American Bodies: White Lies

“I cannot tell a lie” attributed to a young George Washington has always represented American values. Thus why during the recent Presidential campaign didn’t we object to the obvious prevarications from the candidates? Is this a possible explanation of how we have changed? Physically and also emotionally.

The body damage from obesity is obvious, but issues of the psyche are buried. The impact of 50 years of dieting on our bodies and minds has to be examined. The weight loss business is big and powerful: more than 100 million dieters account for healthy revenues of $64 billion. Obviously, the most famous and the richest and the smartest woman in America wouldn’t invest in a loser business.

Dieting is a game that has its own special rules- most of them unspoken. Dieters know never to blame any diet program for their failures. Dieting is a serial activity: starting several every year, each lasting no more than three weeks, is a typical pattern. The odds of winning at losing are worse than in Vegas. Enter the coping mechanism; lying, dieting’s sidekick. How else to field the questions about what and how often and how much that dieters confront in weight loss meetings? Unlike AA, the evidence of failure is visible. Despite all of this failure and anxiety, dieting is also addictive. We don’t give up. We hear about losing 20 pounds in a flash- an obvious lie- but still we’re ready to try it. People still watch Biggest Loser knowing the contestants will regain the pounds. It’s a lie. It’s Fake News. Fake. Fat. Who cares?

The majority of Americans have played the dieting game or have friends and family who have. This reality of failure weighs on us all. The sin of gluttony leads to shame and defensiveness. As a defense, lying becomes easier to do. Why care that politicians lie, they are just people and most are not winning any looks contests either. If you don’t pay attention, there’s no elephant in the room.


American Bodies: Diet Recipes

It’s hard to understand why people with food issues just gobble up diet recipes. Don’t they know that spending hours in the kitchen trying to make tasty food without salt, sugar, butter, wine and cream is stress producing? And how do dieters deal with stress? Don’t ask.

Anyway, diet recipe books have always been a staple of the industry, the kind of profitable side dish that publishers give thanks for. Dieters buy them because they believe that there is something magical in the recipe beyond just some saved calories. Not logical, but….

Even though millions of cook books are sold, the facts are that home cooks typically prepare the same few dishes using familiar, trusted recipes. But this reality doesn’t deter dieters: they willingly shop for extra, unfamiliar ingredients. Spend too much time preparing and then tasting these complicated, untried recipes (the tastes don’t count in their daily allotment). But all of this effort to save calories is rewarded because you can then eat MORE!

Analysis note: In “saving” 110 calories, the skinny version has triple the carbs, an additional 280mg of sodium and half the protein. Fat-free Half-and-half is corn syrup followed by two thickening agents (carrageenan and guar gum)!

Is this an improvement, then? No, and what about the taste? While it may be acceptable, the problem is that it doesn’t taste anything like Fettuccine Alfredo! What follows the disappointment is more eating of something that satisfies. Hello Haagen-Dasz Double Chocolate Chip Fudge.


American Bodies: Protection

Good news for the IRA! The Wall Street Journal recently issued a report that more than 40 percent of police officers, firefighters, and security officers are obese. An FBI study found that eight-out-of-10 police officers are overweight. In fact, police officers, firefighters and security guards have the highest rates of obesity of all professions, according to data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Looks like we need to build our own arsenals if our professional protectors can’t run and tackle the bad guys. Is that why we are shooting first?

For the IRA the latest obesity stats might be the ammunition- a veritable shot in the arm- to convince us that we need to own a gun- or several. Did you know that American gun owning households have declined from a high in 1978 of 51% to the current 32%. Before you run out to buy a gun, think about if the bad guys are fat then they can’t run either. One cancels out the other!

It is different for firefighters, they have to climb ladders and carry down bodies to safety regardless of the sizes. Not all however; the case of the 800lb woman who couldn’t fit through her door was solved when the fire department ripped out her window and used a giant crane to haul her down.

The obesity problem extends to our Military. In the past, an Army spokesperson said that drill sergeants could run extra weight off new recruits, but now, there are people trying to enlist who are more than 50 pounds overweight. The pool from which the military may draw upon for recruits is nearly 30% smaller due to obesity. Fortunately, we are downsizing our armed forces just in time. Although we have the most expensive and largest Military in the world — bigger than the next seven countries combined — President Trump says we need to spend more money. Since we won’t be hiring real people, we can spend on more robots and equipment. Good news is that their repairs are easier than with human ones.


American Bodies: What’s Your Wellness IQ?

  1. It’s important to eat healthy. I’ll try any diet — vegan, paleo, gluten-free — until I get it right.

Your body is not a lab so stop experimenting! Choose homeostasis over hype. Don’t mess with your body’s balance or it won’t recalibrate the next time.

2. For proper hydration, it’s important to drink as much water as you can. 64 ounces is a minimum.

You didn’t get the memo? Everything you swallow has water in it. Please only drink our most precious resource if you are thirsty!

3. If you’re not sweating, you’re not exercising hard enough! Feel the burn!

You don’t need to feel death around the corner to appreciate life. Same goes for exercise. If you want to beat yourself up then play for the NFL.

4. Thinner thighs mean a plate of kale over a handful of fried chips. If you eat healthy, you can eat more.

Every time you stretch your stomach you’re only hungrier the next time — no matter what you eat. Heaping portions of kale is still gluttony. It’s just green.

5. Eating three meals a day is so old school. It’s better to eat every couple of hours to keep your metabolism humming.

Your digestive system can’t work 24/7. Give your tired body a rest, and it will detox naturally. No cleanses needed.

6. BMI is the most authoritative, accurate tool out there to determine whether you’re obese. Using a mirror can be tricky.

The BMI says a 5’6” female weighing 185 pounds is not obese! Why? Because the average American woman is 5’4” and weighs 163.

7. Exercise is my religion. People that are obese just need to eat healthy and exercise harder.

Extreme exercise makes a big appetite even more voracious. Save yourself from eating more calories than you burned in the first place. And be nice to your joints.

8. Gluten-free, sugar free and fat free are always smarter choices for everyone.

Step 1. Eat what you hate.

Step 2. Rebel then binge

Step 3. Enter ensuing cycle of pleasure and guilt.

Step 4. Research another diet regimen/superfood.

Step 5. Repeat.

Break the cycle. Don’t let labels rule you!

Have you been health washed to believe every “wellness” article or “study” ? It’s time to recalibrate and give common sense a chance. The best approach is to adopt some healthy skepticism of the wellness subject.


American Bodies: The “C-Word”

Calories. Have you seen any lately? It’s hard to believe that an entire nation has been trained to count something that no one has ever seen. Every can, box and jar lists them. Restaurants post them, recipes include them, and every cardio machine tells you how many you have torched. Keeping track occupies a lot of real estate in our brains and now there’s another “C” to include. No it’s not carbs — it is Cortisol; the hormone that gets you up in the morning and flies into action if you are chased by a bear. This fight or flight hormone even helps you pull an all-nighter. So, this “C-word” is a good thing.

Cortisol, our new favorite, does have a downside. It seems we have four times the receptors for cortisol in our deep abdominal fat. Cortisol is having its way with the fat around your waistline where your 6-pack abs are supposed to reside. In addition to helping us with our “flight or fight” response, these receptors play a role in the storage of more FAT. Who knew? It really is too bad we can’t relocate these fat storage places to more desirable body parts.

We have always had cortisol. Why is it now causing us to lose our waistlines? We spent decades pacifying ourselves with the other “C word”: Cigarettes. We focused our efforts on deep breathing to decrease our stress levels with an adult pacifier in mouth. We knew smoking had benefits: ramp up metabolism; fill our mouths without added calories; and, of course, decrease our huge appetite.

So how are the three Cs connected? What does each contribute to the weight equation? Here’s what we know: cigarettes aid weight control; stress raises cortisol levels; and calories count, but we can’t count them. What a conundrum. Cortisol is useful. Calories count but monitoring every one we swallow stresses us. Cigarettes are bad for our lungs. Looks like breathing is the only uncomplicated solution. And it’s free.


American Bodies : Dieting

credit : Comedy Skewers Image-Obsessed Culture: Women Laughing Alone With Salad

It’s time to thank Weight Watchers for kicking off the dieting action in 1963. Diet companies, diet books, diet foods have all prospered as a result. Still, it wasn’t any cakewalk: we had to invent thousands of diets with only three nutrient groups to manipulate, but we did it! We proved once again American ingenuity always prevails when money is on the table. Without any visible results, we convinced millions of Americans to fear fat and protein and carbs. We demonized butter, alcohol, fat, sugar, salt, wheat, meat, MSG, and the list goes on! Nevertheless, each and every trend props up a new cottage industry.

Go Gluten-Free!

So many dieting choices and we wanted to experience them all: Weight Watchers, Scarsdale, Nutri-System, Atkins, Jenny, Mediterranean, Paleo, the Zone, the Whole30 and hundreds more. Who knew that playing with your body had detrimental, permanent effects? How were we to know that the body actually likes consistency?

Although 95% of dieters regain the “lost” weight, health experts didn’t realize these games had consequences. Who knew there are dozens of annoying biochemical factors working against us! Still, it’s not all bad: we started the diet biz and made trillions with programs, books and foods creating jobs and a lot of wealth.

Now we are free to find a new solution. Maybe the stomach, a kidney-shaped organ under your left breast, holds a clue. The stomach directly affects the hormonal system of our bodies going awry. This, ultimately, leads to insulin resistance, a direct line to diabetes. Our stomachs are designed to enable overeating so we have a reserve when times are lean. Here in the USA we have practically unlimited quantities of cheap processed foods so most people can get fed. But if you eat fast food fast, the gut doesn’t have enough time to talk to the stomach to tell us to stop eating. So, the stomach goes to empty too quickly giving us even more room to overeat. Don’t feel guilty when you don’t “Pile on the veggies” or “load up your plate with bright colors” as overeating and overfilling your stomach with “the rainbow” can send your hormones into a tailspin.


American Bodies: BMI

The BMI is a 200-year old formula devised by a Belgian statistician, Adolphe Quetelet, to define the characteristics of a ‘normal man’ and to fit the distribution around the norm for that given male population. The BMI was tailored to a “normal” male circa 1800 in Belgium. What a perfect measurement system for Americans in 2017!

Are you a fan of the BMI or are you in the Hamwi camp? Typically, a person doesn’t like the former, has never heard of the latter- yet considers themselves a Wellness Guru anyway. If you are talking bodies, you need measurement.

The BMI wasn’t used anywhere until the 1990s. Before then, the Hamwi Formula was law; a female at 5 feet should weigh 100 pounds, add 5 pounds for each additional inch. A male of 5 feet starts at 106 pounds, add 6 pounds for each additional inch. Simple, right? Even in our mathematically challenged America (we’re 27th in the world at math proficiency), anyone can do it. The problem is that we are not only bad at math, we are also very fat and the Hamwi makes us feel bad. So, hello BMI!

Even though BMI is our standard, no one likes it. If you ask people whether it’s a valid measure, they immediately tell you it is no good. Suppose you weigh 325 pounds of muscle and bone and practically no fat. Picture your favorite NFL player — the BMI labels them as obese. This is unthinkable; you are a professional athlete and earn millions to be that BIG. This is the wellness industry’s version of fake news. Why?

If you are a female at 5’6” and 185 pounds, your BMI of 29.9 classifies you as only overweight.

So rather than being restrictive for the 99.9 percent of the population not in the NFL, it is totally permissive and forgiving. Furthermore, this helps the weight loss industry. It seems counter intuitive, but if you tell a potential client they are obese, they are more likely to waddle away from your diet center and give up. Given how lucrative the diet biz is and how much it has contributed to our economy, it’s time to LIKE the BMI!


American Bodies: What Went Wrong With Wellness

The American Society of Civil Engineers just gave our neglected infrastructure a D+ grade!! No worry, Mr. Trump is here to fix the problem. Formerly in the construction trade, he’ll repair our broken down highways, bridges and airports — and get us a good price too! Aren’t you glad we waited? Now we can focus on our failing personal structures, our bodies! This job is rather time sensitive, our body’s damaged parts are fast deteriorating.

There’s 40% of us on track for diabetes which can lead to blindness, neuropathy, kidney failure, peripheral vascular disease, erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease. Seniors make up 16% of the American population. This means we have to financially prepare for hypertension, heart disease, stroke, hyperlipidemia and dementia in tandem with obesity and Type II diabetes.

Another issue is the predicted shortfall of 95,000 doctors in the next seven years. No problem, our businessman leader knows how to remedy a supply/demand situation: deny health care to 24 million citizens. Trump can’t fix the supply side without approving visas for foreign doctors and this is not going to happen.

Mr. President understands that restricting health care is only a band-aid, so to speak. As owner of the Miss Universe franchise, he has experience examining bodies. He sees the shape of the nation: 50% of us are obese and another 25 % are overweight. No wonder premiums are rising! Body repair estimates are based on the BMI, which labels only 33% of us as obese. Another example of how alternative facts dominate this weighty issue.

The President is looking at bodies so you should too, start at the waistline, if you can find it. Next time you’re at one of America’s D+ airports, as you wait for your flight take a look at your fellow passengers. America’s future is wheelchairs lined up for the obese and elderly. What Went Wrong with Wellness? To find out, read American Bodies, a series of articles that will dissect wellness, one trend at a time. The next installment discusses the BMI.