Tuesday, August 23, 2011

growing concerns

Scientists have discovered you can have your cake and eat it too: Eat it now and it stays with you forever!

They say that the more you exert yourself, the more calories you burn. This means the longer it takes me to get out of bed in the morning, the healthier I will be.

Cousin Kaymae

I’ve often been curious about Magda Szubanski’s willingness to offer herself up as the butt of fat jokes. At least her character Sharon Strzelecki is sports mad; inside the fatty she is, is a thin person straining to get out.

Magda did lose a lot of weight when she was a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. I wonder how she has dealt all these years with the internal conflict between the need to accept herself as she is, and what might have been a perfectly normal desire to fit with the accepted social norm of looking “healthy“ [i.e. thin].

Thin is not necessarily healthy. Dean Lukin was not exactly thin when he won an Olympic Gold medal for weightlifting, losing 58 kilos when he retired from the sport, then publishing a diet book.

The gap between how old we feel and how old we are physically increases as time passes. Sometimes I look in a mirror and am shocked by the age of the face I see.
Similarly, the gap between how thin I feel and the weight I am seems to be increasing as time passes. Sometimes I look in a mirror and am shocked by the weight of the person I see. Quite the opposite of the body distortion an anorexic person suffers.

At present I am short for my weight, eat badly and live an extremely sedentary lifestyle. Yes, I make bad personal choices, and the reasons are many. One reason - not an excuse, mind - is what has now been officially confirmed as a bipolar disorder.
At the bottom of some fairly severe depressions, I have been far too thin. When thin, I receive compliments and praise from anyone from fleeting acquaintances to those I know, work with, socialise with and so on - including myself. The compliments are nice and certainly well intentioned.
During some more stable and balanced periods of my life, I’ve stacked on heaps of weight. Quite reasonably the compliments dry up, though the only person decidedly uncomplimentary about my weight has been myself.

One of the features of Bipolar II is an intermittent tendency to mixed states, where we are sometimes manic and depressed at the same time. Eating stops altogether, and sleep is replaced by pacing. Complemented by a growing obsession with the need to live healthily [rather than a need to be thin] this has led to periods of extremely healthy eating and lots and lots of walking. This really helps keep the weight under control.

Now that I have found the right balance of [expensive] medications, my weight has stabilised somewhere on the border between overweight and obese. Although this is unhealthy, it’s actually a relief because it is a sign of mental health. I can live with this.

As the Victorian Government announced plans to spend millions on an education program to try and prevent school children from becoming obese early in life, newspapers make regular reports about kids as young as 6 talking in complex terms about their own weight issues - usually in a way that reflects concern about appearance and other people’s opinions rather than health.
Junk food, of course, is still a major money-spinner in school canteens.

We’ve recently learned that after Magda Szubanski retired as Jenny Craig role model, the company approached chef Julie Goodwin with a generous offer to become the new weight loss work in progress. Julie declined, saying she was happy with who she is.
Good for her.

It has been suggested that if the good lord intended for people to be able to touch the floor comfortably, he would have given us longer arms. For me, a manageable and healthy weight is one that will allow me to bend far enough on those rare occasions I spot a fiver on the footpath.


  1. I did laugh out loud at the last paragraph. While no one will advocate gluttony, nor should people make themselves miserable with worry about their weight. For every thin person, there are probably five who aren't. All the same, I do puzzle how I was 58kg when I was 25 and nearly thirty years later, I am 80 kg.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Sometimes I think Nature's greatest act of kindness is letting our eyesight deteriorate as we grow older.