Friday, March 11, 2011

It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)


It appears we might be meeting my old friend 200 sometime next week. I am not ruling out seeing 205 one last time. It's just the way it works since binge day is upon us tomorrow. I am now below what I was last week at this time by about 1.4 lbs. If I wind up at 2 lbs lost, I will be content.

By the way, I am not making light of anything with the name of the post today, it seemed fitting. I don't believe in that whole Incan calendar, rapture is around the corner stuff but like I said on FB today, I am beginning to reconsider my position on the matter. Upon hearing that 88,000 people are missing in Japan this afternoon, I hope God doesn't have another shoe to drop as quakes seem to have been marching their way around the Pacific basin over the past few weeks. After the destruction of Christchurch, New Zealand, a tremor in Hawaii and two major earthquakes in Japan, I hope the march willl stop instead of heading directly and inevitably toward the west coast of the U.S.. God save us all.


So I got a bit slammed for a Facebook post I made concerning the death of the morbidly obese spokesman for the Heart Attack Grille - world famous for their ridiculously huge burgers and scantily clad waitresses.

12 News (local channel) posted this:

"In light of the untimely death of 29-year-old Blair River, 575 lbs spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill, have we reached a point in our culture where it's inappropriate to celebrate gluttony as an American virtue?"

I posted this in response:

"God rest this man's soul. But as Critser so eloquently notes in his book "Fatland", obesity exponentially kills more people than bulimia and anorexia combined. We have become a society that exalts morbid obesity. This gentleman is not the first to die because someone decided to enable him rather than help him. There is a growing list. Big Pun, the rapper, died because of constant overeating because, frankly, obesity is even more exalted in some hip hop circles. Rarely does a year pass by without Oprah hiring a forklift to remove some poor soul from their house to be paraded on national television.

Speaking of mass media, haven't there been a number of sitcoms with obese men and women? Aren't there several TV channels that deal with food alone and often to the point of showing gluttony half the time? Doesn't this have the same damaging effect as print media, which celebrates thinness and lambastes the obese, by telling us it is okay to be gluttonous or waddle around our environs perpetually? If magazines and media ads featuring the thin or airbrushed really had such a profound effect on weight loss we wouldn't be the most obese nation on earth. By the way, anorexia and morbid obesity can have certain things in common. Certain people fail to see their body image correctly. Where anorexics see themselves as fat, some segments of our obese nation, see themselves as just fine as fat is slowly strangling their internal organs. In 2009 there were 218 deaths from anorexia. Deaths directly related to obesity? 112,000."

Oh man did that cause a bit of a storm, here was one of the responses:

I like man vs food its a cool show I have learn where to eat good food around az n las vegas and cali if u r disgusted by the show just dont watch it."

I like that show and many others like it but isn't this guy missing the point a bit? This guy is actually trying to equate gastronomy with gluttony. Isn't the half pound burger enough without resorting to eating a five pound burger?

And another response:

This is America, land of the free.. he made his own choices. We certainly do not need government telling us what to eat or how much we are allowed to eat. I am an adult. Maybe if the government put more effort into smoking or DUI/DWI instead of how many Twinkies a person had to eat this month, we as a nation would be a heck of a lot better off."

Oh so it's okay to regulate and prosecute everyone else's sins (smoking) but not yours. Got ya. Hmmm I am highly suspect of anyone being able to make their own choices when they are getting paid to make the wrong ones. Some people can't choose properly at all and that's when the trouble begins - add the root of all evil to it and bam! Also lots of people make choices; suicide victims, self mutilation etc. Does that mean we should stop trying to help those people as well?

What's funny is how many obese white people brought up anorexia and bulimia and young girls and unhealthy images in magazines in that thread. As a whole, those two illnesses are rarely found in ethnic communities where obesity is most prevalent in our society but it is the first thing screamed to the high heavens when the white folks hear that someone is going to grab that twinkie from their cold dead hands. Are they afraid if they start eating right they will suddenly develop a psychological disorder that will transform them into Karen Carpenter? The fatter and whiter you are, the more likely you are to scream fire at the BBQ. Once I was apprised of that notion, I have noticed it everywhere.

Now that is not to be disparaging of people who are overweight, I don't think that is right at all. I don't think people should have to endure discrimination because they are overweight. People come in all shapes and sizes - naturally. I will, however, call you out if you are complaining about having to purchase two airline seats for your ginormous ass as you down two value meals at the gate - that's unnatural.

Obviously, some people can't help being overweight and some people just need guidance but to die at the age of 29 from the flu because you weigh 575 lbs is just a sad state of affairs. I think if more people knew how much the calories have grown in the food they eat over the past 20 years, they still wouldn't make the right choices.

Everyone seems reticent to face the facts and no one seems to be helping, including the government who should just stay away from what we eat altogether (I have to agree in part to that one response). The government has done such an absolute piss poor job due to lack of funding and corporate lobbying that it has no right to tell anyone what they should eat whatsoever. If, as an authoritative entity, you change the country's recommended diet more than a half dozen times because you can't figure it out, how on earth would we trust anything you say to be true for more than 5 minutes?

By the way, to clarify something: anorexia is not only an eating disorder, it is a mental illness and no amount of fat people on the cover of Vogue or Cosmo will reverse this fact. Air brushed images of the supposed ideal certainly do not help anyone at all, of course. Also, obviously, these unreal pictures could be triggers for susceptible younger women. When you are younger, your brain is still trying to sort it all out because it is still developing. That's why anorexia and the like are often viewed as mental disorders - calling it an eating disorder softens the blow a bit with sophistry. I also think this holds true for the morbidly obese though somewhere in the early part of the last century we quit viewing morbid obesity as an illness. That's a fact.

I had friends in my life that weighed a good bit more than me, like a 100 pounds more, but since I was overweight they felt perfectly fine comparing themselves to me because they viewed themselves as my size even at times when I was not so overweight. They had a mental fun house mirror in their brain that I just didn't. I have never been morbidly obese but man was I fat at moments in my life. I knew this but they didn't seem to have the same self awareness. Though, admittedly, there were times in my life I tried to deny it to myself with phrases like "barrel chested" - yeah right, a barrel of fat! I propose that morbid obesity is almost exactly the same illness as anorexia. Distorted body image? Check. Self esteem issues? Check. Unhealthy eating habits? Check.

It's truly interesting to note, as a nation, we rarely assign the same importance or alarm to morbid obesity as we do anorexia and if you look at the mortality rates, that's just bizarre.


  1. I think we are at a point in the United States where food, and the place it should have in our lives, is hopelessly screwed up. We medicate our pains with food, we hide our worries and anxieties by trading the feeling of being overfull. Think about how a baby is soothed to sleep when its tummy is full. I think it's a primal thing with Americans in these troubled times...

    ...but most Americans are either too stupid or too lazy to realize what they are doing to themselves, that THEY DO HAVE A CHOICE, and that our collective obesity is a national crisis.

    As someone who has struggled with weight issues in one way or another her entire life (far too skinny in my younger days (read between the lines here), far too fat now), I can say that I wish my fellow Americans could realize that all of the answers to life's problems are not found in food. I joined Weight Watchers five weeks ago on a whim, and just in that short time, I have lost eight pounds. I've also gotten a good, hard glimpse at how screwed up my relationship is with food. I've started making better choices. And I will tell you, even with losing just eight measly pounds, I feel DYNAMITE. And I want my compatriots to feel that way, too.

    The thing about Blair River is so sad...but damn, how can anyone be surprised? People here in the Valley are acting like he was some sort of hero. He wasn't. He was a morbidly obese man who was exploited for being that way. End of story.

    Ken and I are going out to Five Guys tonight for supper. We've been looking forward to it all week. It's a TREAT...not a way of life. Sadly, for most Americans, I fear the reverse is true.

    Thanks for listening...LWL

  2. That is like the coolest thing ever. I am so happy for you Laura, I can't see straight. 8 pounds is quite a bit to lose in 5 weeks! I always thought WW was brilliant because it is consistent and accessible to all.

    Five Guys has been one of my go-to's on binge day and it really satisfies my burger craving like no other. The whole binge thing has made me see food in an entirely different light. I don't have this weird entitlement mentality when it comes to food anymore. "Well, I worked really hard today so I deserve that quarter of a pumpkin cheesecake pie!" I think it has forced me to make better choices, just like you.

    Last weekend was an experiment in making as many bad choices as possible and I succeeded. Now that it is behind me, my biggest craving is sushi this week and quite a few other things that are actually good for me. The hardest part is to eat something on Saturday that I am not supposed to eat during the week. Another hard part is that my stomach and body have shrunken; it makes it so much harder to pack it all in anymore. I just can't eat like I used to and that is such a good thing.

    I love what you said about how we, as Americans, view food. I try to teach my kids that food is like drugs or medicine. What you eat determines how you feel a lot of times. Eat to live, not live to eat. For a long time I lived to eat.

  3. personal greatest weakness. You obviously haven't witnessed the disgusting spectacle of Laura Eating Sushi. Trust me, I can throw down...Japanese Style!

    And I gave it up for Lent.