“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye: lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.”
American is apparently some sort of grossly exaggerated extension of the land Canaan, a Holy Land blown out of proportion by the scale and scope of our own appetites. According to the Center for Disease Control: “two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The average American is 23 pounds heavier than his or her ideal body weight. If we equate “normal” with average, it’s not much of a stretch to say it’s normal to be fat.”
But I can hear it now. People who hate fat-shaming saying: “Fuck the CDC.”
At least that’s what comedian Amy Schumer might say. I really like Amy Schumer. She’s smart and honest and takes on social issues with panache. Her movie Trainwreck was both comedic and pointedly sensitive. She’s the Queen of Fuck It If You Can’t Take a Joke.
Recently Amy has taken to Instagram to fight back at fat-shaming. To shame the shamers, she ran a bunch of photos of her taken in her bathing suit. She looks like many other women you’d see at the beach. Not perfect. But beautiful. And more power to her. The expectations placed on how women should look in a bathing suit are pretty crazy. Amy’s got a funky fun body and she is unapologetically honest about both her flaws and her attributes.
Let’s face it: honesty is one of the most attractive features in the world, followed by humor, then perhaps empathy. Fat shaming doesn’t make the Top 100 in terms of admirable characteristics in a person. Yet millions of men seem to revel in it even as their own hairy, fat bodies look more like the entry pen at the hog slaughter house. So Fuck Them Too. And not in a literal way.
So we go back and forth on this subject of what constitutes a reasonable amount of fat on our bodies, and what does not. Each of us has a choice to make, but it comes down to three factors:
- What do we want to look like?
- How do we feel?
- What are the long-term health prospects for our body weight?
We begin with appearance because that’s the shallowest and yet the most pressing issue when it comes to how fat we are, or not. For most of my life, I was painfully skinny. Fat was the farthest thing from my mind. Distance runners were pencil thin and somewhat proud of the fact that we were so fit that fat did not dare hover over our bones. Sure, the hyper scrawny look did not win us any appearance awards in those 70s and 80s clothes that either hung or clung on your body, but we didn’t care. All we cared about was dropping our 10K time another 30 seconds. And fuck that half marathon shit unless there were no other races to run. And marathons? You did them at the end of the season to burn off the last vestiges of hard mileage. Then you drank all December and started over in January. By March, you were lean and mean again.
That formula worked great for 20 years or so. I did not gain any substantial weight past 150 lbs. (at 6’1″) until I hit the mid-forties. Then a small paunch began to develop at my midsection. I wasn’t racing much, so I didn’t train as much. I coached rather than played soccer, and basically spent time being a good dad. No shame in that.
The fat gained… stuck around my middle. Some of that is “age,” people tell me. Well, a slowing metabolism doesn’t help. Nor does that reduced training schedule. But now that I’ve upped the training some the fat still clings. So there’s some other reason why my midsection is soft. I don’t like it. Not the look. Nor the feel.
Which brings us to the long-term health prospects for body weight. In my case, there is a family history of heart disease. One of the signs that a man has potential heart issues is fat around the belly. So whatever fat is being stored OUT THERE is likely having an impact IN THERE.
And from a medical perspective, my cholesterol is up a bit from ten years ago. That’s a sign of heredity factors and possible dietary issues.
My doctor wants me on statins as a result. Yet this past weekend I had a blood test at a health fair and my cholesterol look fine overall. So I’m not rushing into that whole Lipitor thing. There are still too many signs that I’m doing things right. I just ran a 21:00 5K for one thing. My blood pressure is 110 / 78. My heart rate is in the low 50s. And I can still get it up. Ha. The Man Thing. The doctor asked that question. I took it for granted. Guess you shouldn’t after a certain age? Then he jammed his finger up my butt and gave the prostate a hard tweak. Just to keep me honest.
Which still leaves diet as a factor in whether I’m looking, feeling and knowing that I’m as healthy as can be. And that comes down to getting ride of added sugar in my diet.
So my simple plan is this. I need something manageable to accomplish change. It comes down to replacing about 30% of the foods I eat that are carbo or sugar heavy. The few sodas I drink? They have to go. I lived 20 years without them, and let them back in the door a few years back. Big Mistake. They are fat bombs, those sugary drinks.
I’m finding the fridge here at work and bringing vegetables and fruits. And plan on drinking more water. I’m fat shaming myself so that I’m not stuck in Canaan like an overfed dope.
I want to live better. And shed a little fat. There’s no shame in that.