Over chicken and lamb schwarma platters with one of my Mediterranean brethren yesterday afternoon, the subject of health and fitness came up, as it does.
He was griping immodestly that his 6-day-a-week workout schedule was increasingly powerless to maintain a perfectly trim waistline in the face of his insatiable attraction to fine dining. Three pounds in the last six months was the guiltily admitted surplus. Hardly earth-shattering mayogendered excess, to be sure, but still a solid 2% gain and entirely just cause for open reflection. Alas, aging is a thing and neither of us will ever be 26 again. But so what ? Being 26 was hardly the model of perfection, even if it was a hell of a party. But we digress, where does this all leave us today ? With a simple question : why do I work out ?
My good friend’s answer to this was so surprising and so in contrast to my own that it spawned this entire piece : to live longer, he replied. More of a Stalinistic response than I’d expected,i it was also fairly nonsensical to me, or at least incomplete. The longest-living people on the planet tend to be found on the Pacific Coast, largely in Asia, living in smaller communities and on highly restricted calorie diets. Said centenarians probably also lived through a war, plague, or famine, perhaps even two of the three.ii Granting that my good friend did survive a botched assassination attempt in which he was very nearly collateral damage,iii this ice-laden landscape we call home is a hell of a lot closer to Siberia than Siam. Not that living longer is his ultimate or exclusive objective, he’s pretty handy at stacking cash and he sees nowhere better to do that than right here, so perhaps “living longer in Northern Canada” is perhaps a more accurate distillation of his objective. Still, mine’s very, very different.
The reasons why I work outiv fall into a three somewhat overlapping categories : i) Not being fat ; ii) Having the power to say “yes” ; and iii) Mental health. Allow me to explain :
i) Being fat is gross. Let’s face it, everywhere this side of Pacific Islander culture circa 1600AD and perhaps a few other exceptions,v being fat is shameful and unflattering,vi not to mention debilitating and incompatible with a productive life as I understand it.vii
ii) If you don’t have your health, you have nothing. Not only is there the whole reductionist endorphin angle, but there’s the unquantifiable satisfaction that can only come from having swollen, fatigued muscles and a tick in the “W” column. It doesn’t just smell like victory, it feels like it too. There’s also preventing injury and reducing the likelihood of chronic pain that results from inactivity.viii Then there’s just being vain, which can simply mean looking better in clothes – or, if you prefer, nakedix – so as to “increase confidence” or whatever, but either way it requires positive effort.x
iii) Being able to say “yes” is powerful. Regardless of whether this “yes” is in response to questions external or internal, the power is the same. As to the external, let’s say your car breaks down on a remote highway, out of cell phone range, and you need to climb a mountain to fetch help because the nearest mechanic/hotel is just on the other side.xi If you’re out of shape, you fear for your life and hope that wolves don’t eat your lardy carcass, but if you’re in shape, you relish the opportunity to stretch your legs a bit after sitting in the car for the last few hours. As for internal questions, let’s say you and your friends are at the park, a few of them want to play pick-up basketball, and you want to join in. If you’re out of shape, you come up with an excuse like you “have a bit of a cold,” but if you’re in shape, you get in there, hold your own, and give your friends a run for their money. Ultimately, being in shape allows you to participate in life!xii
That’s more or less it. An active body lends itself to a healthy mind. And you’d better believe that a healthy mind is a essential for survival in computer times.
Now if there’s anything I can lend to B, TMSR~, it’s insight into the makings of a strong, healthy body. Every Republic needs a министр здравоохранения и культуры, y’know.xiii
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- “Quantity has a quality all its own.” I, contrariwise, wouldn’t be particularly bothered if I died tomorrow as long as it was, well, in style. With panache! And hopefully honour! I mean, I’ve got life insurance so what’s the big deal ? Not like dead me will care. Besides, better to die young and bravely than old and cowardly, I say. [↩]
- The stress of any of these being sine qua non for the antifragility required for extreme old age. [↩]
- They would-be hashashin were aiming for his father ; the grenade that landed under his crib was defective and didn’t detonate. He was two at the time. [↩]
- By “working out” I don’t mean playing golf and drinking beer with your brodude pals. I mean anything more cardiovascularly and skeletomuscularly intensive than walking, eg. biking, running, sports, yoga, weights, swimming, back alley brawling, sex, etc. [↩]
- There actually aren’t that many exception to the “fat is gross” heuristic. Why ? Ask the American Natives and Middle Ages Europeans. Whether you’re incapacitated by obesity or plague, it matters not to the hungry mouths of those depending on you. No slack in the gears, y’know ? [↩]
- Being fat is shameful and unflattering because it signals poverty – either intellectual or material or both. [↩]
- Sure, Winston Churchill had a gut, but where did you get the idea that he was a sterling example of anything admirable in any way whatsoever ? Do you honestly believe all the codswallop they fed you in grade school or just this bit ? Time to start thinking for yourself, I’d say. Churchill was effectively the last Prime Minister of Air Strip One before the limeys surrendered all sovereignty to Bahamas et al. He also failed miserably in his efforts to battle the socialist threat from the east. In fact, he failed so abjectly in this latter regard that the isles have no better prospects 70 years later than as fuckholes for smelly Arabs. Think about that. Britain is now Spain v2.0 thanks to this Fatty McFatterson. [↩]
- Granting that sports with repetitive ranges of motion can also lead to chronic injury, at least athletes have better coping and rehabilitation skills. [↩]
For a keyboard jockey, this is notbad.jpg if I do say so myself. Certainly a step up from where I was as a scrawny 26-year-old runner / yogi. This figure also happens to be good enough for eleven narrow grip chin-ups, either forward or backwards grip, or
seventen wide-grips (all the way down, obv.). [↩]
- But lest you think that one need be a male model to get bitches, look no further than rappers “Rick Ross,” “Fat Joe,” or “Belly” for examples of Quasimodo-esque individuals who (presumably?) lay pipe aplenty. Hey, no one cares where your confidence comes from as long as it’s warranted.
So if you gain your sense of superiority from being able to do things that lazy fat people can’t, then bravo. Whatever drives you forward, use it. Same goes if you grow your luscious hair out just to stick it to the stressed out baldies… :P
After all, the entire point of life is privilege. [↩]
- If that sounds too implausible, then recall how many “normal” people throw out their backs, pull a groin, or what have you doing normal things like picking up dropped car keys, moving a couch, or walking on uneven terrain. Don’t be that loser who was doing something innocuous and ended up sideways on the couch for a week. [↩]
- This might mean playfully chasing a cute girl (kids still do this, yes ?), running after your fearless rugrat before he runs into traffic, climbing a mountain to get to the other side, hunting down your next meal with your bare hands, or, my personal favourite, making impromptu prop bets along the lines of “I bet you I can…” [↩]
- Yes, the kulture aspect is integral to health and wellbeing. If “Netflix and chill” is in any way a part of what you call “culture,” the sheep herders have failed.
Come to think of it, I could probably tack и транспорт on the end of my title as well… At least the ground-based aspect. [↩]