My Twitter handle @gofast was concocted at a moment’s notice when signing up for social media several years ago. I’ve tweeted something like 6000 times since then. That means I’m quick on the draw, have an overly active mind, take too many pictures and have a preternatural need for recognition. I admit to all of the above. Social media is a preoccupation of mine.
But this morning my preoccupation is with not eating. For health purposes, I have blood work to do, and the appointment is not until 11:00 a.m. So, I’ll be drinking only water until then.
Fasting really isn’t that bad. The last time I fasted was for a colonoscopy at 3:00 in the afternoon. That was rather a long fast from the day before. Plus you drink that crap-clearing stuff that basically turns you into a sea anemone, one big channel from top to bottom with your arms flailing about trying to keep you arse on the toilet.
But actually, human beings are physically more like potted plants in a container that is too small. Our veins and arteries curl around inside us like the roots of a tree jammed into too little soil. If we further clog them with too much salt, sugar and fat, problems start to happen.
Some of us are predisposed to clogging of the arteries. We’re wired with a propensity to retain too much cholesterol, or else our circulatory system doesn’t move stuff around well enough. Plaque builds and we’re screwed. Our xylem and phloem gets all clogged up.
For some people, no amount of running, riding and swimming can unclog the system if it gets junked up. That means our diet plays an important part in keeping our blood healthy and clean.
Eating better has all sorts of important effects. So does eating poorly. Years ago when I told my brother that I had not yet had a colonoscopy, he barked: “What, haven’t you ever eaten a Slim Jim?” His point was that both the digestive and circulatory systems are subject to the vagaries of what we eat. There are bits of bad stuff left behind from whatever we eat.
I’ve heard it said that people can’t digest meat, and that 10 pounds of rotting meat is typically stuck to the sides of our intestines. This website begs to differ, warning us that it is vegetable materials, not meat that cause us to fart and rot from the inside out.
So it’s pretty difficult to know what to think. There seems to be conflicting science and opinion on every aspect of human diet. For years, I avoided eating eggs as a rule. Now they’re back in vogue, at least the egg whites, and Starbucks and McDonald’s both serve sandwiches with only egg whites in them.
Of course, some people will tell you to look at that sandwich and divide it up into layers. The carbs are your worst enemy.
All I know right now is that I’m fasting and that sandwich photo makes me quite hungry. That’s how McDonalds sells so many products. They’re right there when you need them, cruising around in your cars and wanting to fill your sea anemone gut with something to make the hunger go away. And who the f*** cares if it is good for us or not when it’s 7:34 in the morning and you’re on the way to work? Give. Me. Some. Food. And a Coke for breakfast.
Poor McDonalds. They do what they do really well, which is to make mechanized food taste really good, and to charge you an arm and a leg for a simple slab of chicken on a bun. And it’s true, their food gets ripped for being unhealthy for us. The film Super Size Me by independent filmmaker Michael Spurlock documents what happens when a person chooses to eat only McDonald’s Food for 30 days. He gets fat, and other bad things happen as well. Here’s what the Wikipedia summary said about the effects of his McDonald’s experiment:
Spurlock ate at McDonald’s restaurants three times per day, eating every item on the chain’s menu at least once. Spurlock consumed an average of 20.9 megajoules or 5,000 kcal (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment. An intake of around 2,500 kcal within a healthy balanced diet is more generally recommended for a man to maintain his weight. As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 11.1 kilograms (24 lb), a 13% body mass increase, increased his cholesterol to 230 mg/dL, and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation in his liver. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his experiment using a vegan diet supervised by his then-girlfriend (now ex-wife), a chef who specializes in gourmet vegan dishes.
Well, give his ex-wife credit. The dude must have been pretty messed up from all that fast food. Because it’s not like the old days, where people thought that attaching leaches to their arms would suck the bad humors out of their bodies. Her gourmet vegan dishes must have been pretty good to lure Spurlock away from Big Macs.
We now know that genetics plays a big part in how our blood systems operate. Some people are wired in to retain fat. But that’s not the only reason America has become a nation of fat people. Americans have typically lousy diets and a generally low investment in exercise. That forces our blood to carry around a lot of extra stuff we don’t need. No amount of voodoo or bloodsucking really helps unless you take precautions about what you put into your body, and if you don’t work out, you turn into a blob. It’s simple as that.
But even when you do work out, there are risks in our family history that need to be addressed. For example, I know that my family has had its share of heart disease. My father just passed away 13 years after a massive stroke that whacked his brain and body. Before that, he had a quintuple bypass surgery that lasted five hours.
My father did not run or ride or swim. He played golf and some tennis, but his diet was not the best and he put on some unhealthy fat during his eight years of stressful commuting to work from St. Charles to Skokie, Illinois. Let me tell you, that’s about the worst commute you could ever invent. There are no routes and no roads that go from those two places.
All these risk factor are like a gauntlet in life that we run through on the way to kicking it in after 80 or 90 years if we’re lucky. Sorry to be harsh and blunt, but it’s true. One of the tarsnakes of life is that you can do a lot of good things and still keel over from a congenital heart problem like the famous runner Jim Fixx.
So if you’re smart, you’ll fast now and then and get a physical from your doctor once in a while. Because even if you’re running 70 miles a week, biking 150 and swimming until you grow gills, you don’t know everything about your body unless you get checked out.
Because no matter how fast you go, you can’t always outrun the gauntlet of preservatives, hidden sugars, bad fats and oversized quantities floating around in the typical American diet. Even if you avoid these baddies, you may have predispositions to higher cholesterol and other tricks up your internal sleeve.
So it’s a double entendre that makes sense. Go fast. It means a lot of things.