I also mentioned how another colleague of ours questioned whether this woman was telling the truth about all the running she's now doing. The only reason she advanced for questioning our colleague's truthfulness (or, as Joe Biden said during the VPs' presidential debate, "accurateness"--what a great way to avoid saying "lying") was the fact that this woman is still fat.
We definitely have a visual image of what it means to be in shape: trim, slim, no extraneous fat (goddess forbid we should have the slight roll around the middle!) and well defined muscles. But is this description the only valid one?
Quite a while ago, I wrote a post about the "morphs": the ecto-, meso- and endomorphs--the three basic body types, which one could also describe as "fine, medium or large-boned", to use more old-fashioned terms. As I recall, I received quite a few responses, including several that accused me of copping out and being an apologist for fatness because I questioned the validity of "one correct BMI to rule them all". I still stand by what I said and now I've come across an article in the New York Times that lends some support to the idea that not everyone who does "all the right things" necessarily "looks the part".
The article is entitled, "Are You Likely to Respond to Exercise". Actually, I think it's a bit of a misnomer, in that some may read the article and think, "exercise doesn't seem to do much for my cardio-vascular health, so why bother?".
Research has confirmed that people’s physiological responses to exercise vary wildly. Now a new genetic test promises to tell you whether you are likely to benefit aerobically from exercise. The science behind the test is promising, but is this information any of us really needs to know?Read the article. It's interesting. But first, let's be clear: I'm absolutely in favour of everyone engaging in enjoyable physical activity, if that's what they want to do. There are numerous studies that show the physical and psychological benefits of activity, from walking or swimming to running marathons or weight lifting.
However, the article does look at the issue of how different bodies to respond to exercise. The fact is, everyone responds differently on a macro and a micro level. For instance, men, in general, gain muscle a lot faster and in much greater quantity than women. This goes a long way to explaining why men generally have less trouble losing weight than women and are often more successful in the long term (I know, there are always exceptions to the rule. Bear with me, people.)
But back to lying.
An interesting and heart-wrenching article is making a few waves now. It's called "I Was Once Obese" and subtitled "And now I'm not. Please don't applaud me for losing the weight." It's definitely a thought-provoking personal essay but what I found even more interesting and ultimately horrifying, were the comments. Many of the commenters openly and vehemently questioned the author's truthfulness. How could she have eaten as little as she said she was and exercised as much as she said she had and still not lost weight? I find this an all too common attitude, which is often accompanied by the strongly held opinion that in contrast to all those lying, lazy, willpower-challenged fatties out there, all slim people carefully watch what they eat, zealously exercise and never eat anything that's "off plan". Slim people are, thanks to their size alone, paragons of virtue.
Read some of the comments to this article if you dare. Then take some strong pain medication. They're enough to make you lose whatever faith in humanity you may have had left.