More on exercise and healthy living

The most physically fit people I know either have it via genetics (hi!) and don’t have to do very much to look the part of someone who works out hours per day, or they do spend hours per day on being fit.  That’s a lot of free time.

I don’t have some kind of beef with people being healthy and having good cardiovascular health and being able to lift 25 or even 50 pounds easily.  But these things aren’t correlated with fitness-instructor looks and bodies.  You can be in solid physical health and look like a chunky monkey.

More to the point, the fat Christians I know spend a lot of time in commuting to jobs to support their families, taking care of their relatives (grandchildren, adult children with disabilities, parents and other relations with old age and/or disabilities) and doing the usual housework, yard work and etc.  When all that is done, they don’t have time to spend working out.  They’re physically and mentally worn out and just want to rest.  Many of those fat Christians do heavy lifting and other physical activity daily or nearly so.  It’s just not remotely enough to keep them at a fighting trim weight.  They have muscle under 30 or 50 or even 75 extra pounds.

The post I reblogged acts like it’s super easy to tack on meal planning of different food than the rest of your family will be eating, plus scheduling gym time (or presumably purchasing very expensive equipment to stick somewhere in your house) plus basically devoting your life to your body rather than Christ along with the duties and responsibilities of being married with kids.  It’s not.  I would note the examples of Christian exercise one can easily google for usually are single people or married people with other folks helping them behind the scenes and small (1-3 kids) family sizes.  And many have terrible eating disorders.

I have great genetics and eat a ridiculous healthy diet, but those things can’t fix years of bedrest due to hard pregnancies (“oh but if you just had a HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE the hugely strong and healthy kids you grow would take nothing from your body!”).  I’ve lost about 20 pounds of muscle, no typo.  It’s going to take years to come back from that and I’m sure not getting younger.  So I have sympathy for people who don’t have great genetics that give them instant fitness figures with a few long walks a week or a couple of lifting sessions.  I have sympathy for people who spend 16-18 hours taking care of so many other people and barely get any rest for themselves.  I have simple Christian love for them and don’t think they are failing to reveal the glory of Christ because they’re fat.  Their devotion to duty, their hearts of service to others strengthen my faith when I’m worn out too and angry at my body for just not having the energy I want it to have no matter how much grassfed bone broth from my neighbor’s cow and herbs from my own backyard I eat.

We are all weak, and the way to help each other is not to live a life devoted to body worship, which conveniently absolves you of responsibilities and duties (“can’t help ya honey, gotta get muh three hours of exercise in FOR THE KINGDOM!”)  Fitness-as-lifestyle is dangerous.  Life-as-lifestyle is where normal people are.  I’ll meet them there any day, any way.

The article “Deep Strength” was blogging about was more correct than his response.  People are easily tempted because when it’s so hard to be very very fit, those who join that club struggle to flee the temptations of vanity.

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26 thoughts on “More on exercise and healthy living

  1. I don’t even like the word “lifestyle”. That alone to me says you’ve made your style your idol and it sort of makes me cringe. What about just having (or getting, heh) a life?

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  2. OK gym bunny stuff is not good for adults with lives and children and stuff, sure. But Americans are way too sedentary and it’s going to kill people before their time and make their last years very unpleasant. People really do need to include more movement into their daily lives, they just need to completely uncouple this from any attachment to looking a certain way.

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  3. I dunno, I enjoy being a gym bunny, even if I absolutely do not look like one (those extra pounds of fat on top of the muscle are hard to get rid of). It helps me be more balanced and more energetic.

    I think this is a YMMV area – in a big way, your SEASON of life affects this profoundly, as does your previous habits. I know quite a few Christians at my gym who are waaaay more nuts than I am about health, including those with small children — but it’s sooo hard for the ones with littles. It is. It’s also really hard for those coming off of substantial inactivity, voluntary or not. The lady who did a CF workout the day she went into labor might have babysitting woes, but getting sweaty doesn’t seem to be a problem for her. Me? It took forever before I had that much energy back.

    Anyway. All that to say that working your body IS a good and important thing, and a healthy body helps you do all the other things in your life. It’s just stewardship. BUT it’s not the first thing, God is the first thing.

    Fewer peer pressure shoulds would be an AWESOME thing. :p

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    • >in a big way, your SEASON of life affects this profoundly, as does your previous habits.

      Yes.

      People who want to live long had better come to grips with the fact that their appearance will go kaput. With exercise, one can look better than the other members of one’s age/sex cohort, but not necessarily with one’s juniors.

      RolloT’s graph of SMV peaks is largely wishful thinking. (But of course, that is another topic for another day).

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    • People just need a complete attitude adjustment. First of all, working out and looking a certain way are just *not that closely correlated.* If you really are bound and determined to get a certain look, you’ll have better results with surgery. Second, movement, like sleep, isn’t actually optional for health and sanity, no matter how much the people around us have convinced themselves otherwise, but the obstacles to getting these physiological necessities are real. We just don’t have a bunch of people claiming to sleep 12 perfect hours a night and telling everyone that they could do if they were just magically better people, the way we do with exercise. Everyone knows that if you can’t get your 7-12 hours, getting 3-5 is still worth it; but because of the marketing insanity around exercise and people’s attachment to looks, people really do think going for a short daily walk isn’t worth it.

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  4. OT, I saw one of the tags is “Christians pursuing the world and not God.” Brilliant. That’s how I feel about the Christomanosphere, the Quiverfull movement and the Nazification of the Alt-Right.

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  5. The most physically fit people I know either have it via genetics (hi!) and don’t have to do very much to look the part of someone who works out hours per day, or they do spend hours per day on being fit.

    This! Women especially are stuck with the figure that they get from genetics for the most part. I am a tall hourglass. I have a friend is an average height apple. She works out 2 hours a day and eats clean. She cannot eat bread or corn without gaining weight and does not have a flat stomach despite considerable effort. I eat pizza more often than I go to the gym and I am thinner and look better in a bikini. If it took me two hours a day to maintain my figure I’d be fat because I don’t have two hours for the gym.

    I have seen more than one conversation on deep strength’s blog where posters claim that being overweight is a sin or means that you have been a glutton or lack discipline and have done something wrong. I am surprised that supposedly mature Christians need a reminder that being overweight isn’t a sin and isn’t necessarily a reflection of sinful behavior. Having a couple of kids, living a normal life and eating a reasonable amount of the standard American diet will make a lot of women chubby.

    Many of those fat Christians do heavy lifting and other physical activity daily or nearly so. It’s just not remotely enough to keep them at a fighting trim weight. They have muscle under 30 or 50 or even 75 extra pounds.

    I know a few men with very physically demanding jobs who are still overweight.

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  6. >I have seen more than one conversation on deep strength’s blog where posters claim that being overweight is a sin or means that you have been a glutton or lack discipline and have done something wrong.

    I’m of a more moderate stance: “fat shaming” is wrong, but “fat acceptance” is as well. That said, if a manospherian is pontificating about obesity, it’s from a standpoint of being a hating, judgemental a-hole rather than a concern over others’ well being (that’s where the phrase “concern troll” comes from).

    >I am surprised that supposedly mature Christians need a reminder that being overweight isn’t a sin and isn’t necessarily a reflection of sinful behavior.

    Overweight is an effect, not a sin. Gluttony is a sin as is sloth.

    I will certainly say that the changes of the past 50 years have a lot to do with modern obesity. (That, and being outside America vs. in America). My older relatives were of a healthier figure when they were my age, but moving here and the dietary and lifestyle changes that followed led inexorably to becoming fat.

    That said, I get the feeling that “Judge not lest ye be judged” has morphed into “I’m OK, you’re OK, let’s not get into anyone’s hair.” That is the attitude of a a corrupt organization. If we accept that corruption is the air we breathe, we shouldn’t be surprised with suffocating.

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    • I don’t believe in fat acceptance where people are morbidly obese and everyone pretends that it is attractive and healthy, but a person can certainly be overweight without having been gluttonous or slothful. Most of the fat people that I know spend a lot of time working their desk jobs.

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    • Aethelfrith:

      “I will certainly say that the changes of the past 50 years have a lot to do with modern obesity.”

      I feel really bad for fat kids. Back in the 80s, fat kids were very few and far between even in my blue collar hometown, but nowadays, a lot of lower-middle class children look like they’re being raised as veal (because they basically are). It’s one thing to get fat in adulthood (BTDT), but these kids basically never had a chance.

      Come to think of it, one thing the manosphere really doesn’t get is the relationship between socioeconomic class and weight. They don’t seem to register the fact that upper middle class women are generally slender (or slenderish) and their kids are almost always stretched-out and colt-like. I haven’t gotten nosy about other women’s exercise routines, but based on my own experience with my kids, I’m pretty sure that the kids’ skinniness is the product of a lot of effort on the home front (mom being a fridge Nazi, lots of organized sports, etc).

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        • Yuuup. People from my ethnic group get fat and end up with health problems like high cholesterol and blood pressure from eating American food. It doesn’t even have to be fast food–just the bread, processed snacks, dairy overload and high meat consumption do it.

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          • I was just looking at this:

            http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/why-indians-are-at-higher-risk-of-diabetes/

            “Compared to those in the developed world, middle classes in India and other developing countries are more susceptible to Type-2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, thanks to their undernourished ancestors, says a study.
            The results, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, could explain projections that more than 70 percent of the global burden of Type-2 diabetes will fall on individuals from developing countries by 2030.

            “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India will have 80 million people with diabetes by 2030.

            “Based on their results that eating a ‘normal’ diet can make animals overweight, if their ancestors had been undernourished for several generations, the researcher from University of Sydney in Australia, the National Centre for Cell Science and the DYP Medical College in Pune, India said that diabetes is linked to the nutrition endured by ancestors.”

            They did this by doing 50 generations of undernourished rats, followed by two generations of normally fed rats–compared to a control group, these rats were 8X more likely to develop diabetes.

            Ay yay yay.

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            • They keep putting sugar into everything, even curry. They also keep eating more processed western foods.

              My parents are from a place where everyone eats fried foods and foods cooked in lots of oil, and they walk a mile everyday without thinking about it. Now, I’m interested in knowing what exactly entails “undernourishment” calories-wise, because eating close to 2K a day isn’t gonna cut it for me.

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          • You know the weirdest place I have found some really interesting speculation on genetics and food? This is REALLY weird – youtube comments on native American/Canadian music. Native kids are online all the time just like everyone else and they have some kind of ongoing discussion about phenotypes, gene expression, the effects of racemixing, in a way that isn’t totally pc nor is it eurocentered. I don’t know where or how to find out more but it’s fascinating when I notice it crop up while I am looking for metis fiddle music or something.

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  7. It boggles the mind how Christian manosphere guys believes that women are going to simultaneously raise large families while staying (or getting) thin. The average US woman has quite enough on her plate trying to control her weight with TWO kids.

    And that applies to involved fathers as well. When one has finished the dinner-bedtime marathon, one doesn’t really feel like doing ANYTHING. (My husband has lately gotten into an activity with our middle child, but it has taken a long time to find something suitable, and he has unusually good opportunities by virtue of 1) having a professor’s schedule 2) no commute 3) living within walking distance of the college gym.)

    Also–here’s a fun fact for the manosphere, as those guys are always complaining about women blowing up randomly. Low blood sugar can contribute a lot to emotional volatility and loss of self-control–just as it does for small children. I was on a strict diet for gestational diabetes with very strict timing for meals a few years back, and I had regular meltdowns just before dinner, especially when dinner was delayed. I now understand perfectly why some women are a little twitchy–they’re crabby because they’re hungry!

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    • Yeah, I wouldn’t have posted about it if the guy writing the post was just promoting the idea of a mainstream-conservative marriage with 1-2 kids and maaaaybe a third 5 years apart from the others. Then I’d probably tune it out entirely. But he’s advocating something literally impossible for the kind of Christian waifu he always talks about Christian men needing to marry.

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      • TPC said:

        “But he’s advocating something literally impossible for the kind of Christian waifu he always talks about Christian men needing to marry.”

        Barring a doctor-type income, good (and very patient!) NFP, and lots and lots and lots of home help (perhaps having the kids brought up by the YMCA daycare staff?). But yeah, at a more normal (but good) income and/or with literally back-to-back pregnancies, it’s impossible by reason of:

        1. time

        2. money

        3. energy

        4. being pregnant and/or nursing all the time

        5. being around toddler/preschooler food all the time

        Nobody has ever done what they expect women to do–19th century pioneer women, no matter how demure, fertile, or hard-working were not also expected to maintain a rear end you could bounce dimes off of. That’s SILLY. Here’s a

        Related–here’s something from my favorite parody mom blog:

        https://mythreeangles.com/tag/coloring-pages/

        Enjoy!

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  8. Here’s another issue–if one is in need of outside support (gym or weight loss program), it can take rather a while to scrape up that money. I went into the Weight Watchers office a couple years ago and discovered that it costs about $40 a month. Not an insurmountable sum, but exactly large enough to wipe out my “fun” money for as long as I was in the program (we tend to budget exactly that much as “blow” money for each of us). I also was concerned about my ability to find the money month after month.

    I now have a small war chest of funds that will cover 3-4 months of Weight Watchers, so I’m good to go as soon as the summer schedule clears a little (and my latest injury improves a little), but it took a while to get that money in hand. It’s equivalent to two weeks of swim lessons for two children OR one week of super fun summer camp for one child OR one month of clothing budget for five people OR gasoline for one month, etc. In a family with children, there are pretty much unlimited competing interests for money.

    With regard to the ever popular but-you-could-do-it-by-yourself-for-free!–I’m sure it’s true for some people, but it definitely isn’t true for the average person with average motivation problems. The average person needs to “buy” motivation.

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  9. Also–middle aged people are very injury prone.

    My husband is 40-something and has been doing a really good job staying physically active the last year or so and has been looking fabulous. However, he has had a series of injuries while doing his stuff at a pretty basic level. He’s always either recovering from an injury or about to get injured. Fortunately, he has so many activities that he’s able to injure a different area of the body each time. For quite a while, it looked like he couldn’t change diapers (!!!) because it aggravated a knee injury.

    Meanwhile, I’ve gotten to be on good terms with my podiatrist…

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  10. Not to be a thread hog, but I have another data point.

    One of the older men in my family had a heart attack in the last year or two. His family has very bad heart genes, he’s been a yoyo dieter, and he’s pushing 70. In the last year or so, he has lost 60 pounds, but he’s done it by exercising 2-3 hours a day, just about every day. Past history suggests that this may be just another yoyo episode, but it’s possible that his fear of mortality will finally do the job.

    So, you too can lose 60 pounds–if you can devote at least 2-3 hours a day to it.

    Related:

    “SIX years after dropping an average of 129 pounds on the TV program “The Biggest Loser,” a new study reports, the participants were burning about 500 fewer calories a day than other people their age and size. This helps explain why they had regained 70 percent of their lost weight since the show’s finale. ”

    “For example, men with severe obesity have only one chance in 1,290 of reaching the normal weight range within a year; severely obese women have one chance in 677. A vast majority of those who beat the odds are likely to end up gaining the weight back over the next five years. In private, even the diet industry agrees that weight loss is rarely sustained. A report for members of the industry stated: “In 2002, 231 million Europeans attempted some form of diet. Of these only 1 percent will achieve permanent weight loss.””

    “After about five years, 41 percent of dieters gain back more weight than they lost. Long-term studies show dieters are more likely than non-dieters to become obese over the next one to 15 years. That’s true in men and women, across ethnic groups, from childhood through middle age. The effect is strongest in those who started in the normal weight range, a group that includes almost half of the female dieters in the United States.”

    “In a randomized trial, the eBody Project, an online program to fight eating disorders by reducing girls’ desire to be thin, led to less dieting and also prevented future weight gain. Girls who participated in the program saw their weight remain stable over the next two years, while their peers without the intervention gained a few pounds.”

    “WHY would dieting lead to weight gain? First, dieting is stressful. Calorie restriction produces stress hormones, which act on fat cells to increase the amount of abdominal fat. Such fat is associated with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease, regardless of overall weight.”

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  11. I’m just gonna put it out there are someone who’s lost a lot of weight (and still aiming to lose more), it’s is REALLY HARD. It is a lifestyle because it’s supposed to be permanent habits for life. For most people, changing habits is hard and requires a lot of effort. I envy the people who’ve never been fat, never been overweight in the least bit, and never had issues with their health.

    If I had children and a house to care for, I’m not sure I’d be able to lose weight. If I had a very stressful and demanding job, I wouldn’t be able to lose weight. It has nothing to do with being lazy, but losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight requires energy to plan. It’s not just “oh just eat until you stop feeling hungry.” You have to plan for the food you’re going to eat. This isn’t dieting. Simply restricting calories isn’t enough for most people, and they need to incorporate exercise. Which also means planning. All of it is enough to make most people say to hell with it. One of my relatives gained weight after getting married (surprise). She knows she should lose weight…her words “I’d rather be fat and be happy.”

    Incorporating healthier habits into your life can grate on the people closest to you. The time spent walking to the park or at the gym used to be time spent together watching tv. The weekends spent playing outside with the kids used to be weekends baking treats and overindulging in them. It happens.

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