Monday, October 11, 2010

How am I the only one who sees this?*

There is a never ending wave of diets in the media.  Everybody is sure that if they eat the right combination of foods, they'll finally get skinny.  Yet the nation gets fatter and fatter.  Even our dogs get fatter.  We've tried the diets.  There are entire genres of food now that didn't exist before we got fat, created solely in the hope of getting us skinnier.  Or rather, capitalizing on our desire to get skinnier.

Yeah, that's not gonna work.

We were not designed to be idle.  Cats, now.  Cats were designed to be idle.  They can sleep twenty three and a half hours a day and still have a perfect feline figure.  Nobody expects them to go to work either.  Maybe I should have been a cat.

Of course I'm not a cat.  I'm a human.  We're actually a compromise in a lot of ways.  We walk upright and our backs never forgive us for it.  We eat meat AND vegetables, and our teeth and digestive system have evolved pretty well to deal with it.  We have virtually no fur but we live cold places.  Fortunately our giant brains have solved the cold problem by inventing clothing.  Or by telling us to steal the skins off of the cats.  (gross!)

But one thing we so far can't seem to compromise on is exercise.  We were designed to move.  We're like horses.  Horses HAVE to move.  They actually can't stay off their feet very long or the weight of their own body will make it too hard to breathe.  (Or so I've heard.)  Without enough exercise, their intestines don't work properly.  Their muscles atrophy and fat develops.  And often they will go a little insane.

Most of us aren't so heavy that lying down is a strain on our lungs, but we have the other problems.  IMHO, it's because we're designed to move.  We aren't designed to sit.  The end product of our current civilization is a populace that sits all the time.  It's given us bad backs by changing the stresses on our back ( to ones our spines and disks aren't prepared to deal with ) and weakening our abdominal support structure.  It's given us hemorrhoids through constant pressure on our bottoms.  We now have weak knees and feet, so when we actually do get a chance to exercise, it hurts.  We have many forms of mental illness that are aggravated by lack of exercise.  And, of course, we're fat.

Grapefruit juice is not going to fix this.  The perfect 1200 calorie diet isn't going to fix it.  We are designed to move, just as we are designed to seek out high calorie foods to offset the famine that never happens.   At the same time, we are lazy.  Evolution set us up just right to be a man on the move.  We want the honey, we want the fatty animal meat.  It gives us the energy to run and seek.  And then we want to collapse and rest so our bodies can recover for a while.  But after that?  We need to be on the go again!

So, Science, please stop looking for the perfect low calorie diet.  How about finding ways to make us more like cats?**  They evolved to the life we have right now.  Somehow they're dealing with it just fine. 

And Everybody Else?  I'm sorry, but you have to exercise.  You were designed to be a long distance hiker, a marathon runner, a manual laborer.  I'm proud of you for using your massive brain to become a doctor, a lawyer, a librarian, a pharmacist, an architect, or something else thinky and sedentary.  But evolution hasn't caught up.  If you want to feel good, you have to move.  A lot.

*I realize I'm not the only one who sees this, but it feels like it sometimes.

**Somehow this post went in an entirely different direction than I was intending.
Trouble says "Go for a walk, Fatty, until evolution catches up with you."


  1. I just wish I were a little smarter about it. If I were, I'd've thought of "The Hollywood Cookie Diet" and figured out how to make zillions selling cookies as diet food.

  2. Maybe "The Seabrook Pretzel Diet"?

  3. I seem to do better when I eat certain things and not eat other certain things. Then again, I'm messed up a little (damn too-fast heart).

    I see the specific diets this way: if you already exercise and you still have way too much fat, then there's something wrong, and the special diet might help.

    But you're right, for J Random Person, it'll only go so far.

  4. Long-distance hiker, yes; marathon runner, not so much--humans are optimized for lots of slow movement, and occasional bursts of intense activity.

  5. So well said. And I am so ready to up my activity level and work on my diet. But I keep getting injured. Maybe it is just something that happens when you get older, but ever since I sprained my ankle, walking is just not great. Running is out of the question. Maybe I should get my bicycle tuned up...

  6. You are not the only one that notices... grapefruit juice ain't gonna magically make you skinny... I think about that pretty much every time I hear a diet ad on the radio or t.v. Boo to those people selling those products and ideas.