Hi. My name is Laura Jane Standley. You might remember me from such things as my work at 303 Magazine. Or, perhaps we became acquainted because of this very blog, in which I relate my experiences working out at The BodyLab with Matt D’Amico and friends. Or, maybe you know me because I am a food head and tend to appear at epicurean events and amazing restaurants around town. I love to eat. I love to order food and I’m the ideal dinner date, hands down. I actually think I’m the ideal date for just about everything, though. So, take this with a grain of Himalayan sea salt. Mmm. Salt. And butter. Salty butter.

I’m passionate about food. But, for me,  it’s more akin to a  limb or a significant other or my religion than someone who just enjoys a nice meal. And, that’s where Miss Mary comes in–the nutritionist at The BodyLab (who I desperately want to call a nutritionalist, which is not actually a word. It is, however, fun to contemplate what such a word would mean…). Mary teaches me sustainable habits and she doesn’t lay it on too thick. She makes small adjustments and suggestions each week so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. “My main priority with clients is to focus on helping them achieve their goals and heal their relationship with food… Although it can be a numbers game, the ultimate goal is to have an awakening and restore some balance and respect for food. It is not something that is evil and here to ruin our lives. As soon as you can learn to respect it and make choices that are respectful toward your body, you are on your way to freedom,” she says. And seriously, doesn’t that sound nice? Matt calls Mary the Archbishop because she “focuses entirely on the eating sins of our congregation.” He is really into this Catholic church analogy–even wanting to put in a confessional in the new BodyLab (more to come on this), where Mary would office and dispense cardio routines instead of Hail Marys, but it didn’t work out. “We still may build a pulpit though, for shouting calisthenics from. We’ll see.”

And, just because Matt is a hardcore trainer that hasn’t gone over 8 percent body fat since he was like five years old, he knows what we’re up against. Talking about his family, “We all eat and drink, except with our tribe, we actually get out and do some shit that day before we kick back and imbibe. I grew up getting my ass handed to me by both my parents and grandparents on the tennis court, golf course, skil hill, hiking trail, you name it.” And this is the part that should inspire you–“Guess what happens when several generations live like that? You all end up living at the size and shape that you’re supposed to, without gaining and losing ten, twenty, thirty pounds over the years. You grow up getting to know your body through physical activity and what it’s like to eat, then burn it off, then eat, then burn it off.” I know I joke a lot, but I genuinely desire to leave things better for my children than they were for me, and so on, and so forth. I want them to have happy, healthy lives and I don’t want them to struggle with weight and body image. It’s suffocating. Think of the children!

A feast kind of night in Aspen, at Elevation with writer Elliot Riis and Photo Editor Melanie Watson

This isn’t easy. Especially for people, like my friend Jenn, who work at a company that believes having a closet full of Peanut M&Ms is necessary. Or, for yoga blogger Aubrey, whose office-mates bring in pies. Fucking pies! I mean really. You’ve seen cats that kill a mouse and present it to their owners, right? Well, that’s sort of what bringing a pie to work is like. You’re so proud you made the thing, you want everyone to see it. But, really, it’s not at all useful to anyone. Matt might be a lifestyle engineer, but he’s not a robot. He gets what it’s like logging serious hours at a desk, which is why I dig working out with him. He’s not straight out of school and into a gym, demanding push-ups and wondering why it’s so hard for everyone else to get it. He used to work as a commodities trader. “The beauty of a trade floor setting is that mammals are pretty much strapped to their desks during trading hours, so you get to see everyone’s terrible eating habits. The guy’s diet who sat next to me for years consisted of about twelve diet cokes a day, a pack of Nicorette gum and whatever candy or other crap he could find around the trade floor,” Matt says. This conjures images of a real bottom feeder, no? Like a shrimp, patrolling the bottom of the ocean, willingly consuming…whatever. “The main reason that most of these folks munched on crap all day and spent inordinate amounts of time planning where the group would go for lunch and then get way too excited about a place like P.F. Chang’s was boredom.” Couple that with feeling very impressed with oneself, if one was able to blow two thousand bucks at a client meal, and you’ve earned at least a muffin top, if not a spare tire. Think about that. Am I living life that way?

And, that’s where I’ve finally made my point, if you were wondering if I even had one. Why am I eating? What is my motivation? If I’m bored, why don’t I go do something? If I’m sad, I could take a bath. If it’s my birthday, I don’t need sixteen brownies (yes, I believe that’s how many I had last year), I could have just a few bites.

It’s not easy. If it was easy, one in three (or whatever the stat is–come on, this is a blog, not a research paper. You know it’s a scary-bad number though) of us wouldn’t be obese. If it was easy, then we’d all be smoking hot model-esque freaks, multiplying like rabbits cause what the hell else could we even thinkabout doing? If it was easy, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Food is tough. It’s how we socialize, it’s how we celebrate, it’s how we comfort ourselves and for some of us, it’s the thing we’re most looking forward to in a day. Mary made a good point to me. Why can’t we just enjoy the moment? Why do we have to mash food and booze all over it, too? I feel all sorts of fidgety at the idea of simply enjoying it. Like a toddler, gearing up to throw a tantrum. But, it is completely doable. I have done time and again when I’ve decided I’m more important than whatever it is I’m celebrating. Me. The human. The living, breathing thing.

Food. It's what's for dinner.

With Mary’s help and Matt’s beat downs, I’m finally feeling like I’m living a life of my own choosing and societal conventions can eat it (especially because I’m not going to). If I say I celebrate by challenging someone to a staring contest, then that’s how I do it. If I celebrate by staying late at work–so be it. Hey, Tyler just had a birthday. And he celebrated by going to Vitamin Cottage. Cheers.


Matt: When you get home later, get your patchouli oil going, get a smudge stick, light it up, and circle that shit all around your biceps. This is scientific, people. Smudge your biceps. (He was demonstrating.)

Ryan: It’s hard when you can’t live your inner truth.

Ryan: You’ve got to tame those abs, Standley. You  have to tell them what to do.