You Diet and Exercise and The Fat Vanishes – But Where Does It Go?
Was there a deficiency in the diet of mountain women of old which made them crave fat? U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, an orphan boy who was reared in poverty in southern West Virginia, can remember how his foster mother would carefully fish out and eat the fat pork seasoning from a pot of beans. I’ve seen my mother do the same many time. Native Eskimos consumed blubber in order to insulate their bodies against arctic chill. Now we’re advised to avoid eating fat meat, lest it clog blood vessels and add rotundity to the figure.
Those of my generation can recall when plumpness was regarded as an indicator of good health. The gaunt figure which so many strive for nowadays was seen as a harbinger of sickness. Skinny kids were pitied. “Look at that puny young’un,” they’d say. “He’s not long for this world.”
Perhaps it was a carry over from this background which prompted She Who Could Give Dr. Spock Lessons on Rearing Children to insist that ours always “clean up your plate.” This rule is one which now says she wishes never had been promulgated in our household, since all of us are constantly engaged in fighting the battle of the bulge.
We were weight conscious in our home long before it became fashionable across the land. She Whose Calories Have Always Been Counted has been watching her weight for better than four decades now. Nancy Regan she regarded with suspicion, finding it hard to believe that any human being could be so tiny. However, her admiration for Barbara Bush reached new heights when the First Lady told an audience of women that she was born weighing 135 pounds and had been dieting all her life. My experience with incipient corpulence is relatively recent. Until middle age, I was one of those obnoxious characters who ate like a horse and never gained an ounce, a physical phenomenon which I was not at all reluctant to call the attention of my portly acquaintances.
These quietly rejoiced when my waistline began to balloon and my clothes constricted and I was forced to join the ranks of calorie counters. That all happened some years ago and I have since learned several truths about losing weight and keeping it off. One is that the only miraculous things about the magic pills that are advertised to make you shed 20 pounds per week while eating all you can hold is that there are people dumb enough to buy them. Another truth is that while walking supposedly is good for you, putting down one foot after the other will not by itself shed those pounds. If it did, I would be skinny as a rail since in recent years I have walked the equivalent of Sistersville, W.Va. to Atascadero, CA and back. It also is a given that food which is any good to eat has far more calories in it than you can afford to consume. And there really is no such thing as stylish stout in America, although there may be in Japan.
The Japanese make sports heroes out of sumo wrestlers, tall young men of great weight, generally upwards of 400 pounds. Clad only in loincloths, these obese caricatures of humanity compete by trying to bump other 400 pounders out of a ring or forcing their opponents to touch any part of their body (except their flat feet, of course) to the ground. The “matches” usually last only a few seconds. In view of the fact that sumo heretofore has been limited to hereditary participants, it is ironic that the new champion sumo wrestler of Japan is an American citizen from Hawaii. He now weighs 430 pounds and reportedly lost 40 pounds in training for the sumo competition.
A question comes to mind: On any given day in this country, what with diets, weight loss centers, exercise and the like, there must be tons of weight lost. The fat disappears. But where does it go? She Who Never Is Stumped had a ready answer for my query. “It goes,” said she firmly, “into the nearest closet whence it will jump right back on you if you give it half a chance.”
“Makes sense,” said I. “You know what Walt Whitman had to say on the subject?”
“Whitman said, “I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.'”
“You know what Queen Victoria had to say on the subject?” asked she.
“Queen Victoria said, “I am not amused.'”