In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Another Technical Note
  2. La Ligne Maginot
  3. Actress Notes
  4. Technical Day
  5. Peripheral Explanation
  6. More Immigration Links
  7. Another Graphic Detournement
  8. Peripheral Artists (5): Mikhail Vrubel
  9. Illegal Update

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« The Man or His Times? | Main | Guest Posting -- Turbokitty »

December 13, 2003

Fat Like Me


My name is Friedrich and I’m overweight. At the moment I’m pretty seriously overweight (I’m 6’ 1” tall and I weigh just under 300 pounds.) But I’ve been overweight, if less overweight, most of my adult life, with only a few brief, shining moments of being in pretty good shape.

I say all this because it seems to me that with the national epidemic of obesity and its ‘familiar’ spirit, dieting, 2blowhards can no longer ignore this major element in today’s culture. And I am just the man to take this blog where it has never gone before.

I’m currently doing Optifast, which is an 800 calorie-a-day, doctor-supervised liquid diet. I am dropping weight at a blistering pace, as one might expect (I am one of the few overweight people I know who never maintains that my weight problem is the result of a slow metabolism: the speed with which I can lose weight—when I put my mind to it—would argue, I think, for a higher-than-average metabolism.)

One element of the Optifast plan is a weekly Weight-Watcher’s-style meeting. My ‘group’ is composed of fairly obese people, most of whom are women. (From this as well as my days at Weight-Watchers—also overwhelmingly female—I’m left scratching my head: where are all the guys? It’s not like there’s any shortage of fat men out there.)

Every last one of the people in my group, who are probably looked on with a certain degree of pity and contempt by the average passer-by on the street, turned out to be surprisingly intelligent, articulate and accomplished. They own their own companies, hold serious management positions, cope with both work and family life, or—if they’re young—are advancing their ambitions in a highly disciplined way.

So…the question has to be asked, why are they fat? I can’t say for sure, but I did notice one factor that we all shared. The facilitator of the group passed out a form to all of us, asking us to rate how ‘balanced’ our lives are. By ‘balance’ they meant, do you take time for yourself? Do you rate your own needs highly? Can you say ‘no’ to other people?

None of us in the room thought our lives were in any way balanced according to this definition. Not one of us was good at carving out enough time to tend ourselves.

While this is certainly not scientifically definitive, it suggest a hypothesis: fat people are fat not because they’re greedy or gluttonous, but because they’re not good at focusing on their own needs.

Of course, other factors are almost certainly at work here. I would like to raise one: the impact of high-calorie, pre-prepared food, whether for snacking or from fast-food restaurants.

There was an interesting article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page a week or so back which considered both the epidemic of obesity and this particular trend as a contributing factor. The author, whose name I regretfully cannot remember, pointed out that the biochemical mechanisms of appetite regulation appear to be so complex that he doubted it will ever be possible to control our weight by popping a pill. Beyond that, he pointed out that we are in a new environment for which we have no evolutionary defenses: one in which all the foods we are programmed to pursue as hunter-gatherers are freely available in mountainous quantities. He even suggested, ominously, that if current trends continued, we would see teenagers with heart disease and a likely reduction in average lifespan, reversing a century of progress. Although the author never quite got around to saying it outright, I sensed that where he was headed was the notion of government controls on such ‘bad’ food, or some other government initiative to halt this trend.

To put it mildly, this pretty much blew my mind. I grant you that such a plan hardly seems practical—or at least not to me at a first glance. Likewise, I understand all the libertarian arguments against such an intrusive regime, which are quite significant and, er, weighty.

But the question remains: if science in the form of a super diet pill doesn’t rescue us, what will? I can’t believe things will just go happily on the way they’ve been going the past thirty or so years.

I’m curious, as always, to know if you, or any of our readers, has an idea about how this will play out.



posted by Friedrich at December 13, 2003


I find food and eating and the predicaments in living of a culture of over-choice and over-stimulation and over-abundance pretty fascinating. Too much always seems to be better than too little, but it's not as if it isn't something to handle and manage, and it isn't as though we're biologically well-prepared to do so. We seem much better equipped to try to wrestle out "more" from our surroudings than to manage "too much."

And how about impulses? In a way modern liberal society sets free our impulses, which on the one hand is great - it's terrific not to be too burdened by traditional uptightnesses. On the other, there's such a thing as being impulse-ridden, and having too little control over 'em.

I wonder if those elements also go into people having a hard time watching their weight. It takes focus and attention to manage yourself in the midst of abundance, and if your focus and attention are always elsewhere, maybe the impulses and cravings that are built into the physical system take over. How much vigilance, and in how many directions, can any individual summon up?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 13, 2003 04:05 PM

I think also people learn early in life---and sometimes need to un-learn bad early training---which accomplishments are "OK" for them to have, and which are not. Like---all the people in your group might have been valued as kids for what they did, or getting good grades, or for being "active volunteers", but maybe there was someone in your lives--a parent, or other---who was threatened by the thought of you becoming a traditionally defined "appealing sexual creature" or a "healthy young person." Your way of coping with that may have been to pursue the accomplishments which were "permitted" and avoid the ones that made you "threatening" to this significant other person. Much easier said than done, of course, but hey, f**k this other person!! Women who value themselves for "being thin" and don't value being kind or competent have the same problem in reverse.

I recall a story Gloria Steinem once told about seeing herself on TV, and looking at this calm, cool, thin woman with a voice that was so monotone it was the epitome of New-York-blase, when in her head she was always fumbling, "huge", very ordinary looking, with a voice that was always trembling on the verge of revealing some unacceptable emotion. And she thought---where did this woman on TV come from? As she said, the better question was: Where did the woman in her head come from? But it's what her childhood told her she was, and was "permitted" to be. Amazing how powerful this stuff can be.

However, just "losing the weight" might also not have the full payoff people are looking for, without Changing the Head. That might also be why someone's weight goes up and down---losing the weight alone won't permit you to be a healthy or attractive person in your own eyes (or whatever it is you want from it---objectively, you all may be perfectly attractive people, I'm referring to self perception here) without re-training the perceptions in the head. So, eating still contains a "payoff" that "being thin" doesn't contain. What does eating something great and fattening make you feel and what other ways to that payoff are there BESIDES eating? Because we all need "payoffs." Not very many people are so Calvinist that just endless self-denial is all that thrilling---unless you've got a martyr complex, in which being proud of the self-denial is The Payoff.

The High School of Performing Arts wanted to boot Ellen Barkin out as a teenager for being "not pretty and not talented." She said, as a teenager, the "not pretty" thing was a lot harder than the "not talented" thing. It took her years and years to let herself feel "pretty"---long after it seems most men in the world had noticed her charms. But, see, men noticing you doesn't make you feel pretty. Letting yourself (having "permission" to) feel pretty is what does that. (or, in your case, the guy equivalent, of course).

Posted by: annette on December 13, 2003 05:11 PM

I am in the habit of recommending

No need for government initiatives if people were just thoughtful enough to arrive at Glenn's golden conclusions. best lifestyle advice I had read in a long time, and couldn't come from a nicer guy.

Posted by: neil on December 13, 2003 05:44 PM

"surprisingly intelligent, articulate and accomplished"? Surprising because people don't expect fat people to be smart? What you don't mention is that Optifast is pretty much the most expensive weight-loss plan there is, which probably accounts for most of its demographics. Still, I wish you all the best in keeping the pounds off!

Posted by: Felix on December 13, 2003 08:37 PM

It can be thought that all of these group-oriented 12 step-ish treatment programs provide an arena for people to substitute a healthy set of obsessive-compulsive behaviors for a more pathological set. You can see the outline in the rigid scheduling, mottos, program steps, etc.

It's been 20 years since I was in the field, but there were some interesting reported results in the literature of the early 80s of using large doses of anti-depressants to derail OC thinking, and the behavior that followed. Doses far beyond what would normally be thought of as effective ranges for the treatment of depression.

I would counsel not beating yourself up so badly - theorizing about societal influences may some day be productive, but I'd look to neurological (and not psychodynamic) sources as the ultimate solution.

Posted by: Misanthropyst on December 13, 2003 10:18 PM

Tht is a scary thought, the govt controlling what we eat. I don't think that would see the light of day, or at least I hope it never does. Laws should protect people from others, not themselves.

Posted by: homerjay on December 13, 2003 11:53 PM

Here's an interesting Economist piece on overweight that touches on some of the questions you've raised.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 14, 2003 12:17 AM

Gosh...I'm not sure The Economist article was terribly helpful, but I guess Friedrich can speak to that himself.

The fact remains that some people can navigate their way through credit cards without problems, and yet a large number of Americans haven't been able to, as staggering debt levels currently attest to. Some people can take a painkiller or a sleeping pill when they really need one and then stop; some people end up ordering 427 pills in three weeks. Some people understand that having careless sex and repeatedly bringing children into the world that they can't take care of is a bad idea; some can't seem to stop doing it. Some people can have a drink, some drink alcoholically. Some people can look at porn occasionally; some people get addicted to it. Some people can wander through the world of MacDonald's and Hostess and not gain much weight, some can't. Some people are honest and some people can't stop lying. The list goes on...

I think Michael Blowhard's original point about managing excess is true in many, many areas of life. I don't think the government can regulate it. How long was "religion" outlawed in the Soviet Union----and how many Churches continued to function? How well did Prohibition work?

I DO think people need to look at the reasons---be they "neurological" or "psychological"---behind the payoff they are getting for that behavior, if the behavior is something that they are uncomfortable with. I mean, the truth is, we all evidence some of it, or we all do from time to time.

Posted by: annette on December 14, 2003 01:11 AM


Just a couple of thoughts...

I'm 6 ft tall in my socks and while not overweight, I'm not anorexic either. Height is almost as much a burden for women as weight. I sometimes would kill to be a nice, normal 5'6"

Right after college I took off 65 lbs in about 6 months. What amazed me is how differently I was treated when I was thin. Same person, same brain, same smile and totally different responses.

What I find so interesting is that in a culture with an overabundance of food and calories we have an image of the Ideal body that is almost starvation thin.

Posted by: Deb on December 14, 2003 01:24 AM

The fellas over at Marginal Revolution had an interesting discussion on this. One solution is for better tasting carbo and fat substitutes to be created. There's a pdf report from Harvard one can read via Marginal Revolution which puts the blame, not so much on a sedantary lifestyle, as in the increased caloric intake.

It's just easier to eat. In 1970, it took the typical homemaker two hours to prepare, cook, and clean the meals. Now it takes less than half that time. So it's easier to add in another eating session: the average 1970 male weighed 168 pounds; now it's 180.

One solution: the stomach-bypass surgery, aka "The Al Roper Operation," which my sister had performed this August. She already lost nearly 175 pounds and looks fabulous. On the other hand, she required to eat like a church mouse or face the rigorous of wretching. For instance, today for my grandfather's 90th birthday she refrained from eating my wife's scrumptious german chocolate cake. I mean, that's no way to live.

Another solution is to return to the potato. Americans used to eat massive quantities of it decades ago. Now we eat it deep-fried in disgusting oil with all the nutritious skin peeled off as french fries. [Thanks, Franch. First you give us democracy, now this! -ed.]A baked potato with salsa on it and a little sour cream makes a fine meal. Meal, I said.

I'm 5'9", 168 pounds, with a 32-inch waist. (If I'd do a few sit-ups, which I detest, it would be even smaller.) I do it by working at UPS from 0345-0830 hours as a frenetically paced preloader, sometimes skipping dinner, avoiding greasy stuff like potato chips or french fries, and not being persnickety about hunting for the closest parking spots when I shop.

But who can refrain from the three Oroes a day? We're probably all doomed.

Dr. Rosen advises snow shoeing. But then again, he and I live in New Hampshire.

I'm a little leary about recommending UPS; my start time for Monday is 1:45 am. Ye gads.

Posted by: Brent on December 14, 2003 03:08 AM

While reading this, I am also currently reading MFK Fischer on eating, her famous book "A Gastronimical Me". I love food. Thinking about it gets me through the work day. I love to cook and use as many organic products as possible, including big bars of french butter and fine caster sugar... I don't subsitute anything (for low-fat reasons) which recipes call for, and I often cook by the Joy of Cooking (old school cookbook).

On the flip side, I will always be concerned about weight. I'm a size 6 and am paranoid about being any bigger (probably this is where the media "body type" comes into play - and loosly working in the fashion industry in NYC, which is freaky).

My boyfriend and I went on the Southbeach diet this last summer and lost 10 pounds each. If I ever have to, I'll go on it again, to maintain my weight. But what it taught me is this: balance. I just can't see how there's anything more important. This comes from a girl who liked to be out of balance, mostly sideways. Excess and over-consumption of all things was me - until I would dangle on the edge of going too far, and then slap myself back into reality.

So, no fast food. No fries. No bagels. I and eat about 30% less carbs than I use to. Carbs are sooooo easy to pick up and eat any old time, especially when you're in a hurry. Last week I had a mini-addiction to these gourmet doughnuts, but I kicked it fast. No doughnuts are taking me down! But the occassional treat is delicious, and I do allow myself that.

Our society does have too many options and activities to process. But making time for health should be on top of our list. Excercise should be on top of the list, work should be like, uh, 5th or 6th down (or in my case, near the bottom - and to make things clear, I don't have children so I don't have that kind of extra responsibility).

I think once people in our society can make that choice to have balance, control and putting our health first - less people would be over weight. Positive self image seems to be so important (self-esteem, etc) that neglecting our health is just self-defeating.

Go Friedrich. It must be incredibly difficult but stick to your choice. And I hope you take advantage of all the beautiful sunny California weather. I love riding my bike and miss the gorgeous year-round sunshine. In NYC, today we are getting seriously dumped on, snow is shooting down from the sky and thus my bicycle is staying inside. But I am going to put on my boots and walk over to my new class called "Power Hour" - football exercizes to old school hip hop, love it!

Posted by: Michelle on December 14, 2003 10:29 AM

I think another factor in the weight cha-cha is stress. I've cruised at about 20-30 lbs. overweight for about 5 years now. I dropped a bit (10 lbs.) when I went on Atkins, and had the additional benefit of getting over blood sugar problems (no 3:00 PM dizziness or crushing hunger). Now, I've gone back to a rounded diet (fruit and some bread is back) with smaller portions and have continued to drop weight. However, the amount of weight I'm dropping does not match my caloric intake or my activity level - I'm actually a little more sedentary since I've been out of work. I should be holding steady or actually gaining, but I'm not. I think the continued weight loss can be attributed to my lack of stress. Therefore, I think general stress levels need to be part of the equation and part of the discussion.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on December 14, 2003 02:19 PM

Hi Friedrich,

I'm Dutch, am about 1.80 and weigh 105 kg (give or take 5). I once managed to get my weight down to 80, just by bicycling an hour or so every two / three days. That maybe most people's problem. Not enough exercising (I read a blog recently - don't remember where - about how previous generations of women stayed slim; the main reason apparently being the lack of domestic appliances) and the wrong food. Bu maybe the wrong eating habits as well. Margaret Cho (perhaps not your... uhm, taste) writes about her 'fuck it'-diet. She writes how she doesn't eat the entire pizza anymore and a bit more appetizers. For the rest, I think gaining and losing weight is so individually determined, fighting it won't make any difference until drexlerian nano-tech or tailored medicine finally bursts upon the scene.

btw. I own a copy of Nietzche's 'Also sprach Zarathustra', published 1941. I've treading him, but I find him almost unreadable. What I did read, was tiresome, to say the least.

Posted by: Rik on December 14, 2003 02:48 PM

We New York City residents, for all the physical inconveniences of living here, get to walk every day, which is a weight-losing godsend. I once spent a four month stretch in LA and put on ten pounds, just because (as far as I could tell) I wasn't doing my usual daily amount of walking. I was eating the same, exercising the same (in the sense of jogging and swimming) -- I just wasn't walking to and from work, doing chores, etc. The weight came off within weeks after moving back to NYC. You see very few seriously overweight people in NYC, at least Manhattan, come to think of it. Walking's probably a part of that. But no doubt so are nerves, vanity, competitiveness, overobsession with chic, etc...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 14, 2003 02:52 PM


I would love to date a 6’ tall woman. At 5’10’ we might look a little odd to some people (especially your husband)….

But seriously, would it bother you to date shorter men? Would you settle for someone who was 5’10”? I can’t speak for all guys but I would have no problem dating a taller woman. And I would rather have a woman of …a… Sturdy stature, Than a woman who was fragile thin.


We are about the same weight, though you are taller.
I have once lost all my weight and made it down to 185. I was disappointed because even though my stomach muscles were visible, they were not as developed as I would have liked. I was a weight lifter so I thought my 50 to 100 crunches or sit ups would be enough to get a nice stomach after I lost the weight. What I now know is that it takes like 1000 crunches, 1000 crunches with either side and about 1000 vertical knee raises to get the kind of stomach I wanted. Had I done that while I was losing weight I would have managed a very nice physique. Also, my largest motivating factor was to impress a girl. (They can be quite motivating…) My technique was eating smaller more frequent meals ( I did not allowed myself to eat until I worked out that day and so made it the first thing I did every day, 30 minutes on an exercise bike as soon as I rolled out of bed), I ate a lot of fresh fruits & vegetables. I ate little meat, but ate a lot of potatoes (boiled, smashed, micro waved, baked, with beef or chicken bouillon, topped with small amounts of bacon etc…) As time went on it took less food to make me feel full, and then I started to stop eating when I felt full. In about 3 months I lost the bulk of the weight (about 65 lbs) and then every pound became a battle. Of the last few pounds all I can remember is thinking I would never take those last few off until I finally managed it. And then I felt weak all the time.

I kept the weight off for about a year and then slowly came back up to about 210 lbs. ( I stopped feeling weak) The other major disappointment was that despite loosing the weight and getting into the best shape of my life, I still did not get the girl. And then life got complicated and I ended up slowly gaining the weight back over another year. It took me longer to put the weight back on then it did for me to take off if that means anything.

Since life became kind of an emotional roller coaster for me, I stopped working out and eating right. However, my life was just as crazy while I was loosing the weight. My conclusion is that if you are allowing your life to be an emotional roller coaster you are going to gain weight. If you stay disciplined and allow a good diet and exercise to be your anchor, the rest of your life improves. There are no quick fixes, there is no healthy alternative, that is just how it is. The laws of physics about inertia are the same for a healthy life style. A body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion….

The final point is one for responsibility. Nobody put a gun against my head and told me to eat. My choice to eat the foods I did is what put the weight on. Just as it is my choice to stay focused and anchored to diet and exercise. My reaction to an emotional speed bump in life is what knocked me off anchor and set me on the down ward spiral of weight gain. In my mind, to blame others will make it that much harder to get back in the saddle (and it is just not right to blame others for my own imperfections).

Posted by: shipshape on December 14, 2003 06:07 PM

Michael, I think what you say is very true. I lived downtown in a city where I could walk everywhere and I felt much more healthy and trim than I do now. It's much easier to walk to the drugstore/grocery store/whatever than it is to go for a walk to get exercise. And when I moved out to the country, I missed that time alone and moving when I could think and decompress from the day. I often go to town to pick up my kids from school functions and it just annoys me no end when I end up giving friends a ride home who live within sight of the school. And the parents give them rides to school every morning. Aargh.

Shipshape--No, it wouldnt bother me at all to date someone shorter than myself. It would bother me if it bothered him tho. My husband is 5'10" but I dont think of our marriage as "settling" for him. He's also built much smaller than I am. My Dad always said I had "big bones" for a girl. He has learned not to start wrestling matches with me tho because with my long legs, I can flip and pin him everytime.

Any girl my height will tell you it really doesnt matter in the long run. Look for someone you can be friends with first, who makes you laugh and who you enjoy being with and all the rest is secondary, especially in a long term relationship. In twenty years after a couple kids they are going to look very different any way. I gave up early on wishing I could find someone who was taller because, frankly, there arent that many and why limit the field of endeavor? He loves it, by the way, when I kick out the 4 inch heels, put up my hair and dress to the nines, even tho I tower over him.

Posted by: Deb on December 14, 2003 06:54 PM

Hey, I'm 5'9" and married to a six foot tall woman -- very 21st century. Loads of fun, and highly recommended.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 14, 2003 07:02 PM


I think you're right that you have to be a little selfish to stay in shape... I do a good half hour of power yoga a day and almost never accept an invitation to dinner at a friend's house or a restaurant--both of which put up barriers, at least to some extent. But it works! Until about six years ago, I was chonically ill with neverending strep infections and a real maniac for society as well--the only thing that made me feel better was hanging out with others and sliding lots of soothing foods down my tortured throat... I always ate "healthily"--I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 and am addicted to stuff like fruit, vegetables, and bran cereal. Nevertheless, before I had my tonsils out in 1997, I was 5'5" and weighed about 205 lbs. Portions were my problem. I went though a box of cereal a day, and that was just for breakfast! Anyway, since then, I've stabilized at 130 (I am still 5'5")--and that's largely thanks to the fact that I eat the same three meals every single day (+the excercise). My girlfriend thinks it's ludicrous (she can't even watch me eat my nightly oatmeal anymore), but really, food is for powering me through my day--life isn't some damned never-ending taste-test--you settle on what works (I do find all themeals genuinely tasty) and you just go with it. The incredible payoff in energy and flexibility is more than worth the sacrifice of varity, as far as I'm concerned!


Posted by: David Fiore on December 14, 2003 09:33 PM


I don't think there's any one answer. I'm fat myself, truth to tell, and I have no problem carving out time for myself--no matter how much I might resemble your fellow Optifasters in shape.

So why, then, am I fat? I'm naturally sedentary, to begin with (which is how I manage to get through so many books), and I have great difficulty spending any amount of time doing stuff that bores me. Once, for an hour, maybe. Daily? Not on your life. Virtually all regular exercise comes under this heading.

Once upon a time, about ten years ago, I made it a point to do a lot of walking, and did the SlimFast diet. As I recall, I lost maybe ten or fifteen pounds--and that's as far as I could go. It didn't matter, after that, how much I walked or whatever, I just didn't lose any more than that. And frankly, for fifteen pounds it wasn't worth it.

At the same time I have perhaps peculiar religous concerns about dieting--I think that health and fitness has become the primary religion for many people in America. The chief commandments are now Thou Shalt Eat Healthy Food (as if we knew for sure what that was), Thou Shalt Be Fit, and Thou Shalt Not Be Fat. I really think there's a kind of religous zeal behind all of the current press about obesity. Fat people are the new infidels, because they refuse to worship their bodies in the approved way.

As a Christian, I do believe that my body is a temple--but a temple is a venue for worship, not an object of worship.

Posted by: Will Duquette on December 14, 2003 09:56 PM

Well, if anyone does want to take walks without dying of boredom, I heartily recommend listening to audiobooks. I used my music tapes up very quickly, but I'm always interested and entertained listening to a book on tape. I get lots of freebies, but Books on Tape and Blackstone Audiobooks both have good, not-expensive, convenient rental programs too. Given that I love reading, it makes me downright look forward to my 50 minutes of walking every day. Amazed more people don't make use of audiobooks...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 14, 2003 11:04 PM

Vanity works well.

Posted by: David Sucher on December 15, 2003 12:14 AM

"Because they’re not good at focusing on their own needs"

It does seem to me that many moms, espec working moms, don't focus on their own needs either because they don't have time, literally, or because they don't have much time and they feel pressure to be so many things.

Right now, I'm doing some work with a guy who is constantly making remarks about being the "the fat guy." (e.g., "Even the elevator won't come for the fat guy.") And he's not even that heavy. Guess he hit the age where his doc told him about heart disease, or maybe a relative died...

Good luck on your diet.

Posted by: j.c. on December 15, 2003 10:36 AM

Thanks for all the support, guys. The personal stories are always intriguing.

But what I'm not hearing is the answer to my question...people are getting bigger and bigger, and everything I read suggests that there's likely to be a price to be paid over this. Mr. Duquette suggests that weight control is a religion in the U.S., but perhaps that may be because we're genuinely up against a real tough problem here (one of the situations in which religion tends to flourish--check out the rise of Methodism, for example.) We seem to be under siege from stress and junk food (backed up by major marketing dollars). It seems as if something will have to give; either the food-exercise religion will get a lot more widespread and fundamentalist, or else we may see the government trying to intervene here, although whether it could be done effectively seems doubtful. I repeat: I don't see how another 30 years of the American food/weight/fitness trends of the past 30 years is sustainable.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on December 15, 2003 12:55 PM

Friedrich (& Will),

It's true that a temple is a "venue for worship, not an object of worship"--but it's extremely important to keep the temple in good repair! I think I owe it to myself to do as much as I can ensure that I can enjoy the world (that's pretty much the extent of the duties my religion--call it a modern bkend of Epicureanism/Stoicism--makes upon me) for as long as possible. And let's not forget, a lot of the religious traditions governing food (middle eastern strictures against pork, etc) were designed primarily to keep the adherent from making unhealthy choices!


Posted by: David Fiore on December 15, 2003 01:12 PM

How will this play out...??? Perhaps influenza will kill 2/3s of the population and we'll all have to work so hard that no one will be heavy. Maybe the fat folk will go live on the Moon and Mars where extra weight isn't such a strain and the happy martians will welcome their bulky brethren from the third planet. Perhaps a new strain of tapeworm will infect us, and the heart problems associated with obesity will take a backseat to the heart problems associated with the stress of a parasite load. Perhaps new and better console games will make us forget to eat. Perhaps fake, yet yummy snacks will become plentiful.

Drunk driving is down. Smoking has been thoroughly demonized (far beyond reason). Perhaps enough talk about health risks, and seeing old folks lose their sight and their feet to diabetic complications will make diet-n-exercise a social norm.

On the other hand, we're still wildly in love with air travel and the automobile...

Really. Could anyone have any idea how this will play out?

I do know of several cost-benefit studies designed to show that lipo is, in the long run, cheaper than not lipo. Can't imagine already strained county health budgets going for this, though - and not just because of potential liability issues. The data is, when you try to drill down, a bit slippery. It's fairly easy to show that a population with X-percent obesity will have a dramatic increase in a large set of expensive health issues and not that difficult to do the dollar math. It's quite another to pick out which of the people will have those problems.

A number of cancers are associated with obesity. It would be interesting if, instead of urging people to wear ribbons, ad and "awareness" dollars were spent reminding folks to watch what they eat.

Posted by: j.c. on December 15, 2003 05:27 PM

Technology to the rescue!

At my YMCA, they have some exercise bikes with built-in touchpanels that can function as Internet access stations. When I go to the Y, I do 40 minutes on one of these bikes, and it's 40 minutes of Websurfing, which I'd do anyway. Not quite as good as surfing from home - I can't save pages or file bookmarks, but it kills the boredom factor stone dead. The bikes are LifeCycle 9500HRs, and the touchpanel attachment is called "NetPulse".

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on December 15, 2003 09:33 PM

An interesting WSJ article about Sweden, which has put a lot of sensible-sounding policies in place: more exercise for kids, warning labels, teaching people how to cook ... Upshot: kids are still getting fatter.

Read all about it here.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 15, 2003 10:47 PM

Here's a fringe theory: maybe it really *is* an epidemic. There were news stories a while ago about an infection which caused domestic animals (chickens) to have a longterm ability to put on more fat with less food. The infection wasn't found in people, but fat people were more likely to have the antibodies for it.

And here's one that's perhaps less fringey--maybe the current situation of weight-gain is a result of dieting plus easy access to high-density food. I've heard so many accounts of "every time I dieted, I lost weight, and then I gained it back plus 25 pounds, but when I quit dieting, my weight stabilized". It may even be that the children of women with a history of dieting have famine-oriented metabolisms.

As for what to do, maybe there will be a medical solution other than a diet pill. Not everyone who's fat gets heart disease or diabetes, and it might be easier to beat those vulnerabilities than to make weight loss easy.

Posted by: Nancy Lebovitz on December 17, 2003 09:10 AM

I think that the assumption that food is "overavailable" needs to be critically examined.

The main difference I see during the period of American weight gain is the shift from food being prepared inside the home to purchased outside (the tipping point came in about '94). So is the question abundance, or the source and quality?

I don't say this to suggest that we return to home cooking, but to question the "programming towards excess" theory that always suggests a justification for social control. I would point, instead, towards the need for a real (concious) revolution in the social production of food.

You can read my more expanded thoughts here.

Posted by: the Red Chef on December 17, 2003 11:58 AM

Did I read that correctly? Did someone just throw out the concept that maybe one can "catch" fat? Let me clarify the issue for you. You can't "catch" fat. You get fat by consuming more calories through food and drink than you burn through physical activity. The TYPE of food you consume to excess matters little. Heck, pay me $30 and I'll have you drop 30 pounds in two months on the Twix Candybar diet. You'll look near to death warmed over but you'll be 30 pounds lighter! I concede that am in no position to argue. I am a lifetime fat woman. A couple of years ago I lost about 52 pounds and I've maintained that. The punchline to that statement is that even with the weight loss, I'm STILL fat and need to lose another 40. We are all individuals, but for me food is just too enjoyable and the rewards of weight loss too few to drastically restrict my intake or increase my physical activity (I guess I'd have to do that after preparing supper - no, wait - after cleaning up the kitchen after supper - no, wait, after putting the kids to bed . . .). I will say this, though. Being on Phen-Fen a few years back was a dream. I simply didn't give food a thought when I was on those little beauties. No heart troubles, either. I'd take it again in a . . . well . . .heartbeat.

Posted by: smilin_eyes on June 9, 2004 02:54 PM

I'm fat, and from what I can see, no exceptions, being fat is just one of the consequneces of liking food too much, and consuming more than is necessary to maintain health and weight, while at the same time being too lazy to deal with that consequence by exercising. Why do people have a problem with this? Fat people seem to be forever asking to justify why they don't do enough exercise, why they eat too much. As if there is some deep psychological reason that needs to be explored and endlessly analysed. It's simple. We eat too much because we enjoy eating. We don't exercise enough because exercising, at least the amount we would have to do to offset excess eating, is tiring, boring, timeconsuming etc and because we can't be bothered.

Posted by: debbie on July 11, 2004 11:53 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?