Did y’all see this?
Maybe you CAN blame being fat on your genes. But there’s a way to overcome that family history — just get three to four hours of moderate activity a day.
Seriously. Just exercise moderately for three to four hours a day, and you won’t be fat! LIKE MAGIC.
The best part is where they tell us that that’s really not as much as it seems, and offer the same old list of ideas that’s offered in every article exhorting us to just get twenty minutes of exercise a day, or half an hour, three times a week, or one hour, five days a week — whatever the hell the recommendation du jour is.
Instead of watching TV for a few hours at night, take a brisk walk, he suggested. Or use stairs instead of elevators, walk instead of driving, or take up a structured exercise such as swimming.
Or, you know, just park your car farther away from the mall! Like, 15 miles away!
Seriously, we’re supposed to walk briskly or take the stairs for three to four hours? I have walked briskly for three to four hours on occasion, but only on occasion, because it’s a fucking huge time investment. People are supposed to work at least eight or ten hours a day, then go home and say, “Hi, family, lovely to see you, off for my brisk walk now! You’ll be in bed when I get back, so see you in the morning!” And that’s without getting into the fact that a whole hell of a lot of people in the U.S. don’t live somewhere where they could take that long a walk if they wanted to — unless they just did hundreds of laps around their backyards or living rooms. Today, theoretically, I could walk over to the lakeshore path and take it downtown, then turn around and come home, and that would be just about four hours of brisk walking. But when I was growing up in the suburbs, my only path from home to anywhere involved highways and no sidewalks. Also, fuck if I’m going to take that walk every night of my life, throughout the Chicago winter and the Chicago summer, instead of actually spending time with Al and friends, unwinding from writing all day. And I love walking!
Fortunately, though, the article also offers another way to get your three to four hours a day: become Amish. The study of this particular genetic variant — thought to affect 30 percent of people of European descent (so I’m not sure if people of color are off the hook or expected to exercise even more) — focused on an Amish community in Pennsylvania, where the lack of cars and modern technology means folks are pretty active in their daily lives. In that context, people with the genetic variant in question often were getting three to four hours of moderate exercise every day, and they were no more likely to get fat than people without it.
Which… bully for them. There’s a lot to be said for that lifestyle. But most of us aren’t fucking living it.
Study co-author Dr. Soren Snitker of the University of Maryland acknowledged that it’s unrealistic to expect most people to shun modern conveniences and return to a 19th century lifestyle for the sake of staying trim.
Look, I’m a fan of movement. I don’t own a car and live in a pedestrian-friendly city. I have a flexible schedule and am not working multiple jobs. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to devote three to four hours of my day to exercise unless somebody starts paying me for it. The idea that I should be doing that — that 30 percent of white people should be doing that — solely to avoid being fat pisses me off like nothing has pissed me off in… I don’t know, at least 45 minutes or so. I cannot fucking believe that instead of writing the obvious story — i.e., “people who have this genetic variant would have to do a tremendous, totally unrealistic amount of daily exercise to be thin” — they went with “people who have this genetic variant can be thin if they just work in three to four hours of daily exercise — easy peasy!” Seriously, you guys! It’s not as bad as it sounds! Just break it down to 48 five-minute sessions throughout the day!
There was one thing that amused me about this article, right at the end:
Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, a genetics and obesity researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston, said people should not interpret the study to mean, “I don’t have this gene variant so I don’t need to be physically active.”
I love it. It’s the flipside of the inevitable, “People shouldn’t take this as a license to eat whatever they want!” that ends every fucking article suggesting that fatness is not a death sentence. What the hell is up with this assumption that everyone, fat or thin, reading articles about THE OBESITY CRISIS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA is really just looking for permission to lie in bed all day or eat “forbidden” foods? Is that really the American dream? No movement at all and a steady diet of (baby-flavored) Krispy Kremes?
The thing that really pisses me off about this particular motif in TOCBBB articles is that it just reinforces the idea that exercise is onerous and eating veggies is gross, so the only reason any sane person would do either is to be thin. Which may have been how I felt when I was about 6 (not counting running around the backyard, tree-climbing, dance class, or swimming as exercise, of course, because those things were fun and even then I knew that Exercise Is Not Fun), but I eventually grew out of that mindset. I kinda think most people eventually do. And if they don’t, it’s probably because of the kabillion fucking articles propagating the notion that exercise and veggie-eating are miserable burdens one must undertake to avoid the dreaded sin of fatness. Way to promote “health” there, media.