Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Erik on Supersize Me

I just saw Supersize Me for the first time. Yeah, I know that it would seem like the fitness-savvy half of this website would have been there on opening day, but the budget-savvy half of this side waits for most stuff to come out on DVD (the longer you wait, the cheaper, and all that).

Here's some of my thoughts. If you've seen it, you'll probably remember all the stuff I'm talking about. If you haven't, keep these in mind when you do check it out.

First, the biggest culprit in his weight gain and health problems wasn't the Big Mac, nor was it the Filet o' Fish he kept calling the "worst thing on the menu."

The burgers aren't health food, obviously, but if you remember the guy who's been eating two Big Macs a day since before he was married, the Big Macs weren't the problem. He was skinny, and his cholesterol was fine.

Plain and simple, it was the fries and the soda.

The guy knew this in the film. That's part of why it's called Supersize Me--he's paroding the company's willingness to give you a half a pound of fries and a tub of soda with your sandwich.

However, to claim that the company had an insidious plot motivating them do this is just crazy. In fact, it was Americans who were trying to be smart who motivated the whole "giant food" craze. They weren't trying to be smart about their health, though. They were trying to be smart about their money. Getting a ton of food for little money felt like a great value.

Fast food places were actually behind the curve on this one--they were copying gas stations. I remember when I was a kid, and you could get a 44oz soda at 7-Eleven or AM-PM for under a buck. You never got your soda at the fast food place. You got your burger there, and then headed over to the gas station for your tasty beverage. I would guess fast food places knew this was happening and chasing those dollars. The syrup for the extra soda probably only cost them a dime, and they got the business back.

Even in the movie, when they needed the really big soda, they headed to 7-Eleven.

So let's stop vilifying everybody. Let's stop saying it's the government's fault for letting McDonald's sell people a product they really wanted to buy. Let's stop saying it's McDonald's fault for producing a product that people enjoyed. Let's even stop saying it's the public's fault for trying to be smart about their money or their convenience or whatever motivates them.

Instead, let's take advantage of the new knowledge we have. Let's make smarter food choices and smarter reading choices (Googling "365 day turnaround" instead of "gossip about Justin Timberlake" is a good start, so I'm delighted you're here).

As is oh-so-briefly mentioned in the film, often times we don't care as much about health care as we do about "sick care." We notice our bodies only insofar as they stop working, and only then are we dragged kicking and screaming to see a physician. We don't live healthy, we "diet." We don't live healthy, we get gym memberships we never use.

That's part of why this website talks about a "365 day turnaround." I'm not looking to toss some pounds off and then go back to what I was doing. I'm trying to completely modify my lifestyle into one that makes my body healthier and healthier and my finances more and more solvent, rather than slowly getting fatter and fatter and getting myself into a deeper and deeper financial mess.

So I'm grateful for the movie, mostly because I think it imparts a whole bunch of really good knowledge, and knowledge is always power.

But as far as singling out McDonald's specifically--he also wasn't exercising (wasn't moving much at all), wasn't drinking water outside of what he got from them, wasn't monitoring his calorie intake--he was creating a perfect storm of physical neglect that went beyond just the food he was eating. I could probably get similar effects if I did all that stuff and ate his wife's vegan menus.

Okay, maybe not. But you get the idea.

Healthy is a lifestyle, not a boxed product from a fast food place.


melinama said...

My theory was that the guy embarked on this project in reaction AGAINST his wife's vegan menus. He'd seen enough tempeh to last him for a while. Remember that glee he had, the first few times he ate at McDonalds? That was anti-kale-and-edamame glee.

Erik said...

Yeah, he definitely never claimed not to like the food.

Except that filet of fish. He had a few things to say about the appearance of that filet of fish.