Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bigger than ever.

There are two ways you can get rich really quick in this country and before you ask, one of them is not purchasing property for no money down. No, the road to easy money involves creating a new diet or concocting some exercise plan. In fact, you can make even more money by recycling some passe trend and giving it a new twist. Take stodgy old Yoga, mix in some hip hop beats and call it something catchy like Booty Busting Yoga and you can pad your bank accounts for years to come. Just make it easy and painless. Americans are infatuated with losing weight and getting fit. Ironically, in spite of this obsession America keeps getting fatter. When you factor in the alarming number of half-starved immigrants allegedly pouring over our borders everyday the average girth ratio is astounding. Think what the percentage of overweight Americans would be if we closed the borders.

The problem is that Americans don't want reality. Losing weight and getting fit involve hard work, sacrifice and a little pain. That's unacceptable. Everybody wants some magic pill or magic surgery that will provide instant results with no effort. We all want to look sexy, but not if it involves things like breaking a sweat for 2 hours out of every week or skipping the Whopper Value Meal for lunch. But I have a coupon!
That's why that Atkins diet was huge for a while. The gimmick was this magical metabolic process that your body actuates when you cut carbs out of your diet and subsist on protein and fat. Since Atkins dropped dead due to cardiovascular complications the Atkins people have backed off of the caveman diet and taken a more balanced approach, but before they could brand the new program somebody took the idea and called it the South Beach Diet.

The fact is there is only one way to lose weight: Eat less. Yes exercise is important, but most Americans need to do more than walk 10,000 steps a day to offset the caloric surplus they consume each day. You have to stop putting food in your mouth. People who lost weight on Atkins and other "eat-all-you-want" clones over estimate the calories they actually consumed. The fact is protein and fat take longer to digest, thus making one feel fuller longer. Unfortunately the body is designed to run on carbs and forcing it to manufacture fuel out of protein or fat results in physiological problems that could have long term consequences. Like heart attacks, strokes and colon cancer. But enjoy the bacon, please.

Eating less is hard. Food is like a drug that you get addicted to. Starting your day off with a handful of granola thrown into a small cup of yogurt is not going to make you forget about all those mornings you gobbled a sausage biscuit with egg. It doesn't taste as good as a doughnut. Acquiring a taste for water instead of sucking down a 24 ounce bottle of Pepsi every three hours is not going to happen overnight and munching on steamed broccoli won't be nearly as satisfying as eating half a pizza. Cutting out all those Jelly Bellies isn't going to be easy either. Crack addicts have a much easier time getting clean. At least they have consequences to pay, getting fatter isn't illegal.

But maybe that's an idea. We can't jail fat people, but why not make them pay more for things? In some places they already do. Target is infamous for selling extended sizes at a higher price. A large shirt might retail for 10.99 but the XXL is 12.99. I'm suspicious that Target actually mislables their shirts to force more people into the extended sizes. That's something that needs to be looked into, but it's still a good idea. Why should leaner customers pay the same amount of money for half the fabric?

Why not extend this to other areas. Like license plates. People who own trucks pay more because trucks are heavier and capable of carrying more payload, but isn't a 300 pound woman carrying quite a payload? Fork it over, Bertha. Checking weight upon license renewal seems reasonable, how many people out there have a license that lists their weight a solid 30 pounds under what they really weigh? Isn't there a Homeland Security issue in play here? Is that fraud?

Insurance companies and employers would love to be able to adjust premiums based on weight. Not all fat people are unhealthy, but most are medical time bombs. Diabetes, arthritis, stress fractures, heart attacks, strokes, back pain. There are a host of problems associated with weight and giving companies the ability to pass the cost on to the individual would help fit people save money on healthcare. Sure, Tom in accounting could easily suffer a stroke in spite of being a competitive runner who only eats beef once a year, but insurance companies have done the math and they are willing to take a gamble on Tom. Take 100 fit people and 100 fat people and a massive percentage of those fat people are going to wear that insurance card out. You can carry that over to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as well. No benefits if you're morbidly obese. We can't have fat people draining public funds to tend to weight-related maladies when there are people suffering from illnesses that are entirely beyond their control.

It's disturbing. Every major retailer has electric carts for people to use when they shop. They aren't for disabled people, most disabled people already have the means to ambulate. How would they get into the store to use the cart? And sometimes the carts are taken advantage of by wobbly old ladies who can barely walk because of osteo-arthritis, but typically those carts are purloined by the ponderously pudgy. Hopeless fat slobs who simply have too much lard to lug around a store. And where do you find those fat bastards? Hogging up the free samples. You'd think it was rush hour in L.A. when they heat up a tray of those bagel bites. Oink, beep, oink.

Police departments around the country have taken to putting up these radar trailers that are supposed to shame speeders into slowing down. What they do is encourage people to speed up. Apparently everybody wants to know what their car's 30-60 time is. My mini van can do it in 6.2 seconds. The fact is those trailers don't work, but putting up scales in public places might. Set up a digital scale outside of McDonald's and watch the humiliation on people's faces as they waddle out. 244! Hey lady, that's beefy. 376! Yo, bro. I hope that's a salad in that bag. 72! Look! It's Lindsey Lohan. And she's got a ketchup packet!

Being fat isn't that bad if you can pull your weight. Lot's of people are heavy and many of us are genetically predispositioned to be big. But too many people hide behind that excuse. 400 pounds isn't big, it's disgusting. You don't have a glandular problem, you're a lazy slob. There's no excuse for it. You aren't disabled and you don't have mental problems. That's what's so infuriating about this issue. People don't want to shoulder the blame and there are countless quacks who are more than happy to tell them what they want to hear. So they keep getting fatter and fatter until they finally con some shrink in to prescribing bariatric surgery, which comes with a host of long term complications, such as a lifetime risk of gastric ruptures. If you think heart burn is bad...

It's impossible to make being fat illegal. Constitutionally it would never stand, but that doesn't mean that the general public should cater to this pity party for the portly. There was a time when fat people got teased and ridiculed. Hey, hey, hey! It might not have been nice, but is it only a coincidence that fewer people were obese? The humiliation inspired a lot of people to get into shape. There might have been a few suicides, but isn't that part of natural selection? Now we live in this touchy feely era of tolerance and while there is no place for racial or sexual discrimination, when did fat people qualify for PC courtesy? I guess it's hard to have thick skin when you stretch it to its limits.

Nobody should be judged or criticized for things beyond their control. There is simply no place for intolerance in these matters, but obesity, unlike homosexuality, really is a choice. Fat people choose to be fat because they choose to overeat. They indulge cravings every day and fail to account for those indulgences with a little exercise. So why should society go out of its way to accommodate them? Why should people who choose to put themselves into that position not be held accountable? We see nothing wrong with looking down on those freaks who pierce every square inch of their faces, so why not pass judgment on the slops who eat two Big Macs for lunch everyday? I didn't know cows ate meat.

The problem isn't fast food or marketing or video games. The reason so many Americans are fat is because we went too far in prohibiting meanness. Bring back the bullies and make fat uncool again. Then people will stop making excuses and start taking personal responsibility. America needs to end its love affair with pseudo-psychology and get back to being tough.

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