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

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On Food System Beliefs…

This debate, as to whether or not we should eat animals, and how they should be raised should we decide eating them is acceptable, is slowly turning from a simmer to a boil. That conversation, now in the periphery, is headed into the mainstream and it’s going to get loud.

I believe within a generation, maybe two, the question of whether or not we eat animals, and if we deem it proper to eat them, how they might be raised, will be as central to political discourse as abortion rights, energy policy, and international diplomacy. This debate will someday influence elections at local, national, and global levels.

Fundamentally, this will be a continuation and an expansion of the right to life movement. It’s just that in the future, human lives will be having to scoot over some, to make room for the hundreds of millions of non-human lives who are beginning to matter a little more to each new generation.

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As I have attempted to sort out my own thoughts on these, and to separate my feelings from the logic required to maintain a civil, environmentally aware, and properly nourished species, I have come to realize how complex and far-reaching this conversation is. I’ll suggest that these issues (and all those connected to them) are even more complicated than abortion, immigration, and threats of nuclear war.

I say more complicated, because the aforementioned all have the potential for unanimous conclusions. The question of whether or not animal lives matter as much as or even more than human life, can never be resolved — at least not until they begin to write and speak on their own behalf.

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I have strong feelings on these issues and I know where I stand — today. Have no idea though, where I might stand tomorrow. My feelings are malleable and have shifted as my explorations have gone deeper. The one thing I can say, beyond any doubt, is that my uncertainty about any of this is greater than my certainty.

Regardless of where one stands on veganism, vegetarianism, eating meat, or how to raise meat, there is one fact that is rooted in mathematics and is undeniable…

That when we eat more than we need to survive, and do so habitually, it has a negative impact on the environment — globally. That statement, has nothing to do with obesity levels, fitness, or anything related to health. Simply put and worth repeating, when we eat more than we need to survive, and do so habitually, it has a negative impact on the environment — globally.

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I feel for those who drown in this type of uncertainty. It’s no way to go through life. I pity though, those with absolute certainty relating to any of it, for they are likely responding from their emotional side and not a logical one. This does little to pave the way for an acceptable future…  Jhciacb

If you’re not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. 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’s this from The Prefab Messiahs. Enjoy…! 

Eat The Fucking Ice Cream…

Last week a client in her 70s, prompted me about some changes she wished to make. She walks for an hour every morning before sunrise, works out with me 2 days per week, is a very good eater, but is concerned about the fat rolls over her hips.

I asked her bluntly what she needed to do to minimize her alleged fat rolls…

“Well, I should cut back on the wine, and maybe the ice cream” she said.

I asked her if she enjoyed the wine and ice cream…

“Of course, I do. The ice cream I can live without” she said, “but I’m not giving up the wine!”

We both chuckled. I reminded her that she’s teeny tiny, way ahead of the game for being in her mid-70s, and told her emphatically to eat the fucking ice cream, and to enjoy the wine.

I suggested that her alleged fat rolls were not visible to me, are not a health risk, and to make them go away would require a dietary sacrifice that isn’t consistent with enjoying her life.

And that’s where it ends for me these days, at least in my little world.

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Our food system has become increasingly complex, and outright sinister. It lures people in one direction, as asinine social expectations pull people in the opposite direction. This tearing apart of the human spirit has confused and corralled people into a pen of fear, frustration, and too often into a state of shame.

Whether you want to lose small pockets of fat from your hips or 100 lbs. from your frame, I encourage everyone to eat a little better and move a little more – just a little better and a little more, you will feel and function better for your efforts, and so too will those who depend on you… Jhciacb

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Downshift…

Preying for change…

I’ll begin this by stating in clear terms; I have no problem with the killing of, or the eating of animals.  So long as those animals have been raised humanely by organic methods, or have been caught in the wild by methods which will not significantly reduce populations or threaten the species, I’m good with it.  Man has been eating other animals almost from the beginning, as animals have also been eating other animals, including man.  All who are born, are born as a potential snack.

What I can no longer do, what I am no longer willing to accept, is to eat animals raised inhumanely, sustained callously, and slaughtered brutally.  Between the callousness of their surroundings, the hormones and antibiotics they are reared with, and within the filth they are raised in, high volume animal farming is something I can no longer support.

Shake up in the cabinet…

As I have cleared the last of my farmed meat from my freezer; beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp, and as I have used my last egg given by a caged chicken,  I now begin a process that will have me obtaining most of my protein from plant-based sources – even if those sources contain GMOs.  I would rather eat genetically modified soy curd, than an inhumanely raised chicken, or farmed or threatened fish. Or to put it more succinctly, I would rather have more GMOs in my diet, than OMGs.

As I can access and afford it, I will also include protein derived from un-caged chickens, unchained dairy cows, grass-fed and humanely slaughtered beef, bison, and whatever game and fish I catch, or my friends are willing to provide to me.

This is not a stand against eating Bambi.  If Bambi is in the right place at his wrong time, and ends up on my dinner table, I ‘m down.  This is a stand for how I believe we should conduct ourselves as a species, and as the stewards of this planet.  I am no longer willing to accept the way many corporations raise, slaughter, distribute, and market animal food sources.

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Guess who is coming to dinner…?

Sensationally speaking…

I understand the video below is social media sensationalism at its best.  I also understand that it’s real – nothing seen in it has been contrived.  These, and similar methods of animal processing are all around us, and have been for decades.  It is only social media that has many of us seeing red for the first time, over seeing red for the first time.  Seeing this video was simply the final push I needed to take this personal stand I have been on the verge of for more than a decade, but have selfishly resisted.

Judge Not, Roy Bean…

In this decision I am not passing judgment on anyone else, nor am I advocating similar actions by others.  The complexity of our food system – of our society has expanded to a point where answers and truths can no longer be established by outside sources.  In this era of increasing complexity, I truly believe that the best answers and the best truths we can depend on must come from within.

Sadly, people are certain to judge me on this decision.  There will be jokes cracked, social media friendships threatened, more than a few snickers.  That’s on them, not on me.  Though I don’t believe I will waiver on this, as I have not wavered on not owning a vehicle, I certainly won’t attempt to predict the future – I consistently suck at it.

 Restaurant not impossible…

Though I expect making these changes might offer some challenges in the beginning, I’m not too concerned about the adaptation process.  My weak link though, will be in restaurants. I eat out often, sometimes several times a day.  Most everything I eat in restaurants I have deemed acceptable until now.  That definition has changed.

Most of what I order in restaurants has been chicken or egg based.  My friends may roll their eyes as I add tofu or textured vegetable protein to a garden salad at the local diner.  Perhaps not as much if I just thrown a little ground bison that salad, and call it good.  We shall see.  Regardless, eating out will need to be modified.

Did somebody tell me that the restaurant chain, Chipotle, offers tofu...?

Did somebody tell me that the restaurant chain, Chipotle, offers tofu…?

The hustle to keep up the muscle…

Lastly, as a lifelong weightlifter, bodybuilder, and weekend athlete, I have raised myself to be the ultimate carnivore.  I have eaten red meat most every day of my adult life, often by the pound, with a belief that animal protein, beef in particular, is a requirement for strength, energy, and forging a tasty aesthetic.  This is going to be tested to be sure, since my bodybuilding aspirations remain intact.

If my strength, energy, and aesthetic suffer for a lack of feedlot beef, farmed fish, and caged eggs, my soul certainly will not suffer.  In these days, and in these times, my interest lies much more with soul-building than with bodybuilding.  Be well… rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this by The Alabama Shakes. Enjoy…

A slow turning…

Much is discussed and argued in the media and online communities these days, about the state and the future of the food system.  Many take note that our national eating behaviors are worse than ever.  Others suggest that there are better ways to feed the nation.  Most just sit back, observe, and continue to accept the status quo.  Pass the hydrogenated, sodium laden, 20-year shelf life butter substitute please.

There is no shortage of opinions on the subjects of fast food, GMOs, obesity, diabetes, local farming, corporate monocultures, high fructose corn syrup, and the varied eating styles and dieting fads which fall in and out of vogue these days. These conversations are ubiquitous, but are they productive…?

It’s obvious something is wrong.  It’s obvious there are potential solutions.  It’s obvious that there are as many people who care about improving the food system, as there are people willing to exploit it, or settle for it in its current state.

I’ll suggest that the following statements are true:

– We would all like to see a more mindful food system.

– We would all like to see more intelligent uses of the food system; one which promote healthier lives, and healthier lifestyles for everyone.

– The food system, in its current state, is not set up to promote health as a first priority.  Rather, it exists to promote profit as a first priority – acknowledging though, that there are some considerations for health by some components within the food system.

– There is an increasing awareness among many segments of the population that the food system is faltering, but can be improved upon with corporate and individual diligence.

– To improve the food system, there will be required a spreading of awareness by way of activism, networking, volunteering, and use of the social media.

So where am I going with all of this…?

Changes of this magnitude don’t take place overnight.  Being Americans though, we do look for those changes overnight.  That’s not how social change works.  I’ll suggest if we just take simple actions daily, and encourage our children to take simple actions daily, we can look to the future for change in hopes that our children’s children will reap the benefits of the sacrifice we make today.

I have begun to think about the changes in our food system, and our use of the food system, as being analogous to the American civil rights movement during the middle part of our last century.  Change comes slowly. We often don’t see change as it manifests around us. That doesn’t mean that change isn’t taking place – just ask Darwin.

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We can look back at a history of widespread hatred; lynchings, church burnings, and acts of racial prejudice in the early and mid-20th century America.  Today, we can look around us to see black head coaches, generals, CEOs, and even a president.

Are there still hatred, prejudice, and acts of violence against non-whites…?  Of course there are.  However, these instances are fewer, and further between, by far, than they were 40 years ago.  Looking back, it took decades of consistent grassroots efforts, volunteering, activism, spreading social awareness, and sacrifice for those changes to slowly manifest.  To this day, those changes must be guarded.

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I look back at the progress though, that has been made with civil rights during the past 6 decades, and I do have some hope – if not for the food system of today, for the food system of tomorrow, through the work being done today.

A lynching today would not be acceptable.  Perhaps people 60 years from now will feel the same way about giving a 1,500 calorie milk shake with 225 grams of sugar to a child after school.  We still lynch, but it’s just a drive through kind of lynching.  The #3 Value Meal has enough calories to support a human life for 2 days AND, it costs less than $4.  We lynch ourselves, and we lynch our children – it’s just a slow lynching.

The noose that goes inside the neck, not around it...

The noose that goes inside the neck, not around it…

I understand there is a large difference between racially based hate crimes, and the offering of junk food to a loved one.  In that sense, perhaps we should refer to the ritual of sharing unhealthy foods as, love crimes.  Think about that; love crimes.

Take note:  My comparison of racism in America to the faltering food system is not about the severity or intentions of either.  There is no comparison.  Prejudice is an evil that far exceeds the dangers of Pop-Tarts, and aspartame.  My comparison is about the time required to see tangible results in changing social trends of any kind.

Take action today.  Teach your children today.  Have hope for the next generation, if not for tomorrow.  Be well.  rc


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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from, The Men.  Enjoy…