Whose fault is it really, that we’re all fat? I read Trigreyhound’s blog with interest, not because of the discussion of US health care – that I will leave to US citizens - but because he implied that the good health that anyone can obtain with proper diet and exercise was entirely within the control of each and every one of us.
I’m not so sure I agree.
Three things I know about humans, we are social animals, we are profit motivated and we are survivors (so far) in the great game of evolution.
The food industry that churns out fat, sugar and salt laden products is really just responding to a very real human desire to have fat, sugar and salt. These desires are intrinsic to survival; any proto-human (any animal) that didn’t show the desire to obtain them didn’t live to reproduce. Cinnabons puts a lot of research and development into producing the smell that permeates a mall and renders me incapable of thinking about anything except how fantastic one of their buns would taste right now, with cold milk.
Am I eating one right now, no, I’m snacking on plums. I don’t actually have any idea how much a Cinnabon bun is but 3 plums just cost me $2 – and the very ancient survivalist brain of mine knows that the per calorie expense of the Cinnabon is considerably less than the per calorie expense of the plum. Having had the smell turn on the hunger urge in my brain (lots of R&D) the brain makes the rational choice for the most calories in the quickest fashion. And then, hey, we can all get together and have a Cinnabon at one of those tables in the food court. And then we’ll all go to the Gap and get something new. Gosh, somehow I’m heavier than I was in 20 years ago but I still take the same size. Looks like I can still have my Cinnabon and size 6/8/10/12 jeans just like when I was 23. I’m sure it’s not that the clothing stores have inflated sizes giving me an inaccurate method of determining whether I’m gaining weight or not.
Bingo, I’ve just fed my body lots of calories because they were available right now and I’ve shared with others of my species in consumption of food (very big culturally) and by shopping together (more socialization) at a store that supports my increased girth without making me feel bad about it.
And let’s just say I’m tired of being the size 12, I realize that I’m really a 16 and probably bigger since the pants don’t do up very comfortably these days.
How do I even start? What do I wear? Athletic clothing hasn’t got the comfort fit that I’m used to. A small is really small. I can’t buy the XL; the Gap doesn’t have me in XL. Everyone working in the store is so fit they must be laughing at me. Smell those Cinnabons?
There is an average size at races and I’m probably it. Whenever I see anyone, man or woman, larger that me out running, riding, swimming, I try to take what I went through to change my life and my relationship with my body and magnify that by the extra pounds they are carrying over what I started with. I usually want to hug them but I’m pretty sure that would be considered assault so I just smile.
We created a society that, in catering to the most basic instincts of our species, has created a toxic environment that has so permeated all our lives that we can’t even begin to see what it is doing to us. We pride ourselves that we are thinner than our friends without realizing that our friends are obese and we are very fat. Restaurants serve us enormous portions with calorie counts that defy belief.
Last Saturday my husband and I had a 120k ride/5k run brick. We were up north at our cottage without power after the massive storm that hit Ontario Thursday night. I insisted that we go out for dinner rather than trying to cook on a BBQ that is on its last legs augmented only by a side burner that is capable of boiling water only on a completely still night. I had just had a 5 ½ hour workout, I wanted pasta.
We went to Boston Pizza and I asked for a nutrition guide. If I was an average person going to the restaurant the staff would be primed to sell me as many calories as possible. The nutrition guide request probably shut that down. I’ve done that work in corporate restaurants, and got rewarded on our average cheque – ie the more items I could sell in additional to the entrees the more prizes I would win in contests, the happier management would be with me, the better shifts and sections I would get. So, you walk in and I’m working at Boston Pizza and I’m going to sell you everything. I don’t give a damn about your health; I just don’t want to have to work Sunday lunch next weekend.
Well, the spaghetti and meatball dinner has 1800 calories with the other pasta dishes falling downwards from there to a minimum of 670. Main entrees also fell in the 700+ range. Add in an appetizer (wine or beer and maybe a dessert because I deserve it) and I can hit more than my basal metabolic rate pretty quickly. I rode 5 hours and ran 30 minutes to burn up enough calories to spend on a Saturday night splurge.
People do eat that much, I know they do. And the skinny happy people in the commercials encourage them in it. You have friends, food, laughter, and more than 2000 calories. But you deserve it, right?
The food makes me feel loved, the staff is happy to see me, and the skinny women in the sports store are long behind. I don’t know how good a 5 ½ hour workout feels, I don’t know anymore what real muscle in my body feels like, and I sure don’t know how much fun triathlons can be. I know change is hard and I’m just not up to it right now. I’m still a size 12 after all, even if I have to unbutton my pants after dinner.
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