family parties on the 4th of July

I hope you’ve all enjoyed family and fun–plus a chance to reflect on the great blessing of our freedom–this Independence Day weekend!   My two oldest brothers are in town from Dallas and Boston, and with the other four brothers and sister who live here, we’ve had a blast.   Golf, volleyball, and a tennis tournament and swimming tomorrow.   (Do you sense a theme in what we all love to do?)

We had a conversation on the 4th about one of my brothers’ church leaders being about 5’8″ and 450 lbs.   My brother was saying he is the biggest person he has ever known who is actually ambulatory.   He said this man is known as an epicurean (everyone asks him where the best place is to eat this or that).   It takes him a good 30 seconds to stand up, and his knees are in serious jeopardy of being unable to hold him.   This gentleman routinely mocks my brother, a 38-year old marathon runner with washboard abs, for “doing all this crap just to look good.”   (My brother indignantly  declared to me that looking good is nowhere near his primary reason to  care for his body.)

Another brother of mine (who, ironically, just lost 20 lbs.) said, “Yeah, but all those overweight people are laughing at us because they’re actually HAPPY!”

We had quite the lively debate about this principle.   You’ve heard people say things like this many times, right?   That the “eat, drink, and be merry” and “take no thought for tomorrow” folks are somehow having better lives than us health food nuts?

What is wrong with this notion?

You probably have something to say about this, but my sister was the first to react: she sputtered and said, “Whatever! One second it tastes good in your mouth and then you HATE yourself until the next time you put it in your mouth again.   That’s HAPPINESS?”

Interestingly, there were proponents of the “fat people are happier” argument among my family.   (Or maybe we all just grew up loving a debate so much that someone always naturally slides into the “devil’s advocate” position!)

We discussed one of my sisters-in-law’s parents completely running out of steam in their 60’s after a lifetime of energy.   We discussed some other inlaws’ several joint replacement surgeries.   We discussed the brother who made the “they’re happier” comment (the least interested in nutrition of all my sibs) having been in the hospital at the same time as his wife–with gall bladder and kidney stone problems, respectively–hobbling out of the hospital while two 300-lb. people carrying Big Gulps came barrelling past them.

I said, “You can trust in the law of karma. Sometimes it takes a while. But it’s called a LAW for a reason.”   I was sitting there listening to the raging debate, thinking, I wonder what FORTY YEARS of drinking green smoothies — getting literally 15 servings of greens and fruit daily (in a quart) even if that’s all you do  — will  do for someone, compared to his peers.   We just don’t have that data yet.   But I’m certain that over an extended period of time, it can make a MASSIVE difference in preventing the diseases felling everyone else around us.

I think the idea that the obese among us are happier because they eat whatever they want is ludicrous.   First, they can’t actually eat anything they want without gaining weight.   It takes very little calories to maintain fat.   (Muscle burns more calories.)   Second, they’ve lost the ability to do the TRULY beautiful things in life.   Go down the slides at the water park.   Play on the ground with the grandchildren.   Go for a long hike and enjoy nature.   Have enough stamina to be truly productive.   (I could go on and on.)   When all the other things that give life meaning and pleasure are gone because we’ve abused our temple, and the only pleasure left is junk food, something has gone terribly wrong.

I’m not advocating for being food monks.   It’s not either-or.   A miserable life of eating miserable food, or a happy life of eating happy food.   I’m wanting us to have a rich, fabulous life and ENJOY FOOD, too!   Just find more foods that are whole and nourishing and indulge only rarely, if ever,  in the rich foods that make us ill.