100. I used to drink ddp like it was going out of style. Thank god I quit-it was expensive. Although, I think I’ve replaced diet soda with wine. It’s so hard to keeps vices to a minimum!

  27. I search out Chick Fil A on road trips as well! I get very upset if it’s a Sunday and we are driving home because they are all closed on Sundays! :0)

  28. Right there with you on the diet sodas AND the TV. But I have been slowly cutting back on the sodas (one a day at work, none at home). We can’t all be perfect!

  29. haha LOVE this post! I occasionally will have in n out (grilled cheese) or taco bell, but thats usually after a night of too much drinking or a big race! ;)

  30. Love this post. So entertaining. I am a dietitian and can totally relate. I have many, many things I indulge in that are horrible for you. In general I’m a healthy eater and love to exercise but I also love to have regular coke on occasion (feels like a treat cause I was so anti soda for most of my life) I love me some American cheese and the faux cheese that they put on the nachos. I put salt on everything…even pizza, oh and I like to dip it in ranch. Wow…sounds so bad but really it’s all about moderation right? : )

  31. Haha, I love that last picture of you with the cupcake! Too funny! I have a lot of the same ones you have. I think you and many of the readers/comments are right- as long as it’s all in moderation, I think it’s healthy to mix these things in. It’s not like you’re drinking soda at every meal, eating fast food every day, or watching TV all day long. You are doing it in moderation with healthy foods, exercise, etc… That’s how it should be!

  32. You are an example of how a person doesn’t have to give up every single vice to be healthy, which I think is a really positive message. As you said it is all about balance. I watch way too much TV. I even fall asleep to TV.

  33. I agree. If you eat nothing but carrot sticks every day, will you die healthy? Probably. Will you die happy? Probably not. You have to have those little indulgences in life and that probably makes you overall more healthy because you are not trying to live up to some ideal of what you should be and what you should do. It is just about having the self control to know when too much is too much and not letting it get to that point.

  34. I <3 Starbucks. And Caribou. And Dilworth Coffee. I usually have pretty healthy eating habits, but I can NOT walk by a coffee shop and not go in for a cup of syrupy mocha goodness. Much to my bank account's dismay :D

    Jen, have you tried So Delicious coconut milk creamer? (YUM!) They are soy and dairy free, and come in 3 or 4 different flavors. I found them at Earth Fare!

  35. sign me up for moderation! my only frustration is that people who believe me to be “healthy” can be a little harsh when they come face to face with the fact that i love cupcakes and eat dark chocolate like its my job. they act like i lied to them or something. just because i am a vegetarian, don’t do alcohol, and like cooking quinoa doesn’t mean that i don’t like starburst. :)

  36. I’m with you on the television watching. Besides exercise, I lead a very sedentary lifestyle. My job calls for a lot of sitting, and once I get home, all I want to do is sit and relax in front of the tv.

    I think my most unhealthy habit is that I eat a LOT of dessert every night. Like, as much as I want. I do limit sweets to the evening after dinner because if I eat sugar during the day it makes me tired.

  37. I drink diet soda still. I’ve cut down a lot but I probably have at least 2 a week.

  38. I love this post!
    I definitely enjoy watching TV (there are lots of good tv shows!), I LOVE sweet treat (cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, etc), and Chik-fil-A is pretty darn tasty. But I think I balance those things with my other interests, activities, and food. Eating and doing the same thing all the time is boring, you gotta mix it up with a few hours of TV and a milkshake! :)

  39. I love this post!! I love TV too. I never used to watch it very much as a kid, in college, or even after college. But now, I look forward to my favorite shows each night! It’s a great way for me to unwind and relax w/ my hubby.

    I also use splenda when I drink tea. I try to limit to a few times a week, but I use it shamelessly (sp??)! :)

  40. I TOTALLY watch all those shows! It’s a quilty pleasure for sure!

  41. Oooh I love this post – it is good to have a reminder that no one is “perfect” and you have to enjoy the unhealthy things a little, in moderation. As for me, I like wine and coffee a little too much! Rely on one or the other to start and end most of my days! :)

Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.