This morning, I logged on to Facebook (a nasty habit, and one I really would give up, if it wasn't for Scrabble) and read a post by a colleague of mine. She's a fitness enthusiast, a fighter, actually, who is in enviable shape. As you might imagine, she is a regular attendee at the gym. Her post was about how she just laughs at the people who show up at the gym for 2 months before falling off the wagon and becoming fat and lazy, and how these people had no motivation.
On one hand, I understand her point. If you are a regular exerciser, it probably is very annoying to have more people at the gym, using the equipment you normally have all to yourself. However, I think it's really unfair to say these people don't have motivation. And frankly, it generates a hostile attitude at gyms, particularly for people who are making a genuine effort to try to get in shape. It's not easy to be on display, doing something that's hard, and nobody needs critical judgements when they are working out. (This is why I don't like the gym, and why I prefer running. When I'm on the street, and I pass another runner, I've never gotten anything other than a smile and a wave, regardless of how quickly or slowly I'm moving. Unfortunately, it's cold, and I need to run, and the treadmill is my only option, so I am waiting for my spanking new gym membership to activate.)
I don't necessarily agree with the idea of making grand New Year's resolutions - but at the same time, I think it's reasonable to take some time at even an arbitrary starting point to think about your life, figure out where you are, what you want, and how to get there. I think taking any steps to meet your goals is also a reasonable action.
There's another underlying point here, that I'm trying to get to. Last night I watched Michael Pollan's interview on The Daily Show. As a food enthusiast, I've been following the discussions about vegetarianism, sustainable agriculture and suchlike with a fair amount of interest. (A disclaimer here - I have not read Pollan's books, nor have I read Jonathan Safran Foer's latest book. I am also neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, and I am not, have never been, and will never be a member of any animal rights groups.) Again, I agree with some of the points that keep being made. We all should be eating more real food, less processed crap, and we should be engaging in much better animal husbandry and agricultural practices as evidenced by the increasingly more common outbreaks of food-borne illnesses (salmonella and E. coli O157 being obvious examples). BUT - and there's a big but here, we should also be aware that there is a class issue at play here.
Yup, I'm playing the elitist and classist card here.
Purchasing "organic" meats and produce (I'm sorry, my science background makes me hate the term) costs more money. Processed food costs less. We subsidize crap food, and it's cheaper to purchase and takes less time to prepare than real food. Pollan touched on this last night, and suggested we should stop the subsidies, without providing a real solution. I keep hearing people saying we should accept higher food costs, and try to live in a more sustainable way. Which is great - but a) we can't make enough affordable food for people that way, and b) there are a lot of people who are having financial troubles now as it is. What's the solution for people who aren't in the upper middle class or above? If you don't live in an urban area, it's not that easy to have access to the healthiest of foods. Plus, the urban folks I've met who suggest that Walmart is always an option have not lived in some of the rural areas I've been to. Walmart isn't always there, and a lot of them aren't like grocery stores. And finally, growing your own garden isn't realistic either - it's a matter of time, cost, and presumes you have access to land.
I think that we as a society have become increasingly more critical of the obese and overweight. It's always been an issue, but now greater negative commentary has become justified by health reasons and discussion of the "obesity epidemic." Time to exercise is not necessarily a given for all people - if you're working 2 jobs and taking care of children, it's unlikely you're going to have a lot of time to hit the gym, or even have the extra money to pay for a membership. My concern is that people are engaging in these discussions without considering the greater societal commentary they're making - it's not just about weight, or appearance, or what you're choosing to eat - it's part of a larger discussion about financial worth and societal status, and there are some much bigger issues that really need to be addressed.
I've been rambling here, and it's well past time for me to stop and get on with my day. Thanks for sticking with me.