Friday, November 16, 2007

Exercise is Overrated

The Doctor is IN, beginning with exercise tips. Taking a walk after dinner is a good idea, a little fresh air and a stroll. Have no goals. Don't keep records. Enjoy yourself. Build movement into your life.

Did you ever see a farmer out jogging? Or buying exercise equipment? Or taking out a gym membership? No, because he subscribes to a program known by its initials, W.O.R.K. or "work," which causes sweat -- in the summer -- but keeps you warm in the winter. Work is composed of a subset of activities known as chores, such as unloading the truck, or cleaning out the barn, all flowing into such a smooth slate of activity, that the farmer never yearns for exercise, but in fact dreams of idle time on the couch, when he can sink into a blissful fatigue in front of a mindless television.

But the ill-formed man has been jogging, five miles, or bicycling 25 miles, as a form of self-punishment, and even the sight of this mechanical runner produces stress in those who observe him. If the ill-formed man only joined the program of W.O.R.K. he would never even think of exercise. He would see a new day and look at his car, and decide to wash it himself, not for the exercise, but to get it clean, and not to save water or to save carbon credits, but simply to save the money he spent at the car wash.

Don't make it too complicated.

Still, the ill-formed man cannot sink in blissful fatigue on the couch. He must justify himself, he must find that meaningful piece that is missing, so, in the evening, after his punishment run, he sits before the cold blinking eye of his computer seeking information. "Gloria," he says to his partner,"I'm so glad we didn't take out an A.R.M. mortgage. Our equity is building up. We're in a good position now. I'm going to order four pairs of organic socks to support the cotton farmers in Darfur. They only cost $14 a pair."

But there is no comfort from information, and no ease comes from data. His shoulders are tense, his neck begins to crink. He discovers a website that promises the virtue of spinach or folic acid, he takes notes, he makes a plan, he emails a friend who smugly agrees, "We don't waste our time watching TV, because we are improving ourselves."

It's kind of sad.

Now the Doctor discusses the fundamentals of nutrition -- if it tastes good, and if it doesn't cost too much, then buy it. Eat a little bit less of everything you like in order to stay trim. Tired people eat compulsively, so get plenty of sleep.

It is natural, for a hundred generations of humanity, to sleep more in the winter. It is natural to put on a little fat in the winter -- it keeps you warm.

Go to bed an hour earlier and turn down the heat -- Al Gore will be proud of you for that…..I'm sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned him. Then you start thinking you're for him or against him, and you won't get to sleep, you'll get up and cut a brownie out of the square pan -- but not made with sugar from corn syrup, because you read the label, and that information is stored in your brain in a file next to folic acid and spinach.


Advice for young women who have spent too much time looking in the mirror: The mirror is not your friend -- you will fixate on imperfections. Put a towel over your mirror. Hide the bathroom scale -- hit it with a hammer -- throw it in the trash.

Go to the Blockbusters or Netflix and check out an old movie starring Barbara Stanwyck. Learn from her. Be her. Feel that graceful strength. It's all about posture and carriage. Relax your shoulders, lower your shoulders, and move them back a tiny bit. This lifts up the chest, but naturally, and flatters the bosom. Lengthen the back of the neck -- this lowers the chin and gives you an air of confidence.

Study the Barbara Stanwyck movie -- you think she was born beautiful? It's all about her entrance -- that magic moment, because you can make a first impression every day.

Life is a stage and we all play a part. William Shakespeare never wrote a line about exercise or diet -- there's no poetry in it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey just read this, wonderful lyrical and true post!

Dave from Australia.