Fat — the word — makes a lot of people uncomfortable. If it’s in your food, it’s delicious. But too much of it on a human body is not cool. It’s stigmatized by many, from celebrities to cyclists, and even in the nutrition field, even though it’s one of the three macronutrients along with protein and carbohydrates, and our bodies need it to survive. (Don’t EVEN get me started on carbs. I’m a carbon and water-based life form; how about you?) But back to fat. (Made you think of back fat there, didn’t I?) So we use euphemisms like overweight, heavy, chunky, plus-sized, big, cuddly, and my favorite because it’s Yiddish: zaftig. I like fathlete (fat + athlete), even though I didn’t coin it. And as Strava told us in my post before last in their MEDIA ALERT: Announcing Strava S.O.F.T., “If you sweat, you’re an athlete.” If I may paraphrase Kermit the Frog, my point is this: It ain’t easy bein’ lean.
Before I continue, how many of you found the secret message in the MEDIA ALERT post? Be sure to raise your hand in the comments (withOUT spoiling it for anyone else if you can).
Anyway, as repeat offenders, I mean returning readers know, I do a lot of exercise, and I also am not a skinny racer (doped up or not; I’m not). Not for lack of trying. At my advanced age though — I’ve never been this old — I see the weight loss window closing. In another post soon I might delve into my use of MyFitnessPal to track calories. Spoiler alert: it’s mostly just made me aware that I eat food. I do measure everything within a gram of its life, and yet this has not led to any significant weight loss. It could be the addition of resistance band workouts, but who knows.
Take tonight’s dinner. Well, you can’t take it, I already ate it! But it was after a bike ride, yoga, flute playing, and foam rolling, so it was late as usual. Given that I had also taken my daily walk and hung clothes on the line and brought it in earlier in the day, I burned 815 calories. Usually it’s around 1,000 or more, but today was a rest day from the stretchy bands. I took it easy cycling since I was on a gravel trail with skinny wheels and people walking or running, many with their dogs. Still, when it was time to throw some groceries down my neck, I was too hungry. I made a rare, grain-free pizza to go with my daily salad. I also had some bean chips with salsa and Greek yogurt and the last Dove bar is calling.
Lately I’ve not been eating much of a lunch and usually a second snack doesn’t last. So I get really hungry after my three hours of exercise. This isn’t ideal for weight loss, sleep or digestion, but such is life. Last week though, I only went over my calorie budget once. That’s the number MFP assigns based on your goals, how active you are, and how many calories you burn. The trouble is it’s too easy to look at those numbers and say to oneself, “Hey, I can has cheeseburger because I exercised!” To some extent that’s true, and you don’t want to undereat, particularly protein is important after strength training.
Of course it never helps when cyclists keep saying to “carb the f$%# up!” I still get these portable snacks even though I’m not doing the big mileage these days. And as we know, everything good is evil and has sugar in it. And sugar is the reason I stopped eating processed grains. Because a traditional pizza crust is made with enriched, processed flour. That turns to sugar in the digestive process. Then insulin reaction kicks in to handle it. But too much of that leads to fat in the body. It’s a — sorry — vicious cycle.
Needless to say, we all gotta eat. Many people around the US and world experience poverty, hunger and food insecurity on a regular basis. So I’m aware it’s privilege to talk about being overweight. Except now, there are more obese people on the planet than those trying to survive famine. But neither condition is healthy. I do what I can, and this year is shaping up to be better than years past. But it’s an uphill battle.
The diet, nutrition, healthy eating, and US medical establishment have been nearly complete failures in fighting obesity. A lot of that has to do with food scientists, pesticides, plastics, and lots more beyond the scope of this post. The odds are stacked against us. I learned a little about this from Dr. Robert Lustig, who’s peer-reviewed research has led to several books on the subject. His latest releases in May 2021: Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine. I’m sure it’ll shed more light on how the cards are stacked against us in many ways.
It’s not about obesity, it never was. The key to the kingdom is that it is not about obesity, it is about metabolic dysfunction and anyone can get it, and that’s what makes it a public health crisis, because obesity is a result of the problem, not the cause. I never want to hear any of you talk about the obesity epidemic ever again, because that is the food industry’s mantra, that is what they use to obfuscate the truth, and you play right into it when you talk about it.Robert Lustig, MD, MSL
So what’s a dude, a dudette, a fathlete, to do about food? Well, that’s a pretty complicated and individual decision. I’m not the best role model, despite my best efforts. I can’t really recommend logging everything you eat, because it’s not led to dramatic (if any) weight loss for me. Nor am I a doctor. I do think the best that we can hope for is doing our best: to eat as much real and whole food as we can, staying active to the extent possible, drinking lots of water, getting good rest. Take care of yourself and those around you if you can, whatever that means for you and the resources you have. Like I said, I’m human (as far as I know…), so sometimes, or often, I’m not able to resist the tasty goodness of some processed foods.
Most of all, love your body. Nobody has a perfect one, and they’re all unique, and finite. If anybody says you can’t be fat and an athlete, you just send them to my Strava account. There they can see how I my exercise frenzy for about three hours a day. You go do that voodoo that you do so well. And if you can’t get out there, maybe do some deep yogic pranayama breathing. Works wonders for clearing your mind and oxygenating your body. Here’s a link to a 20′ video by Yoga With Adriene.
Speaking of Strava, remember to share if you saw the secret message in my post MEDIA ALERT: Introducing Strava S.O.F.T.
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