Paul's Perambulations a personal blog

July 30, 2011

Weight, health, life style, and why do we have friends who are like us?

Filed under: Education,General,Love — admin @ 12:55 pm

There are substantial individual differences among people in regard to weight and health. Significantly, folks tend to associate with groups that share their particular issues in this regard. We interact with those who find things that are important to us to be important to them also. And so I hiked five miles today with a good friend. I am impressed that Fran can carry a pack almost as heavy as mine, while weighing much less than I do. This is significant, but only if you value backpacking.

My weight has stayed pretty much the same for half a century. It’s not magic. It can’t be attributed strictly to either life style or genetics alone. I am grateful for my good health – something with genetic components. At the same time, my parents and friends have always focused on keeping physically active and fit, and eating healthy foods.  This is not always easy, but I have always paid significant attention to actually doing these things. I take some personal credit for this. And my friends have tended to share my focus. My question is, how can we best be helpful models for others and not just egoist irritants?

It has been my experience that some people (particularly those who feel concern for their own weight and physical condition) may not want to hear what I have written above. Am I being inconsiderate? Does it sound like blaming others? Blaming the victim? On the other hand, what is our responsibility to work with what we have? Can we speak both frankly and sympathetically, or are these two mutually exclusive? Do we offer support of a current less-than-desirable condition, or support for an effort to make significant changes? Can we say “Get away from this computer and get outdoors” without offending? Should we say this even if it is experienced as offending, because we believe that this is the best way of truly supporting the individual as a friend?

When my former wife transferred her interests from outdoor activities and healthy food to something quite the opposite, she also acquired a group of new friends to match her new life style and appearance. Most of us do this to an extent, because it reduces any frictions and challenges related to our lifestyle. But when our lifestyle becomes one that promotes poor health instead of good health, this would not be a good thing.

1 Comment »

  1. I chose NOT to post this in response to a friend’s blog about excessive worrying about appearance re fat and obesity, quoting from the following article :

    I wonder if we might war on fat, not as a vanity issue, but because we all know the dangers and massive human and economic costs.

    Corkey believes that extra calories alone can’t possibly be causing this epidemic.

    “The obesity epidemic is not just about the calories, it could be the chemicals.”

    Corkey is a respected scientist, but a quick review of this article made clear that it is not her scientific article. I could be quoted off-the cuff also – hurrah that she’s got public attitude.
    This really is a mistaken attribution without a lot more to say. Makes it sound like obesity is okay. I’m completely with her about the chemicals. Incidentally, there was obesity in the old days with natural food, just not as much.

    “the last remaining bigotry in the world, which is against obesity”

    I wondered whether to say anything here, but here goes.

    I agree with parts of all this while I am not particularly impressed with other parts. The Bostonian article was a mostly a person piece, not a science piece. I’m in agreement about the dangers of our processed and unnatural foods. Absolutely. However people have historically been obese (think of Henry VIII) on good and natural foods. They ate too much fatty food relative to their activity level. So it depends. Be alert to all these issues – amount of calories, physical fitness, the balance and naturalness of the foods we eat. We should (and to a considerable extent, we can) work to take control of these three issues in our lives; I believe this is our responsibility to ourselves and to those we love. Others may not feel so strongly about this, and that’s their business. But I don’t believe that conflating the obesity epidemic with issues of bigotry or victimization is a a particularly useful way to deal with the issue of obesity.

    Comment by admin — March 10, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

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