Michael Nusair is an equal-opportunity burger critic. He’ll review one of the artery-cloggers from a Dixie Rd. fast food joint and one from a hip Queen West diner with the same enthusiasm and optimism.
Nusair, who blogs at tastyburgers.ca, isn’t a professional: he just wanted an excuse to eat as many burgers as possible, more than 130 and counting since 2011.
He’s also equally into staying healthy. While the burger beat isn’t exactly vegan and gluten-free, Nusair balances his twice-a-month hobby with made-at-home lunches: almond butter on multi-grain, an apple, a handful of walnuts, roasted chickpeas. And he’s not about to change; like many Ontarians, Nusair won’t be making a New Year’s resolution.
“You follow it for a couple of weeks and then you forget about it,” he said. “I’m pretty happy eating burgers.”
The Mississauga resident, 33, is not alone. A poll of 1,001 Ontario adults conducted for the Toronto Star by Forum Research in December indicated that more than four in 10 people were not willing to stop or limit any vices in the new year. That beat out the number who wanted to give up smoking, drinking, overeating or overspending. (Limiting overeating was the most common behaviour respondents wanted to change at 20 per cent, followed by overspending at 14 per cent.)
Although studies have shown New Year’s resolutions don’t lead to long-term weight loss, gyms still fill up in January. But some personal trainers say a portion of their clientele sign up not just to get in shape, but to mitigate some of the caloric damage they are content to keep inflicting.
“If they want to indulge, it’s all about balance,” said Jen Stretch, who’s been a personal trainer to Toronto women for two decades. “You have to make a concerted effort (to exercise) if you don’t want to change your diet.”
She tells clients they’d have to spend a minimum of an intense, sweaty hour in the gym per day, five days a week, to get in shape while still drinking beer and eating fried food occasionally.
“It’s calories in versus calories out. It’s a simple equation,” she said. But strict dieting causes a “such a rebound” when bodies return to normal eating, she said.
That’s something Vanessa White, 38, knows all too well. She used to make an annual New Year’s resolution to lose weight, which led to crash diets, including the cabbage soup diet and even drinking saltwater.
“You’re just setting yourself up for failure,” said the Ajax resident and mother of two. Now she has a personal trainer, Gabriela Cordero, who runs First Steps Fitness for newbies, and focuses on health.
“I try to be good Monday to Friday,” said the Ajax resident. She works out on her lunch break and has a “salad buddy” at work to stay on track.
“On weekends, it’s not a free-for-all, but I try to be more laid back. If I go to a restaurant, I eat what I want.” French fries and pizza are her weaknesses, she said.
For Marina Alteza, 43, it’s “anything fried, anything sweet, anything chocolate.”
While she does work out — like white, she trains with Cordero — she believes a hardcore regimen is not sustainable.
“I like the idea of having a healthy lifestyle but having one or two indulgences,” she said during a break from work at a downtown bank, where she was eating a green salad, knowing the following day would be a catered lunch with rich Greek souvlaki.
Also like White, she no longer believes in the New Year’s diet. “We all know what we need to do, there’s no magic bullet,” she said. “Why does it have to be January 1? Why not today?”