Friday, September 21, 2012

An Anti-Government Rant

Over the course of my running I have lost a good deal of poundage.  I was pushing American unhealthy when I started running. Now I am in better shape...I even have one of those before and after shots. 

Pre and Post Running
I am in even better shape now than I was in this picture which was taken during the IU Mini Marathon in 2011.  But according to the USDA I am border line obese with an estimated Body Mass Index (BMI) of 29.  Now I don't feel like I am on the edge of death by heart disease or walking up stars and having the house lit on fire

Not in the humble brag way, but I have run 974 miles this year and will complete two marathons within a month and I love it. I eat at least 1/3 of a plate of greens with every meal and I don't have red meat more than a few times a month. We have cut most of the "bad" foods out of our at home diet and have low-fat high-protein breakfasts 6 days-a-week.  I can't tell you the last time I had McDonald's and I have  completely ended my Diet Coke addiction.  All of this and the Government says I am border line obese -- which sucks.

Growing up with an appreciation of really great food doesn't mean you can't go vegan or veggie or even cut your meat.  In our house we ate well, and for the most part whole foods. Sure we had too much on our plates, but we weren't packing away the Big Mac multiple times a-week.  We learned about cooking and where food traditions came from.

For my family (and many of the friends we have made) this means we celebrate and enjoy life through food.  Getting together with family means eating at the cool new place or fresh homemade guacamole with freshly fried tortilla chips. It means fish on the grill and smoked chicken.  It means tsimis with short ribs, potatoes, and prunes and matzah stuffing.  And I don't want that to stop.  I like that life.

I also don't want to stop having fun with friends and that means having some drinks from time to time.  I will cut back but really a cold beer is great when you want one and a well poured single malt Scotch in a heavy glass is a thing of beauty.  Also those Pisco Peach drinks at the Lion's Pub are kind of fantastic. (Maybe one day we will get there early enough to get the Pisco Fig concoction...doubtful.)

After the changes in my diet and my near-crazy amounts of running I feel like I should be able to fit into really skinny jeans and that when I take off my shirt people should confuse me with those guys in Calvin Klein ads.

But I don't. And no one does.

And it pisses me off.

All too often chicks get the wrap for asking the dreaded question of "does this make me look fat." But I am sure I am not the only dude who thinks the same exact thing. For the three out of the ten of you who read this who will jump on my use of hetero-normative language, it is intentional.

I read Runner's World cover-to-cover the day it comes.  I like watching ESPN and have been known to enjoy prime time TV.  I also fancy myself an educated consumer of pop and sporting culture.  I know that skinny people are put forth as the right thing and fat as wrong...and that gets in your head, no matter how educated you are. The normative expectations are annoying.

I am healthy and know my current weight is alright and is much better than it was two and half years ago. But I am still categorized as overweight by the government and as a large horse according to the running community. Like most people, I have some self-image issues.  But surrounding myself with other fit people doesn't seem to help, especially with my equestrian label.

I keep up with, and in some cases run faster than, six-pack sporting bros.  One of my do-a-happy-dance-in-my-head-victories is to be passed by a dude running on the Embarcadoro only to blow past him on the Fort Mason hill as he is "just looking at the view."*  But they aren't borderline obese nor are they compared to Clydesdales. 

The image thing is annoying but the health issue makes me crazy.  How much harder should I have to work to be considered healthy?  According to the chart I have at least 28 pounds to go. I have lost about 40 since July of 2010.  Everyone is different but lets be honest here...we all judge based on size, why would the medical community be any different?

And to think I was feeling pretty good about myself before I came across that USDA chart. This rant isn't a cry for help nor is it an ask for pity, but I just a rant. And since I have a blog, I have the inalienable right to rant ad nauseum about whatever the hell I want.

So how should I deal with this? I am not sure.  I won't give up the food that means something to me and I won't stop drinking beer.  I also am not going to cut out nachos and hot wings, especially during football season.  I will try to have fewer of all of those things and will continue to run over 100 miles a month, and maybe one day I will be healthy in the eyes of my government.

And until that day, they can kiss my fat ass.

*NYC Translation: Getting passed going down the Harlem hill near the pool and blowing past them before the corner going south.


la maratonista (AKA Jenni) said...

As an "Athena" athlete, I understand you 100%. It's annoying. I made it to non-Athena status for about 2 weeks of the 10 years that I've been running, and it killed me to get there. It also would have killed me to stay there. If I could figure out how to do it without giving up all the good stuff (in moderation, of course), I would be extremely happy. If you ever figure it out, let me know, and I'll gladly do the same.

dcc said...

Agreed La Maratonista...

This article was sent to me from my almost doctor sister. It is interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Don, it's Mike W.

Before you get too bent up about it, know that BMI is a very controversial measurement.

Go ahead and blame the Gov for relying on this measurement, by all means.

But as far as you knowing about your health, and your body image, I recommend you get some more reliable testing done. Do you know your body fat percentage? There are a number of ways to measure it, the use calipers isn't bad. Find a hospital or organization that will measure your body fat percentage using a reliable method and schedule an appointment. It will take into account all of your muscley muscles you've worked so hard to build.

dcc said...

Thanks Mike. I should check that out. Still, no matter how you look at it these kinds of stats suck. Also you can't get around the social stigma.