Saying no to the #1 killer!

This article breaks my ‘rule’ for this blog, in that it has absolutely nothing to do with anything related to writing or science fiction. But, this being my most visible web space where I get to “declare” things, I want the following on the record.

DISCLAIMER: I want to state emphatically that this article is not a bash on fat or overweight people per se. I am intimately familiar with the many ways in which overweight and fat people — and the truly, morbidly obese — are too often ‘invisible’ in our society, worthy only of derision and scorn. You can’t openly be racist or sexist anymore without being roundly clubbed for your churlishness, but you can make fat jokes all day long, and people still laugh at the office water cooler. It’s an ugly aspect of our society and I do wish it would change, because people are still people and millions of Americans struggle with the discomfort, anxiety, depression and despair of being fat and/or obese every day.

Now, having said that….

I’ve ranted before about America’s too-large behind. Then, as now, I believe the U.S. is in a colossal state of crisis, regarding its flab. We are a fat, soft society filled with fat, soft people. Myself being no exception. I love crap food and I hate exercise. Had I not joined the Army in 2002 it’s probable I’d have tipped right over the rails and into the sea of soft, pudgy, middle aged, white men that dominate the office work force in the U.S.

And I absolutely loathe the “person of size” movement which pretends to assign to fat the same neutral status as eye color or shoe size; as if being fat is a fashion statement? Let me be very clear. I consider the “person of size” movement to be a destructive and dangerous lie that seeks to delude Americans and people around the world into embracing their disease as if it’s something to be proud of.

The reality is that fat not only looks bad — sorry, size lobbyists, you can’t win on this one, obesity is not nice to see — it is detrimental to a person’s health in all kinds of ways. From organs to joints to arteries, fatness and obesity are killers. Every year in America, being fat kills more people than any other kind of disease or ailment. Hundreds of thousands of Americans! Gone! And not from anything other than that they didn’t exercise enough and they didn’t eat properly.

I repeat, Americans are committing a form of protracted suicide because they eat badly and they don’t give their body the regular, strenuous workouts that the human body requires every week of every year throughout a lifetime, in order to remain trim, strong, healthy, and able.

I turned 36 this year. If the average American male lives to be 72, I am exactly middle aged. I can feel it when I wake up in the morning. I can tell when I go up stairs or do other activities that tax my damaged knees and remind me that I’m not 15 anymore. I can also tell because when I put on pants and shirts, there is just too much “there” there. I look in the mirror and I know it should be a better picture. That fat thing under my chin? It ought to be gone. That little extra around the belly? It too should be gone. I’ve been in good shape before. Last time was in 2003 when I got back from IADT with the Army. Best shape was ever in, save for perhaps my teen days when I did Karate-do.

Exercise equipment has cycled through my house at an embarrassing clip. Thousands of dollars in gear that sat largely unused. Hell, I live right on the other side of the freeway from a huge Air Force base where I can go use state-of-the-art free weights and machines practically any time I want!

So how come I let myself get back to the brink of being fat like the rest of America? I was here once, in 2002, before the Army whipped me into shape with 18 hour days and PT that makes the average man puke. When I got done in 2003 I was reminded how much I hated that kind of physical work, but I was also happy to see that my body had responded accordingly.

Well, now that I’ve eaten and sat my way back to the edge of being just another soft, pudgy, white office worker, I’m throwing down the gauntlet.

I’m saying no to fat. I am saying no to heart disease, and double chins, and beer bellies, and bypass surgery, and all the other “benefits” of being a Person of Size. I won’t be part of the lie. I won’t be one of those too-typical white husbands who gets pudgy or grows a gut and then wonders why his wife isn’t attracted anymore. I won’t make excuses. I know what the problem is and I know how I got myself here, and it’s time to get my ass off the couch and look myself in the mirror and declare, emphatically, that from this point forward, gottdamn, things are going to be different!

So, I plunked down a chunk of change for the P90X system. With my schedule, I need something I can do in my basement in the early morning that will melt the pounds and build muscle across my body. Having seen and done some of the discs already, I know that P90X is not just another fad program or Jane Fonda leg warmers routine. This is serious PT for people who are serious about their bodies. And it also comes with a dietary guide — something most people forget about, and without which virtually any fitness program is almost useless.

Dietary control scares me, I won’t lie. I like most food that is bad for me, especially the cheap, fast kind. I like sugar too. I’ve got the fillings in my mouth to prove it. Going largely without cheap crap, corn products, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup sounds a little bit like going without air.

But I know it has to happen now. Not ten years from now. Now. When the damage I’ve already done, hasn’t permanently hurt me. When I can still enjoy my fit self as a relatively young middle-ager, and my wife can enjoy me being fit too. Hell, I won’t lie. I think it’s craptastically selfish when any spouse lets themselves go. Fat and obesity are gross. Say it with me, America, fat and obesity are gross. They are not sexy. Cottage cheese down your ass is gross! Beer guts and double chins and neck fat and flabby arms… This is not sexy! And it’s not fair for any of us to get flabby and grow cheese on our asses and expect our spouses to go, oh yes honey, you are the bomb.

Men are extra notorious for this. How many skinny women have you seen walking around with a fat man for a husband? Yup. Me too. They are everywhere. Being a fat guy is far more socially acceptable than being a fat girl. But it shouldn’t be that way, because let’s not kid ourselves: fat looks bad on you no matter your gender, and while I do not in any way blame people for being fat, I do blame them if they realize, oh God, I am too fat, and then shrug and go right back to sitting on the couch and shoveling ice cream into their mugs.

Well, I’m not going to do it. I’m just not. Not anymore. I deserve better. My wife deserves better. My daughter and my mother and my father deserve better. My country deserves better. I need to be lean and strong and cut and healthy, so that I can meet all my responsibilities as husband, father, provider, soldier, and son. I know too from experience that with physical strength and health comes mental strength and health. Orson Scott Card said it in his writing book. When you body is soft and flabby, how sharp will your mind be? Answer: it won’t.

P90X arrives in the mail this week. I can’t wait to get started. I am scared to death because I know it’s going to take more self control than I’ve currently got. I am going to have to break out of my envelope and develop new, expanded discipline to ensure that the program is effective. I am motivated though, mostly because I am tired of the me I have now: soft, relaxed, eating crap and looking like crap and feeling like crap. It’s gross. I am done.

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4 thoughts on “Saying no to the #1 killer!

  1. Good attitude, man.

    I totally agree that our biggest disadvantage, as far as I’ve seen in my limited experience, is that men are, as you said, socially “allowed” to be fat–at least more so than women are.

    And it’s also, of course, our own damn fault if we aren’t happy with our appearance. On the other hand, our society doesn’t exactly push us in the right direction.

    I’ve made it a goal to lose some weight this summer and get back in shape, as well; dating the same girl for almost 2 1/2 years has lead me into many dinners at Applebee’s (fuckin delicious, btw), and not enough nights at the weightbench.

    May we succeed, and lose this excess!

  2. Another irony: in the 19th century, the poor were skinny and the rich were fat. In the 21st century, the poor are fat and the rich are skinny. Probably the first time in history that’s ever been true, ever.

    Some people think the answer is to mandate diet: government laws and programs that control what we can and cannot eat. I disagree with this, as I don’t want anyone taking away my ability to have a Big Mac when I want a Big Mac.

    But I do think individuals — people — need to look at themselves very closely and think hard about what it means every time they shovel on another helping or sit in chairs or on couches all day, without doing even a little exercise.

    The one that steams me endlessly, are the obese kids. Children being obese, wow, this one falls directly on the heads of the parents — also almost always obese — and while a grown adult can do what they want with their diet, parents have an obligation to monitor and enforce decent nutrition as well as exercise, because obese children are at so much higher risk of diabetes and a range of other problems, not to mention being obese as adults.

  3. First off, congratulations on taking control of your body’s direction and refusing the traditional path of an ever expanding waistline.

    Like you mentioned, culturally fat bodies are more acceptable on men than women. Hell, look at the aging stars of yesteryear. Jack Nicholson is going the Marlon Brando route and Alec Baldwin isn’t far behind.

    I agree that it’s in the hands of the parents. The habits we’re taught as children can either hinder or help us throughout our lives. On top of that is the American push toward super-sizing everything.

    When I went overseas I was astounded by the portion size difference. A “king size” meal at a BK in the Netherlands was a medium by our standards. Just look inside the shopping carts of your local Walmart. Economy size packaging of the cheapest to produce, starch and sugar filled crap that passes for an American diet these days. http://thisiswhyyourefat.com/ is proof we’re killing ourselves slowly.

    Again, bravo on taking a fierce stand against the apathy which slides us into obesity. I hope you’ll kick fat right in the ass.

  4. One change that may be useful: a standing desk.

    Oh, and regarding eating: use salad plates instead of dinner plates. The modern dinner plate has expanded; our grandparents’ dinner plates were the size of our salad plates.

    Good luck!

    And, yeah, “fat-enabling” bugs me, too, for that I know it’s out of a few people’s control.

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