Tag Archives: health

In brief: Who are you targeting?

I watched a quick Instagram video of Tom Daley giving us tips to get healthy by doing something call the Pistol Squat – which I am convinced gets its name from prisoners of war who managed to not get shot by doing it.

One thing: anyone who can pull that off is already healthy. There might not have very defined six packs or the 0.1% of fat necessary to see them because they don’t do eight hours of sports everyday for a living but this exercise requires so much from your body, i.e. put the entire weight of yourself on one knee, that only the 5% fittest can do it.

Bottom-line is: the more I watch Tom Daley, his fitness challenges and advice on how to get healthy, the more I realise he’s talking to people who are already healthy. Just not calendar-fit, like he is. PR…PR…PR…

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Zirka matters, AIDS doesn’t – To the Vatican at least.

So the Pope again as granted us with a blessing that makes no sense.

“Condoms can be used to fight Zirka.”

Thanks and…What, that’s it? No mention of AIDS, then. Yeah…what else is new?

My mother says it is because the Catholic Church still believes it is a “faggot disease”. I know religious authorities have this gob-smacking resilience when it comes to accepting the reality of today’s world but one cannot deny that the place where AIDS is the most endemic is also the place where homosexuality is the most brutally punished.

What is it, then?  What is it with Zirka that has allowed it to become a greater danger than AIDS? What is it about this disease that made the Vatican agree to contraception? As a far as I can see, all explanations come to a couple of conclusions that I can’t help but think are very far-fetched accusations. Or are they?

Is it because Zirka is hurting traditional Catholic countries, i.e. South America, whereas AIDS is plaguing countries where Catholiscism has been fighting for domination for ages against local beliefs and Islam?

Is it because the people affected by Zirka are mostly of Western and Christian culture whereas AIDS is plaguing countries that “Europe has not managed to civilise.”? Is it because the Pope is South American so he can relate so there is some kind of understanding whereas the white men in Rome can never relate to Africans?

Is it because people most affected by Zirka are closer to being white-skinned than the millions of Africans slowly dying of AIDS?

Is it because the effects are more striking? It is true that Zirka leads to rapid malformations therefore making it a highly visible disease whereas AIDS is hurting one’s body as a whole. People with AIDS usually die, not because of AIDS as such, but after failing to heal from other diseases due to the weakness of their immune system.

Or is it really because they still view AIDS as a punishment of God on the sodomites and the unfaithful? Do they really still believe that AIDS is due to sex before marriage, infidelity, sinful practices and a refusal to obey the Vatican’s precepts?

One thing is for sure, they don’t believe mosquitoes are solely responsible, they know it has a sexual aspect in the spreading of the disease or they would have never mentioned contraception to fight it. We know mosquito bites can spread AIDS as well so why? Just why?

I don’t know why or what but there is something deeply carved in the mindset of this men-only club that is the Vatican. Something inherently dark and twisted that made them come up with the acceptance of condoms for one disease but the keeping of the ban for the other, when the other has been one the worst epidemics humanity has know along with the Plague, malaria, TB and all strands of influenza.

I don’t know. I don’t think they even know themselves, frankly. That’s the point of letting let a 2000 year-old book dictate every aspect of your life, you never have to truly reflect on what you do and therefore be accountable for anything you do. It’s in the book…

Women are not more resilient to pain, they’ve just been taught to shut about it.

I was watching QI and they had a question on pain threshold men and women could stand. The panel went for women, as the most resilient to pain, when in fact researchers have found that men are supposed to be.

The research is, of course, as uninteresting as those that keep pretending women’s and men’s brains are different which is why women are emotional and men can do maths. We know it has nothing to do with physical predispositions or Nature seriously screwed up when she made Marie Curie’s genitals.

I have discovered, talking to countless women, that the reason why they don’t always cry a river everytime they are hurt and/or demand the world stop going round until they feel better, it’s mainly because they are constantly told that the most excruciating of the pains they feel are always “normal” so what talk about it? Why complain? Why even try to find a remedy?

“It hurts, deal with it!” This from a very young age.

I remember an amazing moment at school when I was 14. We were studying the reproductive system and how babies are made – so no Bible, sorry to disappoint the Americans – when our biology teacher broke her leg. She was off for two weeks so we had a young guy who came to cover for her. At some point, he explained the mechanism of periods to boys who suddenly realised what were the little things in shiny packaging that girls were passing stealthily to one another at break time.

He had this very line about periods.

“Women then experience pain, which is normal because there is bleeding involved.”

As a man, he has never experienced periods so he was just repeating what another man had taught him at med school or wherever.

The medicine seen by men is “when there is blood, there is pain”. Therefore the mantra is for women to get used to it because it’s not going away anytime soon. They’re wasting one’s time. Now, let’s talk about their husband’s pain, because – yes, they scream to death when there’s an eyelash in their eye…Ha. Ha. Ha. Still! There’s no bleeding so that must be cancer, which is a true disease – unlike your…foul p-word!

I recall a murmur of dissent from some girls but no more until our teacher came back. A girl stopped her short from starting the lesson and repeated what the cover teacher said. She was then worried that she never experienced any pain. She was not the only one and it turned out they all thought they were ‘not finished’, that their body still had to mature and it meant, eventually, pain for the rest of their life!

They had asked their mothers and had mixed responses. Some had always experienced painful periods, others had not. Why had the ones in pain never talked about it? They did but were told, like aforementioned, that it was normal.

The teacher answered that it was nonsense. Yes, their body and genitals would continue to develop but periods were not synonym of pain. Bleeding is not due to hurt but normal and peaceful removal of matter that was created to nestle the ovum. She said: “It’s not like someone is scrapping your insides. It’s like losing your milk teeth.” The girl insisted that it was just what the young guy had said and the teacher had this fantastic sentence.

“I don’t know about him, but personally, I am 45, I have been having my periods for 32 years and I have never been in pain. You can be more tired than usual because it is a big thing happening to your body, an important hormonal upheaval but the bleeding is not like when you cut your hand or have an open wound, it doesn’t hurt. And if it does, and everytime, you should see a specialist.”

Fast forward 15 years. Fifteen years of living with a mother who had always had painful and long periods. Until a couple of months ago, I actually was convinced periods always lasted up to three days and were painful until I talked about it openly with some friends who, like the mothers of my classmates, had very different experiences but mostly positive. As much positive as periods can be… It turns out periods last for one day, on average. Really?

That’s because I remember my mother complaining about stomach aches, headaches but mostly pain in the lower tummy for days. This every single month for more than a decade and just to be told by legions of male doctors that the pain is perfectly normal so there’s nothing to address.

Until the day my mother got fed up with these painful periods that had come to last for one, even two to three weeks sometimes and she demanded answers and change gynaecologist – for a young woman this time. A young female doctor who told her what my teacher said 15 years earlier: periods are not meant to be painful and their month-worth of bleeding is not “due to the menopause. There’s got to be something in there.”

It turns out she has been having a serious case of uterine myoma that had never been really detected because never taken and treated seriously, and this had been leading to basically constant haemorrhages. She was not having her periods, she was just, plainly bleeding.

The case is extreme, I thought, then I changed my mind after my cousin, my aunt, then a legion of female colleagues and friends told me about the struggle they have been facing trying to be taken seriously when it comes to the pain they are enduring. The world is changing as women enter the fields of science for good, wanting to answer questions that preoccupy them. Finally, we talk about endometriosis seriously as it turns out countless women are affected. Most of them previously and quickly dismissed since their early teens when complaining about days of pain before and after their periods.

Medicine has always ridiculed, minimalised women’s pain. Their pain has been reduced to the uterus, something men don’t have and only care for when it comes to sex and having descendants. All women’s pains and turmoil’s were put for millennia under the label of hysteria (derived from the word “uterus”). It also applies to pains like migraines, severe headaches, troubles keeping oneself warm, mood swings, psychological turmoil…The list goes on of pains that are “maladies de bonne femme” as the French spitefully say. A derogatory term coined to talk about a woman and the pains she and her kind experience.  Women are hysterical, end of.

As a man, you should be careful when hurting and complaining about it. One doesn’t want to step in the world of “hysterical diseases”. I have had migraines and headaches for years but of course that is not taken seriously. Ophthalmic migraines that make me throw up (such a drama queen!), bring me to tears (hysterical!), make me punch my neck and forehead in search of relief (crazy hysterical!). I even considered cutting myself once hoping the blood flow would decrease in the arteries of my head (Well, that proves my point! Just pop an Advil next time so the doctor can move on to someone stable with real men issues…)

For women, the consequences go far beyond the simple words and refusal to treat it. Traditionally trusting of the doctor and drawing their longer life-expectancy from their regular visits they pay to them, they are drifting away more and more, I feel, from conventional medicine. This old trends are back.

Since the dawn of time, we have been talking about grandma’s remedies in France.
*If it hurts, boil the stones of some cherries, filter the water, drink and the headache will go away.
*Take some mint leaves and rub them against your lower tummy.
*Drench yourself in olive oil and the birth won’t hurt.
*Do a week-cleanse with your own urine.
*Starve yourself and applies some leeches.
It’s like reading medieval, medicinal books on how to cure what we now know to be cancers and I thought they were a thing of the past until I saw friends of mine, highly educated women who do go regularly to the doctors and yet, choose to cleanse before and during their period because I was told it reduces the pain and blood flow. Does it? Maybe not. Surely not, if I listen to science but who am I to judge?

The other day, colleagues experiencing menopause and/or endometriosis were swapping “fantastic” books about plant-healing and other unconventional remedies that have made their life easier, less painful and stressful: from sleeping better to avoid hot flushes, stomach aches and digestive troubles.

The men in the room were mocking them, of course. When one said that going glutten-free has actually stopped all uterine pains, he completely dismissed her as superstitious and pathetic, ready to believe anything. For him, a connoisseur and expert in the field, as most men are (NOT!), it was nothing but a placebo effect which proved even more how imaginary and hysterical women’s pains are.

In a world where science teaches girls that periods should be painful because there is bleeding and bleeding is always painful, one can’t be surprised women are looking to someone else to find release. When professionals tell women “It’s normal so shut it!”, of course they look away for answers and are drawn to things that, for men, are deemed even more ridiculous to them that their physical suffering.

The Health Inquisition – Dogmas and heresies

As outlandish as it may sound, I have been working on these few pages for months. Translating feelings into thoughts is harder than I imagined. Anyway, I wanted to have a look at the religion behind our current Health Inquisition because, although they appear as one to name, shame and aim for the destruction of the likes of me, they are also akin to all mainstream religions: made of countless little sects, each with its own mind-set regarding how we should all be absolved, find solace and eventually salvation in the form of body-shape uniformity.

Let’s look at the different sects within the Food Religion, shall we?

Normality – Needs to be converted!
Atkins diet – Next, please.
Low calorie diet – What’s a calorie? Can I grow them myself?
Low fat diet – Sounds good but the pasta is pretty bland.
Low salt diet – Fish pee in sea water!
Low carb diet – My brain can’t concentrate for more than 10 minutes at once.
Low fibre diet – Hello, bowel cancer.
South Beach diet – Getting ready for Spring Break.
Gluten-free diet – I feel like gasworks.
Vegetarian diet – Are cakes alright? There’s butter and eggs in there…
Vegan diet – Look at my Instagram! I look great naked!
Organic diet – Is “fair trade” the same?
Locavore diet – It’s all about tending to my neighbour’s wallet.
Palaeolithic diet – Because life was so good back then, tape worm especially.
Juices cleanse – Eating is for weaklings!
Just cleanse – Let the settlers invade you and kill everything. Very popular in the US and Australia.

What do preachers, or “food experts”, say?

Fat is bad for you – I knew that.
Sugar is bad for you – Don’t care!
Chocolate is bad for you – F*** you!
Bread is bad for you – What about toasts?
Milk is bad for you – Can I milk rice?
Water is bad for you – But…aren’t we made 75% of it?!
Alcohol is bad for you –  Yeah…My mum said the same about my boyfriend.
Fruits are bad for you – My doctor said that about apples.
Meat is bad for you – Even?…you know…
Fish is bad for you – Sharks don’t even eat them.
Vegetables are bad for you – What’s in guacamole?
Cooked food is bad for you – Too expensive to heat up nowadays anyway.
Raw food is bad for you – No mini sushis?! How not 2015!
Vitamins supplements are bad for you – Vegans are gonna die?
Proteins are bad for you – So I can’t swallow?
Products without the “fair trade” label are bad for you – That’s what Glamour says.
Products with the “fair trade” label are bad for you – That’s what the Guardian says.
Products without the “organic” label are bad for you – That’s what my local farmer says.
Products with the “organic” label are bad for you – That’s what his neighbour says.

What are the pillars of these sects? – Super Foods, with a big F…for fudge!

Superfruits – Scomiche! 😀
Supervegetables – Mister Peanuts for the win.
Superfat – Rude!
Supernuts – Starring Rocco Siffredi.
Supervitamins – Always buy one get one free.
Supermen – If only!…

Seriously, does anyone actually know what they are talking about?

Because frankly, it seems to me that we are living a world, the Western World, where we have completely lost touch with the reality of what food and eating is. Is it our living in endlessly-sprawling urban spaces where the only wild nature visible is in cages and the rest is constantly unrooted to make place for the neatly trimmed and the visually pleasant? Have we grown so far away from a field that we don’t even know what’s what and are left to the mercy of some experts with credentials they created for themselves as a mean to find health salvation?

When I hear urban people talking about food, it does seem like it. American Youtubers are the best, I have to say. They will believe absolutely anything and preach it the next day.

Every month, newspapers are filled with statements and counter-statements based on some research, all about the same things. Every month, there is a new food dogma we should all embrace for it will save our lives, or at the least add a couple of decades to our life-expectancy in our quest to immortality. We are buzzing: a new diet, a new way of life, always “better”, always “healthier” than the previous one, always calling the anathema on the heresy we had been happily following for the past 30 days. Until the next month, when yet another research shows we had all been fooled and heretics: this time, THIS is the real food dogma.

How have we become like this? How have we become so lost that even reasonable people are ready to believe that milk and bread are the sources of all our diet problems when that’s what humanity has been surviving on for the best part of dozens of millennia?

There is, first and foremost, the lack of education and our desperate need to fit in our society’s very tight jeans, bikinis and zero-size clothes. Desperation in the face of the everyday bullying and finger-pointing we enjoy so much will bring people to do anything: from genuinely believing that we can milk almonds to popping dieting pills that will burn your body to death. We have not become but remain completely gullible in the face of someone or something that promises the never-ending of social acceptance and who wants to be an ostracised heretic? So we go to the gym like our ancestors went to church and read dieting books like they read the Bible in latin. We don’t understand a word of it but it’s the only key to happiness. Apparently…

But then again, who to believe? All these scientists, doctors and researches, isn’t it their job to advise you, to guide us? Why should have we believed anyone critical of his findings when the name Atkins came with the title “Doctor”? It did not matter he was fat and obviously a clear case of “Do what I say but don’t do what I do’, all because stars were raving about the weight loss. And we all know that’s the key to making Earth an present paradise. The true believers don’t go to church anymore, they can fit in Victoria Beckham’s clothes.

We know now, Atkins was just another con artist who surfed on the wave of low self-esteem and desperation millions of us suffer from. You’d think we’d listen to those who have been telling us to stop with this fanatic nonsense and just be sensible. No, we just moved on to another diet coming from the findings of yet another research, another doctor, another scientist who, if you look closely, mostly turn out to be have been sponsored generously and selflessly, of course, by the food industry.

That’s my issue with these research papers. We do have genuinely independent research published by various institutions and they pretty much say all the same thing: Mutatis mutandis. Everything is poison, nothing is poison, the dose is poison. You can eat everything as long as you remain sensible about it. Get your 3 liters of water, whichever, your 5 to 7 fruits and veg every day, whichever, 20 to 30 minutes of exercises, even walking the dog in the park, avoid processed meals, and prepare your own food. Even burgers, as long as you don’t go to McDonalds to buy them, don’t eat them everyday and prepare them yourself, you’ll be fine.

Why isn’t it enough then? Why don’t we do just that and go on with our easily accessible and sound healthy living? Because this is not religion, this is sensible advice and that’s how it is advertised. No sensationalism, no celebrity so where’s the dream, the impossible? The fast weight loss? The promise of a better sex life?

So we turn to “the research from an American university” published with a parade in every newspapers and all languages. The issue is that most of these various research papers are not independent: they serve a purpose. A company or someone trying to cash in on our needs for a quick solution and the avoidance of having to take responsibility for our own problems. If it doesn’t work, we’ll hang them by the feet in the main square anyway.

Look carefully and you’ll find out that behind an American research on how bad fat is for you often lays the money of a soft-drinks and sweets company. And vice versa with a research on the terrible effect of sugar sponsored generously, and selflessly, by a butter-producing giant. It’s not just our naivety or wilful ignorance that’s the reason, it’s also that food is now a battlefield on the constant wars of neo-capitalism. Everyone is riding the wave on its own boat trying to shoot everybody in sight with pseudo-science for it’s the first who can land on the shores to preach to the hurdled masses.

You think we were desperate to fit in, not as desperate as the food industry to cash in on whatever and whoever we decide to believe is good for us. Food giants will to any length to make us believe that they are the healthy option. I mean Nutella is advertised as a healthy option for breakfast for the kids and no one sees a problem in that!

The issue is the food industry and everything that comes with it. First, the language: we blame the food rather than everything they are allowed to put in or on it to make it grow faster, stronger, better. “Bread is bad” but it’s not bread that is bad or gluten, it’s the pesticides we spread the wheat with that are the real problem. And the alternative? To genetically modify it. What a treat! So yes, bread and gluten seem bad, and for some people they are, because we can’t process it anymore.

It’s the same with the milk, the eggs and the meat. They have been the base of our eating habits and have allowed us to develop our brain, make our bodies stronger and more resilient, to expend our life expectancy. The food itself isn’t bad. Unlike all the chemicals the food industry has been lobbying to make legal so we can feed the animals we keep in terrible conditions in the modern farms at the lowest costs.

Then we are back to us, who are now consuming food like we consume everything: the more the better but in a world where everything costs, we want meat for nothing and, cheap meat will make you sick or/and fat.

I understand the fact that we are blaming some foods while calling other “superfoods” which no one actually fathoms. I understand that we have to start somewhere when it comes to changing our habits and unfortunately, we are born and bred in this fundamentally Manichean society built on monotheism where there is no time for sensibility, only knee-jerking preaching. The debate has become solely about pitting something against something else, about dogma against heresy. Fat vs sugar. Meat vs fish. Fruits vs vegetables. Cooked vs raw. Milk vs vitamin supplements.

As the language of food is now akin to the one of all religions, one needs to consider its countless holy scripts with a pinch of salt, or sugar if you prefer. Except for actual poisons, there is no bad or good, black or white, healthy and unhealthy because even the healthiest can become dangerous when consumed without moderation. It’s called orthorexia and like all orthodoxies, it does more harm than good in the long term.

Orthorexia divides, creates new boxes, new barriers, new prejudices as we are working toward brining all the others down. Right now, the divide between “healthy” and “unhealthy” seems to be for the greater good, but all divides and categorisations were until we realise they are helping no one except a tiny minority, the ones who benefits from the apartheid: “the ones on the right side”.

The Health Inquisition – Proselytism

I have decided to start a series of blogs on what I call the Health Inquisition, this new religious-like movement that has come, under its most aggressive form, from America. I will treat of various aspects of its beliefs and its relationship to everyday people and I am starting with an aspect of its proselytism: The “Why aren’t you there yet?”

Everywhere in my town are posters and placards made by Keepcool, the gym I joined about a year ago and whither I tried to go as much as possible.

The posters show a smiling hunk or hunkess and always read either “Stop finding excuses” or “Enough with the excuses”. There is no mention of “bad” or “false” but the words are cleverly implied: if you haven’t joined yet, you must have wrongly convinced yourself that it wasn’t worth doing it through a myriad of some kind of bad excuses. And thou hast to stop, open your eyes and accept Keepcool’s help…You poor soul.

“Look, we have six-packs! The key to happiness…That proves we’re right, ain’t it?”

Like the Catholic Church claiming a Godly mission to save every souls, the Health Inquisition also claims it does what it does only because it cares about us, about me: the fat one, about the hardworking parents with kids and a bad back because they are bowing under the strain of modern life, about the broke young people who cannot afford the luxury of healthy fruits and vegs rather the cheap food offered by McDonalds and Subways, about the insecure teenager who has not yet grown to realise there is more to life than external appearance.

Like the bells of the church nostalgically beckoning you to a mass that will save you, the posters are beckoning you to a place that will do just that as well. Like the Pope overlooking the saving of us all, my gym and its healthy-looking, perfect people are also working for the benefit of the world.

This emphasis on health is not new but until recently, it has gone from sensible advice and trying to teach people (usually from state institutions) to self-righteous and fallacious preaching from companies. Indeed, mixed with capitalist imperatives, healthy living has morphed into the same kind of monster that is the new Evangelical church and its born again Christians. We now have a new type of born-again health missionaries with a new message for the lost and fattening masses: a message of good health and happiness only them can provide, should you be enlightened enough to accept it.

When I joined, the message they were giving was merely about getting the motivation to just do it or go the extra mile once you were there but how quick it has become an Inquisition-style concern for the said masses. Barely a year, it took. How quick they were to go beyond the lovely piece of advice, right down to the finger-pointing and patronising damnation of anyone who is not a member. A behaviour that isn’t without resemblance to the treatment reserved to supposed heretics by the Inquisition.

It’s not about “could” and “would” anymore, it’s about “should” and “ought to”. We ought to stop finding excuses not to follow and accept their selfless help even if it is comes in the means of a monthly payment.

“Enlightenment will cost €30/ month, by the way.”

So little for a life-saving opportunity, isn’t it? It is really the new church: you don’t give to the priest for a chance of happiness in the after-life, you pay the gym that will help you conform, and therefore finally be happy, here on Earth.

Not only is the message presumptuous and patronising but it is first and foremost phony. Stop pretending you care about us: me, the busy parents and poor people when you are nothing but a company who needs the money to pay back the loans you took with the banks. Your priority is not to make us all healthy but to ensure that if people do want to go to a gym, they come to you and that you can keep up with the ever-increasing targets you set yourself in your business plan when it comes to monthly subscriptions

This message of “Stop finding excuses” is harmful because it presumes to know people’s life. It presumes that people are actually wilfully ignoring the light and the truth these people have supposedly found and are now selling. It presumes that every single reason not to go to the gym and be healthier is just automatically bad, false and ludicrous because it should be at the centre of your very existence.

In my gym, they have a huge board and post-its on which people can write down these excuses with a “funny” example reading “I twisted a hair lock”. I was trying to find some excuses I could have come up with in the past but for me even the fact that I wanted to stay in bed longer or play video games is a good excuse. I work all week, day in day out and having a lie-in or enjoying some me-time with some music playing creative games is are not bad things for my health: it’s relaxing and I feel better afterwards. I don’t look like Chris Hemsworth but I do feel rested for Monday morning.

Do people who do that rather than going to the gym really deserve to be put in the same box of immature, lazy brats? Is anyone who doesn’t conform to your views really childish, should be ashamed and needs to get their act together by giving you some money?

Because that’s exactly what these posters are doing They are telling me and everyone else that the gym should become our free time, our me-time and that it is always worth, if not a moral obligation to ourselves and others, to get out of bed, even if we think we deserve to stay under the covers. Having a good work-out should be always come before anything else (branded “excuses”) because at the end of the day, the gym is something you are doing for you.

This message is patronising because adults are not tantrum-throwing kids and if they decide not to go to the gym, they do not have “excuses”, they have reasons. Whether Keepcool and the Health Inquisition consider them valid or not is, I am afraid, irrelevant. They needn’t apologise for what they choose to do with their lives and whatever reason they have certainly do not deserve to be exposed for everyone to laugh at.

The bottom line to everyone with their perfect bodies, their good-health-for-all agenda, the companies that employ them and make money out of it, is that you don’t know people’s life, stories, struggles and wishes. Not everyone wants to be like you or be part of the same world as yours and that doesn’t give you the right to look down on them. Not everyone who is not paying to go to the gym is of bad faith or is trying to find excuses.

If you want to help people being healthier, please do spare us your judgemental, self-righteous shaming and try to appeal to our intelligence in you think that you are indeed in the right.

Mr and Miss Longevity

This morning, on the radio, there was a show discussing obesity and the guy opened with a speech quoting various studies and the first one was “Obese people lose on average 8 years of life expectancy”. The rest of the show was actually very interesting because there was a doctor specialising in dealing with obese people who ridiculed such amalgamous studies, if not their findings, at least their dubious effects.

But that’s not my pet peeves. It’s this obsession with life expectancy. The age we could reach has become the age we should reach and the idea that if we don’t, we have failed.

Everywhere, the first argument against anything considered harmful is that you will not live as long as you should. Everywhere the first argument for anything considered good is that it wold help you live longer but where does this obsession with living longer comes from? What happened to humanity for it to be obsessed with reaching 200 years old? Especially when you are considered irrelevant you after you reach 60…

Is that some kind of world-wide contest we are signed in straight from birth to find out who will be the winner of Mr and Miss Longevity? Who has decided that living as long as possible was to key to a successful, happy life?

The more I hear about it, the more I see people stress about it, the more it sound like a final school exam we have to pass after a lifetime of revisions: will you reach your age goal before you die? If you work hard, you will. If you don’t, you won’t.

But what’s the price? Will I go somewhere special if I live longer than the age I could reach? How do I know that age? Is it fixed or a variable? Is it carved on me somewhere I can’t see? Is my body coming with an expiration date I have to overcome? What happened if I don’t? Then I die “sooner”…and what happened if I do? Will my life really be a failure?

I understand that life expectancy is an important landmark when you see that the average one in some African countries is 35 years old. This is the manifestation of endless plagues. Life expectancy is an index for health and anything affecting the lifestyle of a country. When Russia’s plummeted after the break-up of the USSR, it was a sign of turmoil. But in our everyday, it has turned into a contest and a supposed key to fulfilment.

I was born in 1984 and I am being told I should live to 80. First: no! The baby boys born today could be living to 80 but what about me? I don’t know and frankly no one knows what their life expectancy is, what number was attached to them when they were born so why are we still trying to convince people to eat less, stop smoking and drinking by telling them that they will fail a goal they have never set themselves?

The way I see these studies is that they are trying to play on our increasing hypochondria. They are basically telling me that if I were a bit more responsible with my eating, I could die at 80 instead of 72. Well, I am sorry but I’d rather die at 72 knowing that I ate what I wanted and enjoyed it rather than realising on my death bed at 80 that I spent my whole bloody life depriving myself of my favourite just so I could live a bit longer without it. And what’s in these eight extra years that makes them so special anyway?

And I am irresponsible, reallly? I am putting my life in danger? It’s not like my pleasure is to speed on the motorway hands of the wheel shouting “YOLO!” because THAT is irresponsible as it puts the life of others at risk. If the person wants to kill themselves, be it but endangering the life of others is what is unacceptable and irresponsible. Here, it’s just me eating cakes. Overweight and obese people are not endangering anyone so why are people obsessed with how many years we are supposedly going to miss because of that?

I know where the real issue is because the bogus argument about the fear of dying youngER than one should is fairly new. When it comes to eating, the argument used to be “Don’t you want to be attractive. I mean, look at you, all fat and lonely. People will not like you if you’re fat”. However, this argument is more revealing of the accuser’s shallowness than the accused’s behaviour. It is a terrible image of a society that is ready to exclude people based of what they look like. So, although this argument is stronger than ever in people’s attitude, we speak of another argument that is made to sound more caring: “You’ll die younger, you know. I am just worried about you…” Aw, the pleasure of “healthy” people who are all extremely caring and very pushy too in their desire to interfere in your life to dispense unsolicited wisdom. Is that what healthy does to people?

The second reason is the usual focus on numbers: on quantity instead of quality. It’s the same in every aspect of our lives: age, weight, money, penis size, breasts size, materialism. Some numbers have to be as high as possible, others as balanced as possible, sometimes as little as possible. It’s all about numbers here to quantify our happiness.

Now let’s look at the reality of growing old. My grand-father is 82, he has “beaten” his life-expectancy and when I talk about his age to people they are all so happy for him that he “managed it”, as if he had spent all his life getting ready for it. It’s like he won a race he never intended to run. “He must be so happy!”

No, he’s not! He’s a man who worked non-stop from 16 to 67 and when he retired, the shock was such that he lost every single hair on his body. He took two years to grow back. For the past 15 years, he has been bored. It was fine when he still had the strength to do DIY and make wooden furniture but about ten years ago, he lost his strength, his reflexes, his legs couldn’t allow him to stand for too long and since then he has basically been waiting for death. I see a man who says he sincerely wishes he had died 10 years ago when he could still do something with his hands and think straight.

The society is looking at my grand-father like a winner, a man who vanquished nature by living longer than “he should” for a man born in 1932. I am not saying that all old people are miserable but what I see in him and many older people is that dragging life to an undignified, endless end is not a fulfilment in itself and should not be used to convince people to be healthier. Dying maybe a bit younger but with a feeling that you enjoyed your life all the way, on the other hand, is.

Bottom line is: these studies about life-shortening are mostly irrelevant and bark at the wrong tree. It will be relevant to point out the dangers of death when the risk is extremely high, as it is with highly potent drugs, sexual transmitted diseases or dangerous behaviours. AIDS will not shorten your life by a couple of years but will cut it in half, an overdose or a car accident will kill you on the spot. I am not talking about that because there are no studies about it, they are a fact of life.

But telling me to eat less cakes or telling a 20-year-old to quit smoking otherwise we live less than we should is daft at best. Use the present, make it a fact of life, not yet another study filled with shoulda’s, coulda’s, woulda’s. Make it relevant to us: talk about incidence on sex and our everyday health, our performance in jobs, mention the diseases that are not just going to shorten our life but rather make it very hard to live. I know I am scared stiff of diabetes for instance and that tempers my binge eating sometimes. Tell people who smoke that they are endangering the lives of their loved ones if they smoke in public, for instance. No one likes to be a selfish bastard. Expect John Terry, of course.

The options are endless and these are truly working, not the may-be-missing annual calendars in the bin.

The Health Inquisition: Milk is plotting world’s death

tumblr_ne2gwfcJkA1rasnq9o1_1280 If I believe what American scientists are saying about milk and health, this map shows that Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands should be the unhealthiest countries in the world. It turns out they are precisely the opposite.

Unfortunately, I also suspect that the researchers at the American universities are what we call “scientists” and if one looks carefully, one will find that most of their research are largely funded by private companies.

So yeah…bollocks!