Posted by: Jim | March 10, 2004

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The Lardification of America

A government study just posed the possibility that obesity will eclipse smoking as the leading cause of death. “Eclipse” is the operative word here, as more and more Americans are hauling their planet-sized bulks from restaurant to restaurant. In some cities I’ve traveled, they are so common that Carl Sagan’s voice comes to mind … “Millions and millions”. They’ve formed their own gravitational pull in some cases.

And now it’s killing us more than cigarettes. And yet there are people whining about how obese people are not accepted, treated poorly, and don’t get as many dates.

I’ve been known to make statements about obesity that have drawn hate mail. “How long have you hated fat people?” one person asked, in an e-mail that included that and only that question. My answer is that I don’t hate fat people at all. I just hate that you’re all so damned fat. Why do I hate it? Because it will kill you, that’s why! So you see? I actually CARE about fat people!

I’m not talking about people who are ten or twenty pounds overweight. I’m talking about people who have become their own corpulent cosmos. But now let me calm down and look at this rationally.

Wide-spread obesity is a relatively new entry on the list of bad things. Our attitudes about obesity haven’t matured as much as our attitudes toward, say, smoking. I think obesity has largely been looked at as an individual’s problem. As the problem becomes pandemic, people are focusing attention on society, and how social changes have contributed to the lardification of Americans.

On the surface, the primary contributors to obesity are:

1. How much we eat
2. Whatwe eat
3. Lack of exercise

Beneath the surface, the primary contributors to obesity are (in roughly chronological order):
1. We became the wealthiest nation in the history of humanity.
2. We automated most of the physically demanding tasks that are required to keep our society going.
3. We changed the focus of our behaviors from mere survival to the avoidance of boredom.
4. To avoid boredom, most people chose behaviors that are sedentary.
5. This resulted in Americans spending most of their time in a sedentary, amused state. (Amused, when you deconstruct the word, means “not thinking”.)
6. Our sedentary, amused state became something similar to an addiction.
7. This addiction enabled our denial that we might be fat now but that our sedentary, amused state is only temporary and that we will be active and fit in at some time in the future.

We’re rich. We’re lazy. We’re spoiled. We’re fat.

Hey, being rich is a good thing, so at least we got that part right. Our next hurdle is to realize that our bodies are still the result of millions of years of natural selection wherein a great deal of physical activity was going on. On top of that, we ate mostly nuts, berries, and the occasional wildebeest shank. We need to realize that history has painted us into a very crowded corner populated by a lot of fat people. In a way, the lardification is the result of this historical trend.

But obesity kills, just like cigarettes. “Real women” might indeed have curves but it is no more right to “normalize” obesity than it is to make cigarette smoking a badge of righteousness.
________________________________

Update!

My buddy Dread has submitted his own testimonial, which is below. Submit yours today! The Holy Spirit is calling you!
________________________________

Amen, my brother. I must commend you on your choice of words. I also have
a real-life experience to share.

First, the contributors. BINGO. Almost three years ago I was at the
heaviest I’ve ever been – 235 lbs. In the span of three months, I lost 30
of that, but wait, my story gets better. At this time I had been working
day shift, which leaves much time for sin. After work, I’d go to the bar
to amuse myself by playing Golden Tee Golf and consuming copious amounts
of alcohol. Bourbon, beer, whatever. Upon switching to night shift, I of
course had to stop drinking on work days (which incidentally spilled over
into my regular life, where I eventually drank only about once a week). At
3:00 a.m., the guys I worked with would make a run to the local 24-hour
Taco Bar. These guys were not in any kind of shape except for “out of it.”
My lunch consisted routinely of one or two cans of tuna, mixed with salsa
or tabasco (no reason, I just like hot stuff), a gallon of water
throughout my 8 hour shift, and an ocasional piece of fruit of vegetable.
When I got home, I wasn’t that hungry. No more bacon, toast or other
breakfst goodies. Lunch was a sandwich and some chips and dinner was a
protein shake with a raw egg, bananas, OJ and cottage cheese. An hour
after that, I worked out – EVERY night.

My point? It doesn’t take much structure, but it takes some, to keep fit.
I was essentially on a modified Atkins diet, but unintentionally. I also
EXCERCISED. Holy crap, I went overboard, but it only takes 10 or 15
minutes a day! We as Americans are so lazy we think we can morph into
Adonis by eating less bread!

Second, we, as Americans, are LAZY. So true. I work in a Sports Bar &
Grille a couple nights a week, and some of what I see makes me ill. 10:30
at night – you walk in, not only after having a few pops, but you already
weigh 300 lbs, why not top the night off with a plate of Chili Cheese
Fries and a side of sour cream? I almost want to go out and ask the person
if I should “dial 9-1-1 now, or wait until they teeter over in their
chair?” All night long orders come in, 85% of which are ‘subs.’
Substitutions are my bane as a cook. My favorite is a Big Daddy Burger
with three cheeses (one pound of meat), but no fries. No, no. Give me a
side of DEEP FRIED ZUCCHINI. Yeah, that’ll help. Or even Onion Rings,
because “they’re a vegetable.” We are lazy because we think that with all
of our freedoms we’re entitled to, that we can just trot the globe ‘having
it our way,’ as they say at Burger King. I have news for you: No wonder
foreigners know an American from a mile away. It’s because we ARE
arrogant, and we ARE spoiled, and we ARE this way because of what you
said above, Jim. I can’t think of a better way to say it. Yahtzee.

Now, finally, sedentarianism. I, uh…I grew up loving baseball. I had no
problem scaring up a game whether I lived in Glen Ellyn, IL or Mount
Hermon, CA. Whether I was 5 years old or 17 years old. I talk to my
friends, most of whom are older than I am, and none of us can remember
learning the rules. We were born knowing them. If we didn’t have a
baseball, we wrapped up a bunch of electrical tape and played with that.
If we didn’t have bats, we used broomsticks. We were active. These days,
kids are glued to their TV’s, either watching Sponge Bob or playing video
games. Everyone needs downtime, and that’s the reason I had read every
Bobbsey Twins book and every Hardy Boys mystery by the SECOND GRADE. I
wasn’t exceptionally gifted, I just read …and played baseball…

My kids played video games as they grew up (and are growing up), but they
do not play shooting games, they do their homework first, and they don’t
spend more than half an hour at a time in front of the box. Simple rules
to live by.

There is much more to write. This topic is close to home as my sister is
significantly overweight. For years I badgered her, I bugged her, I got
mad at her because she kept gaining and never tried to lose the weight.
She wondered why getting a job was so difficult, even though she could not
legally be discriminated against for her size. Employers will find a way.
Last year she decided to join Weight Watchers, and I am proud to say that
she has lost going on 70 pounds. She has a long way to go, but she sees
the results, and the results motivate her. I’ll be honest, when deciding
if girl is pretty to me, weight is right up there with “does she have all
of her teeth,” and “does she use racial slurs.” There’s more to a woman
than her looks, but there is also a line to be drawn if said woman does
not take care of herself, socially, emnotionally, physically…

The results motivated me when I didn’t even have a goal to lose weight, it
just happened. But once I saw the results, I wanted to be Adonis…playing
shortstop.

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