Fatness and Fitness: Thoughts on Eating, Drinking, and Merriment…

Eat, Drink, Be Merry, Get Fat, and Die.

Now… who used to say that was their life philosophy?  Oh yeah… That was me… Not in a negative way – I just thought that is what you do when you grow up – enjoy life, then die.  My how times change.  Nowadays that philosophy isn’t for me…

Today I prefer: Eat, Drink, Be Merry, Get Fit, and Thrive.

That’s the reason why I started this blog – to chronicle my journey to fitness while managing the deck of cards I have been dealt (the challenges associated with nerve disease).  To write about my approach to eating, drinking, happiness, fitness, and in the process discovering ways to thrive rather than to be a victim of my circumstances.

I joined Twitter and started to use it to find daily motivation from other triathletes and like minded people.

I discovered great people.  I learned about a whole new world of blogs and communities.  I’ve made some great friends.  Twitter is a fantastic resource – for articles, conversation, inspiration…  Through it I started learning more about approaches to fitness, nutrition, and life.  I started reading about the properties of the food I eat.  About how eating impacts fitness. 

And I started reading the statistics about the importance of healthy living.

The stats are scary…

“[by 2020] the predicted proportion of adults [in England] who will be obese aged 20-65 is 41% for men and 36% for women.”

“By 2050, [the team of experts] predict a 23% rise in the prevalence of obesity-related stroke, a 34% rise in obesity-related hypertension, a 44% rise in obesity-related coronary heart disease and a 98% rise in obesity-related diabetes.”

(taken from the National Heart Forum press release dated 17 February 2010, launching their report “A prediction of Obesity Trends for Adults and their associated diseases:  Analysis from the Health Survey for England 1993-2007”)

“Two-thirds of the United States adult population is overweight (defined as a body mass index of at least 25) or obese (a BMI of at least 30).”

“Only about one in every six Americans who have ever been overweight or obese loses weight and maintains that loss.”

(taken from a press release dated 3 September 2010 of Penn State College of Medicine research published in the International Journal of Obesity)

“The World Health Organisation estimated in 2005 that 1.6 billion adults worldwide were overweight, of whom 300 million were obese.”

“About one sixth of the adult population worldwide [is] overweight…”

“Projections estimate that by 2010, half of all school-age children will be overweight in the Americas.”

“The evidence that all types of physical activity protect against weight gain, overweight, and obesity is convincing.”

“The strongest evidence… shows that greater body fatness and abdominal fatness are causes of cancer of the: colorectum, oesophagus, pancreas, breast, endometrium, kidney, and gallbladder.”

(taken from Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective – available online from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research)

Frankly, I’d rather focus on this – the issues in our society, in our schools, the costs our governments will face…

…and the fact that I have to pay VAT to go to the track which seems just barmy to me…

…rather than discussing if this kickass triathlete is fat…

Not that I don’t like talking triathlon.  And performance.  And training.  And nutrition.

But, I’d rather understand what these athletes just did in their workouts…

(Photo credit to SportieDoc aka Tamsin Lewis)

…than banter about the few kilos extra they might be carrying… 

In fact, if they are carrying extra weight and still performing the way they do, sign me up to that training and nutrition plan! 

OK, kind of kidding with that.  I mean, I do realise that these athletes are PROS.  I guess as pros it is inevitable that we will talk about whether or not their weight impacts their performance.  And I guess if you have a rep as a junkfood junkie and you are a pro, I guess we will talk about that too.

But fatness?  Is it just to label the woman on the bike “fat”?

In case you are interested…

The “fat” athlete on the bike? 

She is the same athlete as the “fat” athlete in black on her back next to the track.

Still think she is fat?

Jodie Swallow  is awesome.  She was ITU women’s long course triathlon champ in 2009, and won the women’s Alpes d’Huez long course triathlon in 2010.  Absolutely AMAZING achievements.

Health and fitness and thriving… That’s what I care about…

I couldn’t give a rat’s ass…

(Ratzass sold online at Martha’s Bears)

…about Jodie Swallow’s alleged fatness…

But… I AM interested in her FITNESS – what she does as an athlete to train and maintain her performance.  Especially since she has bounced back from huge injury to such performance heights.

When it comes to FATNESS…  Well, I just don’t care about Jodie Swallow’s weight.  But I do care about those scary stats.  And what they say about our society. And our priorities. 

I think obesity is a HUGE problem.  I agree with Anne Milton – the UK parliamentary under-secretary of state for health.  On Radio 4 in July she said that the National Health Service should just call people fat, not obese.  Her implication?  That we should all stop hiding behind words, that we need to confront our problems directly, using a language that is personal, so that everyone can understand.

With that in mind… 

I don’t think that Jodie Swallow is fat. 

But the fact that over 50% of the kids in America are overweight?  That scares the hell out of me…  And I think that *is* my problem.  Because my taxes are going to pay for it.

What about you?

8 responses to “Fatness and Fitness: Thoughts on Eating, Drinking, and Merriment…”

  1. The obesity stats and their potential impact on health are truly frightening. And that’s what important not whether an awesome athlete is carrying a few extra kilos. And if she is (which seriously I don’t think so) and it is having a negative impact on her performance surely that’s between her and her coaches. And totally agree when it comes to language, name it, own it, face it and do something!

  2. Scary reading, huh?

    As for pros packing the extra pounds. Well, as a fan I want to see my favourite pros WIN.  So part of me thinks that if she was leaner, maybe she’d be faster, maybe she’d win more… So I can see why some fans talk about pros and their weight.  I’m not totally pedantic with my point of view…  But I do think our focus is all wrong on the subject. Think about all the collective brain power that could be channelled to face this huge societal challenge…

  3. I think we need to take photos as some of these photographers who like to take pictures of fatties in the world.  But no, I don’t think she is fat.  Secondly, I think obesity is a real problem all over the world but more importantly, I think a lack of exercise is a huge problem. Mike Stroud, wrote a book called survival of the fittest that discusses way our lives have changed since the time of hunters and gatherers.  It is interesting to think about how much people used to move and how little they move now.  People go for a walk around the block and think it is exercise.  Still more sit on their butts their entire lives, get sick and discover their bodies are not strong enough to support them through medical care. Meanwhile you see people like Corey David who was in a motorcycle accident died twice that evening but was so strong he fought back and is now running triathlons.  We are meant to move.  We need to move.  And besides the benefits of exercise both mentally and physically, it is really fun.

  4. This is the BEST blog post I’ve read in a long time. I am so tired of everyone tap dancing around this very serious issue.  I believe that this issue alone is the main driver why America will not vote for a single payer or universal health care plan here.  Anyway – great job.  I loved this so much I had to blog about your post and put your link in there.  Hope you don’t mind but people here in the states NEED to hear what you are saying.

  5. Wow Lori thank you so much and of course I do not mind – I am deeply flattered.

    This post started in response to calling Jodie Swallow fat.  But as I thought about it more, I tried to understand what was making me angry about the focus on the weight of the pros. 

    I concluded that I was angry because I think this type of gossip it is a waste of our energy.  For every paparrazzi fat photo out there that we gossip about, if we used just a portion of that energy to think about what to do about the general fitness and well being of our society, I think it would be so much more productive.  That’s why I like the UK minister’s interview, where she advocated just using plain language and addressing things face on.

    Thanks for reading – and sharing – my post.

  6. So we would look to your HR zones, VO2 max and lactate threshold as indicators of your fitness.
    Moreover “weight” and “fat” are confused as well. For non-pro athletes, weight is not important, worry about your fitness metrics. If you are a wkend warrior and feel you need to “get healthy”, then again worry about your fitness metrics – you’ll inevitably find that a drop in % body fat and a reduction in overal body weight (if that’s re goal) will be a direct result of smarter training and a healthy lifestyle.

    It’s only really at the top level that you will see athletes return to looking at % body fat and weight as a serious performance metric.


    But in no way should % body fat be used as an indicator of performance. At best, it will simply give you a visual clue as to your overall conditioning.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing another point of view.  Your perspective on working with athletes – from elites to age groupers – is great.  And thank you for sharing tips about what to focus on.  A great steer, and one I know that I need to consider more in my own training (especially the training for power on the bike!).

  8. Thanks to Lori for leading me here.  What an incredible post.  People hide behind words…Yep..I am fat, obese, large, big girl BUT I am working each day on being HEALTHY and changing habits for me first, then my family!  Trying to walk my talk.  I don’t feel right offering my child an apple if I am sneaking candy bars…..

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