The Battle of The Bulge

The cold temperatures have increased the usage of the gym I attend by about ten fold. I’ve not seen many of these folks on my daily walks around my neighborhood, and I try to walk twice a day, rain or shine. Either they’ve been going to another gym to do their workouts, or they are newly reborn with their New Year’s Resolutions. Either way, it’s a good thing, as long as they respect one another and wipe their sweat off of the machines. No one likes to bathe in someone else’s perspiration. Well, maybe there are some that do, but they need to do it in the privacy of their own homes.

Anyhow, I am looking out over an expanse of flesh, a sea of cellulite, as I try to keep pace on the elliptical. Even the younger, more attractive members of our community seem to have picked up a pound or two over the Holidays. Not that anybody is keeping track of such, it’s just that no one seems to be immune to weight gain. I guess there could be some people who don’t gain weight like a bird adding feathers, but they are not here in evidence at my gym. Looking at the collective group of exercisers in the gym today, we all seem to be about a biscuit short of blividity, and that’s concerning.

Anyway, weight gain, or loss, is one of the topics I’ve had the occasion to watch first hand, and study for a long while. I’m well aware of the fact that aging reduces the hormones that help burn calories when we’re young. Not easy too accept, but a reduction of caloric intake should offset the loss of hormones, right? I mean, if I go from two quarter-pounders with cheese, large fries and large coke for lunch to a chicken Caesar salad, I should have over compensated for the loss of hormones, right? My scales say, “no”, and not just “no”, but “heck no!” Why?

Some analysts want to point out our “sedentary” life style. They say that since folks don’t live on farms and do hard physical labor every day that that is the reason that America’s BMI is higher than Everest. I don’t see it. New York City had a population of a million people back in 1880. Were all of them blivits? Of course not. In fact, when America entered World War II there were so many potential inductees turned down for malnutrition that the school lunch program was introduced. Now, starvation is a good way to keep weight down, but I don’t think the school lunch program was the impetus for heart disease and diabetes. Ironically, it appears another government program was, though.

In 1971, Richard Nixon appointed Earl Butz his Secretary of Agriculture, and the industrialized farming of corn began. Soon every patch of dirt was growing corn, and contrary to those deeply held Republican ideas of a “Free Market”, corn prices were supported by the government. An over supply did not bring a drop in what the farmers would be paid, so they figured out more ways to over produce. The problem quickly became, what would we do with the surplus corn. Easy. Let’s make it into corn syrup, and add it to every other product that’s made. Don’t let cows or pigs range for food. Force feed them corn for quick growth. The massive usage of high fructose corn syrup, has permeated everything we eat or drink. If we eat anything that is not home grown, then HFCS will be a component of our diet.

Duke University has studied the phenomenon extensively, and has even produced charts that parallel the introduction of HFCS in our diets and the rise of obesity. Now the Duke scientists are talking about the scarring done to the liver by HFCS as being consistent with a heavy drinker. That’s double bad news for a drinker.

So while you’re doing your morning routine and asking yourself, “why won’t those pounds go away”, remember Richard Nixon fondly. I know I do.

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