Your Monday Reading Assignments

Yes, plural.  But they’re both from CNN, so you know they aren’t exactly going to tax your brain.  Good news and bad news.

First, the good news, or the least-depressing, I suppose I should say.  Bill Clinton is a vegan.  No, seriously.  Same guy who they used to say would stop at McDonald’s at the end of a morning run.  Opinions on Bill Clinton vary (yes, you may call me the master of understatement), but it’s hard to believe he’s not interesting.

After a couple of heart scares – accompanied by the kind of procedures we consider routine, but which historically would be considered nothing short of miraculous – he’s made the decision that he wants to keep living … which means fixing the way he eats, permanently:

“I essentially concluded that I had played Russian roulette,” Clinton said, “because even though I had changed my diet some and cut down on the caloric total of my ingestion and cut back on much of the cholesterol in the food I was eating, I still — without any scientific basis to support what I did — was taking in a lot of extra cholesterol without knowing if my body would produce enough of the enzyme to support it, and clearly it didn’t or I wouldn’t have had that blockage. So that’s when I made a decision to really change.”

I believe he’s serious about all that.  This next part I don’t believe so much:

“‘I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now,’ Clinton told Gupta.”

That part sounds a lot like something I’ve seen before, under deposition.  It’s one thing to say, “I want to live a lot longer, and I don’t want to carry around a bunch of medical equipment, if I can avoid it, so I’m not gonna eat the things I like to eat anymore.”  It’s entirely another to say you enjoy the replacement stuff.  But if you need to tell yourself that to stay on the path, go get ’em Bubba.  I’m proud of you.

The second story is darker.  It’s about “tweens” with full-blown anorexia.  What the hell is a “tween” you ask?  Well, they used to just call ’em “kids.”  “Children.”  And yes, not incidentally, I believe our breathless cultural desire to demographically segment children out of childhood as soon as possible is part of the problem.  Seven-year-old girls who are convinced they are “fat” because they can pinch the proverbial inch.  Ten-year-old girls who feel too guilty about people starving in other places to have dinner.  Eight-year-old girls who stop eating to get their parents to stop arguing.

This is why it’s so important to talk about healthy eating and not dieting.  These are kids.  They’re biggest worries should be the spelling test on Friday or, better yet, whether to play on the swings or the slides.  Not whether they’re too fat to have dinner.

If you don’t get anything else from this blog, get this:  What you look like is a tiny little part of who you are.  Yes, I want you to be healthy, to live a long life.  But health isn’t just about the number on the scale.  Believe that, and share it.  Internalize it and tell everybody you know.  And for goodness’ sake, encourage the kids you know to just be kids.  They only get one shot at it, and they’ll have a lot longer to be grownups.

Tomorrow, music!

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