Can you say counterintuitive? That’s the word that a “Yahoo” news site uses to describe Emily Strunk-Helm, a 36 year old Arizona woman who is in training for the Long Beach Marathon. In an attempt to raise $10,000 for her local Ronald McDonald House, Emily has vowed to eat all of her food from the McDonald’s menu for the 31 days leading up to her October 9th marathon. I have to think that counterintuitive is a huge understatement: Insanity would more closely describe this feat of lunacy!

I have a great deal of respect for anyone that can complete a 26.2 mile marathon. I know firsthand that it takes months of intense training to be able to complete a marathon, and distance runners are the most health conscience people I know. McDonald’s menu may have become healthier in recent years, but their staple foods like “McNuggets,” “Big Macs,” and fries in no way fit into the diet of the runners I associate with. Runners want carbohydrates, and these McDonald’s food offers fats, fats, and more fats!

I think I understand, though, what Emily is doing: She is sacrificing her health for what she believes is a higher cause. She is likely in great health from years of running, so she will be able to cross the finish line in Long Beach no matter what she does for 31 days. Her gimmick has brought attention and this will likely result in a lot of money being raised for a good cause. She will feel miserable during her marathon, and will run considerably slower during it, but her years of training will overcome her 31 days of gross neglect, and she will emerge a winner. She will have contributed to a higher cause! The $10,000 will come at a high price, however: Obese Americans everywhere will say: “See! Eating McDonald’s food everyday isn’t the reason I’m in poor health!” Now, that will be really counterintuitive!

15 Responses

  1. Sharon Strunk

    Obese Americans are not exercising. Emily stresses the importance of exercising!!! Her diet may not be the best = but she does exercise!

    1. I agree that obese Americans are not exercising. My point is that even if you’re exercising like Emily, training for a marathon, your health will still deteriorate if you live on McDonald’s food. You can’t be healthy, no matter what you do, if you eat only high fat food. I’m concerned that people will come away from Emily’s story believing it’s possible.

  2. WOW! I completely agree with your last statement – about obese Americans not seeing the “big” picture and thinking to themselves that it’s okay to eat McDonalds and that McDonalds is not the reason they are unhealthy. Like you, I understand what she is doing, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. Counterintuitive is right!

  3. Tammy

    The obese have no one to blame but themselves, we cannot hold McDonald’s, Hardees, or any other fast food joint to blame for what we allow ourselves to stick in our mouths! If you don’t have the willpower to stay away from it or have it once in a great while, that is your own fault and no one elses! And, as a parent if you allow your kids to eat this everday, again it isn’t the fast food joints problem ~ but you as a parent!

    1. I’m not blaming McDonald’s. Emily’s actions are sending the message “See, I can eat at McDonald’s every meal and still be healthy!” I don’t believe that is true!

    2. Alexander

      This seems like a good argument for legalizing heroin. You can’t blame the producers of these illegal drugs for the addiction, it is the junkie’s fault. They know what they get themselves into.

  4. Carmen

    Obese Americans know what makes them obese! You can’t state that they are dumb enough not to see the “big” picture. Obese Americans generally know what they need to do-eat right and exercise more.

    I think a follow-up article/blog post is in order for all news media. Let’s be responsible about this if we’re really concerned about the message it is sending obese Americans. What exactly did Emily eat? Burgers, fries, and cokes? Or salads, grilled chicken, and fruit (yes, they have those options at McDs!). How did Emily’s training go those 30 days leading up to the marathon? How about the marathon? How did it go? Did she set a personal record? Did she finish 10 minutes slower than her PR?

    These are all questions that I’ll look forward to hearing about! McDs does have some healthier options but they don’t have ALL of the nutritious foods that an individual needs to sustain them during the rigorous training of a marathon….

    You are correct-anyone eating a high fat diet will do damage to their body no matter their exercise routine. However, not all people eating these high fat diets are unaware of what it is doing to their bodies. This is not a black/white situation. There are many factors that go into obesity-finances, cultural background, overall health (mental, emotional, and physical), intelligence, etc.


    Emily can absolutely, without a doubt, eat a square, healthy diet of 3 meals a day, everyday at McDonald’s and be in tip-top shape for her marathon. I’m also running a marathon on Oct 9–Chicago–and I’d love to have 3 meals and snacks provided for me for 31 days prior to my race. McDonald’s has many healthy options to choose from, and I applaud her for not only raising money for the RM House, but also for her creative sense of raising awareness of this program! Savvy, Emily! Go get ’em. Go run your fastest race ever, and prove the naysayers wrong!! Happy trails! Try this menu on for size:
    Breakfast: egg & cheese mcmuffin & coffee
    lunch: cheeseburger, side salad & fruit & yogurt parfait
    dinner: southwest grilled chicken salad or grilled chicken sandwich, apples & caramel dip

    Yummy & east to do!

  6. mace

    They have salads and water at McDonald’s. She wouldn’t have to eat all junk. Plus a McDonald’s burger is probably better for you than a sit down restaurant or homemade burger just because they are smaller. I’m willing to bet McDonald’s meals are better for you than a lot of sit down restaurant meals just because of the smaller portions alone. McDonald’s always gets picked on, but in reality most restaurant food, fast food, and slow food, isn’t that good for you.

    I don’t think she is sacrificing her health at all. Her exercising will far outweigh eating crappy for 31 days. And her raising money for a good cause is a good thing.

  7. Jennifer

    “Runners want carbohydrates, and these McDonald’s food offers fats, fats, and more fats!”

    McDonald’s has plenty of carbs – breading, french fries, buns, croutons – those are all carbs. All the sugar in the soda also counts towards carb counts. I believe what you mean is a difference between good carbs vs. bad carbs.

  8. Watch the documentary “Fat Head”. It’s on Netflix. The basic premise…use your head eating fast food and you can easily lose weight, body fat, lower bad cholesterol, increase good and all of the above.
    The problem with most Americans…working a desk job:
    We wake, we eat breakfast, drive to work…get in car, go to lunch, go back to work, sit, drive home, eat some more….watch TV for 3 hours….sleep…and do it all over again.
    The body does not need a Number 1 from McDonalds to work a desk job or 2 helpings of your wife’s latest cooking goodness. That lies our problem. We are taking in the same amount of food an athlete would require…when we sit for 95% of our lives.

  9. Anthony Bryant

    Just because she’s eating only McDonalds doesn’t mean she’s going to be eating a Big Mac and a large fry for every meal. I’m no Mickey Dee’s apologist, in fact, I never eat there, but if you eat the right amounts of foods, and choose some of the healthier options (they DO have grilled chicken available) you can absolutely live a healthy lifestyle eating McDonalds.

  10. It is what you choose off the menu, not the place itself. You could find food that is not good for you at any restraurant anywhere. How about fresh walleye? Breaded and deep fried, served with dinner fries [fancy name for french fries?] & broccoli [smotherd in melted cheese].

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