The Air Force Academy is good training for the physical fitness standard we have to maintain throughout our time in the military. We have required participation in intramural or intercollegiate athletics, gym as a graded class every semester, and scored fitness assessments included as part of our collective grade point average.
The most disciplined reminder of our fitness level is how our uniforms are fitting—especially the uniform pants, an unforgiving blend of polyester, wool and sandpaper.
The Academy’s high-calorie meal plans (geared toward young adult males) put women cadets at a disadvantage, especially those who “keep up” with their male classmates, not understanding that a calorie consumed by a woman does not equal a calorie inhaled by a man.
All this is just to say that the women at the Air Force Academy (and I presume most military service academies) struggle more with the “freshman 15” than their male classmates or female counterparts at “normal” colleges. So we women-folk are usually trying to decipher the code between eating enough to sustain life with a heavy academic load without stressing the seams of our uniforms with a heavy caloric load.
Today’s code decrypter is my dorm neighbor Cindy, who barges through the door excitedly.
“Mo! I made a Slim Fast shake!” The sweet southern accent in her delivery is the only remaining evidence of her typical Southern belle demeanor.
Cindy’s disheveled hair, Slim Fast powder-dusted face and delirious excitement have transformed her into half frantic chef, half mad scientist and half portion-control mathematician. She extends a glass of her modern Prometheus out to me.
Having been through a few seasons of “a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and a sensible meal for dinner,” I am apprehensive about tasting her concoction. I anticipate the patented chalky Slim Fast texture and taste.
I hold my breath as the cool shake touches my tongue.
No chalky forescent.
No chalky taste.
No chalk to be found anywhere on the palate.
“Is there even Slim Fast in here, Cindy?”
“Yes!” She pleads like a struggling actress on an infomercial, “I can do this plan if this is how the shakes taste.”
I’m happy for her. She has struggled with the unforgiving synthetic poly-armor blend of our uniform pants more than I have. She needs this win and I hungrily celebrate it with her.
“So what’s in here anyway?”
The mad chemist reveals her formula.
“Slim Fast powder.”
“One scoop of Häagen-Dazs and a Snickers bar.”
I, too, am on the hunt for the magic elixir that will help me lose weight, keep it off and taste good in the process. But it’s not just one element that creates the change, it’s all the ingredients in the blend. Adding Slim Fast powder to an ice cream with a Danish-sounding made up name and a milk-chocolate coated candy bar crammed with peanuts, caramel and nougat doesn’t really satisfy. It’ll be your bathroom scale that isn’t going anywhere for a while.
We should be aware of the things we put in our bodies and minds. Mask and disguise as necessary to make it palatable, but be aware of the individual ingredients.
Just because it tastes good to us, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy for us.