Category Archives: Health

I’m Lovin’ It?

Morgan Spurlock decided to eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald’s. The result? A gain of 25 pounds, a 65-point cholesterol spike, vomitting, toxic liver, depression and headaches. According to the New York Post, this was all for his documentary, “Super Size Me,” which he’s entering in the Sundance Film Festival.

After stories like this and books like Fast Food Nation, I wonder why I even consider eating fast food. Yet I still do.

Eating Right

I’ve been eating fruit lately. I should probably clarify that lately means the last four or five days. Basically since we last went to the grocery store. This comes as a worthy piece of news because I’m not exactly the healthiest eater on the planet. They tell you to eat four to five servings of fruits or vegetables per day. I usually eat that many per week. In high school it was per month.

Since college I’ve gotten much better about vegetables. I actually like mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Match those with the already acceptable potatoes, corn, and lettuce, and you’ve got something. Throw in the ‘acceptable when eaten in something like pasta or salad’ vegetables, including tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and the like, and you could call me a vegetarian.

So vegetables haven’t been a problem. It’s fruit I’m not wild about. And part of the problem is delivery. It’s easy to add vegetables to a dish and you have a guaranteed delivery system. Tacos, baked potatoes, and pasta are all excellent vegetable delivery systems. But fruit has very few ready made delivery systems. Yogurt is probably the most healthy, but everything else seems to veer into the realm of baked goods, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Of course I shouldn’t act like I’m eating all sorts of fruits. I’m mainly an apples and bananas kind of guy. I think those are the great American school lunch fruits. And I suppose if juice counts, I drink a glass of orange juice every day. That counts for something, right?

I’m also trying to be more active. Of course I’m always trying that. But in the past week I have exercised twice, which is two-thirds of what I should be doing. Not that I’ve ever cared much or care now for formal exercising. I’ve always thought it’s pathetic that we reduce ourselves to mice running in a spinning wheel just to stay physically fit. It used to be that our labor kept us in shape. And if it wasn’t our labor, it was our play. Now we don’t do either, so we hit the running wheel. I’m hoping my exercise falls somewhere between the running wheel and play. And the more towards play I can be, the better.

Don’t worry, I’m not turning into a health nut. I just want to be physically fit. When I sprint to catch the bus I don’t want to be catching my breath for the next five minutes. When I join the broomball team every January, I don’t want to spend the first weeks in agony at my lack of activity. When I’m 60 I don’t want to have trouble getting up.

Now if only I could give up my addiction to Pepsi, I’d really be on the road to good health. Wait! No! That’s my caffeine delivery system.

Jamie Overdosed

A few weeks ago someone found a good friend of mine passed out on their dorm room floor. We’ll call her Jamie. Apparently she’d overdosed on painkillers. Life had become a little too much for Jamie. Thankfully she survived, and now she’s in the psyche ward of some rural state hospital.

Anorexia and depression were the culprits. She’s a size 0, but that wasn’t good enough. She counted every last calorie she consumed, from half a rice cake, to a stick of Trident. She had all the excuses in the book, like “I had a big lunch,” and “I’m going out with friends later.” Everyone guessed she was anorexic, but nobody really did anything. She was seeing a counselor, and that was supposed to make everything okay. I wonder how the counselor feels now?

So Jamie spends her days under restriction in a far-flung wing of a hospital. When it’s time to eat she stubbornly refuses, picking at her food with disdain, mentally adding the fat content and calories until it makes her sick. If she doesn’t eat, they cram a tube down her throat and force feed her a can of Ensure. She figures the 200 calories in the Ensure is less than the meatless chicken nuggets she’d have to eat, so she wins this way. “And I don’t have to chew,” she points out. She’s also a Vegan, an extreme habit she hasn’t had before. A few years ago she became a vegetarian, but we all thought it was okay. She’d still eat dinner. She’d still come home from school and have a bowl of cereal. She ate strangely, but she ate. Maybe it was just practice.

On top of all the eating troubles, Jamie’s still suicidal. She says she swallowed the bottle of pain killers and any other drugs she could find because she was so sick of dealing with it. She knew what anorexia was doing to her body, how eventually her body would consume itself, how her skin and hair would become unhealthy. She knew all the facts, but it didn’t matter. She still wouldn’t eat. Somehow she decided killing herself could be a way out.

She still sees it that way. She refuses to eat, and if it kills her, so be it. She basically has no hope. Which makes my role pretty difficult in all of this. There’s no sense in reasoning with her. She’s so emaciated logic doesn’t mean anything. So I can’t convince her to eat. And how do you tell someone who sees no value in life that life is actually worth living? I guess I try with the small things. A phone call, a letter, a visit. Maybe these simple acts will show her that someone loves her. That’s really all I can hope for.

Now as I walk through the mall, stop at the bookstore, and ride the bus, I think about Jamie. Who told her she was fat? I see the magazine covers that adorned the floor of her room. I scan those covers in the line at the grocery store, the tag lines about looking sexy, losing weight, being thin, and snagging your man. It’s all one mental image. Thin=beauty. I see thin girls walking by and I wonder if they have an eating disorder. I wonder if they hate food, if they count the calorie of every morsel they chew. I wonder if they think they’re sexy because they can buy their clothes at Gap Kids.

I’ve always thought that the movers and shakers in society were to blame for this. It was a vast conspiracy between the magazine publishers, the makers of beauty products, and anyone else who could get in on the scam that if they make women think they’re fat and thin is beautiful, they’ll do anything to be thin and money can be made. That always seemed to be the case, but I really hoped it wasn’t true. I really hoped their was a better explanation. Yesterday I was reading an article that described how pop singer Jessica Simpson’s record label forced her to get an image makeover before the release of her latest album. Although Jessica has never worn clothes larger than a size 6, the image makeover required her to lose 15 pounds. Lose 15 pounds to sell a CD. You’re already skinny, but it’s not enough. The average size in America is a 12, but half of that isn’t thin enough, isn’t beautiful enough.

And I wonder who told Jamie she was fat.

Jamie, you’re not fat. You’re beautiful. And you’re beautiful at 90 pounds, you’re beautiful at 100 pounds, you’re beautiful at 120 pounds, you’re beautiful at 180 pounds. You’d even be beautiful at 250 pounds. Your weight does not determine your beauty–unless of course you weigh 80 pounds and you’re dead. Death is not beautiful.

Mmm… Krispy Kreme

Last weekend I experienced the decadence that is Krispy Kreme donuts. If you’ve never had a Krispy Kreme donut, you’re missing out. What you’re missing out on is a mixed bag, but I’m getting to that. We walked into the place and it wasn’t your ordinary donut shop. You could see the whole donut-making process, from the vat of oil to the fountain of glaze. When you reached the counter, they had a tray of free samples, donuts hot off the line. Nothing matched that first gooey bite.

After the initial shock wears off, you realize you’re sitting in a fast food joint full of fatties. According to Time magazine, Krispy Kreme’s quarterly profits rose 65%. There are also 798,000 new cases of diabetes diagnosed each year. If this is the American breakfast and snack food of the future, our waistlines are in trouble.

Running on Spring Break

For some reason when I woke up this morning I didn’t stumble into the bathroom and stare at the mirror trying to determine if that was really me. Instead I stumbled into last night’s clothes and my new pair of running shoes and I went running. Now this is odd because when I took the Physical Wellness, the college equivalent of gym class, I was what you would call “borderline sedentary.” That means I sit around a lot and I’m not that active. Now it’s not like I’m the Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons or anything–far from it. I’m a pretty bony, skinny kid. But I’ve noticed that my jeans don’t fit like they used to, and I decided it was time to take action before I did resemble the Comic Book Guy. So I woke up this morning and went running. Of course this wasn’t a huge sacrifice. I’m on spring break. I rolled out of bed at 9:30 and went for a short run before I started my day of… not much.

For a person who’s horribly out of shape, I have to say that it felt really good. After taking a shower, I felt like a million bucks–just like my Physical Wellness professor said I would. Of course right about now I feel like $3.89–the cost of a bottle of aspirin. Actually it’s not that bad, I’m just exaggerating for effect. But this morning when I was heaving along with my pokey little jog I felt really good. I kept thinking how good it feels to be alive. I’m not the kind of person who likes to run, but it was invigorating to crawl out of bed and pump my legs and feel the blood flow through the veins. What a concept.

What I find really entertaining is that I actually need to take the time to exercise. I think it’s kind of humorous that our society has come to a point where we need to exercise to stay in decent shape. It used to be that your job involved enough physical labor to keep you in top physical condition. Now we just sit around in air conditioned offices and squeeze our little stress balls to keep our wrists from cramping up. We have to squint our eyes when we venture out into the blinding sun. To keep our bodies from turning to gelatin blobs we have to take our free time to exercise. We’re not even social enough to go play. Why take the time to go and run when you could just play a game and stay in shape? It makes sense to me, but look at how I do it–my roommates play Ultimate Frisbee twice a week and I never join them. Now I’m to the point where I have to exercise, when I could just join them. Right now my only excuse is that I wouldn’t last ten minutes in their game I’m so out of shape.

It just seems kind of ridiculous that we have to spend time exercising instead of having fun. I guess I like to ridicule myself. The one thing I do enjoy is the quiet time to reflect and pray. Running doesn’t exactly require a lot of thought.

You weren’t looking for structure tonight, were you? Cuz it’s spring break, you’re not going to get any. You’re lucky I even took the time to think.

Just That Much of a Wuss

Have you ever noticed how physical, bodily experiences can so easily consume your thoughts? I suppose it’s kind of obvious, but it struck me this morning. I’ve been sick with a cough for the past several days. Today it was being especially obnoxious during church–I felt like I was interrupting the sermon every time I turned and coughed into my elbow. But I found I could barely concentrate on the message. It was something about prayer, and that’s all I remember. I could tell you a few illustrations, and I know he pulled a few verses out of Isaiah, but I wasn’t following him at all. My mind was preoccupied with my physical discomfort, and I couldn’t think about anything else. I find that kind of interesting. It really makes me wonder how people can endure torture. I also can’t help but wonder if it means I’m just that much of a wuss.

So You’ve Got Mono

For those of you eagerly awaiting the update on my medical condition, good news, I have mono! Well, it’s not really good news. The fun part is that I got a pamphlet in my post office box entitled “So You’ve Got Mono.” Hopefully I’ll get better soon. Until then I have an excuse to fall asleep in class. Today’s pondering is more about Sedgewick. You’re probably wondering if I’m just getting lazy here and giving you assignments from one of my classes. Sadly, the answer is yes. But I have mono, so you’re supposed to pity me and have mercy.

Self Absorbed When You’re Sick

I think the sore throat is finally passing. I know you’ve all been terribly worried about my medical condition, so I thought the least I could do was keep you updated. The one thing I hate about being sick is how you lose touch with everything. I haven’t followed my daily routine in weeks, which I suppose could be a good thing. I also haven’t spent time with God in a while. You’d think while lying half asleep in bed you’d have time to talk to God, but no. The only thoughts are echoing choruses of ‘get better.’ It seems like we get a little self absorbed when we’re sick. Some people say sin is a sickness.