A 45-year-old fat man trying to find his inner skinny dude.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Christians to Lions

I feel ambivalent to the tv show The Biggest Loser. I really think that some of the stunts they have those people do (call them competitions if you like, but they fall short of a track meet or a basketball game) really seem to capitalize on showing very fat people moving ridiculously. There's one where they have to hold onto a rope while a platform tilts from angled to vertical, trying not to let go and fall into the pool below. There was one where they had to build and climb a tower to get a flag. Early in the season, the tasks are simpler. Once, I saw them competing in a one mile run. That sent one woman into the hospital for weeks. They often show people working out until they puke. High drama. Wholesome fun for the whole family.

I am much more physically capable than most of those people, at least when they are at the beginning. A typical workout for me is 30 minutes of hard cycling or elliptical, followed by 15 or 20 minutes of hard cycling or elliptical. I switch. I try for 90 rpm on the bike, 120 rpm on the elliptical. When I started three years ago, I could do the elliptical for maybe five minutes. I'm at 325 today, but I have been doing 45 minutes on the elliptical machine since I was in the 370 range, maybe a little higher, even.

I don't work out until I puke. Not even close. And I don't do things that would call attention to my size. I don't wear skintight clothing. I don't take off my shirt when I weigh myself in public (i.e. at WW meetings or the gym). I do not want to be a Christian in pre-Constantine Rome.

But The Biggest Loser makes me think it's possible to be thin, really thin, not just "thin for me." I have seen people start heavier than I have ever been and look amazing when they're done. I don't think the amount they lose in such a short time is a good idea, but maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe if they've changed their lives, it's ok. Some of those people undoubtedly put the weight back on. We don't hear much about them. But still. It can come off without surgery. It can come off when one eats less and moves more. I'm counting on it.

It's ok to mock fat people in the U.S. I can't speak to the rest of the world, but I bet it's ok everywhere. I sometimes imagine a show like The Biggest Loser based on race or sexual orientation. (They do it based on sex--look at the Real Housewives series.) Nothing like this is kind. I know people justify The Biggest Loser by saying it justifies the participants' accomplishments. But I don't think people would watch a show that starts with a bunch of thin but non-athletic people and turns them into marathon runners. How much fun is it to watch thin people run? Well, ok, the Olympics. But isn't watching fat people run more interesting, in a train-wreck sort of way? Sure it is. That's why it's on tv.

People are unkind. That concept clouds my world view. I believe it. Children are vicious, and people don't change as they age. They get more subtle. They get better at it. Fat people are never the cool kids. Fat adults don't get into the Viper Room or whatever the club du jour is.

A facebook friend of mine posted the following as her status on May 1: "you wanna lose a few pounds? yeah? frustrated? just can't seem to do it? here's an idea: how bout you stop putting so much FOOD in your mouth! ...crazy, I know." I was not aimed at me, but I sure felt it. I have no idea what was going on in her mind. Maybe she was struggling herself, even though she's tall and thin. That's what the subsequent comments suggest. But no one said anything bad about it. (Neither did I.) It's ok to say such things.

I'm between sizes these days, between and XXL and an XXXL. I just put on a shirt that was a gift. I've never worn it. It's pretty cool. I'm going to keep doing this. I want to see what happens.

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