Obesity in America, What can we do?

Digging for Gold in Fields of Iron

Draper at 61

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The Committee (them): “Come in. Have a seat. Do you want anything to drink? Coffee, tea, water?”

Bomb (me, I guess): “I’ll stand, thanks, and nothing to drink.”

Them: “Fine. It’s our understanding that you are the Bomb from New Jersey.”

Me: “Yes, well, no, not exactly. I’m the Bomber and not necessarily from New Jersey. I’m the Bomber from, oh, anywhere and everywhere: Peru, even, or Sri Lanka... Detroit, Los Ange...”

Them: “Whatever, wherever. Look, Bomb, we’ll be honest with you. Your country is in big trouble and it needs your help -- we need your help. Your name has come to us from the CIA, FBI, NSA, IFBB, AAU or one of those elitist organizations. They say you’re good, real good -- direct, dauntless, instinctive, cold, cunning and ruthless. They say you can get to the heart of things, cut it out, slice it and dice it and serve it up like an appetizer. That’s what we need you to do.”

Me: “Maybe I will have a seat.”

Them: “We are momentarily misunderstood worldwide despite our worthy and honorable intentions and, rather than respectful friends, we are surrounded by envious enemies. We are called hypocrites, as if the entire world was not hypocritical. We of the Committee have determined that we -- this great country -- have become too lax in our disciplines and too loose in our ways, which is evidenced by our enlarged individual girth and loss of ideals and personal enthusiasm. We’re on the verge of becoming losers whose values are being overwhelmed by our appetites.”

Me: “Maybe I will have some water.”

Them: “What should we do, Bomb? Please submit your report and recommendations by Wednesday of this week. We ask for cogency of detail steeped with nuance. Do not exceed 1500 words. Speak to no one. You can do this.”

Bomb (I’m thinkin’ fast): “Absolutely!”

What could I say, “Absolutely not?”

I pressed past the persuaders and headed for my safe haven, the field of metal, the gym, where I do my best thinking. They only gave me a few days to fix the mess. What had to be said and what needed to be done was nothing new, nothing they hadn’t heard before. In-your-face, I-don’t-see-it answers, like “train hard and eat right consistently,” are worth a ton of gold and weigh less than fresh air. How to say it to gain attention and make it reverberate, echo and boom was the mission before me. As with all dilemmas, the gym held the fix.

The parking lot was familiar, hopeful and empty. My impeccable timing placed me between heavy workout shifts and for the next hour I would be the best-built and strongest guy in the gym. I would also be the only guy in the gym. Make the most of it, Bomber; spread those lats, flex the tris, strut and sneer. I’m bad! I pulled up an incline bench with a broad view of the gym floor in the least-visited corner where the sun seldom shines. Relieved, I sat and let my mind wander, which is like removing a leash from a bloodhound in a junkyard; I was gone.

The problem was planted in the ‘60s, began to emerge like a flower in the ‘70s, gained the appearance of a shrub in the ‘80s, grew like a weed in the ‘90s, is spreading like poison ivy today and needs to be pulled up, eradicated, with care, certainty and swiftness. The broad population has become soft, deaf and dumb.

By the resourcefulness and technical invention of a creative few, the grateful reception of the consuming masses and the persuasive accommodation of the hungry marketeers, daily living has become less physically demanding. Largely, we’re slipping into apathy with each new technical advantage, juicy entertainment and intense distraction. We know it, some deny it, others accept it, too many call it progress, too few care to fix it; the consequences are huge and no one can endure them. Besides becoming dysfunctional, we’re losing our individual ability to physically function effectively -- push, pull, lift and move -- and protect our neighbor and ourselves. Weak is a powerful word. We own it.

Weakness of body like a toxic fume enters the mind and penetrates the soul and permeates the emotions while dizzying the spirits. Standing tall is a lost art and standing at all an extreme effort. Though modern medicine moves forward, our ills abound and the ability to look, listen, learn and communicate for many appears to have diminished.

We should have planted robust wild flowers years ago. We could have watered and attended their beauty ever since. “Should have, could have,” the belated cry of the prophet in the wilderness. Too late now, blind seer. Where were you when we took phys-ed out of school and replaced it with fast food? Very few people regard his or her body beyond its convenience as a container and vehicle for our mind and thoughts, personality and emotions, spirit and soul. A carry-all with bold identifying letters, ME, on the sides, stuffed with our stuff for quick, easy travel.

The flesh and blood body is a marvelous, mysterious and magnificent construct offered us upon entry into the world. Some call the collected parts a miracle, a gift. Before too long we realize the unique and fascinating phenomenon requires attention to operate and maintain, and in addition to efficient and delightful, it can be troublesome. With the body arrive countless activities, applications and challenges it is meant to execute, and our concern for it, the living body, is preempted by the need and desire to attend its wondrous deeds. Commonly, we are ineffective in preserving and energizing a vigorous body and often mistreat it as if it were a used car and not our precious, living and breathing, skin-and-bone self. How unbearable is the thought.

What’s the most we can get out of the fragile and vulnerable contraption while doing the least possible to preserve and care for it? How far can we take it without breaking it? This attitude toward the body dominates mankind the world over and it is irresponsible and disrespectful, ignorant and ignoble and almost gruesome. We overfeed it and starve it, fill it with drugs, smoke and alcohol. It is then beaten, bruised and run it into the dirt and we worry ourselves to death when it’s broken, diseased or ailing. We choke the body, mangle it, use it improperly or don’t use it at all. We fail to exercise it, seldom sooth it, never let it rest, though it passes out on regular intervals.

This almost sadistic nature we display is not sadism at all. It’s simpler than that. It is stupid, asinine, clueless, screwed, reckless, negligent and childish.

Take heart. None of the aforementioned describes you. You are bombers. I tend to generalize when perusing and recapitulating, referencing interchangeably, they, you, us, me, them and I. Yet, I make a point (sometimes mean) and maintain a decent percentage of accuracy in my assessments (plus or minus 2%). Athletes, whose actions are thoughtful and motivated, fall into another category and are excused from my accusing analysis. We’re cool.

Hmmm. I pause and note I’m getting nowhere with my concise and urgent solution for the Committee. Hound dogs can’t sniff and think at the same time; it’s a dog’s law. Back to work; tail wagging, ears flopping and nose to the ground.

Now when it comes to improving the body’s immediate appearance, we live by completely different standards and apply a range of extensive, expensive tricks. Looks rule. Function suffers while the face is getting a lift -- and the chin, and the chest, and the butt. Cosmetics are a billion-dollar industry: lotions and creams, colors and toners, the tweaks and dabs one applies to the skin, eyes, hair and elsewhere. Beautifiers, enhancers, radiants, moisturizers, smoothers, highlighters, volumizers and softeners assemble like the first line of defense on our bathroom shelves and in the cupboards beneath the sink. Only the best for the exterior, while the interior perishes.

And, no, we won’t go into the largest growth industry next to fast food, the cosmetic surgery zone. You’ve heard them all; treatments are cheaper by the dozen: tummy-be-gone, breast-a-minute, the nose-knows, bye-bye-butt, wrinkles-away, bag-the-sags, never-before calves, hair-here and so on.

Not exactly the avenue of the weightlifter-musclebuilder, cross-training fitness aficionado or natural athlete, but the knife-and-stitch methodology is becoming trendy and popular and hysterical. As the Brits say, “The world’s gone bloody mad.”

No cost is spared, no pain, time, effort or principle reserved. Unless, of course, we’re considering exercise, eating right and discipline, whereupon extravagance surrenders to miserliness. Our fingers grow white with pinching.

The Committee’s appeal: “What should we do?”

The answer is in the iron and steel, ladies and gentlemen, the sets and reps. It’s in an abundance of amino acids and an absence of sugar and fries. No more soda, Pop, and a lot less chocolate, Ma’am. Say goodbye to the booze and stop smoking -- barbecuing -- your throat and lungs while hardening your arteries and narrowing your capillaries.

What’s a dumbbell press or a barbell curl, an ab crunch or a leg raise? Walk or jog to your nearest gym and find out. Practice them daily and you are on your way; don’t stop and you will arrive.

There’s no time to lose and a lifetime to gain. Exercising and eating right are far more fun than dodging the discipline now and far more sensible than dodging the bullet later.

One day you will have forgotten all about the Committee and will soar with the Bombers. It’s in your wings.

God’s speed... DD

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