Suck It Up

The killing of the “swarthy-looking” Brazilian fellow in London by police, following the London terror bombings, gets shadier every day. It seems now that the poor fellow was never running away. What rationale to the police now have for having executed him? This is shameful and, if true, someone needs to go to jail for a long time.

Sunday’s post on women-only gyms generated a fair bit of discussion. To summarize, the defenders of the surcharge-free women-only-rooms in co-ed gyms supported that arrangement because –if I may speak on their behalf– it’s a small price to pay to encourage the eventual re-integration of the sexes within one facility, which is seen as a desirable goal. I, on the other hand, don’t really care if the sexes are re-integrated and feel it’s a matter of individual choice, so refuse pay for someone else’s increased access.

It got me thinking about something else I’m pretty tired of: having to cajole people to take care of themselves. As is probably clear from this site, I’m pretty obsessive about my health. I don’t eat junk food, preserved foods, hydrogenated or trans-fats, processed carbs, caffeine and a lot of sugars or excess sodium. (My rule is that, if it can exist uncanned and unfrozen on a shelf for more than 72 hours, it ain’t food.) If it’s got corn syrup or an unpronouncable chemical name in the ingredients list, I don’t eat it. Every morning I run 2 miles, followed by 30 minutes of yoga and stretching, followed by 150 situps and 2 minutes of meditation. On alternate days I follow this regimen with upper-body weight training, usually lasting 30-40 minutes. (As we age, we lose muscle mostly from our gluteals and hamstrings, but I compensate for that with the running.) Then I bike 5 miles (mostly uphill) to work. When I can, I also squeeze in a swim, squash game or long walk.

Every year, I spend thousands of dollars on gym memberships, health magazines and dietary supplements. Every morning after I brush my teeth, I take supplements of zinc, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamins A & D, a Vitamin B complex, saw palmetto, an omega-3 fatty acid pill, pumpkin seed extract, co-enzyme Q10, fish oil, psyllium husk fibre and tribulus terrestris. On weight-training days, a whey-protein shake is added to the pre-breakfast concoction.

This can get pretty complicated, time consuming and costly, obviously. But a healthy lifestyle need not be an expensive lifestyle. Cooking your food rather than eating out is cheaper and healthier. Fresh vegetables are cheaper than canned or preserved foods. And running on the street is free. It’s all so easy and fun and the dividends are tremendous. There really is no downside to exercise and proper nutrition.

Despite this, it’s like pulling teeth to get my more sedentary friends and relatives to make their lives healthier. Invitations to join me for a casual walk, run, swim, squash game, bike ride or even a tour of the gym usually go unaccepted, yet the whines about the big bellies and lack of energy persist. The public health specialist in me feels compelled to encourage health among everyone. But, you know, I’ve reached a point where I realize it’s up to the individual to do at least 50% of the work, i.e. showing up. If any of my chubby friends and family members want me to help them get more active, I’d be happy to… but you have to show some initiative.

What does this have to do with the women-only gym discussion? Well, I no longer think it’s my responsibility to enourage other people to do for themselves what is patently obvious for them to be doing. It’s no longer my responsibility to drag people to the gym or to yank the third donut out of their hands. And it’s not my responsibility to subsidize their segregated work-out space just ’cause they’re feeling conscientious about their bodies or are intimidated by the big boys. Suck it up, people, and do for yourselves.