Tag Archive for fat

We Should Encourage Health in One Another

I’m going to have a direct conversation about fat acceptance.

Across several social networks, I often see some skinny or muscular person make a crack about fat people needing to get in shape. Then someone—generally someone larger or who has difficulty cutting weight—takes them to task for their attitude. This is then followed by a swarm of posts offering support and encouragement to the larger person, telling them, “we love you for who you are.”

I can’t blame them. I hate seeing those arguments, too. The problem is the defense does not encourage a change in health.

Let me be clear: this does not mean said large person deserves scorn or derision. Fat people do not deserve to be belittled any more than anyone deserves to be teased for their race, sexuality, culture, or religion.

One of the saddest photo projects I’ve ever seen is Haley Morris-Cafiero’s Wait Watchers set. After a chance photo catching someone making fun of her weight behind her back, she set up situations to catch this happening over and over. Some of it is tough to look at because most of us have been guilty of this at one point or another.

Hell, I’m guilty. I’m down fifty pounds from my heaviest and I’m still a big guy. I shudder to think how large I could have gotten without a course correction. My friends tease me about my size or my eating, yet I’ll still make a fat crack now and again. Is it a defense mechanism? Is it just plain funny? Or am I just an asshole? (Probably the latter.)

This brings people down. We all know this. It makes fat people feel worthless, and if they’re already working on a fitness program, it makes them feel like they’ve failed. This is where the angels swoop in to tell them, “It’s okay, we love you for who you are.”

This is true. We do love you for who you are. We accept you. But we don’t have to accept your health situation. Overcompensating for the assholes pushes the problem of inaction to the opposite extreme. Instead of feeling like they’ve failed, the fat person feels like they don’t need to change their situation after all.

I think back to the number of people we’ve lost in the writing community. I think about dead friends and family members. About dead co-workers, both current and former. It’s not just fat people we’re talking about now, it’s a general lack of health. Heart disease. Diabetes. Cancer. Sometimes it’s drugs, alcohol, or depression, but for the most part, we’re talking preventable problems.

And I think about how those losses tear us up.

Would you ever tell someone, “I love you, and I can’t wait to see you in an early grave?” Hell no you wouldn’t. But that’s the behavior we encourage. I can’t count how many people I’ve seen show up on Fitocracy, bitch about how tough working out is, get an outpouring of empty support, and then disappear altogether.

There will always be assholes, and there will always be bleeding hearts. We need to do our best to find the balance between them. Here’s how:

1) Understand that the people who say shit like “fat people are fat because they’re lazy” aren’t being real or telling it like it is, they’re being tactless assholes.

2) Understand that general fitness is more important than size or weight. Seek good health, not a number on a scale. The latter tends to follow the former, but not always.

3) Understand fat jokes are funny. Yes, they hurt sometimes, but don’t read into them too far. Change the channel, browse to a different web page, ignore the trolls, and move on. If your friends are being intentionally hurtful, it’s time to find new friends.

4) Understand your friends and family absolutely do love you and accept you. Instead of seeking validation, ask them for help. A workout partner is by far better for you than an emotional crutch.

5) Understand that change is going to be difficult. There will be pain, sweat, and hunger. The payoff is worth it. Trust me.

6) Understand that you’re neither Jared Fogle nor a Biggest Loser contestant with monetary support and a trainer. You may not have a miracle transformation. Your change will take more time and effort than a thirty-second commercial or a one-hour special would have you believe. What works for them may not work for you.

7) Understand that your friends’ compliments and looks of surprise after your changes will be much more encouraging and affirming than false “it’s okay that you’re fat” sentiments.

In the end, we should all be encouraging good health in one another. We don’t need to beat one another over the head with it, but it should be made clear that we’re here for one another.

If you disagree with me, that’s fine. Please refer to #1 above. Otherwise let me know how I can help.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

That's Why I Don't Eat It

Take a few minutes to browse through this fast food nutrition chart provided by A Calorie Counter. You can click the charts to sort the various columns, essentially ranking foods and restaurants by calories, fat content, trans fats, and so on.

I played around with it this morning, and man, it’ll curl your hair. If you consider the alleged average person’s daily intake of 2,000 calories, one meal at Mickey D’s could kill your day. For example, a Big Mac and a large fry come to a total of 1,110 calories, and that’s without the 42-ounce soda they try to upgrade you to (which, by the way, is damn near half a gallon, and I know someone who says she drinks 2-3 of these a day because she works for the Evil Arches).

It’s also a good reminder that even chicken isn’t safe. When I go to Hardee’s, I like to get their charbroiled chicken club sandwich. I don’t always get the fries, but let’s assume I did (and use the large info, because medium isn’t provided). That comes to 1,170 calories. Hrm. Maybe the difference is in the fat?

Nope. McD’s comes to 59 total grams and Hardee’s to 58. Hardly enough to give chicken a definitive edge. Trans fats? 9.5 grams at McD’s. Hardee’s? “Unknown.” In the end, if you’re going to eat fast food you may as well stick to your favorites, because they’re all going to kill you the same way. You may be able to pick and choose based on fats and trans fats, but the calories are still what adds up around the waistline.

If I run a Basal Metabolic Rate calculation, I should be able to take in about 2,200 calories a day and maintain my current weight. A Hardee’s lunch gets me halfway there. My wife is quite a bit smaller than I, and the BMR calculator says that same lunch is 75% of her daily calories. By the way, that’s without the bucket of soda they serve you. Ever see a Hardee’s medium? It’s a large at most restaurants. Sure, I get iced tea instead of soda, but if it comes out of the same Syrup of Death machine, it can’t be much better, can it?

I guess Hardee’s is fine if I want to eat like a rabbit the rest of the day. But wait a minute, what about subs?

I like Jimmy John’s. I think their sandwiches blow Subway’s away, and I like that I can say “Give me this sandwich, no tomatoes” and they have it to me in 17 seconds or less. My personal favorite is the Italian nightclub sandwich, usually on their whole-grain wheat bread which makes the whole package look like a Dagwood special. It’s a deli sandwich, so it’s got to be better than that McD’s crap, right?

Not so much, actually: 1,011 calories and 57 grams of fat. That’s for the sandwich alone, no side of chips. I guess that’s the end of giant clubs. The good news, at least, is if I can limit myself to the 8″ sandwiches, I can cut that calorie count in half: the Big John, a basic roast beef sandwich, weighs in with 558 calories and 27 grams of fat. Good if not great, and certainly filling.

Unfortunately there’s not a convenient Jimmy John’s around, so let’s look at Subway. I like the Italian BMT, untoasted, on wheat bread, with pepperjack cheese. That’s 450 calories and 21 grams of fat. Throw on mustard, mayo, vinegar, oil, lettuce, and onion, and it’s probably in the Big John’s neighborhood. I can also get mik instead of soda, but I give Jimmy John’s the nod for having a bigger sandwich (8″ vs 6″ and having tastier bread).

Now let’s make it a little more fair. Even at the delis, you’re probably going to get a side item. Subway doesn’t have lists for their chips (probably because the selection varies by franchise), but the Jimmy John’s house brand jalapeño chips have 150 calories, so let’s call that a chip average. You’re still topping out around 700 calories of food at a deli shop, saving you a good 400 calories over their fry-pushing cousins.

Notice I didn’t say burger-pushing. For sandwiches alone, the burger-based fast food joints don’t do too bad. A Wendy’s spicy chicken fillet sandwich is 440 calories, which puts it neck-and-neck with Subway in the sandwich battle. No, it’s the 540 calories in their fries that does the real damage.

Consider the fact you can’t get out of spitting distance of a McD’s in a big city, and half the time you can find a Burger King and/or Wendy’s right across the street. They all have their snazzy combos, they all push those mega fries and super-sized drinks on you for just a few cents more, and most people consider that a full meal. They bombard us with commercials, and at lunchtime you can find their drive-through window lines backed up to the street.

Is it any wonder we’re staring down an obesity epidemic?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.