Kathryn Hore - Writer

Health and fatness

So, anyway, there I was listening to the doctor prattle on about the really boring stuff like, you know, my health, and I realised she was under the impression I led an inactive lifestyle.

Me. Inactive. With definite implication there of lazy. Obsessively needing to achieve, sleep happens elsewhere, freakin’ stress head trying to do it all at once – that me? Uh, I do not think so. There are a good many faults I do have, and some I’ll even willingly admit to in public and all, but inactivity to the point of laziness is certainly not one of them.

(Which is not actually me saying inactivity to the point of laziness – as judged by somebody else, of course – is necessarily a bad thing. Frankly, if you’ve got the time, enjoy it, in my opinion. Procrastination should not be considered evil and if such is your choice of lifestyle, I will go into battle for your right to it. I’ll have to, because you’ll probably not be bothered.  But I digress…)

See, I work full time. I study part time. I run the photography business with Dear Partner from home. I’m trying to build a credible writing portfolio by chasing down every freelance opp which comes my way, not to mention maintain this blog, which gobbles up at the very least a thousand words a week. And somewhere in there I make sure family and friends get the occasional look in. Suffice to say I’m a fairly busy kind of gal and that’s cool, I like it like that. Sure, sometimes the floors don’t get swept and we’re constantly fishing out clean underwear from the laundry because nobody’s got around to putting it away in bedroom drawers yet, but that’s okay too. At least they’re washed.

So if we’re talking lifestyle problems, my general health would probably be greatly improved if I stopped trying to do everything damned thing all at once and just relaxed once in a while.

But, you know, my doctor is thin, so what does she know about it?

Ha, yes, now we get to the crux of the issue, don’t we? My doctor, who I must say is absolutely lovely and does actually have a point, would like me to lose a little bit of weight for health reasons. And she’s right, yes, I could do with shedding a kilo or thirty. I could try to argue my case against the general diagnosis of ‘fat’ but that would be fairly pointless in light of the obvious visible evidence. So lets not mince words and instead mince pies. Yes, I am a total fatty.

Which doesn’t make me necessarily unfit or unhealthy or, you know, somehow inactive.

My poor doctor. I think she thinks I’m exaggerating when I try to explain that I don’t live on junk food or chocolate and I do actually exercise every day, even if sometimes it’s simply running half an hour across town in a business suit, carrying heavy bags and a laptop as I compete in the office-to-classroom mature age student dash. (No matter how supportive a workplace is of extra-cirricula study, you try telling your boss you really have to leave the big work meeting on time because your class is just as important and you’ll be late otherwise. Even the better corporates struggle to appreciate life outside the office has some merit too, I’m afraid.)

Obviously, my doctor’s observations regarding what’s good for my health are not to be sneezed at and I’m not going to argue with the woman I’m paying to be an expert in such matters. But, uh, in case you didn’t notice, occasionally, maybe, perhaps, I do get my back up just a wee bit when she assumes that I must be sitting on the couch for sixteen hours a day eating fried chicken straight from the stripy bucket.

I get pretty cynical about the whole “obesity epidemic” thing, you know, and not just because they make reality TV shows based on it. It’s a slow-news-day moral panic which pops up whenever the media aren’t making a fuss about non-existent bacon flu pandemics (pop quiz: how many people do you think regular flu killed last year, then?) or a handful of distressed refugees so desperate they’ve agreed to traverse entire oceans in a leaky tin tub. It’s one of those issues which allows human beings to make moral judgements about their fellow human beings, without having to have any real knowledge about those lined up in their target sites. (Okay, insert own joke about large targets here, if you must.) Let’s face it, enjoyment of feeling superior over our fellows is one of those common traits which draws all of humanity together.

Aaah, group hug.

Anyway, the whole thing is about our society’s obsession with youth and beauty and has Sweet F.A., to use a phrase popular in my teenage years, to do with actual health.

Oooh, big statement. And absolutely true. I’ll stand by that one until the end, even if the end comes via health complications due to excess weight.

Okay, so there are some out there who are focussed on real health issues and I’m sure the doctors of the world make up a good many of them. But when it comes to the whole media and pop culture circus, the health message does get lost amongst all the terrified cries of ‘fat!’, which is far more reportable and much easer to feel superior about for those who like to tut-tut over a glass of fine red (particularly when that glass of red is probably replacing the evening meal.)

See, in all this talk of society getting fatter, there has been a simultaneous silence in regards to fitness levels, particularly for those who are thin. We talk about eating healthy, but it’s only ever in regards to waistline size, as in we fatties need to eat healthier. Never any talk about the dietary habits of the naturally thin. Um, but sorry, everybody needs to eat healthy and everybody needs to exercise regularly, regardless of how many spare tyres they’re metaphorically carrying, or not carrying, as the case may be.

I don’t get to the gym as much as I should, I know that. Which for me means I only get there two or three times a week, where I indulge myself with an hour’s hard cardio. I have to make do with simple walking on the other days, which is a shame, because I love group fitness cardio classes, they are my chosen form of exercise and I have great fun in them. I don’t care if it’s Body Combat, Body Attack, Step or even plain old freestyle aerobics, Jane Fonda style. I’ll just pull on the bad 80s leg warmers and get into the grapevine.

My point is that I do exercise and I love my exercise. Just as I love my fruit and vegetables, but plain dislike McMeals of any brand. See, there are a million different ways to exercise in this world. There will always be at least one which you find fun. Trusies. Trust your naughty Aunty Kath, now.

Anyway, my lovely but thin doctor was more concerned with the obese weight range I fall into and okay, she’s my doctor, I need to listen to her. I need to lose weight. I drew the bad weight genetics card, but that’s okay because I also drew the natural intelligence and creativity cards, so I’m happy. But due to being a natural fatty, it does mean I have to be extra conscious of what I eat and how much I exercise, far more so than someone who is more naturally thin. I can’t get away with that occasional chocolate bar as an afternoon pick-me-up like others can, at least not if I haven’t got my heart rate to over 150 that day and kept it there for at least a good hour.

So speaking as someone who has to work that bit extra to keep her weight under control (or not, as my doctor has so recently pointed out), I’d like to posit a theory as to why we as a society seem to be increasing in general fatness.

Studies say (at least when reported in the media, so get your sceptical hats on people) that the numbers of overweight and obese in our society are rising dramatically.

Coincidently, studies also say that as a society we are working longer and longer hours and staying in the office for much greater chunks of time.

Hmmm… now might there be some kind of correlation there, do you think? Huh?

Look, I know what it’s like to take that extra bit of time at lunch to get to the gym and feel every pair of corporate eyes upon you as you come breathlessly back afterwards, red faced and lumbering your smelly gym bag, while they’ve all been working through and eating at their desks (if they’re eating at all.) I know what it’s like to rush out at 5.10pm to try and make that gym class, or get in that little bit just after 9 because you’re trying to fit it in before work. The corporate pressure to be in the office is tough. The other options are worse. Get up at 5.15am just to fit in exercise? Every single day?   That can’t be sustainable, but otherwise it’s spending an extra hour away from the family because you have to exercise outside of work hours and you’ve already spent ten hours in the office that day, and that one is probably the hardest of all.

So when somebody says they find it hard to find time to exercise, please believe them.

And when you read about those studies or statistics which say we’re all getting fatter, or we’re eating too many quick and easy processed foods, or we’re snacking too much, just remember that that ridiculous Protestant Work Ethic is probably to blame.

It’s not that we fatties are inactive. We’re just working too hard.

‘till next

Kath

1 Comment

  1. Angela

    yes. yes. YES!!!! I agree whole heartedly. Now, i myself do fit into the other category of like food dislike exercise, however i know quite a few people who are larger or maybe ‘overweight’ who are lucky to sit down on the couch more than an hour a week.

    It gets me REALLY angry that the ‘it’s unhealthy and bad for you’ label only ever gets thrown at bigger people. I know a helluva lot of other people who are thin, like i mean REALLY thin, who live on potato products as their main source of vegetable, take away, and sugary stuff who never exercise beyond the walking you would do in a normal day, and they never get a comment about their ‘unhealthy lifestyle’ – many of which drink and smoke a lot as well. Society is not offended by unhealthy people, just fat people. Saying it is a health concern is just a cop out.

    Also, with the bmi test standards many people are classed overweight or obese if they have a lot of muscle (like many professional athletes) or are tall and really just a bigger build.

    Yep it annoys me a fair bit really. I could have just waited till the weekend to talk to you about this but i agree so fervently i couldnt wait till then… 😉

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