Health & Fatness
Okay. I’m going to blog right now. And then I’m going to work on some music. And then, maybe I’ll work on “O-World” a bit. That’s tonight’s agenda. I will NOT lay down and veg out and succumb to a disorienting pre-bedtime nap.
Saw a bumper sticker in the Metro parking structure that said, “This is America. We speak English here. Learn it or leave.”
Sheesh. I do wonder, though. It’s bizarre to me how many people from other countries speak English — African countries, India, Russia, Eastern Europe and former Soviet bloc countries, China, Phillipines, etc. But not Mexicans and Central Americans??? Not our geographical neighbors? How does that happen?
The bumper sticker in the middle of the bumper said “F*ck Terrorism”. Strikes me as a bit vague, that one.
At least there wasn’t a jesus fish between them.
I see a lot of very overweight people throughout the day, mainly as I commute to/from work. It makes me sad. Sometimes I see someone and it’s like I can see the healthy, weight proportionate person amidst the rounded cheeks and the extra chins and rolls here and there. Then they waddle along, sweaty with effort. I’m not saying that to be funny either. It’s the truth.
I’m about to say some things that are not necessarily nice. Not polite either.
I think to myself, what a waste. A waste of quality of life. Now, I know what you may be thinking. Fat people have enough shame and societal disrespect as it is. Why are you criticizing and ridiculing? Who are you to judge? But this doesn’t have anything to do with goodness or badness. If quality of life == happiness … well, you can’t really say that skinny people are happier than fat people and so on. True.
But this is life. Considering that you get one, why spend it lumbering along at risk of all kinds of ailments, premature death (statistically speaking), arthritis, chronic pain.
I’ve got some obese relatives and friends. I see what they’re going through as they age. All the things they can’t do or can’t do on their own. Even when they live to be senior citizens, they’re in constant pain or physical duress. It drives me crazy that every weekend when I go home to get Leika and see the extended family someone’s baked a cake or a pie or bread pudding or something that’s pure sugar. Bought a case of soda. Still smoking. This, in a family with heart disease, arthritis, breast cancer, emphysema, diabetes, kidney failure, brain cancer, stroke, throat cancer.
“Oh, Gary. Look at you. You’re putting on some weight. Getting a little gut. Do you want some cake or pie?”
“No! No, thank you.”
Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’m sick of seeing fat, fat people. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. We aren’t supposed to have guts that sag over our belts and blubber that distorts our figures like cartoon caricatures. It’s disgusting. It upsets me when I see mainly fat black women on TV doing that “proud to be a big girl” thing. It’s suicidal. I mean, making a stand for your dignity is one thing. Everyone should be respected and treated with dignity. Not shamed or shunned.
However, we should not encourage or coddle obesity, which means that we shouldn’t ignore the emotional factors that lead to it. And no more bullcrap. No more f—ing eating contests reported on the news every few weeks. Or the eating establishments that give out prizes and recognition for anyone who eats the 4lb. hamburger and a pound of fries. No more record-breaking pancakes/omelettes/pizzas/burgers. You assholes!
Anyway, society should be promoting, teaching, and encouraging health and wellness. We should be supporting each other in this. In America we’re all about “freedom”. We’d rather die from heart disease, it seems, than not have the freedom to eat a 1,500 calorie dessert at a restaurant on top of the 1,000 calories of entree. Plus the constant soft drinks, right. Every workplace is full of processed hydrogenated foods and sodas and coffee.
According to the BMI I’m obese. Maybe I’m functionally obese. I can jog for a few miles. I can mountain bike, which is hardcore recreation. I like exercising but sometimes I don’t have the motivation. I love it, though. I love that feeling when your lungs feel stretched like they’re being used for real for the first time.
IN THE MIND’S EYE
I wonder when I see insanely overweight people how they got to that point. How did they not see what was happening? Or the people around them? How’d it happen? Distorted self image? Probably the same way I gained, like, 20 lbs. over the course of about four months.
I’ve got self-image problems. I would say it’s because of the weight thing but I don’t think that’s it. Even when I’m packing on pounds I still look strong and … not athletic exactly but formidable, whether or not that’s the case. I’ve told this anecdote before, the one I’m about to tell, to a few people so bear with me if you’ve heard this one.
When I was 19 or so — from 18 to 21 — I was playing soccer all the time and biking occasionally and doing martial arts. I still had no jogging stamina and got a lot of muscle cramps but I was fit, more or less. Without realizing it I had become lean. Rippling six pack and the whole nine. I didn’t wear shorts, though, ever since middle school. Refused to wear them. Almost always had long sleeves. Always covered up. Body image, y’know. One day, a hot day, I was jogging around the loop at UMBC and had a polo shirt on with the front pulled over my head, the closest I’d ever willingly get to being shirtless. So I’m jogging on the downhill side of the loop, running strong as I was gravity-assisted. These two thirty-something women, they were white, were talking and as I came by they were looking at me, staring at me. And I was uncomfortable. I was thinking, “What the heck is their problem.”
You know. I felt affronted. I didn’t realize until years later, literally years after I had un-leaned a bit, that they were looking at me because I was hot. Sweaty, rippling, college co-ed jogging around campus. That’s got “Desperate Housewives” written all over it.
Those days were gone before I realized they existed. I feel like I lost something, not realizing that I might have been considered attractive in that muscular guy running down the beach sort of way. That “turn a girl’s head” kind of attractive. Like … wasted years, socially speaking. I never went to any school dances. Didn’t go to the prom. Didn’t date. No parties. Old habits die hard.
That’s not self-pity, so much as mourning. Mourning the fact that I couldn’t see myself. How many people can’t see themselves, y’know? Can’t see that they’re steadily getting fatter. Can’t see the fact that they’re beautiful, maybe not in a Hollywood way, but beautiful and vibrant and don’t need to wretch up their meals or don’t need to show off as much bare flesh as possible in order to attract attention.
So now, fast forward and here I am at 35. These days, if I stop working out for a few weeks my back starts hurting. If I overeat now I get heartburn. Esophageal spasms and what not. In my mind, as with a lot of people, I’m still in my early twenties. Arrested development, maybe? My physique is not, although I vow to trim down. Don’t we all? Single, shy, self-conscious and sluggardly fighting an uphill battle.
See, mid 30’s is a dangerous time. That’s make or break time. When you make a decision through your actions about the rest of your life. It’s when you make decisions and don’t realize that you’re making them. Are you going to take care of yourself? Are you going to let go? Are you going to get it under control or are you going to kill yourself slowly with processed food and a sedentary lifestyle? Can you live your life with purpose and discipline?
It’s “do or die” time, literally.
I’ve gone to two different doctors in the past two or three years because I was afraid I was experiencing heart-related chest pains. The first one, I told him I wanted tests. He said, “Chest pains? Let’s do an EEG right now. Oh, looks fine. Come back in a month and we’ll do another one to compare. And here’s a prescription for Ibuprofen for the pain. Don’t over-exert yourself when you exercise.”
Okay. Whatever. I never went back. Never got the prescription filled either. I went to another doctor earlier this year. She gave me a physical at my request. Blood tests and an EEG. (I gained a LOT of weight over the winter. Good lawd.)
Everything was within the bounds of not dying in the office so …. “Watch what you eat, exercise, try to lose some weight. If you think you’re having a heart attack go to the hospital.”
Sigh. If I were rich or if I were the President and said I had chest pains the doctor would give me the full work up, stress test, some kind of MRI or other non-invasive test to visually see the heart at work, and maybe that radioactive dye thing that lets them observe the flow of blood and find any clotting.
But as it is, if there is something wrong with me — a blood clot, some kind of congenital disorder, a pinhole leak, pulmonary edema — I will find out via a most likely devastating myocardial event.
Ah, health care. Gotta love it.
WHY THIS BLOG WAS BORN
I went mountain biking yesterday. I hadn’t worked out or mountain biked in weeks so I thought it was going to suck. I guess when I have to park a mile+ from the metro that means a little more than two miles of walking on those days. That’s not too shabby, I guess. But the ride was good. Felt great. Still not as mountain bike fit as I want to be but not too bad. I was still euphoric, feeling my heart beating in my chest, the oxygen deep down in my lungs like a fresh, brisk breeze gusting through an ordinarily musty room. Of course, I went late so it got dark as hell and I had no lights. Ended up having to walk back on the Soapstone Trail in the creepy night woods.
I realized something, though, which is what got me thinking about all of this health and fitness and fatness and cardiovascularisms. I ride some tough trails, though not epic. I never use the granny gear. You know what the “granny gear” is? The easiest gear to pedal in when you’re on a bike. Up front it’s the smallest chain ring. Never use it. Don’t need to. A few years ago I couldn’t make it up a hill without it.
All praise be to the mighty treadmill.
I guess I’m doing okay at the moment. I slacked off for a few weeks. I lost the workout rhythm. I’ve been doing pretty good, though, considering I’ve been doing all of my exercising and recreation solo. That takes a lot of something. Self motivation is the hardest motivation.
So that’s it. This was a purely stream of consciousness blog. Now to the music. If I could just get these lyrics written.
This blog was brought to you by the number 35 and the letter G.
|Currently reading :
The Dark Door
By Kate Wilhelm
Release date: By May, 1993