Being Kind To Ourselves

I’ve been following a health writer for a couple of weeks, ever since his Facebook page caught my eye and made me look. I’m about done following, but only because of the repetition, not the content. The content is right up my alley.

And when I say health writer, I mean fitness. And he means business, and more power to him. He focuses mostly on eating and weight control, which is what most of us focus on when we talk about fitness. He doesn’t tolerate obvious bullshit, and he calls out some of the less obvious kind. It’s usually a fun (if profane) read. I’m just kind of over it by now. It’s like looking in the mirror, and who wants to do that all the time?

He doesn’t seem to be aiming for a particular demographic, although life pretty much sorts us anyway. A 40-something person who notices the bulges increasing and the exercise tolerance going the other way might panic a bit, but they know it’s not too late. They might be ultimately unsuccessful, but there’s time to change.

An older person might be less interested in change, understandably; time is starting to appear limited, and being miserable is no way to wrap up an existence. Better to go out with chocolate cake crumbs on your shirt and a big grin on your face. I’m right there with you.

But I appreciate his takedowns of the diet industry and the devastation of hope it engenders. It’s hard to get control over food and weight, particularly if you’re coming to the party late. Better to not beat yourself up and understand where the difficulties lie, and be honest about what they are. It seems to me, anyway. And him.

I get the grasping at diet straws aspect. In the 1990s, it was all about fat: Fat makes you fat, and it was the enemy. A decade later, Dr. Atkins had made his comeback and carbs got the stink eye, something that hasn’t left us yet. I have big problems with this still, having been thoroughly indoctrinated to stay away from a major macronutrient, probably to my detriment.

Oddly enough, though, I’ve come full circle. I’m not calling anything the enemy, but of the three macros (fat, protein, carbs) it’s pretty obvious which is the culprit. A gram of fat contains more than twice the calories of the other two, and calories are the ballgame. They always have been, regardless of what you’re eating or how you’re eating it. There are plenty of arguments against this; all of them are specious, too. Math may be hard but it’s not particularly flexible.

I say we cut ourselves some slack, then. My wife and her Fitbit have been off to the races this week, and it’s heartening, mostly because of her heart (which I want as healthy as possible). As I mentioned the other day, I’m apparently finally learning to eat like a grownup. Both of these changes might add a few years to our lives, although a casual look at The Morbidity Channel and that seems like a dice roll: Maybe less anxiety and more joy is the lesson here, since disease or drunk drivers don’t really care about a good diet or slim figure. We should probably care, but moderation in all things, etc.

Chuck SigarsComment