Thursday, April 22, 2010

Healthy Enough

As I’ve said before, I often feel like a moderate in a land of extremists. I know that’s not actually true – there are many more moderates than extremists, but moderates don’t shout quite as loudly or get quite as passionate about things as extremists, so we tend to leave the stage to them.

My moderation extends towards many things. To politics, where the discussion is dominated by partisans and the rest of us are collateral damage. To religion, where worshipers of all faiths, including atheists*, have a certitude I lack. Even to culture – where I am decidedly middle brow in my music and literary tastes.

* Does it ever occur to Angry Atheists that they have a lot in common with the religious folks they attack? They too are absolutely 100% certain about something they cannot prove

One area my moderation extends is health. No, I’m not talking about national healthcare– I avoided that debate here at FreeTime. I’m talking about my health. You know, exercise and nutrition and vices like drinking and smoking, and all of those things that add up (hopefully) to good health. In that area I have a very simple two-word philosophy: Healthy Enough.

The Extremists
We are, of course surrounded by health nuts. Several women in my town, most on the far side of 40, are so committed to their intense gym regimens that they could show up at Marine boot camp tomorrow and impress the hell out of the drill sergeants. We also all know people whose diets wouldn’t satisfy the hunger of small woodlands creatures. And of course the crime of smoking is deemed by society to be on a par with beating up elderly nuns.

(Thankfully, nearly everyone drinks. The Health Police took away our cigarettes and are now trying to legislate our eating habits; but when they come for our beer and booze we’ll drown them in Tofu.)

We are also, of course, surrounded by people whose personal health – how do I put this - does not seem their primary concern. Now I am a firm believer that obesity charts are ridiculous – if 221 pounds for a 6’0” man is obese, then I’m only a few KFC Double Downs away from Fatsoville. But it’s clear there are far too many Americans that should work the occasional salad into their diet.

But my philosophy, as stated, is Healthy Enough. I am not trying out for the Olympic swim team, have little cause to ever run 26 miles, and was in my last fist fight in 1986 (that's a good story for another day).

So why beat myself up in the gym 4 days a week? More importantly, why deny myself the special pleasure of what my friend Gombo calls the occasional cone.* Or the occasional cigar with an Irish whiskey? Or the occasional entire bag of Cheez Doodles while watching Seinfeld reruns.

* Gombo is an ascetic fellow, not out of some ridiculous desire to be super healthy, but just because he has plain tastes. He doesn’t want dressing on his salad, toppings on his ice cream, or fashionably placed rips in his jeans. I asked him once if he ever has dessert and he answered, “Oh, I have the occasional cone.” A couple years ago he had a potentially life-threatening health scare and I wrote a eulogy for him entitled “The Occasional Cone”. It was a damned good eulogy. Too bad he survived.

But while I don’t treat my body as a temple, I try not to treat it like a baby treats a diaper, either. I play a little Sunday hoops, keep my tobacco intake limited to the occasional cigar, and seriously, I only did that Cheez Doodles thing the one time.

By pursuing my Healthy Enough philosophy, I hope to live a reasonably long life while enjoying all the pleasures that vices offer. Of course, my health will be seriously threatened if those women in my town read this and take offense. Because seriously – they can beat the crap out of me.