I’ve done a little thinking on the topic and I’ve come up with several reason why we’re all overweight and continue to gain the old lbs. The equation looks something like this:
unhappiness + depression + meaninglessness + boredom + our modern culture + our careers = fat.
And here’s how I came to that stunning conclusion, all by my little self (I’m smart, sometimes! And/or really obvious conclusions make me think I’m smart!):
Our Careers (or lack thereof)
Many of us today have jobs that force us to be sedentary (Thanks technology!) which is a fancy term for sitting on our asses all day long. Unfortunately we don’t have much choice in the matter. Plus our hours aren’t flexible and we have few breaks to get up and move.
Even if you’re lucky enough to work at a company that encourages you to move, you’re still sitting for a large portion of your day. And what happens when you sit, a lot? That’s right, you get fat, you fail at burning calories, your muscles atrophy and you feel tired and have even less motivation to exercise. Doing nothing, physically, can be exhausting.
After a long day of sitting around, I’m so tired and filled with existential malaise, that I’m only capable of spending my evening sitting around watching TV. I can’t seem to gather up enough energy for anything else, especially exercise. Even the idea of changing into gym clothes sounds like too much effort. I’m exhausted just thinking about putting on a sports bra.
I get pretty fired up when I think about how much we’re forced to sit down by our modern jobs. I’m paid to sit on my ass and not move from my desk while I answer emails. I am paid to type and stare at a screen.
I may use my brain, but I never use my body, except for my clicking and scrolling finger and my typing fingers. I don’t even need a body! (I’m picturing the Brain from Ninja Turtles. Remember that guy!! OMG!)
I honestly feel pretty trapped by this system! And when the weekend rolls around and I get to do something else, even just cleaning my house, I feel so different! I’m moving!! I’m FREE!!!
Lunching is Best
Many of us in the modern age have jobs or careers that make us feel purposeless. We feel like drones who aren’t making a difference in the world. We’re lacking high passion and daily excitement which ultimately, as days pass, leads to boredom and existential meltdowns on a regular basis. So what? What are you trying to SAY? (Stop yelling and I’ll tell you!)
I’m saying that the highlight of your day is lunch.
In essence, food is the best thing you do all day long and you look forward to it because there’s nothing else to get excited about.
Think about your day: Do you get excited when you think about break or about a special event at work that features food? If you have a crappy boring lunch, do you get even more bummed out and find yourself on the brink of despair?
When sitting in a boring meeting do you lust after the idea of a sandwich or a heartwarming (literally) slice of pizza? Do you momentarily see the sun through the clouds while spending work time brainstorming or debating ways to have an even more exciting lunch? Does deciding to go out for lunch make your heart flutter with thoughts of puppy love?
Even the simple act of making a cup of coffee carries its own giddy excitement. Really any excuse to get out of your desk is good, but food in particular is the star. Why else would you get up, unless it’s to grab a cookie?
When you spend your life working for money and not because you’re passionate about what you do, you may become depressed and unhappy. You may feel beaten down, belittled and question the meaning of life while endlessly toiling away. Why am I doing this? What does life mean if this is all that life is?
And when you’re depressed, you want something to lift your spirits.
When I’m depressed, I want a treat. I ask myself: how can I go on? I can go on because: cookie. I can go on because: coffee. I can go on because: Thai food. And I deserve it because I like to exaggerate (dramatics) and imagine that I’m suffering every day. Food is a distraction from suffering. It brings us a glimmer of heaven.
How often during a day at work do you think about food? How often do you think about food when you’re home doing something you love to do? Yeah…at home, you only notice hunger when your stomach begins eating itself and then you’re like…this old body might need some fuel! At work, lunch is first and foremost in your mind at 8:00 am.
Our Entertainment and our Exercise
Have you ever noticed that our lives, our entertainment and our happiness are all about where to get our next meal? Almost all our entertainment options involve sitting and eating. Go to dinner with friends? Watch a movie with popcorn and candy? Watch TV at home with dinner? Share some alcohol with friends?
Yes, all those exciting options contain CALORIES and FAT and SUGAR. And sitting, don’t forget the sitting. Even if you partake in an activity that doesn’t involve food, like skiing or swimming, you’re always going to follow that up with a cocktail or some food. Always. Or combine the two! Admit, food is exactly what you’re thinking about while doing those activities. I can’t wait to order XYZ at the bar.
If you really think about it, our ancestors would laugh their asses off at us. We need gyms or random runs or walks that take us nowhere and accomplish nothing (other than exercise) to get exercise for our sedentary flabby bodies. We actually drive someplace, change our clothes and ride exercise machines in order to sweat, so we can burn calories.
Humanity has entered a new dawn! The future is here! We sit all day, 8 hours, then we squeeze in a bit of flogging the exercise machine, for fitness. Then of course we’ve got all our other responsibilities like making ourselves healthy food and getting 8 hours of sleep! It’s UTOPIA!!
Plus, ancestors, we also need these little watch like devices that REMIND us to get up and move and track our steps. What? That’s right! The future is just as glorious as you thought it could be!
Filling the Empty Existential Void…Yes, our Pieholes
So…what I’m saying is that food makes us happy and fills some kind of void that should be filled with some other kind of life meaning. Our jobs aren’t necessarily giving us the warm fuzzies on a constant basis to keep us happy. Our lives in general, our cell phones and social media (for comparing ourselves to others), our fast pace, our lack of something to believe in all create an environment where eating makes us happy.
What on earth are we supposed to spend our money on if not food and new stuff? We’ve worked, we’ve slaved, we’ve been bored out of our minds, we’ve been so bored that we’ve despaired over the meaning of life half a dozen times each day, so doesn’t that mean we deserve the best? Don’t we deserve to splurge?
And food is the easiest thing to splurge on while at work because it’s relatively CHEAP and EASY! You can’t easily go for a shopping spree while at work, but you can easily walk to a food truck down the street or go to the kitchen and make yourself a coffee with plenty of sugar. Zing!
I have a terrible and sneaking suspicion that the true meaning of life is very expensive. Good luck being able to afford that on your meager data entry salary.
Basically what I’m telling you is that we’re all slaves to our desks at work and to jobs that we don’t really like all that much and it’s creating a sedentary, food worshiping life style. Yes, goddammit, there are those sterling few who absolutely love their jobs and will tell you all about it. But while they’re talking you’ll slowly feed a fire of rage inside you that may explode or implode (hopefully explode).
Indeed, our modern lifestyle is so evil and matrix-like that we’re forced to stare at Evil Glowing Machines for many many hours per day! I’ve written about this modern horror before.
And thus we’re feeling trapped, unhappy, out of options, not respected as human beings and we’re desperately stressed out and yes, overweight and out of shape. Our condition is fabulous!! We’re MINT!!
So according to my research (ha, research?! AHAHAHA) the following statements could help us alleviate weight gain and existential crisis:
- Find meaning in life
- Have meaningful job/activity/way to spend time that gives you the warm fuzzies and features flexible hours to accommodate time for physical health
- If the first two are fixed, you can continue to enjoy food for entertainment’s sake because some diet cheating is allowed and by god, perhaps food is the meaning of life! Have you ever had a really good pizza or taco or guacamole? It’s HOLY!!
Seriously though, if we could make some changes to modern life, we might be able to combat obesity (and I just realized that the list above is basically the way to combat anxiety and depression too). But as things stand now, we’re forced into being too sedentary and food is one of the only pleasures we can count on in tough emotional times. Food has rarely let us down. Have our lives let us down? Our jobs? YES YES YES!!
Besides, who doesn’t like eating their feelings when shit goes wrong? Who doesn’t crave the sweet or the salty when shit hits the fan?
The problem here is that finding meaning in life is a pretty tall order. I hear from Mr. VS that meaning in life is in the little things. Like the time you spend with friends and family, or time spent outdoors or doing something you love. I guess the meaning of life could even be eating a Kit Kat. That’s a little thing, right? Yummm.
The Blog Post Meanders Far Afield. You May Want to Eject Yourself from the Cockpit.
There are of course detractors that would tell me that we’re not meant to be happy, that finding meaningful paid work isn’t going to happen and in fact the very essence of work is that you shouldn’t enjoy it or find it meaningful. So, yes, we all need to accept that life is a meaningless drudgery. We should expect our lives to contain a fairly high proportion of shit and if we accept this fact into our hearts, then we’ll finally be free, happy, delirious.
What I can’t believe is that I actually took the high road here! I, for once, didn’t take the pessimistic view that life is endless, meaningless, horrible toil that we’re meant to accept. And yes, I do actually think it’s kind of bullshit that everyone says, DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND YOU’LL NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE!! Because then who would do the meaningless bullshit that has to get done? And how is it possible that EVERY person (out of the billions on earth) could find work they love? There aren’t enough jobs like this in the entire universe and telling people that everyone can be happy and find meaning in the way they make money is sort of setting up false expectations.
However, that doesn’t mean that we need this 8 hour per day bullshit upon which we’ve built our society. Shaky foundations, say I!!
I stand by the need for FLEXIBILITY no matter what work you may do. Does every job on God’s green earth take exactly 8 hours per day, 5 days per week? Is that a meaningful standard? Shouldn’t there be jobs that are different numbers of hours per day and week? Or couldn’t there be jobs where you had time taken out of your day to be physically active?
So I ask myself, I says: These are some thoughtful talking points Victoria, but does humanity typically have common sense or do we just standardize everything and call it good? Yes, we may be guilty of that.
And thus, we’re Overweight and the scales are creeping! I rest my case.