Keith Gaughan

An attempt at public introspection

Life

Weight

· 4min

[Update from 2020: This post is mean. I appear to have been very angry at myself when I wrote this. It looks like it turned into an exercise in beating myself up. Some of it did come true: I got up to 105kg a few years ago, but managed to get down to about 75kg. I’m tempted not to repost this here, but it’s where I was at the time.]

I came across two blog posts on weight recently. One by Twenty and another by Jeremy Zawodny. Both are well worth reading.

Background

I’m overweight and it’s my own fault.

I can admit to that. I’m 13.5st/85kg and somebody with my height and build should be 11st/69kg. I recognise that this is down to the lack of exercise and poor diet I’ve maintained.

Does this cost me every day? Yes. It leaves me feeling far less energetic than somebody my age should be. While my general health has never been what one might consider good, during the past ten years since I started putting on weight, it’s became worse. But I’m far from a point where I’d be considered obese and what weight I carry is far from life-threatening. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that I value the shape of my stomach and hips from an aesthetic point of view.

Tracking my weight over time, it’s far from unlikely that if I don’t do something about my situation soon, I will become obese. It figures. What’s worse is that 0.5st/3.5kg of that weight is weight put on in the last four months. Up until then my weight had stablised at between 12.5st/78kg and 13st/81.5kg. That whatever exercise I used to get through walking is now gone and that I have steak every other day contributes to this, I reckon.

I’ve unsuccessfully resolved in the past to lower my weight, but laziness and a lack of dedication makes this resolve shortlived.

I know that if I was simply to only eat when I’m hungry and not bother having dinner if I’m not, cut out the Jacob’s Kimberley biscuits, and do some light exercises—the fifteen-minute regime recommended in the Hacker’s Diet would be just fine—within a few months I would be feeling much better, and within a year I’d look an awful lot better.

But I’ll tell you a couple of things I do not do: I don’t blame my weight on some imaginary disease and I don’t try to justify my weight by appealing to economics. Both are laziness, a worse kind of laziness than the kind that convinces you it’s not worth exercising; both kinds divorce you of responsibility for your own actions.

Weight as a disease

This is frankly bullshit, and Twenty, colourful invective and all, gets it right. He puts it a lot better than I ever could, but I’ll try anyway.

Obesity is not a disease. If it was, laziness, greed and gluttony would be diseases too. It’s on thing to be a bit overweight; if you’ve a glandular problem that effects your metabolism, I sympathise. It’s quite another thing to take up two seats on the bus. Stop buying and eating crap, learn how to cook proper food, get some exercise, and develop some self-esteem. Your weight is not its own excuse, and if you end up in hospital because you develop some condition attached to your weight, you’d better expect to pay for it. (And the same goes for smokers, Twenty).

People with glandular problems don’t get away from responsibility. Just because your thyroid gland doesn’t work right doesn’t mean that you’re excused from keeping fit. It simply means you have to work a bit harder. You might never be at what medical science deems to be your right weight, you might always be a bit heavy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, once you start using your condition as an excuse, you’ve lost my sympathy.

Weight as a good thing

When I read the Washington Post article “Why America Has to Be Fat“, I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t a joke. Though I’m Irish, not American, the same article could have been written by a newspaper here—like the US, waistlines are ballooning, though we haven’t quite reached their level of corpulence.

As with the last article, I’d point you towards what Jeremy wrote on it. I’ll only add this:

I’ve laboured under the na├»ve delusion that, like the state, we the people are the economy’s ultimate master and not the other way round. I believed that the economy’s whole reason for existence was to make our lives better. Since when did the economy become our master? If it has, then this great experiment with capitalism is as much of a wash-out as communism was, and I want no part of an economic system that wishes me to sacrifice my own health and well-being and that of my friends and relatives for its own abstract “health”. An economy that demands that we be gluttons to satisfy itself is not one I want to be part of.

That is all.