That last chapter was rather unkind to the ladies. It was unfair, because men are far more apt to make excuses for fat than their sisters. “I come by it honestly,” they say. “It runs in the family,” and/or “My work is too confining.”
Stanislaus Mutcheat, the butcher, and his brothers Alex the baker and Louie the candlestick maker, all weighed over 220 pounds. Big men, the Mutcheats. Stan weighed 240. His father had been a big man, too. His mother, five feet three, weighed 197 when she passed on.
Back in the days when the Mutcheat family-graced the Snorkle Benevolent Brotherhood picnics, they were an eyefilling sight. Said many a good soul to another when the Mutcheats lumbered by, “Wow! Fat certainly runs in that family. Look at them! They’re all fat!”
Of course they were. But, we pray you, look at what they ate. Papa Mutcheat always liked fatty, greasy dishes and plenty of bread and potatoes. He drank beer with his meals. Mrs. Mutcheat fixed them for him because she wanted to please her husband. She weighed only 115 pounds when they were married, but she gained fifteen pounds the first year, and she reached 175 before Stan graduated from grammar school. She usually ate a bite of breakfast with each one of the boys, and was likely to sample her own cooking quite frequently.
As for the boys-well, babies are not born with a taste for foods. They develop tastes. The kind of food that is served in the home will largely determine what the children learn to like.
What kind of food do you suppose the Mutcheat boys learned to like? Spinach? No. They usually ate meat, potatoes, and pie, and plenty of them. They were the big jam and bread and butter boys too, in grammar school. When he grew to manhood, Stan used to order double portions of the meat dish at lunch rooms. “A big guy like me has got to eat.” He always had peanuts in his pockets. Customers at the store used to look at his expansive stom ach and say, “It’s a good thing you own this place.” And Stan would beam approvingly.
If someone had told Stan that fat is not hereditarythat it is an acquired characteristic-he would have shrugged his shoulders and said “Yeah?”
Pressed to debate the proposition, he probably would have agreed that you don’t build fat out of your ancestors. He would have agreed, too, that his grandparents didn’t order meals for him-and so, perhaps, he was a right reasonable human being.
Stan took a partner the year after he developed diabetes. A sixteen-hour day was too much for him.
Stan figured that was the doctor’s concern.
“My fat is hereditary.” Well, I could use that excuse. My father was five feet seven and one-half inches tall, and in the late 1890’s weighed 278 pounds.
My very fat paternal grandfather died in 1881 at the age of 51 of cerebral apoplexy. Our family history relates that my grandfather’s father was fat. If fat ever runs in families, it runs in mine.
Shame on my ancestors for sending my weight up to 207 that summer at Juan-les-Pins. But what has happened to these ghosts since then? I weigh thirty-one pounds less. Perhaps my meals had something to do with it. Fat is built from what we eat.
John Gettingon was a grammar school mate of Stan’s, but he had gone on to high school and college. When he started with the Suxess Corporation, he was lean and rangy. John was a “comer.” He worked hard-his energy pace was terrific. Before many seasons passed, John was made sales manager.
As he divested himself of detail and sat long in conferences, he grew less and less active. Five years later, his major work was to help direct policies and shape the course of the business.
The driving urge that once tempered him like fine steel relaxed. John Gettingon grew satisfied. He had not only the means but also the time to eat more. He liked a comforting midnight supper-it helped him to sleep. John gradually developed paunch, haunch, and jowls.
First he greeted his accumulating fat as becoming to his dignity and position. Later, when he hit 190, he joined a gym club (to which he never found time to go). He joined a golf club, too, but his game wasn’t so good, so he would dub around for a few holes and then play bridge at the clubhouse.
When he passed the 210-pound mark, John took the gentle ribbing of his friends quite seriously. “Yes, I am overweight. Not enough exercise. I could work this fat off in no time if I didn’t have to keep my nose to the grindstone.”
John finally developed heart disease and had to resign. Musing about it, his fellow directors concluded that while John’s heart trouble seemed to come very suddenly, it must have been developing for some time.
Yes, come to think of it, John had been slowing up for quite a while. Seems as if the company could have done better these last few years. Maybe it wasn’t breaks alone that sent the New Company sales ahead of theirs. Yes, John had been sick and hadn’t told them. That was it, and just like him-stout fellow.
Yet Shakespeare said: “Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits make rich the ribs, but banker out the wits.”
Meanwhile, John mourned the day when he had allowed himself to get so fat that he could not qualify for insurance. There was the mortgage and he hadn’t saved much.
The insurance company had turned him down on the authority of cold figures:
Organic Heart Disease Rate per 100,000
Normal Weight Overweight
5%-14% 15%-24% 25% plus
80 115 135 129+
* The apparent drop in death rate among those 25 % overweight is largely due to the fact that angina pectoris, apoplexy-“sudden death” -take their lives. The death rate for angina pectoris doubles for overweights.
That wail-“I don’t get enough exercise”-is such a lame excuse for obesity.
Exercise does firm the tissues and trim down the contours of the body. It helps to get rid of droopiness and flabbiness which exaggerate the appearance of fat. But the chap who bewails the fact that he can’t exercise enough is not exercising enough, and that’s the rub. His chances of doing so are cut from the same cloth as those day dreams wherein he fondly imagines that someday he will exercise. He can have absolutely no conception of the tremendous amount of exercise needed to burn a bit of fat.
To take weight down via exercise is to choose the hard way. It is the most difficult and unsatisfactory method of getting rid of a pound of fat. A 200-pound man, for example, would have to play handball furiously for almost six hours really to burn up a pound of body fat. Though he might sweat two pounds of perspiration from his body in the game, this is not losing fat.
Call it laziness if you will, but personally I would rather pass. up two slices of bread at a meal than put myself under the energy-expense obligations involved. At my weight, it would take an hour of brisk walking to use up the equivalent of two pieces of bread and butter. That is too much trouble.
Stubborn stuff, that LARD we call body fat. The overweight gymnasium boys fool themselves by forgetting that perspiration accounts for most of the weight they apparently lose at the gym. It is easy to sweat out from a pound to three pounds of water with exercise. Drinking water puts it back. Exercise sharpens the appetite, too. Those slim, trim athletic chaps who attribute their lack of obesity to exercise are not true lipophilics. They would never be really fat. They are among the four (lucky devils) out of five.
But most important of all, do you remember Lavoisier and that physiological entity, the metabolism rate? Remember how it goes down as we grow older? Well, if you would like to know the reasons, scientific and factual, translated into terms of exercise versus fat, here is how it would work out (please understand this is the roughest kind of approximation):
If, with all factors such as food intake, occupation, and environment being equal, a man at the age of 20 could maintain his weight by playing fourteen holes of golf three times a week, at 30 he would have to play fifteen to accomplish the same result. At 40, our active friend would have to play sixteen holes to preserve the status quo. It would require seventeen holes at S 0, and eighteen at 60. In short, the older he grew, the more he would have to exercise. Yet it is obvious that the older the man, the less able he is to exercise. Also the f atty gets caught in a vicious circle; fat discourages activity. To put it simply, the fatter a man gets, the lazier he grows. The lazier he is, the fatter he becomes.
If the lipophilic will but remember that exercise of a little judgment in selecting foods is the best exercise of all, he will do much better. A fatty piece of roast beef with greasy gravy-in comparison with a lean piece of the same meat without gravy-obligates a 200 pound man to something like nine holes of golf over an average course. I will take the food way to slimness.
Yes, it is how you exercise your knife and fork that counts the most. As some wit once put it, the best exercise in the world for a fat person is to stop abruptly in the middle of a meal, place his hands on the edge of the table and push his chair away. With that, he gets up and walks to another room.
That is a simple little exercise. It requires only half a minute to execute, and it is the most efficient reducing exercise you’ll ever find.
Hardly an excuse is the loud boast of George Begay, the big butter-and-egg man. A good earner, big spender, and darling of night clubs everywhere. He has tremendous energy-can put in a night of roistering and apparently do two men’s work the next day.
George likes to eat much and drink more. He holds his iiquor well, and takes an inordinate pride in his eating. He likes to astonish people with the amount of food he can consume. A daily total of 4000 calories of food and 3000 calories’ worth of alcohol is not unusual with him.
It is true he uses up a terrific amount of energy-perhaps double the amount that you and I do. Still that is only an extra 2500 calories’ worth-which still allows him to gain weight at an alarming pace. (Only 100 unneeded calories per day-a cocktail, an extra piece of toast, etc. -mean a pound gained each month, twelve pounds a year, a hundred pounds in nine years.)
George has a marvelous disposition, a wonderful sense of humor, and a heart of gold, as the saying goes. It seems to be no trouble for him to land big orders from his customers. They like him, and like to throw business his way.
But George weighs over 300 pounds, and his weight seems to be going up and up. This tendency frightens some of his very best friends, and they remonstrate with him.
“Listen,” says George. “With me, it’s a short life and a merry one. If I have to go out like a light some day, okay. I’ve lived well, I’ve done whatever I wanted to do, and I’ve had as much fun in almost any one day of my life as the average guy has in a week.”
A short life and a merry one. It’s a philosophy that might have some justice to it if would work according to plan. I suppose the George Begays know very well that they are virtually killing themselves. Doctors warn them of their blood pressure, tell them that the big, florid, heavy type of fellow is peculiarly subject to apoplexy.
“But,” they say, “it’s not a bad way to go. Presto! Something snaps, then you’re through.” What they don’t know is that the majority of men who have apoplectic strokes do not “go out like a light.” One, two or ten years of a really tragic existence may follow.
You will see these prophets of a short life and a merry one helpless with paralysis in a wheelchair. You will wonder, sadly, what thoughts go on in their minds. Here are those who loved life dearly-the good times, jolly companions, and all the amusements the hail-fellow-well-met lives for. It is a cruel punishment that glues them in a chair where they must sit helpless and useless and watch life all about them.
The short life and the merry one is utterly impossible to ordain. Probably, fourteen times out of fifteen, the chronic degenerative disease that is brought about by high living involves long torture. It seems as if Providence were strict about paying the George Begays on the basis of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
It just doesn’t work out.
Such are a few of the excuses for tolerating obesity. It is almost unbelievable what self-deception fat people can practice. Honest mistakes are made, of course. Many mothers gain many pounds while nursing their babies because of the false notion that they have to eat rich foods. They need, instead, the mineral and vitamin foods, which. are not fattening.
Many people develop fat after an operation or during convalescence. They of course do not know that the metabolism rate goes down when we are inactive. Fat accumulates more readily then, and we should eat less fattening foods. Weight sometimes piles on after the forties, because of the much lower metabolism after the change, which both men and women go through.
When body fat begins to accumulate, eating habits must be changed. Circumstances may make lipophilics out of those who once were not. However, most people delude themselves about how much they eat-as far as trying to watch their diet is concerned, they postpone action deliberately. They are afraid their appetites and comfort will be assailed if they try to take off weight.
That, good reader, is not true. It is a misconception bred by ignorance of foods. It signifies an utter lack of knowledge about foods. It is a mistake which we can correct.