LGN 38: Why so angry?

Inside:  We’re all kind of crazy.  I ate a Milk Bone.  Writing without pissing people off is something I don’t do well.  Passion.  More Tough Mudder whinging.

Processing the Rage of  Ronald McDonald

It seems like our society or culture is becoming one of pure freedom of expression.  And then the reciprocal free expression in response to the original expression.  Thus commences a cycle that escalates in hostility until the different parties involved are yelling or typing f*ck you at each other at the top of their voices or in all caps and exclamation points.

You can’t read anything on the web now without a subsequent flame war.   I never realized how touchy we are, collectively, not only about our size or health/fitness level but how we want to optimize our size and fitness level.

On Facebook recently, a friend posted something about having McDonald’s coupons  to give away to friends.  Now, my initial internal reaction to that is two-fold.

  1. That’s so considerate.
  2. McDonald’s food is barely that and I don’t want anyone I care about eating it.

I told you I was turning into a food snob.  Maybe if each venue looked like they do in commercials, and if the employees were as bright eyed and thrilled to be serving you, and if the food looked as good as it does in ads.  And if it tasted good for more than two bites.  I was into the Angus Mushroom Swiss burgers for a while.  You ever heat up a fast food burger (just the meat and cheese part, of course) to eat later?  Long after the industrial strength illusion has disappeared?  Gross.

I once ate a Milk Bone.  It was comparable.  Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration.  But only slight.  Milk Bones taste bad the whole way down and they take a surprisingly long time to chew.  Kind of gritty.

But of course I didn’t say any of that on my friend’s Facebook wall.  Some people love McDonald’s and would enjoy it.  To each, his or her own.  Someone else posted something about the ingredients in the foods.  No, it wasn’t me.  Then someone else was like, “OH MY GOD NO ONE EVER DIED FROM EATING AT MCDONALD’S!!”

Then someone else posted about an article where someone died after eating at McDonald’s.

That’s not typical of course.  I equate fast food with cigarettes.  I think I could accurately say that no one ever died from smoking a cigarette.  Right?  One cigarette won’t kill you.  A whole pack won’t kill you.  Unfiltered, even.  The skankiest American cigarette you can find won’t kill you.  But a habit of smoking cigarettes and packs of cigarettes over the course of years will very likely contribute to your death or stricken you with an illness that will zap quality and joy from the remainder of your lifespan.  And just like cigarettes, fast food is engineered to be addictive.

Anyway, I was surprised by how quickly that innocent, straightforward post turned into an ideological dustup.

How to Write Like a Douchebag

Occasionally, I read articles about writing.  It is said that a good writer does not use weenie words.  No filler words.  Clear and concise, state your point with confidence, with facts, and efficiency.

You don’t say things like:  in my opinion, personally, and so on.  You’re expressing your opinion and everyone knows that.  That may work if you’re a professional writer in a magazine or newspaper.  But I find that when a regular schmuck like myself writes that way, it rubs readers the wrong way.  That’s why you’ll see a lot of disclaimers and personalizing phrases.   I’m trying to let you, the reader, know that I have my opinions but I recognize the complexity of the issue at hand.

I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that I sometimes (there’s a weenie word right there) go out of my way to make sure that you know that there’s not much in the world that applies to everyone all the time.  I know that .  You know that.  But if I don’t say that — and even if I do — I’m guaranteed, as a blogger, to encounter responses such as:

“I don’t do that, therefore your premise is discredited.”

“That doesn’t apply to me.  You’re bad at this.”

“You’re generalizing and it’s offensive.”

“Dickhead.”

Like that.  I say this after reading other blogs — ones that deal with controversial topics or have an insular audience — with large followings.  Conversations quickly devolve into people debating general rules, facts, knowledge, assertions and the fact that there’s an exception.

George Burns smoked cigars all of his life and lived well into his 500s.  There’s a guy who eats McDonald’s Big Macs every day and he’s skinny.  Sure.  But exceptions don’t disprove rules and chances are … you and I are not the exceptions.

See?  See that?  It’s hard to write with an assertive voice and not come off as pretentious no matter how much you attempt to show empathy or awareness or humanity.  Oh well.  What can you do.

Because Everyone is Relatively Angry

Except for you, of course.  Doesn’t it seem like people are angry?  Conversations about food are blowing up into verbal fist fights.  Different exercise approaches turn into heated arguments.  Crossfit is becoming more of a thing and there are those who are strongly a-ginnit.  Like certain coaches I know.  And not for nothin’.  There appears to be some downside to their approach, judging by the YouTube videos I’ve seen.  People being encouraged to do risky things when they’re utterly exhausted and their form is atrocious.

I don’t have much to say about it.  As with all things that require learnin’, make sure you have a good coach who takes the time to get to know your strengths and weaknesses and who prepares you to progress.

When what it’s about isn’t what it’s about

I read a blog the other day where the comments devolved into a mess.  That normally wouldn’t be surprising except for the fact that the comment that set things off stated that a salad is better for you than a McDonald’s burger.  As more and more people piled on to rip the poster to shreds, she tried to state things more clearly to appease the community.  She said something to the effect of, “At the very least, can’t we agree that we all need to eat healthier and exercise more.”

No dice.  That earned her a handful of “f*ck you”s and some “why don’t you f*ck off”s.  Then she got pissed because she was being bullied by people who feel bullied.  It just kept going like that for a few hundred comments.  It went kind of like this.

Abby: “We can’t agree that whole grains and vegetables are better for you than fast food?”

Betty: “No.  Someone who’s starving to death needs the calories of a fast food burger more so in that circumstance it’s better for them than a scrawny salad.”

Connie: “Yeh, and I have Crohn’s disease.  I can’t have high fiber in my diet.”

Abby: “Wait.  What?  So because you have a medical condition, I can’t say that the general population should eat healthier and exercise?”

Connie: “Now you’re being ablist.  How dare you dismiss an entire group of people and downplay their suffering.  And some people can’t afford your expensive salads.  And what about food deserts?  Why don’t you just piss off.”

Debbie posted that she used to be big and had lost weight through improving her diet and exercising.  She caught the hammer for that one.

Betty: “Don’t condescend to us with that ‘I did it.  So can you.’ bullcrap.  We’ve heard it before and it’s tired.”

[sarcasm]Hell yeah.  F her and her hard fought success.  The whore.[/sarcasm]

I realized something then.  From reading through about a hundred and fifty posts of that flame war.  It wasn’t about eating or exercising.  It wasn’t even about being overweight or underweight or the optimal weight.  It was about territory.  The few people who didn’t tow the line were “intruding” on a public, yet intimate, space.  Intimate to those who usually have the run of the place in a somewhat insular, close-knit digital community or forum.

They were reacting to Society and the Media and outsiders and anyone who leaves a comment that resembled a comment someone left in a post five months ago that stated something similar.  As far as I could tell, they just wanted to be left unchallenged and un-threatened.  I mean — what am I trying to say here.  I mean, they wanted to talk about the issue in their own terms.  The way they talk to each other.  In the language of that particular community.

That was eye opening for me.  It translates to the physical world.

The Best Defense

When it comes to health, a lot of people are trying to find what works for them.  They’ve tried a number of things to lose weight, to shed fat, and not much has worked.  What has worked only lasted for a little while.  Been there.  Done that.  It’s frustrating and there are so many fads and diets and information coming from every which way.  There’s been a shift in the past two decades from fat-phobia to carb-phobia to carb quality.

The burgeoning wisdom about getting to your optimal weight and getting fit is that cardio is no longer king.

I used to use the elliptical machine and/or treadmill a lot.  An hour a day, three times a week.  Every day in spurts.  On a good day I would burn up to about 800 calories in an hour.  To provide some perspective, mountain biking, I would burn — oh what was it — about 1,000 calories per hour.  Remember that I topped out at 244 lbs. and got down to about 224 lbs. (and then back up to 232 lbs.).  So I burned more calories per unit of time than most of the lanky people you see mountain biking.  FYI, I’m about 197 lbs. now and working my way down to 190 lbs.

Doing the functional strength training, I burn between 980 and 1,200 calories per session three times a week, according to my Nike Sportband thing.  Plus I build muscle, which uses more calories.  Plus part of the training — the Finishers — rev up your metabolism for a few hours after you’re done the workout.

Then any cardio you want to do is supplementary and, apparently, you can structure your cardio workout for different benefits.  That’s what I’m supposed to be doing and have yet to really get into it since the Fall.  But now that the weather is disturbingly nice I really need to take advantage.

But here’s the thing.  How can you tell that to someone (which would have been me a few years ago) that all that cardio is fine but isn’t really the best way to lose weight, get stronger, lean out.

Or low carb vs. no carb vs. high protein vs. fast food vs. it’s all in my genes so I might as well live it up.

The Catalyst for Catharsis

The only way to convince anyone of anything is by getting results.  No one decides to improve their health and work to get (usually) down  to their optimal weight until … until they do.  Until something happens that shocks them awake or opens their eyes in a new or renewed way.  You can’t impassion anyone with words or cajoling.  You can only be a catalyst.

Because even after their inner fire ignites, it needs to last for months and even years.  It has to become a lifestyle or part of one.

Yeh, that’s the ticket.

Tough Mudder

Sigh.  Still not looking forward to this.  But I have to admit — again — having signed up for it, my mentality has changed.  I’m not just cruising along, which is fine really.  Even when I’m just cruising along I’m still getting my butt kicked and doing the programs that Justin designs for me.  Designs.  Is that the right word?  I’m still getting in some amazing work.  Getting stronger, more stamina, getting faster.

But now.  Now I realize that I really do want to be lighter.  Trying to get down to 190 lbs. by March.  Oh crap, it’s February already?  Okay.  Late March at the latest.  I need to be lighter so I can climb better.  Y’know, I used to be able to jump an 8 foot fence in two moves.  Run at it, jump up to get my hands on the top bar and my feet on the fence, and then bam.  I was over and landing with poise.  Of course, I was 19 years old and about 175 lbs.

I’m already more fit now — 20 years later — than I was then.  Stronger, even.  But not as fast and definitely not as light/lean

But that’s not the point.  The point is, my mindset.  I left something in the car the other night.  It was cold.  I don’t like the cold.  I like snow and ice.  That makes the cold worth it, but I don’t like being cold (and hate being cold and wet).  I was about to put on pants over my running shorts, a hat, socks and shoes to go out to my car.  Then I thought, it’s cold.  So what.  In a few months you’re going to willingly — well, let’s say intentionally — jump into an ice bath.  So I went out barefoot.  Not like it was far or anything, but it was the principle.  And yeh, it was cold, but whatever.  I had to tell myself to stop tiptoeing.  Embrace it.

Justin is getting me ready.  It gets pretty rough for me.  To build tolerance for intense muscle burning, one must exert those muscles while they’re fatigued and burning.  The Finisher the other night included a sled push straight to plank (until everyone had a turn pushing the sled) followed by another round of sled pushes straight to wall squats (until everyone had their turn pushing the sled).  I did not make it through the entire wall squat without resting.

Let me tell you something.  Muscle fatigue burning pain that can only be described as exquisite.

And it keeps stopping me — long enough to sneak in a rest or come out of a position.  I need a mental strategy to deal with that, especially since a new cycle starts tomorrow and I expect another level of intensity.

Any suggestions?

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.

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