Fat And Happy
August 1, 2006
Fat And Happy
Dan Malovany, editor
More than three-fourths of obese Americans claim they have healthy eating habits, and nearly 40% of them say they participate in “vigorous exercise” at least three times a week. That’s according to a recent survey of 11,000 people conducted by Thomas Medstat, a Michigan-based research firm.
Sure, it’s easy to say that many of these folks are in denial. Maybe we should put them to the test … and a very “vigorous” one at that. Yes, I am proposing the Obesity Olympics.
Okay, the Olympics typically are for fit, trim and often buff-looking athletes who push their bodies to the limits, hoping to taste the thrill of victory. And, yes, you’re right, having games for really big people could be seen as just dang wrong.
But I would suggest that it’s no worse than any of the other shows we see on the aptly-named boob tube. It’s no weirder than “The Biggest Loser,” “Celebrity Fit Club” or “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé.”
Moreover, it could be argued by any warped television executive’s mind that holding The Huge Games is the right thing to do, since two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. How can we, as a democratic society, ignore such a majority?
Hosted by Jerry Springer, the games would be held in an appropriate setting, such as Hamburg, Germany; Pig, Ky., or Hell, Mich. Opening ceremonies would feature a huge Weber grill with our Olympians marching through a huge buffet. Contestants would be broken down by weight class, tested for illegal use of olestra or Beano and compete in such events as sprinting to the dinner table. Go ahead and dream up your own games.
Actually, there are a lot of big bodies who eat healthy and exercise vigorously but can’t help being an XL because of their genes. Still, these folks make up only a small portion of those who are truly obese. The majority of us got here by eating too much and not being active enough.
Yes, I wrote “us.” A year ago, I stood in my bedroom and said, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fattest of them all?”
“You are,” the mirror replied.
Now, in addition to suffering from seven years of bad luck, I must admit that I have a weight problem. No, I don’t have to use a Richter scale to weigh myself, but over time, I had gotten so big that my body mass index (BMI) was one pork rind away from hitting the dreaded 30 level. Eventually, I broke the barrier.
Ugh, I’m obese.
Unlike the 70% who eat healthy and work out, I acknowledge that I was my own worse enemy. I ate too much, I exercised too little, and I blamed my incredible bulk on my job and the fact that I sit hours upon hours writing about yummy snacks and bakery foods.
Yikes! I’m a food editor with an eating disorder.
Fortunately, I discovered that the BMI can be deceiving. Many of our nation’s athletes have BMI levels over 30, and they are in good shape. Many people have BMIs under 25, and they aren’t necessarily healthy. Perhaps we need a new index. How about the body fat index or BFI (pronounced “beefy”)?
Certainly, exercise can’t hurt, but ironically, the results can be deceiving. A Canadian study in the 1990s, for instance, showed that one-third of 31 women who exercised up to five times a week for 90 minutes at a time actually gained 7 lb. over six months. Another third lost weight. All, however, improved their cholesterol levels and other measurements of true health.
So, for everyone like me who’s fighting the battle of the bulge, stop blaming all of your problems on the types of food you eat. Let’s literally walk the walk, eat sensibly and work out vigorously at least five times a week. It may not show on the scale in the short run, but it may help in the long haul.
As for me, I’ve since lost a chunk of weight, but still have a long way to go. Then again, dieting sucks. Maybe I should just give up and be in denial, like many of the obese folks in that recently published survey.
If ignorance is bliss, at least I’ll be fat and happy.