My weight loss program has been experiencing technical difficulty. I say that because technically I should be losing weight. But either the scale is playing an early April Fool’s joke on me, or I’ve been eating entirely too many sunflower seeds. At this point anything is possible.
I haven’t been to the gym in a week, and I’m sure I won’t get there for at least a few more days. You know how it goes. You spend the day working, just waiting for 5 o’clock so you can go home and relax. Dinner is in the oven, and you kick back with a cup of coffee. By the time dinner is finished, there’s something good on TV. Well, “good” is a relative term. And just about the time you’re getting ready to pack up the gym clothes, this little voice goes off in your head and says, “It’s open tomorrow.”
I’ve found that once I get to the gym, I’m fine. In fact, on the ride over I get a little feeling of excitement, knowing I’m doing what I should be. It’s motivating myself to get up off the couch that gives me trouble. There are just too many other things I’d rather do.
They have a marker board at my gym where they post these little messages designed to convince us that we really need a personal trainer. Yes, personal trainers cost extra – in the sense that beachfront condos cost extra. We’re not talking pocket change. This involves a down-payment and credit check. I’m not sure what they do if you default, but if the guy who collects is as big as some of the trainers, I don’t care to find out.
The sign a few weeks ago said that one in twelve people have a gym membership, but only one in five actually loses any weight and half of them work with a trainer. Well, according to Ellen Degeneres, 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot. So there’s almost a 50/50 chance they’re not being completely honest. And if they are, these gyms are making a LOT of money from people who never show up.
Which begs the question – why? What is it about fitness and weight loss that is so appealing that we’re willing to plunk down our hard-earned money and spend the evening sweating when we could be drinking beer and playing cards?
Well, let’s face it. We live in a world designed for skinny people. Have you ever tried to fit into the coach seat on an airliner? I can, but only if the armrests are up and the seat next to me is empty. Even then they have to shift baggage to the other side of the plane. If the flight is full, my belly counts as a piece of carry-on luggage.
You may think I’m joking, but a few years ago I was getting ready to take a puddle-jumper to Kalispell, Montana. Apparently nineteen seats is more than enough to handle that destination. If you’ve ever been there, you’d understand.
When I got to the ticket counter the guy leaned over the counter to get a better look, then assigned me a seat in the back, dead center. As we started to taxi out, I moved to the seat next to the window. The co-pilot spotted my move and made an announcement. “Please stay in your assigned seats so we don’t disturb our weight and balance.” I wish I was making that up.
The reason airline seats are so small is twofold. First of all, airlines are cheap. Wider seats means fewer passengers. If they could get away with jamming an extra seat in the lavatory, they’d do it. As it stands, a couple of airlines are charging passengers to use that seat already.
The other reason our world is so small is because engineers are anorexic. They design things to fit themselves. How wide should the seat be? “Hey Eugene, let me measure your butt.” Those are words you won’t hear on the shop floor.
And it’s not just the airline industry that’s stuffing us into smaller spaces. Slide into a booth at any restaurant. If you’re even mildly overweight, the table is pressing into your belly. And this is a place that wants to sell you a full meal plus appetizers and dessert. Here’s a tip. You stand a much better chance of selling me dessert if you seat me at a table that doesn’t make me feel fat.
That’s the thing I never could understand. The restaurant industry is doing everything they can to fatten us up. My wife took me to the Cheesecake Factory a while back. They make good cheesecake. Really good. I could feel my arteries harden with the first bite. Then I went to the gym and spent two hours trying to work off the calories it took me forty seconds to consume.
Something about that just doesn’t seem fair. Why is it that all the good things in life are bad for us? I think it was part of God’s punishment for the things Adam and Eve did long before I was born. Adam was sitting in the Garden of Eden one day, picking at his dinner, and God said, “Adam, you don’t seem to care much for broccoli.”
“You’re right, God, I don’t like broccoli a bit. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but it tastes like crap. Among all your creations, it’s got to be the nastiest …”
Zap! Broccoli was loaded with iron and a host of vitamins, making it one of the most nutritious foods we could eat. So nutritious, in fact, that women throughout history would force their husbands to eat it in the hope that it would keep them in the work force a little while longer.
Then God saw Eve, slowly savoring history’s predecessor to the Hershey bar. She was in heaven. “Eve, I’ve noticed you really like chocolate.”
“Oh my God, you have no idea! It’s so delicious! Where did you ever come up with such a recipe? Of all your creations, it’s got to be …”
You’d think with all the artificial enhancements at our disposal, somebody could invent beer-flavored broccoli. I’d eat that. But in the process they’d remove all the vitamins and add seven-thousand calories. That’s just the way it works.
And apparently, people in the food and clothing industries aren’t talking to one another, because for everything they do to make us fatter, nobody is making it any easier to find clothes to cover that fat. Why is that?
When it comes to clothes, they have special stores for people like us. Or we can look for the sign that says, “Big & Tall” or “Plus Sizes”. It’s just a nice way of saying, “Hey fat people, your stuff is over here!” Though I have to admit, it’s a little flattering to pick through a stack of 5XL shirts to find one that’s small enough to fit me. That’s what I call creative marketing.
But the fact remains, this world isn’t made for overweight people. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. We may represent the majority, but we’re the ones who have to change. If not for our health, for the simple fact that we need a comfortable place to sit.
Diet and exercise are part of the program, to be certain. But a sense of humor is equally important. As I’ve mentioned before, laughter burns as much as 500 calories per hour. That’s about the same as a steady run on the treadmill. And a good belly laugh can exercise every one of the body’s muscles at the same time. No machine in the gym can do that.
More importantly, a sense of humor fights the urge to get discouraged when things don’t go as planned, or when we fall off the wagon for a week or two and slide back the other way. It happens. The important thing is knowing where you’re headed, and having a little fun along the way. And if you can do that, you’ve already won.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon