Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's all my fault

Download the original attachment

“I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.”

I’ve always loved that saying. Until recently.

“We come from a long line of little short fat Irish people, Jeannine. Get used to it.” That line was from my mom. Ouch. Apparently we’ve left the world of “It’s just baby fat, honey. It’ll go away.”

So anyway, I decided that I make some not so great food choices and I make them a lot and my level of physical activity is, well, slim to none. I decided I needed to fix things.

Let me repeat that – I eat too much sugar, salt and fat and I don’t exercise enough.

Let me narrow it down a bit more – the reason I am overweight and unhappy with how I look is my own fault.

My thinking here is a bit revolutionary for the times, I know.

I’m not blaming American corn farmers because my morning and mid-day gas station double mocha cappuccinos have corn sweetener in them nor am I blaming them for the donuts and cookies now laying around my house or even for the Doritos. I don’t drink pop at all, I just never have and I don’t particularly care for it. Iced tea and coffee are my caffeine of choice.

I’m not blaming dairy farmers because I put half and half in my coffee. Darned cows need to only make skim milk. Not that luscious, wonderful, rich … okay, focus, focus, Jeannine …

I’m not blaming hog farmers because I love pork chops, bacon, ribs, pulled pork barbecue. Did I mention bacon?

I am not blaming the chicken guys because I love me my fried chicken.

I am not blaming McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell or the Dog House (local joint) because I partake of their products more often than is healthy for me.

I am not blaming my spreading equatorial zone on the futon or the Travel Channel (damn you, Tony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern!) or Law and Order or What Not To Wear. Or Twitter or Facebook. Or even the short stories I like to write.

I am blaming myself.

I don’t like to pat myself on the back but here, I will. I’m doing what a lot of overweight and lazy people (like myself) won’t do these days.

I am blaming myself for being overweight and lazy and unhappy with my health and how I look and how my clothes fit.

We need to blame ourselves.

We need to blame ourselves when we turn fat and get that muffin-top and those love handles and thunder thighs. We need to blame ourselves when we go through the drive-thru and choose fried time after time instead of making the salad choice now and then or just taking the time and ambition to cook up a healthy meal at home.

We need to blame ourselves when we ignore the concept of “everything in moderation” and just embrace the “everything all the time” model of eating.

We need to blame us when we head for the cheese curls and pop and high-calorie snacks every time instead of looking for healthier alternatives.

We need to blame us when we don’t get off our keesters, when we plop ourselves in front of the TV with shows or the PlayStation or whatever instead of walking around the block a few times a week.

We need to blame ourselves when our kids are overweight at age 6 because we don’t, like my parents did, send the kids outside to play.

Not safe? Go outside with them to watch them. I see plenty of kids in the neighborhood I live in playing outside, running around, riding bikes and I live in a mid-size town where not everyone does know their neighbor. I also see parents sitting out on their porches or the steps or even – gasp – riding bikes with the kids or doing yard work.

Kids don’t like to play outside? Maybe because they’ve never tried it. If they don’t know what to play, tell them to make up games instead of letting PlayStation turn their imaginations and creativity and quick thinking to useless sludge. Well, you can say it nicer than that.

Walk them to the local park and swing on the swings or play on the merry go round or the slides with them. Better yet, invite some of their friends and spread the health around.

We need to blame ourselves when we turn up, a few or many years down the road with the consequences of our diet and exercise decisions in the form of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We need to blame ourselves when we can’t walk up six stairs without gasping for air, when we cannot see our feet to tie our shoes.

We need to blame ourselves when we can’t fit into the clothes we own instead of blaming clothing makers for making the sizes smaller or the seams more apt to rip open when trying to contain an overload of cellulite.

You say it’s not your fault really? That thyroid or other issues are making you fat? Then go get treated and talk to a dietitian so you can compensate for your condition.

It is true that income and availability do limit our food choices, especially income. But there are programs available virtually everywhere that can help people adapt a healthier lifestyle and make healthy food choices. If a program isn’t available or is inaccessible, head to your local (free) library and look something up on a computer that, again, most libraries have these days, especially city libraries. If there are no computers, check out a book on healthy eating and exercise.

The key word is choices. I made the choices I made and now I make the choice to adjust my diet and get moving and do something about it. All of us choose to eat and move and live the way we are eating and moving and living.

Farmers don’t choose for us. McDonald’s doesn’t choose for us. The futon and the TV and Playstation don’t choose for us. We choose.

All of this is possible if you want to change you. If you don’t want to change then you will continue to embrace the groups and individuals who give you excuses. You will listen and give credit to those who pile blame on American farmers, on grocery stores, on restaurants, on society and culture, on cities and regions even, on anything they can so that people don’t have to blame themselves.

“If you can’t find a way, you’ll find an excuse,” is what a great newspaperman and managing editor once told me. He was and is right.

We have a choice when it comes to being healthy. We will either find a way or we will find an excuse.


  1. Thanks for writing this. It needs to be required reading for most people in this country. Keep up the great work. Maybe someday personal responsibility will be cool again.
    Troy Hadrick

  2. I suppose its great that you want to carry all of this on your own two shoulders. That's the great thing about choice.

    Having said that, I strongly recommend you reconsider taking it on the chin while a handful of others with far more too loose than you sit back counting billions in profits.

    I'm not talking about farmers, but the food scientists and sophisticated marketers employed by the industrial food giants, e.g., Cargill, General Mills, Wal-Mart and, yes, McDonald's.

    I know. You already said you won't blame anyone but yourself, but I hope you will reconsider. Without significant changes to mix of calories that our industrial food system puts on the market, which is directly responsible for the obesity epidemic we are facing, your noble stand will be for nothing.

    The problem is that what we don't know (or are unwilling to admit) is killing us.

    Sustainably Yours,

    Rob Smart
    a.k.a., Jambutter on Twitter

  3. Great points by you and Rob. Research shows BPA in plastics may change hormones and fat cells, high fructose corn syrup may alter satiety hormones, and eating fat and sugar only makes us crave more of it. However, we are still ultimately responsible for what we put in our mouths and how much physical exercise we fit into our day. Research can be great for change as long as it does not become an excuse NOT to change!