Thursday, December 04, 2008

Continuing the fitness conversation

Steve Perry writes what I assume is partly a response to my post on the costs of diet and exercise. He doesn't think it's useful to consider those costs:

Sometimes when I venture into Bloglandia, I come across postings on the fit-or-fat question. Of late, I have been finding some relatively strident comments from people I have dubbed the DOO, i.e., the Defenders of Obesity. I think I understand where these folks are coming from, and I can sympathize, but I would be remiss if I didn't offer that I believe their advocacy of such attitudes does more harm than good.

He thinks it's okay to give up if you've struggled all your life without success, but not to admit it or explain your reasons.

It is their choice, and I don't blame them for it. One measures, one weighs the benefits versus cost, and one elects an option. No problem.

Where I run into trouble is with the notion that the grapes of fitness are sour anyway, and rationalizing it thus allows them to feel better about themselves.

Over there I responded roughly like this:

There's a lot of rationalizing going on from the fitness warriors, too. Injuries? You've got 'em. There's the time commitment: studies say about an hour of vigorous exercise a day to maintain a current level of fitness, so it would take more to get there. And constant exercise with prudent diet doesn't guarantee perfect results, see, e.g., Jim Fixx. You can still be stricken with cancer or have a genetic predisposition to disease. Or just get hit by a car.

As for strident, there's no one-true-wayist like the diet and exercise kinds. The moral superiority, the self-righteousness, the insistence on telling other people their choices are wrong--it's all there in all caps. They can handwave their judgmentalism away by saying "if you're happy with your body or your life, I'm not talking about you" but it comes through loud and clear that they don't believe anybody is really in that category--it's just denial combined with rationalization. Note I'm not referring to you here, Steve--I don't think you're a one-true-wayist although you are a strong advocate.

And you can't tell fitness by looking, unless your Humpty-Dumpty-like definition of fitness is to be skinny. Skinny people might have high blood pressure and cholesterol, might have asthma, might not be able to run a mile--fat people can be fit in those categories and others without losing the weight.

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