Obesogenic posts

For the life of me, I can't come to terms with the comment section of "obesity"-related posts on social media. What I see is a defeatist attitude that makes me unreasonably annoyed, especially since people in need seem to be listening to the nonsense of those who want to pass as compassionate, but are actually lying for their own benefit, sometimes in the form of likes, sometimes in the form of being on the correct side of the political correctness space.

At the individual level (i.e., if we take an individual and ignore the socio-economic landscape in which the individual lives, as at the population level things change), getting fit for 90% of individuals (I take away a charitable 10% consisting of those with diseases or ailments that require separate considerations) is easy and simple. It's not "simple, but not easy," or vice versa, since the definition of easy and simple changes every time for whatever reason.

Eat less, move more. Better—and we also intuitively know what better means—and fewer calories, more exercise, particularly endurance exercise. It's a no-brainer to get into decent shape: sure, going the extra mile, i.e. having an admirable body, requires more precise actions, but for the average Joe or Jane who wants to get decently fit, what's the big deal?

I think the main crutch of support for people with obesity issues has been the insidious acceptance movement that wants to make you feel good when you're clearly not, that wants to make you feel good when you could be enormously better, that wants you to live an unnoticeable life when you could be a—relatively speaking—protagonist.

I go to Starbucks and drink coffee with occasionally a splash of almond milk, and I turn to the right and see tremendously overweight people ordering calorie bombs that would feed a battalion of soldiers. I turn to the left and see people cheerfully guzzling calories that would cover their weekly energy needs. And I'm aware of all the usual rationalizations, "sugar is addictive," "it's an obesogenic environment," etc. Unnecessary justifications of actions, gestures, and thoughts that mortify the body and the spirit, in my opinion.

I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and was blown away by the amount of obese, ill-dressed people wandering the gaming halls, boardwalks, and restaurants. It was hard to believe. I'm not a particularly judgmental person—we all have our challenges to overcome, both physical and psychological, and life often takes no prisoners—but I don't think one of those challenges should be ordering a coffee instead of a triple latte with five pumps of the most sugary caramel on the planet, for a whopping 1000 calories that make you feel like being in a coma is being hyper-vigilant.

I'm fit and my life is so much better than it would be if I weren't; I see that I'm treated better than other people who aren't fit; I see the looks I get from people of my own and the opposite sex. And I thank my parents and luck for giving me reasonably good genes. But if I didn't think about what I want out of life, which is mostly to have fun—and yes, I am very vain— I'd eat a cow by myself; I'd eat a pound of pasta for lunch and dinner; I'd eat half a cake every time I sat down. I have more appetite than Hercules. But I say no. And some might say, "You have been blessed with an especially strong will." But when and where does this "blessed game" end? Is it all just fate and nothing else?

When I mentor people in science, technology, and sports, my main goal is to make them realize that they can be much, much better than their "friends," family, and society want them to be. If they don't want to be the best they can be, that's fine, but let's not make the mistake of considering that getting into decent shape (not amazing, not extraordinary, not Olympic-level) is more challenging than analytically solving partial differential equations.

Let's strive to never accept mediocrity, let's maintain in our minds a vision of ourselves— both intellectually and physically—that is better than what society wants us to have.