Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Broccoli Blues

so there i am, in the loo and reading my favorite shit-lit catalogues and i see a dvd course on Lifelong Health,and another on Nutrition Made Clear.  this makes me very sad; i love the catalogue's history and literature offering, but there is no point in even glancing at these things. the very words taste like broccoli.  they are going to have, like, 20 lectures and all the lectures will come down to the same thing.  it's the grim news that shows up in several guises on pbs.  the lectures are by m.d.'s, PhD.s, nutritionists, holistic health practitioners, personal trainers, and god knows how many other experts.  there will be a whole series of lectures and an enthusiastic audience listening as though they were hearing a new and exciting idea. [some of the series' will have that in the title: 'forget counting calories: a new approach to weight loss," or "eat everything you want : an exciting new way to get healthy.'  the speakers will be old or young, male or female, gently guiding or somberly threatening. they will talk like gurus or surgeons or new-age healers, and will surround their messages with different vocabularies.  i'm sure i once heard a women's health specialist invoke the Great Goddess.

and so you get sucked into watching. and after much edifying rhetoric-- spiritual, medical, or just-plain-old-common-sensical--all the different styles come down to two things: broccoli and exercise.  each has its subcategories: under broccoli comes a host of other ugly vegetables and the outlawing of sugar and fat. under exercise you get a series of different techniques for different healthy effects--weight-lifting, walking, jogging, swimming, and strapping yourself onto hideous machines that look suspiciously like the medieval rack.

all these are presented in cheerily oxymoranic combinations:  great tasting vegetables, fun ways to exercise.  delicious sugar-free cookies.  if dante had been an honest man, each food and each exercise would have its own circle in hell.

with exercise, there is an added lie: only 1/2 hour a day!  then come the accouterments: warmups, cooldowns, changes of clothing, and showers because after a 'good' exercise session you smell like an outhouse.  that 1/2 hour is really an hour or more. aren't there laws against deceptive advertising?

i'm sure that the vegetable based diets would truly help me lose weight.  all i need is a nice plate of brussels sprouts augmented by brown rice, and i'm far too nauseated to want food for several hours.  if i could stick to it i'd probably end up abandoning food altogether, which would be very slimming indeed. i can't bear even the smell of whole-wheat breads, and i fly past the bread section of the supermarket with my stomach lurching, holding a deep breath in while i grab the lovely white bread, and come out feeling like someone who has barely escaped the gauntlet.

i have surprised myself by finding exercise the least vile of the two categories.  there are some forms of exercise i find actually close to enjoyable.  brisk walking can be pleasant.  i breathe in the wholesome air, feel the wind in my hair, all that good stuff. it can also serve as a means of local transportation, so it saves a little of that time lost on clothing changes, etc.  sadly, however, i'm a pretty solid klutz, and a good brisk walk is all too likely to end in a good brisk fall.  i have the bruises to prove it.  the other nice exercise is swimming, and we have a pool in my building, which is great.  my problem there is that i can't swim, but i've solved that by splashing around in one of those buoyant water jogging belts that look like styrofoam.  sometimes this gets me a lot of attention: a ten year old swimming laps across the pool stops long enough to say, 'what's that funny thing you're wearing?'  still, the pool can be fun once every couple of weeks.

i have no solution to offer.  there is no moral to this tale.  it's one of life's fundamental horrors, and all you can do is either cave in, make half  your waking day miserable, and live an extra few years, or just figure you're gonna die someday anyway, so you may as well use your waking day as happily as you can, and pay for that time by a slightly earlier death. i wish  sometimes i were still catholic, so i could follow the plan and offer all the exercise and vegetables and whole grains up to god, in the hope that this suffering on earth would use up some of my time in purgatory.  but who am i kidding? after purgatory comes heaven, and you can't fool me.  heaven will turn out to be one giant field of broccoli.

1 comment:

Baysage said...

Brilliant! and really funny, too.