Monday, November 05, 2007

Food, fitness and frustration

On the 3 days each week that I work in the corporate world, I make my lunch in the office kitchen and carry it the 20 or so metres to my desk. On my journey across that vast distance, I can guarantee that at least 3 people will eye off my plate of delicious marinated grilled chicken breast, sweet potato and enormous pile of fresh salad as they pass and say “Gee, that looks healthy!” This comment is almost always accompanied with a cat’s bum expression of distaste. Then they continue on their way (via the lift, God forbid they should walk down two flights of stairs) to buy their usual pie/pizza/fish and chips or whatever.

This annoys the crap out of me. My usual reply is “yes, and it’s delicious too”, said with a smile. Inwardly I’m gritting my teeth and restraining myself from punching them in the face.

Last week, I heard that a woman who I don’t know very well – let’s call her Mary – has just returned to work after a long absence due to illness. Turns out she had stomach cancer. She’s now in remission following chemotherapy and (I think) surgery. Mary has always been known to eat a healthy diet, isn’t overweight and does yoga regularly. Somehow, in the minds of many of the stupid people I work with, this translates into some sort of justification for their sit on your arse all day and cram junk food into your gob lifestyle. I mean, look at the logic of it: Mary spent years eating vegies and avoiding trans-fat laden foods and other nasties, plus doing all that tedious exercise, and she still got cancer. So what’s the point of being healthy? You may as well enjoy yourself, eat what you want and be a big fat couch potato.

This is the point in the conversation where I usually begin to bang my head repeatedly on my desk. And where I have to suppress the urge to scream, “You are all complete MORONS!”

The people I work with are a pretty average cross-section of society, and I see/hear this attitude everywhere I go. My approach to food and exercise is a great mystery to most of the people I know. I’m often asked why I do it, in a tone that conveys a complete lack of comprehension. It’s like I come from a different planet or something. The idea that training can be fun, that achieving fitness goals is satisfying and that eating well is NOT boring or in any way a deprivation just doesn’t compute. I find it a huge relief on the rare occasions when I’m with other health-conscious people or fitness enthusiasts, because I never have to justify myself or my choices.

So it was kind of gratifying to see the release of the report this week from the World Cancer Research Fund: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer. I won’t go into detail about it here - you can click on the link and go read it yourself if you’re at all interested. But it pretty much backs up everything I already knew about eating well, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy bodyweight and how those things affect the risk of cancer. Sara blogged about it already anyway, and I don’t have much to add to her comments.

I did consider printing the report and leaving copies on all the desks around me next week, but *sigh* that would just be a big old waste of trees. I’m sure that the reaction would be oh-so-predictable, along the lines of NZ talkback radio callers, as reported by Sara: From what I've heard, the recommendation that has got people most agitated is no. 5, the only suggestion that actually contains the word 'avoid'. One phone-in actually said 'what? no salami? I'd rather get cancer!'. Just about all of the phone-ins had something to whine about. One woman got completely worked up over the supposed 'fattist' report. She thought that the focus on weight was just another way for society to make fat people feel bad about themselves. Then there was the usual inundation of callers droning on with their take on ' but it's so ... boring/ expensive/ inconvenient/ antisocial/ time-consuming to eat healthy food'

Yeah, I think I’ll save my breath.

On a similar subject, Liz blogged about her experience with genetic profiling – testing to determine certain predispositions and the way your body responds to various factors. The point of the testing isn’t to sit around feeling sorry for yourself because you have a high risk of heart disease/diabetes/whatever (poor me, I may as well eat donuts and watch Oprah all day, because I’m going to DIE YOUNG ANYWAY!) Rather, it’s to help identify ways that you can tailor your nutrition and training to maximise health and athletic performance, once you know your genetic strengths and weaknesses.

I’m seriously considering giving it a go myself. Imagine being able to do everything within your power to give your body its best chance of perfect health. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to do so…..


Magda said...

Hooray Kek!!

Truer words have never been spoken.

I'm with you all the way on this one :-)


Kathryn said...

Your lunch sounds delicious :)

There was an article in the paper by Dave O'Neill about that report basically saying it's boring info and why do they keep telling people the same thing -- mmm, maybe because it's not sinking in?

Unknown said...

Fantastic post! Not a truer word spoken! And your lunch sounds YUM; though it's incredible how lazy people are when it comes to food preparation. There have been times where another colleague has PHONED me (we sit like, 2 metres away from each other) and asks if I can go to the kitchen to get her something, since I have no problem in getting up and roaming about. Frustration plus.

LizN said...

Yes, it's amazing what you CAN do despite your gene pool. And if you find out you've got great genes, you're on fire :)

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