Julescosby's Blog

Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Lou

Posted by julescosby on April 12, 2010

I saw Lou the other day.  First time in a few years.

Lou was once one of the Fitness Consultants at the hyper-absurd mirror-palooza they call a gym where I go.  When I started there a few years back, they forced me to take this ‘consulting’ session, despite the fact that I had been working out regularly for several years.  Lou wasn’t a particularly tall man, but he was solid as a rock.  Maybe it’s a good thing that they didn’t have exercise as we know it in post-Revolutionary France.  History might have turned out very differently if Napoleon had the option of building his wee body.

Let’s just say that Lou and I didn’t exactly hit it off.  He was a stereotypical high pressure salesman; I was a stereotypical smart ass.

  • To break the ice, he told me a little bit about himself.  He had recently gone back to school – he was probably around 30 – to take psychology.  He wanted to understand human nature.
  • To break the ice, I told him that I was a vegetarian, and that my only interest in going to the gym was fighting entropy.  I told him I felt that the construct of ‘human nature’ was tenuous at best, destructive at worst.

He didn’t pay much attention to my attempt to get a philosophical discussion going.  He wanted to focus on the vegetarianism, which to him was anathema to fitness.

Lou: “See bro, your body is like a truck.”

JC: “Woah, woah, woah, a truck? Slow down professor!”

Lou: “You have to put the gas into the truck in order to make the truck go.”

And in a moment of pure smartassery, JC: “What about ethanol? You know, because I’m a vegetarian.”

Lou: [pause] “Your body’s a lot like a wall, bro.”

There were a few other analogies he offered to the body over the course of the discussion.  I think ultimately his point was that you have to put in good ingredients into your body to get the results you want.  Except no, that can’t be right, because he didn’t care about the results I wanted, he cared about the results he wanted.

As part of the consulting session, Lou had to take a look at what I had been eating for the past few days.  I was living with my ex-girlfriend, a vegan, at the time.  That didn’t make me vegan, but it definitely had an impact on my dietary choices.  He tried to tell me that soy is bad for me, based on a study (which he could not produce for me).  The hardest part for me was trying to convince him that there is no soy in a chickpea.

But what frustrated me the most, aside from the fact that I had to be there to begin with, was the fact that this guy was a living, breathing confabulation of bodybuilding with health/fitness.  It’s a completely fallacious comparison because they are not one and the same.  Eating a giant chicken breast every day for lunch does not make you healthy.  It might make you buff, but what about the hormones they pump into the chicken to give them ridiculously large breasts? You think those hormones just disappear in the production process, Lou?

Anyway Lou, just to let you know: I’m still not eating meat; I’m still not bulking up; I still don’t listen to salespeople who simultaneously tell me not to believe everything I hear, and then try to bypass my skepticism with some fallacious nonsense.  You’re probably a few years into that psych degree by now.  Hope you’ve figured out human nature, although between you and me, you had a pretty solid grasp on it before.

All the best, bro.  Hope that truck is running fine.

Nasty, brutish and short.

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January Jumpers

Posted by julescosby on January 4, 2010

Not a year goes by where some incredibly astute cultural observer does not notice the mountain of gym memberships that are created in January, only to be completely abandoned by the time Valentine’s Day hits.

I’d like to christen this phenomenon the January Jumper.

Now, gym regulars love to shit on January Jumpers.  Why? Maybe it’s a spatial thing.  Gyms, even the ridiculous self-parody of a monstrous hyper-gym that I go to, are limited in size.  The influx of new people means that you somehow limited in your ability to do what you want to do.  But just because you can’t bench press something doesn’t mean you can’t go do a push-up somewhere else.

No, I think it’s something that goes much deeper.  I think it’s a question of exclusivity.  After all, you’d think that ‘healthy’ people would want other people to be ‘healthy’ too.  But no, the new is encroaching on the old, and this simply will not do!

I joined a gym once, long ago, for one simple reason: I did not want to be fat.  I spent most of my childhood being called both fat and smart, and I was never sure which I hated worse.  By the time I realized that being smart might not be such a bad thing, I put those smarts to use and realized, you know, I wouldn’t mind wearing pants that fit.

Being smart and wearing fitted pants: that was the ticket!

But like many people, the endeavour included a few false starts.  I tried going to the gym with my Dad, with friends, with trainers, but it never really took until I had graduated high school and had nothing else to do.  And from there, a few things fell into place.  Once I was working out regularly, my diet improved, which meant that I saw better results in the ubiquitous gym mirror, which meant that I was more inclined to stick to working out.

The thing is, for many people, myself included, the gym is merely a means to a simple end (not being fat).  Never once did I take the gym to be a social place.  I can be a fairly talkative person (I know we’re only at the outset, but I think we may have struck upon the understatement of the decade!), but in the years that I’ve gone to the gym I’d be hard-pressed to count on one hand the amount of times I’ve struck up a conversation with anyone.  That’s not to say I don’t eye-fuck every other person I see, but that’s a different story altogether.

(Besides, there are few times and places in the day where I don’t eye-fuck every other person I see.)

Now, I know a lot of you muscle-bound types aren’t exactly known for your brainthinks, but try to tease this one out for a second.  Your membership costs money (that paper stuff you use to get marginally-healthy protein bars).  The January Jumpers pay money too, but throughout the year they do not use the space that you use.  Therefore the money that the January Jumpers bring in probably subsidizes the cost of your membership.  In other words, if it weren’t for them, then you would probably pay more to use the gym, which means less money for your name-brand workout gear.

So please, think twice before you shit on people for wanting to join your gym.  Sure, New Years might not be the best time to join because of the failure that perpetually shadows New Years’ resolutions.  But it’s possible that some of these people might not turn out to be January Jumpers after all.

People are going to join gyms for their own reasons.  Sometimes they may even join your gym and you’re going to have to learn to deal with it.

Besides, if it’s a private club you’re really after, go buy a boat.

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Everything in Moderation (especially moderation)

Posted by julescosby on September 27, 2009

Eggs are bad for you.

This will be the first (out of doubtless many) health-related posts.  From the start I want to make one thing clear, I don’t consider myself an expert on health.  I consider myself an expert on my health.

We have to drop the idea that there is such thing as ‘health’ that applies generally.  I’m not necessarily talking about medicinal or clinical health here – I’m sure we’re all glad there are cancer doctors out there.  No, my subject is more along the lines of nutrition.  But since the word ‘health’ is tossed around so readily, it’s there that I will keep my focus set.

If there is an ‘objective’ health, it is obviously socially and historically determined.  Even if one could be proved, or some Idea could be found floating around the ether, how would someone then prove that the good for one is the good for another? Also, in health matters we typically rely on oversimplified quantitative measurements masquerading as qualitative ones.  If your BMI is too high, then you are unhealthy, simple as that.

Eggs are good for you.  Eat more eggs!

Once I joined a gym and I was told, as a vegetarian, how unhealthy my diet was (Trust me kids, it’s not).  I asked the trainer what he ate, and he told me ‘skinless chicken breast’ for just about every meal – seventeen times a day or something ridiculous like that.  For him, the protein content was the only adequate measure of health.  When I mentioned the amount of chemicals that are pumped into chickens to give him his ready supply of muscle chow, I might as well have been speaking Klingon to him; he quickly changed the subject to push-ups.

I’m sure his reaction would have been similar if I would have mentioned the deplorable conditions his protein source par excellence is raised in.  But I digress.

Now, I don’t want to make this post a vegetarian polemic.  I’m about as militantly vegetarian as I am militantly pro-Nickelback.  However, having been a vegetarian for years, I have had to deal with two dubious health-related statements:

1)      Vegetarians are more healthy than carnivores.

2)      Vegetarians are less healthy than carnivores.

Obviously, each argument hinges on a definition of healthy.  My grandpa was healthy and lived a long healthy life – he ate meat every day (except for ‘ethic’ night where he would try that exotic collation known as ‘pasta’).  My father is also a healthy man who also eats meat every day.  On the other side of the aisle, I’m sure we all know vegetarians who survive on poutine and Pepsi.

Eggs should be eaten…but only moderately.

And of course in our society, healthy is synonymous with ‘skinny’.  This is not only an historical anachronism; it is also patently absurd.  Being skinny does not mean you are healthier; it means you are skinnier.  In our culture obesity is a grievous offence, and yet just about every part of supersized and sedentary society makes us fat.  Somewhere between the Second and Third Day, God created Absurdity.

It’s true, people look at me and see a skinny guy with tanned skin and say “you are so healthy”.  Well let me tell you something kids: I’ve smoked more cigarettes in the past 10 years than many people will see in a lifetime.  I swizzle the booze like Prohibition’s lurking right around the corner.  And since I still haven’t ruled out a political future, I’ll keep the other substances in which I occasionally partake to myself.

Obviously all of the above are bad for body, despite being soooooooo good for the soul.  So I ask you, am I still healthy?

Eggs are good for you, but only EggCo Brand Organic Eggs with Alpha-7 Enzyme Action! Try some today!

A good starting definition of healthy should be that which is good for the individual or organism.  It’s problematic to be sure, but it’s a start.  It should be up to the individual to decide what is healthy – for them.    But as in so many other matters, individuals are quite content to let others think for them.  I don’t remember the source for the life of me, but I do recall reading that Kant once said part of being enlightened is knowing that a doctor shouldn’t tell you what health is.

You are what you eat, kids.  Of course, you are also what you smoke, drink, and generally just do.  Meditate on what healthy means to you.  If you’re old and have great skin, that’s really wonderful and we’re all happy for you.  It’s just too bad to get there you had to avoid smiling for 60 years.  Ask yourself, is being puritanical about health worth the opportunity cost of life?

My advice – unsolicited though it may be – is to eat what you want, to do what you want.  Just don’t be surprised at the end of the day when you look like you do.

fat-skinny-ugly-wedding-couple

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