Culture War Correspondence: Healthy Living

EVAN: Tired of getting sand kicked in your face and being humiliated in front of your significant other? Well now’s the time to put down that Twinkie hambuger you’re eating [it’s just a Twinkie sandwiched in between two other Twinkies, you animal] and tune in to our discussion for today: being healthy.

Now Gordon and yours truly are both men in their early twenties, and we’re here to talk to each other and you about what it means to stay in relatively good shape, and if we’re even doing that to begin with.

GORDON: This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve covered the general topic of health- smoking, drinking, and obesity are all issues we’ve covered in the past. What really makes this one interesting, I think, is that we’re approaching it more from the angle of health, rather than health hazards.

EVAN: I think a good way to start this off would be to talk about our current lifestyles, beginning with diet. At the moment I eat roughly three meals a day, mostly rice and some sort of meat dish. Vegetables are more scarce due to my granddad not really being huge into them, though I get them at least three or so times a week.

Eating out isn’t something I do too much given my occupational state. At this point in my life [as opposed to when we attended college together] overeating isn’t something I do a whole lot.

GORDON: Right now I eat two meals a day, typically some sort of soup or ramen for lunch and some kind of sandwhich or pasta for dinner. I’m not gonna lie, I try to get fruit and veggies in where I can, but I don’t always do so. Carbs and sodium make up the majority of my diet.

How about exercise? We factoring activity into this?

EVAN: That can be what we move onto next, sure.

GORDON: I try to get in push-ups and pull-ups on a regular basis, and I think I wind up doing quite a bit of standing and walking, both in and out of my job, but I am mostly relying on my unholy metabolism to keep me scrawny right now,

EVAN: I do a bare minimum of one set of 40 push-ups a night [30 when I’m sick, up to 50-60 when I have more energy] along with a set of 40 or so ab exercises, whether they be normal sit-ups, bicycle sit-ups, etc. This has been the norm since mid-November.

Running is likely to start up pretty soon now that the weather is nicer again.

GORDON: I mean, I haven’t even touched on my smoking and drinking yet…

EVAN: Well, I don’t smoke anything, as you well know. I drink maybe twice a month, max, and never all that much.

GORDON: I wouldn’t say I have a set habit in place, but I definitely drink once a week- though not to excess, I believe.

EVAN: How much would you say you smoke and drink in a single week?

GORDON: A couple fingers of scotch and… it’s tough to say, I use different types of tobacco. We’ll say a couple bowls of my corncob pipe.

That’s not a corncob, for the record…

So what’s our verdict here? We’ve come down pretty hard on fat folks in the past- are we hypocrites here for our clearly unhealthy lifestyles?

EVAN: Well, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t say that my currently lifestyle is unhealthy, or even nears that.

I’m at a pretty acceptable weight given my build, and last I checked my blood pressure was in a pretty solid place. Honestly, I think I’m doing just fine.

GORDON: I’m probably prone to being defensive here, but I don’t think I’m “unhealthy” per se either. I’m probably more active than the average American, certainly less heavy than the majority of my peers, and I think I can easily meet those societal rules we had established about weight-

EVAN: We should be fair, though, since you’re talking about weight, and reiterate that you have a great metabolism.

GORDON: I really do. I am the physical manifestation of famine let loose upon the land. There are farmers in the Midwest who pray to the almighty each night that my shadow never darken their cornfields or the pens of their cattle.

EVAN: Which is all to say that maybe taking into account your weight in regards to health isn’t the best form of measurement.

GORDON: Now we’ve focused most of our past discussions on levels we should avoid, is there an inverse here? A degree of healthiness or activity that we should be aspiring to?

EVAN: I’m sure there are some very broad standards that the average person should be able to hold themselves to. For example: be capable of running a ten minute mile. That of course doesn’t apply to those with serious injuries or disabilities, and as such works, I think, as the lowest possible expectation.

GORDON: Should these be more stringent?

I mean, let’s face it- we’re both young men with everything we’d need to be pretty buff. Is our respective corpulence and gauntness indicative of laziness on our part? Is it our responsibility as human beings to be as shredded as possible?

EVAN: I just told you I was at a good weight. Gotta shave a little off the love handles, but I’m probably in better shape now than last we met.

And no, I don’t think we have any responsibility to hone our bodies to Schwarzenegger-esque levels of fitness.

I think that our bare minimum should be to eat healthy and exercise in order to live as long as possible. This means getting what vitamins and so on that we need on a daily basis, and avoiding regular activities that we’re aware directly contribute to any kind of diseases down the line.

GORDON: I can only feel… I’m not sure. I’m not of the opinion that we need to be bodybuilders, but at the same time I can’t help but look at athletes and wonder if, as a species, this isn’t closer to the standard for us, y’know? Then again, I could say the same thing when to comes to knowledge.

EVAN: Considering your vague idea that there is indeed this higher standard for us, I suppose I should posit the question I’ve been mulling around since the beginning: why you smoke given its connection to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases-

Also if you could answer that without tying it into “well fat people eat greasy foods which leads to clogging of the arteries, etc., which is just as bad.” Now may or may not be a good time to get defensive all over again.

GORDON: It is a question I confront myself with, not just every time I smoke or drink but also every time I myself chomp down I know on something that’s too salty or too fatty or too full of preservatives. I honestly don’t have an answer- I might say that if Che, Hemmingway, and Roosevelt (I think Roosevelt smoked, though I’m pretty confident he drank) all did and set the standard of physical activity of their day… I don’t know- maybe that’s just a defensive self-justification again.

EVAN: When it comes to all of that, I fall pretty firmly on the side of “everything in moderation.” I’m by no means a full-on anti-tobacco guy, I just don’t think it should be used daily, or multiple times a day.

My personal vice is definitely food, and I make a day out of going to an all-you-can-eat place, whether it be sushi, wings, or Indian food. But that happens once a month.

To sort of pull back a little, that’s what I’d say the average twenty-something-year-old should keep in mind. The good things remain good things, so break ’em out every now and then. Just don’t make them part of your daily routine.

GORDON: That sounds reasonable enough.

The question then, I guess, would be what we expect of those who ARE stuck with chronic or genetic health issues. I saw on Imgur today one of those diet-and-exercise transformation pictures of a young woman missing both legs from the knees down. I don’t think I would’ve ever have expected something like that.

EVAN: That young lady actually got a gastric sleeve put in, which I believe is what contributed to her incredible amount of weight loss. From the looks of her I would guess that a some amount of exercise took place as well.

In general, I’d say that they should just do the best they can. Melissa McCarthy said in an interview that she eats healthy and tries to keep the weight off and can’t, and some people are just like that. In her case, and in theirs, I’d say that being overweight doesn’t mean that you are unhealthy. You’re certainly in a better place than someone who appears to be trying to emulate Morgan Spurlock à la Supersize Me.

GORDON: Isn’t McCarthy the lady who thinks vaccines cause autism?

EVAN: That’s Jenny McCarthy. As it would appear according to Wikipedia, apparently the two women are cousins.

GORDON: Huh. I stand enlightened then. But no, that’s a good and fair point. Genetic predisposition does have to be accounted for, but as we wrote in our post on obesity, we have to be cautious with using that as an explanation of weight issues.

EVAN: In general, I like to think that given a public school education most of us know what is and is not good for our bodies. Vegetables and exercise good. High-fructose corn syrup and lying down for 22 hours a day bad.

GORDON: That’d definitely be the basics of it.

EVAN: In closing, and I honestly don’t think this’ll take too long, how difficult do you think this it to maintain for our peers? I ask you because you have a job, and right now I do not.

GORDON: I think it’s a lot harder than it looks. Working any kind of job is going to be draining, and it’s easy to let exercise slip. When a few apples cost as much as a can of soup big enough for an entire meal, passing on fruit and veggies in favor of a full stomach is also pretty dang tempting.

Apple pie is, for some reason, cheaper than a couple individual apples…

EVAN: So as far as the latter is concerned, maybe sacrifices need to be made for the sake of nutrition?

GORDON: As difficult as it is, yeah. And before anyone gets the wrong idea here, I’m also obscenely frugal. I’d be eating nearly twice as much if I were on food stamps.

EVAN: I keep telling you that you’ve gotta splurge a little. Which I’m going to take as our cue to wrap up, since it appears the hour has struck when I begin to turn into a concerned parent.

GORDON: Indeed. Perhaps money should be our next topic of discussion.

EVAN: I’m almost one thousand percent positive we’ve done something at least adjacent to that topic.

GORDON: Fair enough. Perhaps our readers might suggest something for a change? I can’t remember the last time we had a topic suggestion grace our lonely comments section…

EVAN: I like that idea, though I refuse to beg. Instead, I am going to order readers who made it this far to suggest a topic for us to talk about two weeks from now. I feel like I’m being tough, but fair with this.

GORDON: And with that, we are out. You heard the man, ladies and gentlemen- chop chop now.

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4 responses to “Culture War Correspondence: Healthy Living

  1. New topic: animal rights. Right now, laws in the U.S. prohibit animal cruelty, but animals are still legally recognized as “things.” There’s a big push right now to grant some legal recognition of “personhood” (as opposed to outright humanity) for a variety of high functioning species, such as chimps and orcas. You guys should dig into this. Should this happen? What are the ramifications? Do this thing.

    • Yeah, you can pretty much look forward to this in the upcoming weeks.

      • Here’s a source article for that discussion: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/magazine/the-rights-of-man-and-beast.html?_r=0

        Also, you talked a lot about weighing too much to be considered healthy, but what about weighing too little? I’m thinking mostly of Gordon here and the combination of his intense frugality, strange belief that ramen is an acceptable meal, and insane metabolism, but I also have a crazy metabolism and usually end up on the very low end of the body mass index. Is there a general middle ground we should all be striving for when it comes to weight, or are extremes of variety to be expected?

  2. Pingback: Why We Don’t Need Fat Acceptance | Culture War Reporters

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