Drop and Give You Twenty? What, Now?

February 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm (Uncategorized)

So I guess we’ve established that my nana doesn’t like big butts (and cannot lie), but you might be interested to know my granddad was similarly inclined (we used to play an unusual form of SNAP! watching TV together, whereby anytime one of us spotted a choice specimen, we’d shout ‘Fatso!’at the screen), and if I’m to be completely honest, so am I. I’m not proud of my own intolerance, I think it’s one of my least attractive qualities, but I know myself well enough to know I am an incurable fatist. I just hate fat, I really do. I hate my own (what’s with that area under my arms, anyway?), and I hate other people’s. I don’t like looking at it. I don’t like the fact that it exists, at all but especially not to the alarming degree to which it dominates contemporary society. I think it’s pretty obvious it’s not the way things are supposed to be. Look at the human form throughout history, and one thing you won’t find is any evidence that we’re designed to be porkers. Nope. That’s just something NEW! WITH EXTRA CHEESE! that’s happened in Western society now we’re all so horribly , horribly comfortable. You may recall that some time ago, I blogged about my particular loathing of obese children (I blame the parents) in a post entitled Pass the Butter, Daddy, and it’s still something that continues to get my goat. In Australia, obesity is a very scary and very scarily apparent epidemic. We go on and on and on about being a great sporting nation, but the truth is, we’re a nation full of sports spectators. There’s a key difference, but yeah, get me another beer at the next ad break, would ya, and did you order that pizza?

So I exercise. I’ve always been a huge walker, I love walking, and one day I’ll probably walk one of those freaky across-the-continent walks for charity (note to self: this is actually a good idea…and I could write about it!), but ever since my metabolism started slowing down (London, 1999-2001, surrounded by pints of lager and hot chips), I’ve started running. Not because I’m being chased by the Hamburglar,  but because I want to outrun the fat. I’m determined to outrun the fat. And the reason I run is because I love my food and wine. I love cheese. Pate. Pastries both savoury and sweet. Pasta. Potatoes. Prawns. And yes, pizza. I didn’t realise until now that many of my favourite foods start with the letter ‘P.’ Including peaches. And pistachios. Hey, it’s even the same with wine! Pinot! This is getting weird. Anyway, I loathe the thought of giving up life’s tasty treats, so these days I run anywhere from 25-35 kms a week so that I can shove pretty much anything into my face and get away with it. That’s the deal I make with my inner greedy guts. And so far, so good. I eat well, I run well, I’m generally a pretty healthy chick.

But man, it’s never going to end, is it?! When I first started running, I was living in Clapham and couldn’t even make it down one length of the Common without collapsing headfirst into a pile of dung crying and wheezing and praying for an airlift out of there. I was still a smoker back then, so I was confident of dropping dead. These days I’m much more comfortable pounding the pavement, but just this week I have introduced a few sit-ups and push-ups (40/30) into my post-run routine, because I finally believe Llew. He’s been telling me for years that running won’t help my arms or my gut, and it seems he’s right. Drat and tarnation. I was hoping to get away with that one too (see what’s emerging here?). Yes, I am what you’d call a lazy fit person. I make myself go. I force myself. It’s a total trade-off scenario. I do this, so that I can do this. And it’s only recently occurred to me that this is the way it’s going to be FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. I think I’ve been stumbling along thinking one day I’d be able to stop exercising. Hey, aren’t we done here? C’mon! I’ve been good! I’ve run the stupid run! I sat up! What more do you want? And I think a little tiny part of me thought I’d be able to punch out someday. But now I know. It’s never going to happen. I’m going to have to exercise for as long as I live. 


I just can’t figure out if this is a good thing to know or a really, really bad one. Part of me is depressed by the thought of all that future exertion, it makes me feel tired and like hiding somewhere dark and cool where the naturally sporty people can’t find me, but another part of me is also strangely exhilarated. I always feel fucking fantastic after I make myself go. But it’s a constant battle, and make no mistake: I really do make myself go. And that, my friends, is just how it’s got to be.



  1. Lilian Nattel said,

    Watch out for your knees. They may not make forever running like that. Have you thought of something low impact?

  2. Miriam said,

    I know! The exercise realisation! Isn’t it horrible! (except for about 2 hours after the gym/run/whatever, when it seems like lunacy to not want to do that (or, more accurately, to have already done it) over and over again forever).

    We never finished our fatism convo that day in sydney, which is probably a good thing, because if it had kept going my anti-anti-fat campaigner would have come out of the closet and started sprouting Health At Any Size links. My friend has a fat acceptance blog through which I found this site: http://kateharding.net/ (and esp this page: http://kateharding.net/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/). The site is run by a really good writer, whether or not you agree with her message.

  3. doctordi said,

    I like to think my knees will go the distance because I didn’t really use them for the first 27 years of my life… I didn’t play sport as a child, or as a teen, or as a young adult (unless you count playing pool at the uni bar), so where most friends my age have at least one sports-related injury from their wild and crazy youth, I’ve emerged remarkably unscathed, intact, and raring to go. Walking is low impact, right…? And I’ve recently purchased some swimming goggles. I may not have actually taken them out of their packaging yet, but I HAVE THEM. I’m lap ready. And that’s what counts. I’m thinking about it!

    And yes, M, it’s a truly hideous realisation. I feel slightly put out about it. Hey, that page was really funny, and well written, and made some good points, but I think it’s interesting she steers well clear of the uncomfortable fact that people ARE fatter now than ever before in the history of humankind. That’s not a coincidence. That’s not evolution. That’s TV, computers and computer games, drive-through, fast food, too many cars, not enough walkers (or cyclists), lifts, escalators, moving walkways (moving WALKWAYS, people, for crying out loud!!), remote control, pre-prepared meals, junk, more junk, still more junk, both to eat and to make life “easier,” together with still more ways of never having to move your own goddamn fat arse or lift your own goddamn fat fingers to do a goddamn thing.

  4. Miriam said,

    I knew she’d covered that before, it took me some trawling to find a post, but luckily I am a procrastinatory mofo happy to wile away my employer’s time and resources on a friday afternoon. more linky goodness: http://kateharding.net/2008/06/05/fat-genes-and-environment/
    I think the last line of her email covers it well: ‘If we were able to look beyond obesity hysteria and increase people of all sizes’ access to nutritious unprocessed food and active leisure activities, we might end up with a population that’s a bit less fat, in addition to being a lot more healthy. (I know which one I think is more important; official voices tend to disagree.) But that’s a far cry from saying that everyone can potentially be equally skinny, don’t you think?’

  5. doctordi said,

    Okay, my dear procrastinating mofo, I know there’s a difference between large people who are large because that’s the way they’re built, and it doesn’t mean they’re lazy or unhealthy, and those people who are large because of their shocking diet and absolute aversion to exercise. I totally give you that, no argument. But in a society such as ours, ‘access’ is part of the problem, isn’t it?! We’ve got ACCESS to everything, probably too many things in my view. Too many choices. Too many ‘time-savers.’ Too much of everything. It’s not a LACK OF ACCESS precluding people from eating nutritious unprocessed food and/or engaging in leisure activities – those options are there too, if you can just catch sight of them past the golden arches and the strip malls.

  6. Miriam said,

    but, okay, but… leaving aside the socio-economic factors that mean people can’t always access affordable nutritious unprocessed food, and don’t always have the luxury of time to do a bunch of active leisure activities (or safe parks to run around, or a local gym, or a city designed for pedestrians), leaving that stuff aside, how do you know which ones are the ‘good’ fatties (who are just large because they are) and which ones are the bad, stuffing their faces while staring at the box fatties, if you go around hating all fat people?

    you know I’m thinking of my friend here, who has to put up with so much societal and personal shit for something she manifestly can’t control. it makes me sad.

  7. doctordi said,

    Hey! Just a second there! I didn’t say I go around hating all fat people, I said I go around hating all FAT! I hate FAT, not fat people. I hate fat on my food, too, by the way. It’s a general distaste for the thing that is fat, the way some people don’t like the texture of, I don’t know, custard. I cut it off and leave it on the side of my plate. I roll it into my napkin at cocktail parties. It makes me gag when I feel a lump of fat in my mouthful of food. I just don’t like fat. And I think it’s total bullshit, the worst kind of BS, that most people in this country don’t have access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables, and access to cheap leisure pursuits (we are GIRT by sea, it’s EVERYWHERE, and a large proportion of Australians live close enough to get to it, and it’s free, as is the footpath for walking and running, which is more than I can say for Gameboys and Wii and whatever the fuck else everyone’s just GOTTA HAVE). It’s just crap. My weekly food bill from Harris Farm Markets is a lot less than it would cost keeping us in KFC and frozen food for a week.

  8. Miriam said,

    Okay, not hating all fat people, I shouldn’t have said that. my point was just that by casting judgment on fat, universally and in relation to other people’s bodies, you make a lot of assumptions that might be unfair, and that judgment impacts on people in very personal ways. what about the fat people reading your blog? and the socio-economic links to fat might have as much to do with education as access (in this country at least – I think it’s different in the US), but that still comes back to people having very different circumstances, and it being impossible to judge what circumstances led to what bit of fat on someone’s body.

  9. doctordi said,

    I guess I’m hoping that people who read this blog will remember that I said right at the start of it that I’m not at all proud of my own intolerance. I have friends and family who are overweight, and I don’t think this will be a discussion they’ll enjoy reading, and I don’t enjoy knowing that. But that unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that I do have issues, my own issues, with fat. And I think it does everyone a disservice if we get into a scenario where someone can’t be honest about that. I know that it sometimes leads me to make an unfair judgement about another person, and I’m sorry for that, because it’s as much a problem of mine, surely, that I feel so strongly about it. I’m a seriously flawed person; I think nasty thoughts about people sometimes, nasty, judging thoughts, and I know those people don’t deserve that even if they are overweight because they’re doing all the wrong things. They don’t deserve it because frankly it’s none of my fucking business, and what would I know about their circumstances? I was more talking about my own attitude to my own fitness and my own battle to stay one step ahead. Easy for me, you say, educated, beach-dwelling, able to eat well, exercise, and all the rest of it, but I guess I was trying to point out that shit, it’s not that easy for me, and that these are choices I make every single day, and they require work and dedication. And I think that’s true for a lot of people who want to stay this side of the scales. I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘Oh well, it’s okay for you, you’re slim,’ and what I most wanted to express is gee, guys, that’s because I run approximately 30 kilometres a week and I eat properly. No accident. No coincidence.

  10. litlove said,

    You’re going to love me – I’m 5′ 7″ and 8 stone. That means no body fat to speak of. None. I discovered the perfect diet about ten years ago called Chronic Fatigue Plus Lots of Worry, and boy does it work. If you ever want to forego exercise, you can do it my way, if you like. Although, saddest of all, it doesn’t exactly bypass exercise because I would still like to be fit.

    To be fair, I found that giving up yeast and suger made huge differences to my energy levels and is also a way to never put on a pound. But it does mean giving up stuff and I would never, ever, take food pleasures away from other people. There’s too much obsession about that already. Moderation in everything is good, though.

  11. litlove said,

    It really does help to read the previous comments, doesn’t it? Doctordi, Miriam, I think you are both right in your different ways, and that there is no real incompatibility between your statements. Miriam, you are right that we are born with a genetic inheritance that we didn’t ask for and will have to deal with for the rest of our lives, but Di is right too, that no matter what we were given, we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies and put whatever effort in that we can to eat healthily and to exercise and stay well. We can slot your thoughts together and compile them as ‘overcoming disadvantages’ – we all have disadvantages that need recognition, but overcoming them, to whatever extent, is one of the great powers of the human race and cause for pride and admiration. Here’s hoping that science and technology keep finding new ways to help us out on that journey.

  12. doctordi said,

    And parents owe it to the children they bring into the world to instill healthy eating and exercising habits in the home. These kids I see every day now were an absolute anomaly when I was a child myself, and there’s just no way it’s not going to be harder for them later on. I also baulk at the socio-economic argument, because I think it’s really incredibly insulting and paternal to say ‘Oh well, that’s different, they’re just too poor and ill-educated to eat well and exercise.’ Sport is one of the great outlets and escape routes for kids from tough beginnings (mine was school), and there are too many parents struggling too hard to improve their children’s prospects to make that idea that they’re somehow not quite capable of keeping up with the recommended program of diet and exercise totally suspect as well as kind of rude. There are also too many obese people across every band of society for obesity to be something that fits neatly into a middle class, highly educated person’s stereotype of the problem.

    And in fact, from what you’re saying, Litlove, you’re someone who’s really very slim but not necessarily because you’re fit and healthy. Losing weight due to acute stress is not exactly ideal, after all. Stress is one of the most dangerous factors affecting human health in the world today, being as it is a powerful trigger for all sorts of internal strife. Bodies react to stress, and to poor diet, and to a lack of movement, and to all sorts of other things, and yes, I am all for everyone overcoming their disadvantages, whatever they be.

  13. Miriam said,

    Oh bugger, how did I become a paternalistic enemy of the people, all I wanted to say was that fat people shouldn’t be automatically judged and mocked. You’re right Di, I have no empirical insight into the socio-economic factors behind the ‘obesity crisis’ – perhaps there aren’t any and it’s all part of the media hysteria around the issue. And litlove, I totally agree, both about everything in moderation and about taking care of our bodies to improve on the genetic lottery – I just think the world would be a happier place if those things were more firmly tied to health, rather than thinness.

  14. doctordi said,

    I have no argument with that, girls. There are plenty of whippet thin people out there who are suffering from potentially fatal eating disorders, or disease, or treatment to combat disease, or nervous tension, or any of the other many explanations, quite apart from good health, of why a person may be slim. And health is the primary issue, you’re right. I just know my own body well enough to know that if it’s carrying an extra layer of fat, it’s because I’m not healthy. But I do know that’s not a universal measure, and I do try not to automatically judge (I don’t really go in for mocking).

  15. davidrochester said,

    Interesting comment thread … it’s one of those issues that’s so emotionally charged, for so many reasons. I am pretty appalled by the kids I see, not necessarily because they’re overweight, but because they look unhealthy, and they look burdened by their extra weight. That’s not good, and there is something off-putting about it.

    I know the flip side of the coin, too; my mother is at least 100 pounds overweight, and she is, statistically, healthier than I am, with low blood pressure, low cholesterol, blood sugar on the low end of normal, and very healthy eating habits. People assume she’s both lazy and stupid, because she’s overweight … and that’s unfair and just plain wrong. She exercises daily, and is one of the most energetic people I’ve ever seen.

    But it’s hard to tell, at a glance, who is fat because Mother Nature and genetic predisposition dealt them a crappy metabolic hand, and who’s lazy and passive about health. It’s hard to know whether to be universally accepting, or universally censuring, or take it on a case by case basis, which is hard to do without asking some awkward questions. And it’s not human nature to just not judge people at all. We do judge. We just do. I do it … not about fat people, but about fashion choices. I will often gauge someone’s intelligence based on how well he or she is put together. I mean, how ridiculous is that? But I do it.

  16. doctordi said,

    And your mum sounds like plenty of people I know, which does help me be less of a judging maniac, because I know perfectly well size isn’t always an accurate indicator of health. But the child obesity epidemic really does distress me. It looks all wrong. You can see it’s not proportionate, it’s not comfortable, it’s not right. And they are going to be loaded with health issues later on. The size of this problem is a constant shock to me and it makes me less tolerant.

    That makes me laugh. I make a bunch of assumptions about people on the street based on any number of factors, including size, dress, and the number of visible tough stickers. I catch myself doing it and am absolutely appalled by my own behaviour (how would I like it? Not so much), but I find it impossible to stop. It’s comforting to know that they too are probably doing the same to me.

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