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This place matters

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What's in a name?

Have you noticed in recent years that nobody diets anymore? We adopt a habit of healthy eating, or embrace a new lifestyle or commit to wellness. Is this fooling anybody? I'm here to tell you, I don't care what Weight Watchers calls it or Curves calls it or Alton Brown calls it, I'm on a diet. I mean, technically, we're all on diet, since a diet is the sum of the things one eats - if I lived on ice cream and candy bars, I'd be on a diet of ice cream and candy bars. Do you suppose there's an ice cream and candy bars diet plan, 'cause that'd be awesome? My point is, it doesn't matter what I call my diet, when I'm hungry, I'm hungry. When I want ice cream, I want ice cream. I'm not going to want ice cream less if I call it a lifestyle instead of a diet. Interestingly, the term diet once referred not just to food, but meant chosen way of life, according to the Online Etymology dictionary. A diet's not all that different from a lifestyle after all.
I do have to say, kids, regardless of what Alton Brown chooses to call the thing that made him lose 50 pounds, it's awesome. The weight is coming off slowly, but it's coming off, and I'm eating a lot of tasty stuff. It's a diet, but it's an easy one. So there's my plug for the day.
So here's another thing. You notice how it's become socially acceptable to bash fat people as long as you explain that being fat is unhealthy? Like that annoying twit who berates fat people on all the talk shows; it's not that I'm not grateful to have a bunch of skinny folks suddenly concerned for my health, but I got this. A barb by any other name cuts as deep. 
Most people are surprised to learn that I'm considered obese, medically. My body mass index puts me just over the obesity line. Here's something interesting about the concept of body mass index, or BMI. It's not really a medical concept at all. According to the Penn and Teller show, Bullshit, BMI was a concept developed by some sociologist some years back for demographic purposes. An individual's BMI doesn't mean much at all, medically. Arnold Schwarzenegger, by BMI, is probably morbidly obese. George Clooney is obese, along with Russel Crowe, and Brad Pitt is overweight, according to this scale. 
There are a few health risks that an obese person experiences independent of diet, but the relationship between obesity and heart disease, for instance, or diabetes, isn't entirely causal, it's the diet that's the problem. This means that even though the Wii Fit scolds me for being obese every time I step on the pad, my cholesterol is perfect, my blood pressure is perfect, my blood sugar is perfect, and so on. The main reason I'm fat isn't that I eat unhealthy foods - well, not anymore. It's because I eat healthy foods like a lumberjack. A skinny dude who eats fried chicken every day may not look less healthy than I, but trust me. All signs suggest that my arteries are superhighways. Fried chicken guy, notsomuch. 
OK, so this has gone from talking about words to ranting. Perhaps I'm cranky because my lifestyle won't allow me the cookies I want.

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