Of pilots, flight attendants and "accidental anorexia"
My run to Montreal this afternoon was uneventful, and quiet. The three members of that crew were each plugged in to their various electronic devices. I turned on the radio and caught up with the world via CBC.
Then came a two-and-a-half-hour delay before the return trip could begin. I drove off and grabbed a sandwich from a Montreal version of Subway and got some writing done in my mobile office.
Then back to the hotel, to await my crew.
Who were five: two pilots, three flight attendants; three men, two women.
Of those five, three napped most of the way (or so it seemed; one of them snorted periodically). The other two, though, talked with each other for most of the almost-two hour drive.
Of my two insomniacs, they are both youngish, reasonably attractive and slender. And, as it turned out, one especially is into fitness in a major and described in some detail preparations for an upcoming "mudder" — apparently a 10 kilometre run with obstacles and things to carry or something along those lines.
And talk of fitness soon evolved in a detailed — a very detailed — comparing of notes: fitness regimes; body-mass indexes and callipers; dietary percentages of proteins, fats and carbs; weight gains and weight losses.
"When I was younger, I wanted to get my fat down to 10 per cent," one said, and described in detail how that goal was achieved, through exercise galore and "about 1,000 calories a day. But at a certain point I was exhausted. I'd get home from work and just crash. And I finally realized that I had accidentally gone anorexic."
My passenger went on to reassure that realization brought a cure — it had been accidental anorexia, after all, — but I could not help but ponder the possibility that there can be too much of a good thing. That a life in which one literally counts every calorie consumed and estimates as nearly as possible every one burned (did I mention there are some awesome free apps to help you do just that? Well, there are), in which as much time is spent balancing fats and carbs and proteins; reading up on new and (presumably) better diets and exercise regimes; and, of course, engaging in a (sometimes literal) treadmill of exercise for the sake of weight ... that all that is perhaps a life not worth living.
Certainly, in all that long exchange, I can't recall a single expression that conveyed joy about the taste of a meal, or pleasure in the playing of a game, only a quietly earnest determination to carry on the fight. Against an improper weight and (one presumes) for the denial of the inevitable decline and fall of life itself.
Anyway, though I found it gradually perverse, I also found it a rather compelling one to eavesdrop upon. As someone who has seldom if ever been particularly happy with my own body's shape, I listened with an ever-stronger sense of "there, but for the grace of God, go I."
Which perhaps serves to underline what else struck me. All of this obsession with fat and weight came from two of the three men I was driving. The speakers were pilots, both of them. Men with wives and children and successful, traditionally masculine careers. Yet they seemed burdened with concerns I usually associate with unhappy and insecure teenage girls.
Anomalies or signs of things to come?
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