Monday, February 07, 2011

The Thing That Re-Ignited It All

NB: A lengthy, wordy post. If this is not your cup of tea, at least read the quoted article between the asterisks.

Today I managed a 5-km run, the longest I've ran in the last three years. Before that (during Seremban days), 5km was staple. In fact, I was lightest during my time in Seremban, weighing only double digit at one point.

Housemanship really ruined that lifestyle. Ironically, working in the healthcare industry can be a very unhealthy way of living. Work starts early, finishes late and you never have time to eat. Difficult people are always around, sucking the good life out of you, leaving behind a tired, moody, hungry and angry person.

At that point, when time is limited, companionship is non-existent, support is scarce and rationalization able to defy logic, people (well, at least me) will turn to what has always been a true friend, a loyal companion during thick or thin; food.

Large portions, fatty, savory, high-calorie, comfort food was the order of most days. I remember shopping for provisions and ditching anything that is labelled 'low-fat' or 'low-sugar' and carting those with 'extra creamy' and 'free 25%' on the packaging. Somehow, irresponsible eating helps.

Once I was sitting in Pizza Hut alone with two regular pizza in front of me, each with different toppings, chicken wings on the side, while saying to myself 'Hambik kau! Kerja macam nak gila. Time to balas dendam!' And since revenge is a dish best served cold, the session ended with an ice-blended mango yogurt frappucino.

I wasn't really sure to whom the vengeful thought was for, but something did pay the price; my body.

Under the false reassurance of 'good' food yields good mind and body, I soldiered on with a spoon in my right hand and a fork in my left. Yes I felt good after every meal, but dread on calls and worse, post calls. My stamina and endurance was severely affected, so much so I became the only person who openly embraced post-call shift pm (those who've worked in the Emergency Department will have an idea what this is). Basically it's a choice where you work the same hours, but waste one day with the benefit of a short rest. I needed the rest because my body can't take the stress. Others could take it, and they easily work and still get to live the day. My body was a mess. I was 'injured'.

Almost a year and a half of that, and I regained whatever weight I've lost during my first few months here (housemen anywhere, starting with any posting will shed some weight during the first 3 to 4 months of working life).

Then come January, where it all began to take a turn. I was sitting in Pizza Hut (ironically) having my dinner while catching up on my reading. I had the November 2010 copy of Men's Health in front of me and was reading the editor's note. What Dave Zinczenko wrote made my heart skipped a beat. I wasn't able to finish my cheese-laden dinner after that. Zinczenko wrote:

* * * * *

Imagine that some crazed fashion designer created a magical tunic—a hideous garment of grotesquerie, a Technicolor Nightmare Coat—that caused debilitating physical effects on anybody who wore it.

Now imagine that wearing this jacket doubled your risk of heart disease, increased your risk of diabetes by more than 1,000 percent, and tripled your chances of becoming impotent. And that it also boosted your chances of dying of cancer by 62 percent while at the same time increasing your risk of asthma, osteoarthritis, and high blood pressure. Imagine that once you donned this toxic tunic, it locked itself onto your body like a straitjacket, and escaping from it would take years of hard work and deprivation and possibly even expensive, dangerous surgery.

Now imagine that this tunic was so cheap and readily available that a third of Americans were already wearing one, and another third had it on order. Oh, and these killer coats had one more negative: They were universally recognized as being unattractive.

Now imagine the craziest thing of all: that when the government stepped in to sew a label on the garment warning consumers that this clothing could kill, an enormous backlash erupted and the blogosphere was filled with angry people defending their right to wear the magic ugly suit and

An insane fantasy, perhaps. But if you saw this chaotic state of affairs as the result not of demented fashion choices but of a series of poor food choices, then you'd be living in America, circa 2010. In a world where a third of us are already obese and another third are well on the way, we're seeing a backlash against labels on food. Monsanto, Cargill, and other giant food companies are funding "grassroots" movements to argue that the government shouldn't meddle in our diets; they're also fighting attempts to require calorie counts on fast-food menus. And we have a fat-acceptance movement that's arguing that discrimination—and not the physical effects of a corrupted food system—is the real problem overweight people face.

This month, author Richard Conniff takes on the "embrace the bulge" movement in his feature "I Hate Fat People." If you winced just reading that title, then Conniff has already made his point: Antifat bias is the last refuge of acceptable prejudice. But just how wrong is that prejudice? And just where is the line between accepting obesity as a physical problem and treating it as though it's just another lifestyle option?

I'm not saying you should hate fat people. You shouldn't hate anyone. But loving your fellow men means pointing out when they're harming themselves—and showing them a better way.

As for you and me? Well, we need to go out and make our own fashion choices.

* * * * *

And just like that, a spark ignited the long lost flame. Cue 'Gonna Fly Now' from Rocky (click 'play' for dramatic effect).

What Zinczenko wrote was sincere and it brought me down to reality. My experience working in a hospital, seeing patients who could have survived and lived longer if only they've made the right choice years earlier, cemented that reality.

If Dave Zinczenko's article at least makes you question your eating and physical activity habit, then he and I have done our job. If the article inspires you and in the long run changes you, then it's a job well done. I hope this article will land the same effect to you, dear readers, as it did to me. To those who are looking for the moment for things to kick start, I hope this is it. So what's your 'fashion' choice?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading your article made me squeek out an extra pull up tadi haha

- vijay

07 February, 2011  
Blogger Mr S said...

I'm inspired bro - time to hit the trails.

09 February, 2011  

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