Addressing Obesity In Others…

I’ll state from the start that I’m less trying to initiate a discussion, than I am sharing the experiences of a career fitness trainer.

Discuss if you wish, but I reserve the right to delete, ignore, and to pass judgment based on my experiences.

As a career fitness trainer, I’ve been privy to discussions on obesity at many levels. My expertise has been sought to advise, to consult, and to help in framing such discussions.  I’ve seen the obesity of others addressed by family, friends, and coworkers from every possible angle.

Hint: these discussions almost never go well, and often have a negative, and even a contrary result on the individual’s behavior in matters of eating and drinking.

In cases where it’s a parent talking to an adult child, a spouse talking to his/her partner, friends talking to friends, or co-workers talking to their contemporaries about the need to lose weight, it can go south very quickly — even if the intentions behind those conversations are good.

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The primary example of such good intentions usually cited is “for reasons of health”. That is, an individual wants to guide another individual towards weight-loss for reasons of improved health. And though that may be the foundation for many of these discussions, it’s my opinion that at the root of them it often relates as much to what the person looks like, as it does to their level of health or wellness.

Even in matters of obesity, human beings have the ability to cleverly mask their prejudice with so-called good intentions.

I have a client who has been with me on-and-off for nearly a decade. He’s approximately 80-lbs overweight. His parents speak to him regularly about the health implications of his obesity.

Though I am certain the parents of this man, who is now 30-years old, do have concerns that relate to his health, he is also the face of the family business. And as the face of that enterprise, I am just as certain that the parents of the young man would prefer he be at an aesthetically more pleasing weight.

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Each time his parents address this with him, they speak in terms of improved health, but often segue into matters of appearance. This can send my client into a depression, and his eating and drinking tendencies often increase. He has confessed this to me.

Did I mention he was not far from a healthy weight when he began working with me…?  The whole reason he became a client was because his parents wanted him to trim down a little for photographs and videos that he would appear in on behalf of their business.

As he resisted and went in the other direction, his parents applied even more pressure, to which he resisted more, and the snowball effect was an 80-pound weight gain over an approximate 4-5 year period.

The pressure from outside, as gentle as it might be, was not always gentle.  For my part, I have tried to do my best to provide him with beneficial workouts, and I’ve encouraged him to eat in support of those workouts.

This is not an isolated case. I have known many like this, too many, and have known of many more.

I once had a client who was a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant. She was in my studio one day with her mother there to photograph the session. Suffice it to say that if you’re a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant, you’re drop-dead gorgeous to begin with, and probably quite fit, despite the very slight muffin top hips.  I was demonstrating an exercise for the young woman when her mother said in a voice loud enough for people in China to hear…

“Look at her, she’s fat!” pointing to the muffin top.

I wanted to hang myself. Instead, I just stood silently, broadcasting the most apologetic look I possibly could toward my client. I was grateful that she wasn’t obese, or she probably would’ve been disowned. And that feeds into my message more than a little bit…

If we have the ability to be judgmental and prejudice over people that we love being 5-lbs overweight, it probably gets much easier for us to be inexcusably judgmental over people we don’t know who might be 100-lbs overweight. Many people I know carry that level of prejudice and more. They put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the individual who is carrying the extra weight.

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No adult who is overweight, be it by 5-lbs or 200, is ever unaware of their situation or caught off-guard by it. Never.

From my perspective, whether a person desires lose 5-lbs or 50, they need cheerleaders, not false natured pundits of change hiding behind the facade of good health. There is no doubt that if I were the only voice in the ears of my weight-loss clients, they would be less likely to push back, even subconsciously, to their own detriment as many do when guided by the so-called voices of love.

By today’s sideways and prejudiced thinking, opioid abusers are now most often seen as full-on victims of doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, while obese people are seen almost exclusively as weak gluttons. This, in my opinion, is not the case.

Though we all do get to make choices about the foods that we put in our bodies, we all exist in ever expanding systems of complexity in which corporations and marketeers work harder than ever, and more intelligently, at leading us into lesser choices.

I can’t go an hour online without somebody putting information in front of me demonstrating how the corporations behind our technology and behind our pharmaceuticals work hard to lead me into being more dependent on their technology and their pharmaceuticals. With that in mind, I can assure you that the corporations behind our food products are working just as hard to get us to eat more, and more frequently.

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Take a good look around in any room, social setting, store, or playground.  Though the temptation may be to blame an individual’s weakness for their excess bodyweight, they are increasingly tempted, if not outright lead into lesser eating choices.  That’s why it’s happening to so many more people with each passing year, myself included. This, all done by companies that make a little more profit with every pound that we gain.

So if you have a concern that a friend, family member, or coworker might be overweight, and you truly are concerned about their health, maybe mention it to them one time, and then let it go. After that, channel your energies toward the ever-changing structures and institutions that have allowed obesity to be on the increase.

Hint: It begins with your vote each November.

Lastly, and I cannot be more clear about this, if you use the word ‘fat’ in any fashion when addressing or describing an individual who might be overweight, that is moral equivalent of using the N-word… Jhciacb

If You have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. And please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this incredible outtake from Alex Chilton. Enjoy…!

Irony At Easter…


One of the great ironies I see in the social media era is this…

I have a network of friends, liberal, open-minded people, who would fight to their death to protect my human rights. If I were gay, transgender, smoked pot, or preferred having sex with inanimate objects, they would support me. Yet there is a duality in how they view people’s religion – they are against it.

By the way, being against religion doesn’t make one an atheist, it makes one an antitheist, and that’s dangerous. Simply put, if a person is against religion as a collective, or a specific religion, that is a form of prejudice – period. To be against anyone’s beliefs in favor of their own is an undeniable act of bigotry, and cannot be justified, only rationalized. Hint: when you rationalize bigotry, you don’t look so good.

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Religion has been part of our cultural DNA since hunter-gatherer times. If we accept that cultural evolution parallels biological evolution, and that over time it weeds out traits that don’t serve the cause of advancement, then cultural evolution would have weeded out religion millennia ago. This has not been the case. Though religion has changed through the years, its practice is at an all-time high.

Religion, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of culture. All art began as sacred art. All social structure began as sacred law. All wonder, I believe, is rooted in sacred awe.

As millions of people celebrate Easter this week, I am saddened to see so many of my open-minded friends poking fun at the Christian faith in the forms of memes, sophomoric observations, and childish ridicule. We should do better than that.

To all my friends who celebrate Easter, may you celebrate in peace. To all my friends who ridicule the former, don’t be so gutless. Please support those who wish to celebrate in peace, as you would support those who would rather not.  Be well…  rc

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The inner light…

The inner light…

It took me a long time to have this picture taken.  That is, it took a long time during the photo shoot.  You see, I had to stop and cry a lot.  Taking my shirt of, and revealing the body shown below made me feel worthless – based on where that body had previously been.

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Taken on 9/11/12. Ironic, as it looks as though I committed and act of terrorism — AGAINST MYSELF!

I had to come face to face with it though – with what I had allowed to happen to my body.

This photo was taken on 9/11/2012.  Ironic, as it appears I was in the process of committing an act of terrorism – against myself.

In truth, I just let my guard down for a while.  “For a while” could easily have turned into forever, but I didn’t let that happen.

No, I’m not going to insert of photo later on in this post of how I look today.  Trust me, I look fucking great.  That’s not my point.

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

1)  To let those who struggle with issues of personal fitness, eating, and body image know that we are all human, and we can all become vulnerable to life’s challenges – even experienced fitness trainers.

As a fitness trainer, former marathon runner, lifter, cyclist, bodybuilder, and life-time practitioner of daily action, I became vulnerable to all things which anyone else might find blocking their path; depression, relationship issues, self-loathing, junk-food-medication, alcohol, and more.

Once I when I realized I was down though, I chose to get back up, and here I stand.

2) To remind those prejudiced, zealot fitness assholes who think they know everything about life, about exercise and eating, about how to change the body, the mind, and the attitude, but who actually prize physical appearance above all other virtues, that at the time this picture was taken, I was still very active.

Shell shocked, but still functioning…

At the time the picture above was taken, I was running with my running pack each week, and fairing quite well.  I was lifting daily, and ahead of the game with my poundages.  I was still a good business man.  I could still crack a nice joke.  I could still turn a phrase like ringing a bell.  I was still a good father, a good friend, and a good citizen in my community.  And what I looked like didn’t have a fucking thing to do with who I was on the inside.

Yes, I want to look good – but looking good is only a shell.  Though my shell may ebb and flow through the rocky course of my life, so long as I live my intentions, who I am on the inside should never waiver.

I no longer look like the picture above.  If I did though, the only thing that would be changed about me, would be how I’m perceived by (some) people around me.

But that wouldn’t really be about me, would it…?  It would be about them, and their prejudiced tendencies with regard to physical appearance and beauty, which can be separate from functional fitness.

In truth, I do prefer the way I look today over the way I looked in that picture.  And trees are made out of wood.  I went to a party several weeks ago wearing a pair of jeans I could have worn in high school.  There was a confidence in doing that which escapes description.

The confidence that comes with looking better and possessing a higher level of personal fitness does, I believe, enable me to contribute better to all facets of my existence.  Perhaps that is the single greatest rationalization of my life.  I don’t know…

Looking good, feeling good…

This I do know: There is a difference between aesthetic fitness, and functional fitness.  Aesthetic fitness is simply the act of looking good – looking good is optional.  I believe all of us though, have a responsibility to be functionally fit – the progression of our society depends on it.

I won’t attempt to deny the superficiality that is behind my pursuit of being aesthetically fit.  I would rather go through life with aesthetic fitness than without it.  I try very hard though, not to judge any person for any reasons, least of all for what they look like or how they function.

In my day-to-day psyche I work very hard to remember that in the end, none of us will be judged by the shape our abs or whether we do sinister justice to that little black dress.

In the end, we will only be judged by the deeds of our minds, of our hearts, by our actions toward others, and that whatever we do, be done out of love.

Taking me back…

As far as getting back to my current level of conditioning an appearance goes, to change the landscape of the human body; both in terms of ability and in terms of appearance, there are not two more important words than:

–          Awareness

–          Discipline

I became aware of that which I wanted to change.  I applied the discipline required to affect those changes.

In fitness, I believe these are the only two words which matter...

In fitness, I believe these are the only two words which matter…

With a healthy respect for those two words, an entire attitude can be formed, and a body can be changed… Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this from Poi Dog Pondering.  Enjoy….