Copyright Linda Marcas 2003 - All Rights Reserved
Fit or Fat, Forget It!
Have you been avoiding your bathroom scale lately, and fretting about
how many pounds you put on over the holidays? Do you hop out of the
shower and get dressed before the steam on the mirrors dissipates and
reveals your pasty white flab? Does the sight of a baked potato send you
running from the room in a tizzy of lust and guilt, and is "cheese" only
something you say when you can't avoid having your picture taken? Are
you planning to start, starting, on, cheating on, or falling off a diet? I'm not
Ever since JFK started the President's Council on Physical Fitness
back in the 1960s, Americans have been getting steadily fatter, year after
year. We're a nation of couch potatoes, with statistics that estimate forty to
sixty-five percent of the population to be overweight. People sue fast-food
companies, claiming that the words "would you like fries with that?"
somehow hypnotized them into gaining 300 pounds. Yeah, right.
There are low-fat diets, no-carb diets, no-cholesterol snacks, stomach-
stapling centers, nutritionists and fitness gurus dishing out advice on the
noonday news, memberships at gyms, Slim-Fast, Dexatrim, Weight
Watchers, Jenny Craig, the Abdomenizer, and Buns of Steel. The experts
argue about the food pyramid, about which diets work, about which diets
work in the long run, and about whether aerobics are better than weight
training. Tae-Bo or Pilates, fats or carbs, calorie counting or behavior
modification, I'm tired of it all.
Human beings are contrary entities; there is nothing that makes us
want to do something more than somebody telling us we shouldn't do it, and
nothing that makes us resist doing things as much as someone telling us we
should. In my experience, the minute you say to yourself, "I'm on a diet!" is
the minute you start obsessing about food: when may you eat, what may you
eat, how much may you eat, etc., and, sometimes literally, ad nauseam.
I think we should give the entire issue a rest, just to see what happens.
Let's have a media moratorium on all topics dealing with fitness and weight
issues, for the next ten years. We'd still have diets and fitness centers and all
the rest of it, but we wouldn't have any talk shows, news reports, or
advertising about it all, and I'd be writing this column about some other
national obsession that just seems to keep making things worse, like anti-
smoking campaigns or the War on Drugs.
It might, after ten years, turn out that the weight on our hips and
thighs is more the weight of our guilt rather than the weight of our meals;
even if it isn't, we probably wouldn't be any worse off than we are now, after
forty years of ever-increasing fitness conciousness and obesity statistics.
"It's not what you're eating, it's what's eating you" might be truer than the
experts think, and non-stop, nation-wide nagging sends us all running for the
Haagen-Dazs. Food is good, and it's nice to be able to have some every day,
which is a privilege that many people in the world don't have. Other than
that, fit or fat, forget it!
love letters or hate mail? firstname.lastname@example.org