I did it again. Once again I find myself in the need to warn my reader that I’ve come up with an article that’s far longer than I had originally intended. Time and again, it beats me how many words and sentences seem to be needed in order to convey to someone else something that didn’t seem to take up as much room in my mind.
And once again none of it is truly secondary, or disposable in any way. Therefore you should really get to the bottom of it – which shall be easier if you make a copy, or a bookmark, and then only fully dig in when you have enough time.
Done that? Ok then, let’s move on.
Why you are so fat
Before we even get started, let me clear up the obvious fact that my reader might well and truly be thin. Then, of course, I don’t mean them. I guess you know which ones I’m talking about.
On a personal level, I have never been bogged down in issues of weight gain, having been fit and trim all my life, without exceptions, up to this day when I’m well over fifty. In fact, I have the sort of body that’s so uncommon today, even among much younger people, that it hardly ever goes unnoticed.
I’m saying this not because I care in the least to brag about my physical shape, but rather because I’m totally fed up with the sort of idiotic doom and gloom I hear all the time from pretty much every corner on matters of health, fitness, and how they relate to ageing. I want to stand right in front of you as living proof that it is all nonsense.
A sick mind promotes a sick body
Any time I leave the house, what I see is quite disheartening. Almost everyone around looks fat and unfit, if not sickly and decrepit. I hear them talk, and it’s all about treatments, medicines and ailments of all sorts. And sure do they look the part too!
The belief is today universally held that one cannot keep fit and healthy beyond a certain age, and, what’s more worrying, this collective cut-off age displays unequivocally the ominous trend of getting younger and younger.
We are already raising a generation that for the first time in history has a life expectancy shorter than that of their parents. Issues like childhood obesity and related disconcerting diseases like childhood diabetes (type II, or acquired, I mean) were virtually unheard of up until modern times.
What is so wrong, and even perverse, about our modern way of living that the result is such a grim doomsday scenario?
Arguably everything. I cannot point at one single thing that I think we, as a society, are doing right.
I also ask, why is it that a man like myself, in his mid-fifties, still keeps perfectly healthy and fit, with no weight issues whatever, having not seen a doctor virtually since childhood?
Arguably because I do everything differently. And I mean, every – single – thing.
What makes me so different is the fact that I was born a contrarian. A contrarian, if you didn’t know, is someone who always feels compelled to challenge the acquired wisdom, and the accepted way of down things. A contrarian also cares nothing about authority, or peer pressure. He only values opinions and ideas that he personally, and independently, judges to be valuable. Same for people.
As you can imagine, a contrarian doesn’t usually have an easy life. But, on the flip-side, he can see and seize opportunities that others can’t. If it wasn’t for contrarians, mankind would have seen very little progress from the Stone Age.
Being who I am, I could easily point at a number of material causes for the afore lamented debacle – and soon will. But first I want to point my finger at the number one reason behind it, which relates instead to the way people think – or rather, don’t think.
Far from ever attempting to dig up the true causes of their ills, people usually wallow into a fatalistic, defeatist attitude of complacency and acceptance of their fate, as though things could only be the way they are, and nothing could be done about it.
In reality, our current doomsday scenario shapes itself as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Outcomes and expectations are perversely intertwined. From defeatist expectations follow self-defeating behaviours – thus fulfilling those expectations. Then, as gloomy expectations time and again materialise, this common defeatist attitude only gains traction, and spreads unchecked far and wide, poisoning the minds of each and every one within its reach. Except for the contrarians, that is.
To anyone willing to look at this general attitude with a critical eye, it all appears as a true, highly contagious, disease of the mind, to begin with.
Our sickly (and sickening) artificial lives
I have shaped my contrarian life over many years, after going through experiences very much like those of everyone else around me, but always eventually breaking free, once my awareness and self-respect couldn’t take any more of it.
Therefore I’m not claiming I’ve always done the right thing. I’ve made, and still make, my good share of mistakes, but unlike most, I’d usually wise up and correct them.
It also seems I had to get to my mid-life years before I could fully appreciate how fundamentally flawed, and foolish, is the way we live our lives today.
Only today I fully understand how important it is to take a step back or two, and try to live our lives the way they were meant to be lived, before the onslaught of modernity, with all its insidious traps, got the better of our judgement.
Modern life has become so far removed from its natural, age-old predecessor, that all sort of hell has broken loose upon us. The modern man barely knows the use of his own limbs, addicted as he is to his car and to motorised transport. The modern man hardly ever breaks a sweat, living as he does a life that no longer requires of him any labour or engagement in any physical activity. The modern man relentlessly stuffs his belly with all sort of poisonous, artificial junk cranked out by a food industry that only caters for customers, never for human beings. The modern man thinks that for each of his many ailments there’s a pill that’ll magically relieve his symptoms, overlooking the fact that he’s really compounding more problems and more addictions, under the complacent eye of an overblown pharmaceutical industry. The modern man has relinquished all claims on the use of his own brain, by always doing as he’s told, either by his boss in the office, the advertising industry, or society at large.
If that’s what the modern man does, what I do instead – and what I strongly advise you to do – is the exact opposite.
I’ve junked the car many years ago, and now only ride a bicycle everywhere. I never shy away from any physical engagements: I walk, take the stairs, and practise active sports. I only eat healthy food, in moderation, and have recently even turned virtually vegan – I wouldn’t be seen inside a McDonald’s if they paid me. I also don’t drink, never smoked, and have no addictions whatever, including pills: I’ll point out that where I live there are now more chemists than grocery stores (selling mostly packaged psychological relief, by the by) – if it was for me there would be none. And finally, I have no boss who can dictate over my time, haven’t watched TV for decades, and gladly listen to all well meaning advice, only to do as I see fit afterwards.
As a consequence, I have been healthy and fit to this day without ever fretting about weight, food or exercise – or entering a gym. All I’ve ever done was living the way I felt was more natural for me, never caring in the least about what everyone else was doing instead. Some people have called me shamelessly lucky for this almost outrageous state of good health and fitness in a world where everyone complains of some ailment or other, but I never saw it that way. I know it’s not about luck.
The unexpected benefits of synergy
I’ve had people tell me that they smoked, but since they also jogged, this latter habit somehow compensated for the former. Others would tell me of their habit to eat some heathy food so that they could then ‘afford’ to also eat some junk. Some even would drag themselves through an unappealing gym session just so they could feel virtuous enough to guiltlessly self-indulge afterwards.
If all this sounds preposterous it’s because it is.
All that these people are doing is looking for an excuse to keep doing what they’ve always done – minus the guilt. If that’s your frame of mind, I can guarantee that it’ll never get you anywhere other than to a head-first plunge into a progressive, unstoppable deterioration of your health and shape, duly accompanied by a steady battering of your self-esteem, along the way.
If you really want to change, as opposed to putting up some lame pretence, you need to change your frame of mind in the first place. You need to understand that ALL self-indulgence is wrong. Actually, not just wrong, but stupid, since it’s an illusion to begin with.
I can easily prove to you that it is an illusion. Simply give the thing a try, and for a little while, say 30 days, give up all your usual channels of self-indulgence, and then see what happens. I bet you’ll find that far from killing you, that little break actually gave you the chance of feeling better, more confident and more hopeful than you had felt in a long time. You’ll find that in your mind it seemed to open a new window on life’s opportunities, even though your external circumstances may have not changed at all.
You may have thought you badly needed those channels of cheap relief, but you’ll find you really didn’t. They were nothing more than ball and chain – a drag on your life. And an illusion, like I said.
The key concept to understand, and sadly one that goes vastly unappreciated, is the fact the your body (including your mind) works as a whole, not as the sum of its parts.
All systems are interconnected, and interdependent. When something goes wrong somewhere there are repercussions elsewhere. On the other hand, when a system works fine, it also has precious healing power on the rest of the organism.
Some of you may remember the pandemic of swine flu that gripped the world about a decade ago. That pandemic reaped its fatalities disproportionately among the obese and overweight. Why? For one simple reason: their heart couldn’t cope. The heart is under severe stress when fighting a disease, and the heart of the heavily overweight is ordinarily strained, and easily overwhelmed. Hence the more likely fatal outcome.
When you let parts of your organism fall below their best working standards, you’re putting yourself at risk more than you may think, because the next insult in line will find a less responsive whole organism – and even more so with each new problem that may arise. At the point when it gets overwhelming and the body cannot cope any more, you’re facing chronic illness, or death.
Let’s say you are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation has been shown to wreak havoc on body and mind alike. It also makes you feel awful and more inclined to self-indulge on some unhealthy habit or other. Therefore you can see how you’re highly likely to further compromise your health as a consequence. It is truly all bundled up together.
On the other hand, the same principle, when properly tapped, offers opportunities that extend way beyond the most optimistic expectations people usually have. It offers what I call super-health.
The body has amazing self-healing capabilities, but it must be fully functioning at its best in order to perform that amazing job without fail.
When you take care of yourself leaving nothing behind – that is to say, you’re getting enough sleep, drink no alcohol, eat no junk, don’t indulge in idiotic addictions like tobacco or drugs, and never stay for too long inactive, but make regular use of the muscles of your body – when you do all that, then you’re well on your way to enjoy not just health, but exuberant health, because all systems of your organism heal and support each other in a magnificent interplay of synergy.
The radiant joy and vitality that spring from exuberant health, regardless of age, cannot quite be put into words – they can only be experienced first hand.
Sadly, most people never even come close to that experience. They never even contemplate its possibility, because they’ve hardly ever seen it anywhere. The common rotten way of thinking corrupts the minds to the point that people only ever seem to care to replicate, and reinforce, each other’s flawed attitudes and expectations, thus dragging themselves, steadily and pig-headily, into their dismal mire of ailments and troubles.
The beauty of being thin
The famous model Kate Moss once made headlines by tweeting: “no food tastes so good as skinny feels good.” It was a spontaneous expression of joy that escaped her without due consideration for the arousal it might stir among the usual politically correct pack of wolves, who are always ready to jump at juicy missteps like this.
The furore that ensued was mainly centred around the issue of teenage anorexia that statements like this allegedly encourage. While I’m not aware of any evidence supporting such claims, I certainly know that the fat-acceptance crowd seem to easily forget the much wider health implications of an entire population growing fatter by the day.
The pervasive overweight problem is several orders of magnitude larger and more severe than a relatively minor and rare issue like anorexia. But perspective and common sense, as ever these days, remain elusive among many.
The reality is, Moss was stating a basic truth, one that I know first hand, but also one that remains unfathomable to many.
Anyone who’s been fat their whole life has no idea what it feels like to be thin. Let me tell you: it feels wonderful. It isn’t about a single thought or feeling, it’s a whole collections of hints, sensations, and feedback that you get constantly from your own body telling you how fit, healthy, beautiful and nimble you are.
I cannot quite describe the feeling of pinching your stomach and feeling nothing but pure skin and solid muscle underneath. Or the sensation that your trim body gives you while you slip naked between the bedsheets. Or the light, agile step that accompanies you everywhere. Or even the eagerness, rather than dread, of climbing a flight of stairs. It is something to be experienced first hand, or forgone completely.
People think these things are the prerogative of adolescence or, at best, of a few lucky ones, while the vast majority is bound to struggle throughout their life just to keep the pounds off. Which is why I often hear people talk calories, saturated fats, carbs, and what not. They eagerly discuss what to eat and when. They obsess about a lot of fantastic details, and keep coming up with new and ever more ingenious expedients.
It’s all nonsense. And the results speak for themselves.
Keeping fit and thin isn’t nearly as hard as people think. You don’t have to do anything special – only avoid doing anything stupid. Among the stupid things to do are buying a diet book (especially one with a fat doctor on the cover) or listening to ‘expert’ advice. The only advice you ever ought to listen to comes from your own body. It will reliably tell you when you should eat and when you should stop eating. No need for calorie counting. You just have to pay attention.
You disobey consistently that inner voice, and all hell shall break loose upon you. Which, in fact, is precisely what we see happening today. The trouble today is that people don’t know how to listen anymore – neither to each other, nor to themselves.
Any time someone remarks my slim figure, they invariably assume that I must be making huge sacrifices to keep that thin – hardly ever eat, or something like that. No explanation on my part can ever quite convince them that’s not the case.
In fact, all I do is listen to my body, and do as it asks. Whenever I do otherwise there are immediate repercussions that force me back on track. So I don’t really have much of a choice in that regard.
For example, I’ve realised that my metabolism has a very long memory. If I overeat, my appetite will be affected for many days afterwards. Then, while I’m not quite hungry I find repulsive the very idea of eating. On the other hand, the simplest of foods becomes an absolute treat when I really need it.
That’s all there is to keeping thin. I simply respect my body and pay attention to its natural feedback system. I don’t see why the same shouldn’t hold true for anybody else. Therefore, I cannot begin to imagine the sort of senseless abuse so many people systematically and mindlessly inflict on their own body. To me it looks as though they must have been possessed by some demon.
As someone who’s been thin his whole life, I really have no idea what it feels like to be fat. I figure it must be awful – pure hell, I’d imagine. It gives me pain just to think of the heaviness, the short breath, the overabundance of flesh pushing at the seems, the repulsive sight… No. I have to stop. I beg forgiveness, but I cannot even carry on thinking about it.
Yet, today, that’s the reality facing many, and soon most, if the current trend goes on unchecked. As a society, we are slowly sleepwalking into a veritable sub-human level of existence. Instead of being scared and ashamed of what’s happening to us, we seek feeble excuses that justify our degrading behaviour, as well as magic bullets to get us out of trouble when such behaviour, inevitably, leads to disease or morbid deformity.
It is plain stupid to carry on as if nothing were the matter like we do, to look for quick fixes that never fix anything, to accept as normal a level of degradation that can never befit a fully human existence.
Yet, we only ever seem able to sink deeper and deeper into this dismal abyss of sloth and gluttony, with machines replacing all sort of physical engagements, pills to curb any troubles born of overindulgence, and ever more sophisticated technology to dumb down the mind and the pain. It’s a gigantic mental trap that keeps everyone enslaved, as well as oblivious to their real condition.
In this affluent world of ours, we have been frightfully dropping our standards of self-respect in favour of mindless self-gratification.
Humanity is silently slipping out of mankind, to be replaced by stealthy bestiality.
So, how about you?
I’ve thus far offered my point of view, knowledge, and personal experience.
If you think, like most undoubtedly will, that my suggestions push a bit too hard against the boundaries of your comfort zone, then, well – that’s your problem. You make your choices in your own life.
What I’m saying is that all choices have consequences. I’m showing you the way to achieving certain goals, namely a far better quality of life by any possible set of criteria.
If you think you aren’t willing to pay the price to get there from where you are, then, again, it’s your choice where you set your own target bar. Just bear in mind that you may well be the first victim of your lazy thinking.
If, furthermore, you are worrying about what others might think of your bizarre choices, then you really should stop a minute and consider who is actually in charge of your life.
A radical change needn’t be a sudden one. I’ve made my transitions over many years, never quite knowing what next step would follow. If someone had described me back in my twenties the way I would have lived in my fifties, I would have called them nuts.
But I slowly figured it all out, mostly on my own, given that any truly sensible and honest advice remains, to this day, sparse and fragmentary. What one ordinarily comes across is rather vested, usually commercial, interest cunningly camouflaged as well meaning, even scientific, advice.
Like I did, you can figure it all out too, if you so choose. Just stop assuming that the way things are is, by some divine right, beyond the reach of your critical thinking.