unhealthy. Roller dogs, big gulps, Slurpees and aisles of
candy and chips—you know what I mean. But if I could
immerse myself in that environment and remain healthy,
then perhaps I’d have something powerful to contribute to
I began by tracking everything on MyFitnessPal, an online
food journal—with a mobile phone app—that tracks every
calorie consumed. It also has a social networking component letting folks view my progress in real-time.
I also shared daily narratives with Reddit.com’s /r/loseit
community—one of the largest weight-loss and general
health forums on the Internet. And I posted pictures of
innovative stores and healthful purchases on Instagram
at @30daysofgasstationfood—an account I continue to
update as I travel around the country.
To judge the success or failure of the experiment,
however, I examined two criteria: First, I monitored my
weight. I began the journey at a healthy 163 pounds; my
goal was to stay under five pounds of fluctuation. I also
used subjective assessments of my physical and mental
well-being. In other words: Did I feel healthy? After all, it
doesn’t matter what the scale says if we’re sluggish, tired or
For the first week and a half I worried that I’d bitten off
more than I could chew. I was mostly outside of Dallas and
Fort Worth, and I continually encountered the sort of gas
stations that reinforce the “nutritional desert” stereotype.
I was fully prepared to tough it out, of course—to spend
a month eating snack bars, beef jerky and the occasional
chicken sandwich at a caloric-maintenance level in order
to avoid gaining weight. As I traveled to other parts of the
country, however, I began encountering nutritious food.
Rather than the c-store industry being the antagonist
to my story as I initially believed it would be, I found fruit,
vegetables, healthy made-to-order menus, and significant, serious efforts on the part of stores to put healthful
options in front of customers. And as the experiment
gained attention and I connected with folks in the industry, I discovered that we share many of the same goals.
I learned about NACS, the Partnership for a Healthier
America, and I spoke with folks at various stores who
offered support and encouragement. The c-store industry
as a whole, I discovered, is already invested in the effort
to make healthful food widely available.
When it came time for a final weigh-in, I discovered
another surprise. Rather than gaining weight, I lost six
Great experience at GetGo this morning, You can definitely find healthy food at their stores! I love
kombucha, so I was thrilled to find the “tart cherry” flavor from Kevita. They also sold a good amount of fruit
and vegetables. #getgo
My cycling club stopped at Casey’s General Store in Maxwell, IA for snacks. I picked up a sugar-free
Red Bull, a Clif Bar and some flavor of Muscle Milk. Those always seem to agree with my stomach when
I’m on a bike.