And here’s the tedious blowhard speaking

Just for a change, let’s stop obsessing about impoverished obese people and their alleged heaving KFC buckets and look at some of the expensive lengths better-off people go to in the pursuit of “slim”.

Personal trainers, gym memberships, exercise classes, slimming clubs, home gym equipment, running gear, yoga gear, gym gear, (whatever the gear!), dieticians, nutritionists, diet food delivery services, electronic wristbands, books, DVDs, downloads, vitamins supplements. The list is endless before you even get to the food, because what says healthy more than a “simple peasant stew” made from an organic seasonal veg box, which is far beyond the reach of an ordinary family’s food budget?

There will always be some tedious blow-hard insisting that all they do to keep fit is run up and down on the spot, wearing their old school plimsolls – these people really should shut up. Most would concede that fitness, or regaining fitness, is an expensive and complicated business. Despite this, your average middle-class professional would probably argue that they need all this help to keep in shape. Fair enough, but then why criticise overweight people who couldn’t dream of affording it?

 

Given that, over the past 8 months, I’ve lost a number of stone (not been weighing myself but waist is at least three inches smaller, the moobs have gone and I seem to have only one chin for the first time in 30 years) this gives me the opportunity to be a tedious blowhard. It’s been done by eating less and exercising more and that’s it. No, no special diets, just less. Borrowed a bicycle, the local swimming pool is £1.50 a time and that’s really it.

Losing weight is not expensive and it’s not something that only rich people can do. Barbara Ellen is simply wrong here.

Oh, and she thinks that obesity will cost the NHS money so she’s doubly wrong.

56 thoughts on “And here’s the tedious blowhard speaking”

  1. As a kid I ran around like a whippet and hoovered up whatever (food) passed into view. Running around was the key; nowadays boys are prescribed Ritalin or else they’d be expelled from school. As an adult I’ve done the gym, the expensive sports equipment route – and also the press-ups and walking routine, the low-cost plimsoll route. Both work, albeit the first causes me to eat more in order to fuel the energy required to compete. Whilst there was weight transfer, fat for muscle – a change in posture, my weight stayed the same. The latter has proved more long-lasting, particularly once my knees began to go. However, as Tim says, food intake is all – more so than exercise, and as with exercise it doesn’t need to be expensive, adherence to portion size will suffice. Food and booze is a big part of my life – I love the stuff, and maintaining a 60 kilo size (same as when I was 16) takes a certain discipline. When I let my guard down I once hit the 88 kilo mark. It’s a fallacy that eating well and keeping yourself fit is somehow the preserve of the middle class.

  2. One reason that “rich” people join gyms in the UK is that the opening times of public swimming pools are unsuitable. I’ve got 5 swimming baths near me and after 7pm, almost all the time is given up to swimming clubs, and private hire. Gyms keep that time open to lane swimming and stick all the classes in the late afternoon/early evening.

    But the unemployed can go any time. And can go for free.

  3. Personal trainers, gym memberships, exercise classes, slimming clubs, home gym equipment, running gear, yoga gear, gym gear, (whatever the gear!), dieticians, nutritionists, diet food delivery services, electronic wristbands, books, DVDs, downloads, vitamins supplements.

    Yeah, but no. Middle class Guardian writer misses the point as usual. I mean, how can the poor be expected to eat healthily when organic food at Waitrose is so frightfully expensive?

    She has correlation and causation confused. Poverty doesn’t cause obesity. Poor people globally are not fat. Poverty correlates with obesity in Britain because our “poor” have a fondness for lager, kebabs, chocolate, crisps, and sitting on their well-upholstered arses devouring the above in front of a television set.

    Seems that people who show little ability or inclination to move beyond low-grade employment or welfare dependency are also likely to make poor choices in their eating habits. Shockerooni.

  4. > your average middle-class professional

    Tim, I don’t think anyone would accuse you of being average.

    For my part, when I started doing the gym, what happened was I put on 10kg in as many weeks as I bulked out across the chest and shoulders, which, weight-wise, is probably not what folk would be looking to do.

    These days, I cycle much of the time I need to travel a few miles instead, and when going to work I look at all the folk jogging and think “I’m getting exercise like you are and I’m doing my commute at the same time!” It keeps my weight where it was when I was half my age, without needing to obsess about every mouthful. OK, that’s about 10kg heavier than when I was a scrawny impoverished graduate student living in badly heated digs and not being able to afford much more than lentils, but that I consider to have been being operationally underweight.

  5. Have they ever considered the correlation runs the other way? Poor people aren’t fat because they are poor, fat people are poor because they are fat?

    I would say the most important thing in setting up a person for life is the concept of deferred gratification. If a child gets that, it will understand how education will improve its lot, and how not stuffing its face with chips all the time will likewise improve its long term health. Ie a bit of pain now for long term gain.

    I would argue that the reason most people are poor and fat is because they either don’t understand this concept at all, or are unable to implement it.

  6. Another blow hard here.

    When I’m free from injury and running regularly weight management is easy. A long term injury and no adjustment to diet led to kilos piling on. Back to running and cutting out some crap and volume of alcohol and its dropping off again. I’ve been through this cycle a few times and it really isn’t rocket science, but it does require discipline, which I suppose is hard for people who keep being told that their lifestyle isn’t their fault.

    I’ve also done the gym bit because it opened at 6am and I could go there before work, missing the M40/M25traffic jams and the company was paying 50%. It helps with variety but isn’t necessary. Now its just running and the only extra cost is good running shoes.

    Even expensive running shoes might not be necessary. A friend who is nearly 70 and does marathons for fun as training runs was telling me about barefoot running which is supposed to be be better for us, but specialist shoes might be best for that as well.

  7. There will always be some tedious blow-hard insisting that all they do to keep fit is run up and down on the spot, wearing their old school plimsolls

    Christ, this woman is dense.

    Gyms are a scam. Their business model is based on signing up well-intentioned but lazy chubsters, usually in January, then taking their money for months on end after said chubster shows up to a few token fitness classes before losing motivation.

    You can indeed get or stay fit, at home, for free – or at least, for cheap. You don’t need a fancy computerised exercise machine and a fitness instructor with disturbing bulges in his lycra. Get a cheap set of weights and lift them. Get a skipping rope. Look at some of the many, many excellent free exercise videos on Youtube by fitness professionals showing you what to do.

    these people really should shut up.

    “Shut up!”, she argued.

    Most would concede that fitness, or regaining fitness, is an expensive and complicated business.

    Most of the people she knows are idiots.

  8. Here’s that massive contradiction again, I see it frequently:

    (I) poverty causes obesity
    (II) poverty means people go to food banks because they cannot afford to buy enough food.

    This week it is (I). Next week it will be (II).

    How is it possible to believe both (I) and (II) simultaneously?

  9. Even moderate levels of fitness and weight loss can be achieved with motivation and free time, just by doing lots and lots of walking. If you have time to sit around for hours watching TV you’ve time to get fit.

    It’s the motivation which is lacking. Her logical fallacy should be “poverty causes lack of motivation”.

  10. Steve:

    Gyms are not a scam. If a person signs up to exercise and then can’t be arsed that’s their problem. Yes, gyms take advantage of that to take on more members than capacity, but it’s no more a scam than airlines selling more seats than capacity knowing x% of customers are no-shows on average.

  11. I lost weight just by running around the block a few times a week (cost: free), and eating a bit less (cost: actually saves you money).

  12. @Rob
    The unspoken assumption is that all cheap food is unhealthy junk.

    For the case of working all hours at low pay, then there’s some justification for reaching for convenience food; but it seems that the idea of actual cooking seems to have been lost even when people are not also time poor.

  13. bloke (not) in spain

    Sorry, I don’t get this. Keeping fit is expensive? How? I’ve always kept fit by doing some bloody work. And earned a great deal of money in the process. So fit, in fact, I’ve had to spend a considerable amount of those earnings on cigareets ‘n whiskey and wild, wild women to moderate the effects.

  14. Rob – scam I tells ya.

    They sign you up with some pretty, busty, energetic little thing flirting you into buying the gold membership package. But she will never shag you.

    Then when you get there to exercise it’s mostly men with uncanny winter tans and impossibly white teeth patronising you while you try to use a crossfit machine.

    The weights machines are surrounded by troupes of steroidy looking Eastern European men jabbering away in foreign.

    The steam room invariable contains at least one dick who has mistaken it for a nice place to eat a packed lunch. But you can’t murder someone with a towel and there’s nowhere to hide the body anyway, so you just have to put up with it.

    The jacuzzis are magnets for fat people, wallowing like hippos in the mud.

    The treadmills are occupied 24/7 by disgustingly fit people who can run for hours.
    Exercise in general is bullshit. If God wanted us to exercise, He wouldn’t have invented cars.

  15. > you can’t murder someone with a towel
    You’re not thinking this one through enough.

    The real problem is, you can’t murder someone with a towel and make it look like they just had a heart attack from the heat, which is what you really need.

  16. You’re right as always, Tim.
    I read about your weight loss some four months ago and followed suit. Cutting out bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, I live now on fish, eggs, cooked meat, cheese, strong tea, beer and whiskey, and I’ve lost a stone! (Fourteen pounds to our American friends.)
    In short, to lose weight don’t eat so much. Simples!

  17. If you want to lose weight via food, cut your sugar intake. You can eat steak and bacon and cheese and veg like a horse (ykwim) but sadly not so much beer, bread, spuds, pasta and chocolate. You don’t need to join a gym. Your body is a gym and provides all the resistance work you need to look like a bloke on the cover of Men’s Health. You just need to lift things and do press ups and move around more.

    Why is any of this the Guardian’s business, and Jim for some reason that had escaped me. Brilliant counter argument which I will steal!

  18. bloke (not) in spain

    “In short, to lose weight don’t eat so much.”
    Or in other words, miss lunch because you didn’t have time.
    Poor organisation in the service of weight control.

  19. Exercise gives only moderate help. It takes an absurd amount of exercise to have a big effect. Like you would have to burn 3,700 calories to make a pound difference, which would take you 5 hours on the stat bike.

    Obesity is quantitative, not qualitative. But there’s no money to be made by telling people, “Don’t eat so damn much.”

    There are no magic foods, either. “Don’t eat sugar” is bullshit.

  20. Yup, eat less, move more works every time. I am a similar age to Tim and have been, ahum, portly for about 30 years too. I go to the gym and use the treadmill, doing three one-hour sessions a week and covering about 7.5k on a very slight incline during each. I wouldn’t call it jogging. I am lucky enough also to be able to walk to work, a luxury in London. At 52 I feel I am the right shape for my age and, although still with a little padding, can see my ribs again: hi guys.

  21. I’ve always been convinced, rightly or wrongly, that eating 3 meals at roughly the same time each day goes a long way to keeping weight down. So no skipping a meal or snacking between meals, just eat regularly.

  22. Gamecock

    “Don’t eat sugar” is bullshit.

    Isn’t the sugar thing not just about calories. If it was then yes of course that’s right. But, isn’t it supposed to be more about the cycle: sugar / insulin / craving / more food etc?

    Ie, cutting the sugar stops the ups and downs in blood sugar, helps to reduces the desire – I think is supposed to be how it works.

    FWIW, marmite works for me. If I chuck loads of marmite onto just a single piece of toast, my stomach doesn’t then want any food for a good 6 to 9 hours..

  23. My comment on this was deleted by the Guardian mods – I hoped the Guardian was not funding her organic veggie boxes and gym membership by paying her to write utter drivel like this

  24. Steve
    October 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Rob – scam I tells ya.

    They sign you up with some pretty, busty, energetic little thing flirting you into buying the gold membership package. But she will never shag you.

    Do I detect the disappointment of the middle who has fallen for this scam?

  25. We are eating fewer calories than fifty years ago though. We are just doing less – less manual work, less walking. Warmer houses (good).

    I read somewhere that the wartime ration in Britain was about 2500 calories for men. That is actually quite a lot for the size/build of those times, UNTIL you take into account activity and conditions.

  26. bloke (not) in spain

    “We are just doing less…” (than 50 years ago)

    Despite regular media claims of busy lives, I wouldn’t think more than a fraction work as hard as their grandparents did. No doubt a majority of people commenting here would say they work hard. How many have any concept of what hard work’s actually like? Then, even not being “at work” was hard work. And non-manual work was hard.
    The first City office I worked in, some of the desks were cut down from the ‘stand-at’ desks most clerks spent their entire day at. Six days a week.

  27. Gamecock – yes. It’s almost impossible to do the amount of exercise required to lose the calories in a packet of biscuits and have a normally functioning life. Weight loss is about controlling food intake.

    Dieting is for weight control. Exercise is for fitness.

  28. Best weight loss program I’ve ever had? Walking the dog.
    I’m limited to up to 15 minutes walking so dog gets a walk of around 80 – 100 metres at a time. Probably 8 or 9 times a day.
    Wife and I have each lost in excess of 10kg in 6 months we’ve had the dog, I’ll walk him daytime and wife walks him evening and night similar distances (occasionally she can manage a couple hundred metres – probably less than once a week).

  29. @ Gamecock and anyone who read that post
    90% of a human being is water. If you lose *one* pound of fat through exercise your weight will go down ten pounds.
    Try running a marathon (its never taken me more than four hours, except one that involving a bit of orienteering and the guy in front of me went wrong) and see if you only lose one pound.

  30. @ Martin Davies
    I hope (I really hope) that you’ve slipped a decimal point. The King twins walk 3000 metres in much less than 15 minutes. If you walk at one-third of their speed you could do 1200 metres in 15 minutes.

  31. bloke (not) in spain

    @john77
    Reading his post, sounds like Martin & his wife possibly have medical problems. So maybe 100, 200 meters is their capability.
    But, whatever amazing velocities whoever the the King twins are, manage, most peoples average walking speed is around 3km/hr. Sounds low, but that’s what it is. Not far off what it’s historically always been.

  32. According to Ms Ellen I am not better-off – well maybe not compared to her and other Guardianistas. I am only an investment analyst with two academic and five professional qualifications and a pension from my ex-employer well in excess of median income.
    My first marathon cost between £70 and £80 (I can no longer remember the precise amount) including my first set of trainers, the train fare and a bed-and-breakfast in Sheffield, shared with two serious guys who ran cross-country in the winter and ran marathons in the summer just to keep fit. Fortunately I had pretty much grown out of my inferiority complex more than a dozen years earlier.
    I raised nearly, but not quite, as much in sponsorship for Christian Aid. So it would have been more logical just make a donation but I enjoyed it despite getting sunburnt while chatting to other runners in Hillsborough Park after we finished.
    Jogging on your own costs nothing; you can jog anywhere – even in the City of London, as I did. Currently I pay £1 when I attend a training session at my club run by an Olympic judge. When I was an undergraduate I paid zero to attend sessions led by a guy who trained guys at the Olympics.

  33. MagnusW>

    “It’s almost impossible to do the amount of exercise required to lose the calories in a packet of biscuits and have a normally functioning life. ”

    I’d have to disagree. A packet of choccy digestives contains maybe 1500 calories. Commuting an hour or so each way to work by bicycle will already make up for two-thirds of that, or thereabouts. Do another hour of some kind of exercise – a game of football after work, say – and you’re about even on the biscuits.

    On top of that, there are the weekends. If you’re doing something active for 15-20 hours on the weekend, that’s an average of two or three hours of exercise a day, even if that’s the only exercise you get.

    Try and do three hours in a gym every day after work, and I’d agree with you that you wouldn’t have a normal life.

  34. Gyms are not a scam. If a person signs up to exercise and then can’t be arsed that’s their problem.
    I knew I’d found a good gym when I got a phone call after skipping a couple of weeks due to a busy work schedule and a touch of laziness. They asked if I was okay, and whether I wanted to make an appointment with one of the trainers or physiotherapists (in an adjoining practice) to set up a program or deal with an injury.

  35. So Much for Subtlety

    The Sage – “The real problem is, you can’t murder someone with a towel and make it look like they just had a heart attack from the heat, which is what you really need.”

    You probably can actually. A wet towel is surprisingly heavy. I would opt for the whack to the back of the head, followed by suffocation by placing said towel over the face.

    The towel has a good chance of blurring forensic evidence like bruises and there is a pretty good chance that the police and the medical examiner will assume the bruise was caused by a fall and so write it off as a fat guy getting what is coming to him for being so fat.

    (Needless to say, don’t try this at home and I accept no legal liability of the plod are smarter than usual)

    In the meantime, I have never believed in magic foods either. But a colleague is on the Atkins diet and he has lost about half his body weight. So that seems to work.

  36. SMfS

    “In the meantime, I have never believed in magic foods either. But a colleague is on the Atkins diet and he has lost about half his body weight. So that seems to work.”

    How much of that weight was from his lungs, heart and liver? When you starve your body of carbs, you risk starving your body of protein. Your body will use the protein for energy, not structure. Atkins is safe and effective for a few weeks. Not months.

  37. John77, wife and I are both disabled with walking problems among other issues. 80 – 100 metres in 10 – 15 minutes is about my speed and limit (takes longer today as legs bad today) though wife can walk a little faster and further. After that I need a sit down and rest for a while – can do it again an hour later.
    Gives me a break from the laptop, gives me a small amount of exercise and saves the dog weeing or pooing in the house.

  38. bloke (not) in spain

    @Mr Gamecock
    How do you account there’s cultures where carbohydrates comprise only a couple percent of the diet?
    Inuit have, one gathers, the usual amount of lungs, livers & hearts. Eat virtually no carbs whatsoever.

  39. john77
    October 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    @ Gamecock and anyone who read that post
    90% of a human being is water. If you lose *one* pound of fat through exercise your weight will go down ten pounds.

    =================

    So every time I pee, I should lose a tenth pound of fat?

  40. bloke (not) in spain

    “So every time I pee, I should lose a tenth pound of fat?”
    Diuretics!!!
    The key to weight loss.
    Solved!
    (Any of you podgers wanna score some Frusemide?)

  41. “Inuit have, one gathers, the usual amount of lungs, livers & hearts. Eat virtually no carbs whatsoever.”

    I think they eat meat carbs, i.e. glycogen, in livers and other bits.

  42. Bugger, late to the party again. The thing is that how you lose weight is in large part down to genetics.
    Thus I have: ‘you are part of the 88% of the population who will not lose weight unless you perform high energy exercise.’
    But my wife has: ‘you are part of the 12% of the population who can lose weight with any type of exercise.’
    That’s OK though, I have fast-twitch muscles & so run fair amount. She has normal twitch muscles & so walks.
    If you’re really unsure about what mix of diet v exercise suits you, I suggest you get your DNA tested.

  43. http://www.livestrong.com/article/340756-healthy-body-water-percentage/

    “Ideal Total Body Water Percentages

    Different tissues in your body contain different amounts of water. For example, body fat contains approximately 10 percent water, while muscle is approximately 75 percent water. In general, men should aim for a total body water percentage between 50 and 65 percent, while the ideal range for women is between 45 and 60 percent.”

    ====================

    john77
    October 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    @ Gamecock and anyone who read that post
    90% of a human being is water. If you lose *one* pound of fat through exercise your weight will go down ten pounds.

    ===================

    John, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  44. So Much for Subtlety

    Gamecock – “So every time I pee, I should lose a tenth pound of fat?”

    So many a jockey or boxer would have you believe. I can’t believe that it is good for their health. I mean, the effect might be a little bit hard to discern among all the other things they are doing that is bad for their health. Both sports/professions. But surely there must be some long health consequences?

  45. Bloke:

    “How do you account there’s cultures where carbohydrates comprise only a couple percent of the diet?”

    You can eat enough protein for energy and structure, it’s just that you have to do it. Atkins dieters may or may not eat enough. It is a risk, not a sure thing.

  46. So Much for Subtlety

    Gamecock – “How much of that weight was from his lungs, heart and liver?”

    Don’t know. Hard to tell by looking at him. Well, what is left of him.

    “When you starve your body of carbs, you risk starving your body of protein. Your body will use the protein for energy, not structure. Atkins is safe and effective for a few weeks. Not months.”

    So surely the solution is to eat even more protein?

  47. As I understand it, all diets have more or less the same effect. You lose a lot of weight for around the first six months, the loss levels off, then you put it all back on again slowly over the next five to ten years. Even if you stick to it. The body adjusts, and you either have to keep ramping up the severity or you start burning less.

    So call us back in 5 years and let us know how it’s working out.

    For anyone who wants an even easier diet – just turn the heating off and stop wearing such thick clothes. A large percentage of your normal energy expenditure goes into just keeping warm. Of course, if your body didn’t adjust automatically, that would mean you’d lose weight every winter and put it back on over the summer… Maybe the impending global obesity catastrophe apocalypse of doom they’re all talking about is really all caused by central heating.
    😉

  48. NiV – spot on
    After reading Big Fat Surprise I was amazed how the entire dietary “science” was built on a bed a water (sand is stable in comparison) – cherry picked studies, misuse of epidemiology, not looking to falsify (eg Ancel Keyes “ideal” diet found on Crete was determined during Lent). The whole “science” of diet was captured by the HEART industry – ie eat “less xx. it s good for the heart” – too bad you need xx so that your body absorbs vitamin/protein zzz and you will end up with disease mmm if you don’t eat it.

    I have lost track, is coffee good for this week or not ?

    I read with interest that gut flora are now being implicated in many diseases

  49. Fifty comments! Who said dieting was a women’s issue. A carb-free diet is an excellent way of losing weight. However, once you are down to your target weight, it is advisable to switch to a sensible diet – one that includes all food groups. This isn’t rocket science: if you limit portion control and eat a balanced amount of calories your weight will remain static. Over time most people let their guard down and put the weight back on – think of the reformed alcoholic that sneaks one drink, then two… Changing your lifestyle and sticking with it isn’t easy, it’s a challenge, takes disciple. Inevitably, if you weight/health isn’t sufficiently important (and it may not be the be all and end all…if it was you wouldn’t drink alcohol and take part in risky sports, indulge in dangerous activities/liaisons), you will resort to your old ways. A few stay the course, but it is a life-long battle.

  50. My grandmother walked everywhere and was whippet thin and lived to 92. My mother avoided all exercise, was (cough) generously proportioned and lived to 94. I really don’t want to get that old. What should I do?

  51. Niv, switching heating off would kill me.
    Not all of us are comfortable wearing less clothing or having a cool house. Body generates heat, body can lose too much heat.

  52. @Gamecock

    ‘There are no magic foods, either. “Don’t eat sugar” is bullshit.’

    I don’t think not-eating sugar is magic, but cutting down on sugar (carbs generally) definitely helps weight loss.

    It’s not that carbs are bad for you or that the calories from carbs are different, it’s just that protein fills you up more for longer, so you feel fuller for longer and there’s less snacking involved. So you end up eating fewer calories.

    Sure, if X eats 2000 calories in carbs each day and Y eats 2000 calories in protein I doubt it makes much odds to weight.

    But the guy on the carbs is much more likely to raid the fridge at 10pm.

  53. Diogenes, Thank goodness! I was beginning to think I was the only one! 🙂

    “Fifty comments! Who said dieting was a women’s issue”

    In a sense. One of the primary factors affecting weight is age – we naturally tend to get heavier as we get older, therefore being slimmer makes you look younger, and therefore more attractive. Age is more of a factor for women (since women often like older men), and they’re more interested in appearances. This is in fact a perfectly logical and rational reason to diet, and frankly the diet industry ought to stick to it instead of making crap up about health.

    Dieting is really just about sex.

    But I think the reason a lot of us are commenting is not that we care about dieting, but that we object in the strongest possible terms to the diet police, busily trying to make it the law. I’ve no objection to people dieting if they like – the damage it does to their health is trivial, and in any case its their own health to damage – but I do object when various busybodies start trying to make certain dietary choices compulsory, and to outlaw others. If the totalitarian bastards’ll even regulate your choice of pudding, what won’t they regulate?! What personal boundaries are left? It doesn’t help that they’re totally wrong about the science.

    “I really don’t want to get that old. What should I do?”

    Have a lot more fun!

    “Niv, switching heating off would kill me.
    Not all of us are comfortable wearing less clothing or having a cool house.”

    True. And one of the reasons for that is that some people naturally burn more fuel than others. The discomfort is your body trying to conserve energy – it’s registering that you’re losing more heat than your currently generating so it first takes measures to reduce the loss, then if that doesn’t work, it turns your metabolism up.

    It’s an incredibly sophisticated energy management system, designed to cope with emergencies and chronic shortages of all sorts. Too much energy expenditure makes you tired. Too much heat loss makes you shiver and turn blue. Too much heat makes you sweat and pant, and feel exhausted. Starvation makes you weak and lethargic, and hungry. It drives your mind with these various appetites to fix the problem, and if that doesn’t work it has longer term fallback options, like tinkering with the metabolism, burning muscle, expending less energy on non-essentials like the immune system, and the like.

    Such a complicated and intricate mechanism can go wrong, of course. Anorexia and morbid obesity are both examples of that. The odd thing is that only one of those is treated sympathetically as a serious medical condition worth treating, while the other is contemptuously dismissed as a mere lack of willpower by a lazy slob. Fortunately, both are rare – which given the number of people who pay no conscious attention whatsoever to dieting or controlling their own weight, might come as a surprise to some. That’s what everybody would look like if there wasn’t a finely-tuned mechanism controlling your weight to a precision of one part in a thousand.

    But my point was that it isn’t just diet and exercise that affect weight, but also temperature (and no doubt a whole bunch of other stuff) – and the ‘central heating’ theory is on the face of it just as plausible as the equally evidence-free theories that we’re eating too much food, the wrong sorts of food, or that we’re not getting as much exercise as we used to. If it was just the random unguided greed of the moment, walking past the cake shop, we would lose weight every winter and gain it every summer, and I’m sure somebody would have noticed. Cold works like exercise, and is more easily sustained for long periods. Although I’m sure the same subconscious energy-management mechanisms would ramp up the mental pressure to get warm to an equally unbearable level eventually.

    Your body knows better than you do what’s good for it, after all.

  54. So Much for Subtlety

    Ljh – “My grandmother walked everywhere and was whippet thin and lived to 92. My mother avoided all exercise, was (cough) generously proportioned and lived to 94. I really don’t want to get that old. What should I do?”

    There is probably little you can do. Given that genes play a significant role as do early childhood habits like diet. But you could take up smoking? You could also give up sex. Not having sex at least twice a week is a good predictor of an early death.

    Personally I would just stopping giving a sh!t. Eat what you like, drink whatever takes your fancy. You may die earlier, but at 92? Who wants those years. Or you might not. Either way you won’t have wasted your life worrying about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *