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World War III, Man Against Fat
October 21, 2003

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Just when you think it can’t get any worse than it already is, it gets worse than it already is. Laree and I took one of our rare let’s-get-away-from-it-all-before-we-scream trips, a one-nighter, to the foothills of the Sierras. Those same overweight people I referenced in Your Body Revival are a little bit rounder, a little less active and about as stunned. They pushed bellies and dragged butts, limped, waddled and shuffled.

The news across the airwaves and in print about failed health due to obesity is not making a dent in the ever-growing girth of men and women and boys and girls. They’re like harmless cattle grazing -- stuffing themselves, that is -- in verdant pastures with no knowledge of the dangerous precipice directly ahead. It’s a long way to the bottom.

We stopped at an In ‘n Out Burger, the fast food establishment that has broken the fast food code and serves quality chow -- good grilled meat, real potatoes cut in front of you and lightly fried in agreeable oil, fresh salad vegetables, no prefabricated food, no preservatives, no frozen or canned goods, honest, courteous and clean.

A lady stood in line waiting for her order. She was built like a jug; arms flared out to her sides, her feet planted firmly at shoulder‘s width with her eyes held in an upward gaze, as if in meditation. I imagined her in deep mental preparation for a record clean and jerk, the chalk-covered bar laying several feet before her in silence. A distant voice of authority called out, “Number 99.” Instantly she broke the trance, cinched up her waist band and clapped her hands once in a burst of unstoppable sureness (I swear I saw white powder filling the air around her… You can do this, I heard myself saying).

She strode to the counter and without pause or hesitation picked up her boxful of burgers and fries in one smooth movement. She spun triumphantly and headed to a corner table, a nest, filled with chubby smiling faces and eager hands reaching out like beaks of starving chicks just freed from their shells. Feed me. Feed me. I wanted to applaud, hold her arms over her head and exclaim her victory. What control. What intensity. What patience. Laree held me in check.

I believe my imaginary champion represents the massive masses that are settling into the growing acceptance that fat and large is the trend, a part of man’s physical and social evolution, the new majority asserting its position of dominance in a world gone upside down, or is that fat bottoms up. Whole new businesses are catering to the obese offering exquisite oversized clothing and chic casual wear, couches, love seats and other furnishings for the here-to-stay extra-large bodies and convenient packaged foods for ever-improving appetites.

There are gyms in the Big Apple that provide comfy stretching and passive exercise classes for those who either can’t move or would rather not. They’re resurrecting the nonsensical motorized stationary bikes and rollers of the 1950s by popular demand. Zoom Zoom Zoom. Body wraps for tone and massage for stimulation and herbal applications for energy are administered by personal trainers who are young, bright and pleasingly plump. Okay, everyone, let’s slowly walk to our oversized chairs and sit. Today we are going to wiggle our fingers and twinkle our toes.

Have we entered a new age in the bodyhood of mankind where health and fitness have retreated to a fringe of society and fat and out-of-shape are here to stay, at the forefront of our culture? Are we seeing the “new majority” taking root and growing like weeds in the world’s nation’s unkempt fields? This is a frightening thought, but there is evidence to suggest this is so.

Big bucks rule in the big body world and capitalizing on the body of size promotes the big-size body… along with its diseases, shortcomings and limitations. Where are we going with this gross misdirection and out-of-proportion irresponsibility? Who will determine the way we go: the lazy and careless, the greedy and entrepreneurial, the medically responsible and health-conscious or you and me? We have a world war on our hands and the enemy is our self.

I found a report from CNN.com this morning that said, “Fat Americans are getting even fatter. Obesity is ballooning in the U.S. to extreme proportions at an alarming rate.” The article went on to site findings from The Rand Corp., startling facts and figures that alarmed the researchers and me, but apparently not the endangered subjects of the study.

The steady upward line on the medical researcher’s graph is heading toward 70, indicating the percentage of the nation that is fat. Of the remaining 30 percent, many are under-muscled and unfit. The extremely overweight, the 350- and 400-pounders are increasing in number and size most dramatically. We’re slipping fast, bombers. We’re meat.

In conclusion it was agreed that the problem was largely due to overeating and inactivity. Though there are those who suffer hormonal ailments and hypersensitivity to calorie storage, the medical profession is turning away from special treatment for the fat epidemic and underlining the need for personal attention, discipline and hard work. And the biggest challenge in treating severely obese people, who typically have tried mightily to lose weight, “is giving them enough hope that it’s worth trying again.” Attitudes need to be shaped and sharpened if we’re to turn this ship around… and it ain’t no pleasure cruise, folks.

We’re back to hope, encouragement, perseverance and discipline. What we need to do is head off the grazing herds at the pass, get them on the move in another direction and out of the habit of devouring whatever’s in front of them. Where have all the cowboys gone?

Howdy, partner. Have bomb, will travel.

How many of you reading this cheery newsletter suffer some version of the dilemma described above? I hope you’re not mad at me or think I’m way out of line. This would be a bad start; one, I can’t handle the rejection and, two, you would not be facing reality without a sugar coating… fattening and unhealthy in itself.

The problem is serious for us as a people and monstrous for those amid the battle. The loss of 20 and 30 pounds of unwanted weight is a challenge, yet one can stand tall, clench his fists and march onward to victory, the punishment endurable. When one is looking at 100 pounds and the accumulation of poor attitude, wrong action, strained body chemistry and inertia, the summoning of courage and energy exhaust the unfit body and spirit. Hope sinks and desperation rises to the surface.

Fat’s bad, and the condition of increasing fatness is a reflection of the flawed character of a person or group of persons afflicted. We all need a little work and I believe I am among those who know the work that needs to be done and are doing it. It’s those beyond these pages I’m worried about.

We can’t make a person lose weight and get healthy, but can we sit back while mediocrity takes charge saying with casual assertion obesity is a lifestyle, the new majority and an evolutionary process? How ignorant and lazy do we allow those around us or ourselves to become? Obesity is not something -- a condition -- a strong person can accept, a thinking people can ignore and an amazing nation can submit to.

I’m looking around and asking questions. Are gyms becoming obsolete, lifting weights too much like work, getting in condition too demanding, eating right too rigid and sacrifice too dark and costly? Is the price for a sturdy body and a strong back and enough energy to climb to the sky not worth it?

Next time you come across one of these folks gently tell them to find themselves. Dig around inside, my friend, before it’s too late and the person, the soul, you uncover is too rundown and uncommunicative, too sad and sorry to carry on an intelligible conversation, and to care. Do this for yourself, do this for us. You’ll make a world of difference.

Tell them how they can become honorary bombers by participating in the new world order of bombardiers and by training hard, eating right and being strong. Of course this requires regular servings of Bomber Blend and memorizing Brother Iron, Sister Steel and Your Body Revival. They’ll follow you to the ends of the earth, brothers and sisters.

Next week, in response to overwhelming requests from IronOnline members, we begin our series on Bulking Up, Fundamentals and Short Cuts.

Hold her steady with God’s speed and strength.… Draper

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