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family parties on the 4th of July

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Jul 05, 2009

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.

Posted in: Green Smoothies, Mind/Body Connection, Standard American Diet

12 thoughts on “family parties on the 4th of July”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    this ran through my mind at a family reunion, where someone said how awful being a vegan was when she was at a fat farm and how sick she was, I told her she was detoxing, she denied that, I kept my mouth shut…. but she was detoxing, plain and simple! then people there talked about wanting to leave, wow, if wanting to live means multiple surgeries, health problems, etc. well, I don’t want it, eat your greecy nasty piece of dead cow and I’ll have my green drink and go ahead and laugh at me!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you 100%!!! I taught RS today and it was on the CES Fireside in May (you should read it, it’s amazing). We got into the discussion about a similar thing. I didn’t bring it up because I can get on my soap box about health, but I did put my 2 cents in once someone else brought it up. We are put here on earth to gain experiences and for progression. Our bodies are our temples and we are supposed to treat them as such. When our bodies and our spirits are in tune, that is happiness to me.

    There is a quote I used today by Boyd K. Packer, “Our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character.”

    I live this way because I am happier and healthier. I feel amazing and I can do the happy things in life. I find joy in the foods I eat more so than I did when I lived on the SAD. I wish I could fix everybody and teach them what I know.

    Thank you for all you do for us!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “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?”

    I think this attitude is far more destructive than eating junk and being happy about it. Of course I have no scientific backup for this, but I believe that a person who is happy, joyful, and grateful to be eating junk will be more healthy than a person who is miserable and feels deprived eating healthy food. This is just my own personal hypothesis; I have no backup for it. If I’m going to eat junk food, I’m going to ENJOY it and not give it a second thought. I decided to track calories for a few days to see how many I was getting. I was astounded at how many calories some of my favorite treats had. I started to “hate myself” if I gave in and had one of these treats. Of course I should work toward a whole foods diet, but if I’m going to have the treat anyway, I’d much rather be happy about having eaten it than hate myself for eating it.

    Of course the person who is happy and joyful to be eating healthy food will be the most healthy of all. I have heard many vegans and raw foodists say how much easier those emotions of happiness and joyfulness come when they eat well. I don’t think anyone who eats a vegan/raw diet has any reason to be unhappy or feel deprived over it. Anyone who does is probably eating the diet because someone else wants them to, not because they do. I’ve never heard of a vegan/raw foodist being anything but thrilled over fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables — that is the ultimate food joy!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I completely disagree with the happy fat thing. I have been a nurse for 32 years and people are getting fatter by the minute. I live in the Pacific Northwest, not down South, FYI. They act so clueless. They are so angry that no pain meds are effective for their knee pain; all the meds they take and their diabetes and high blood pressure are still out of control; so angry that our wheelchairs are “so small”; so angry they have to wait hours for the “big boy” ambulance to use the nearest MRI machine for giants. If you gently suggest, perhaps they could lose a few pounds, Oh my, “don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive”, “can’t exercise because my knees hurt” (so that’s our fault), “just big, all the men/women in the family are big” and on and on. They are making nursing a miserable job, and creating huge costs in health care. Thanks for letting me vent!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Our family argument has been about whether eating mounds of meat is good for you or not. I lent my parents my copy of “The pH miracle” and so they are trying to start changing their diets. My mom is also doing 12 steps but I think she has only read the first couple chapters. She sprouts, eats salads daily, and drinks green smoothies sometimes. Well, she is trying. My brother thinks whatever he hears in school is the absolute and undefiled truth. Hopefully one day he questions it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My vegetarian daughter came over to me at our family bbq on the 4th and said, outraged, that her 11-y.o. cousin had said, “So, what are you having, hot dogs?” She explained we didn’t bring any meat and were just eating the salads. He said, “Well, you have to get protein, you know!” She demanded that I go inform Riley that greens are often more than 40% protein because he didn’t believe her. I laughed and told her if Riley wanted information, he was welcome to come to me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This quote has great meaning for me on this topic:

    “We believe in getting all the enjoyment our of eating that we can; and therefore, we should avoid gluttony, and we should avoid extremes in all our habits of eating; and as was told unto Adam, so is it told unto us: Touch not these things, for in the day that thou doest it thy life shall be shortened and thou shalt die.” James E. Talmage in Jesus The Christ pg 28

  8. Anonymous says:


    So is that quote saying that we NEED to touch those things? hee hee hee

    (Since Adam and Eve needed to touch/eat the fruit to progress) 😉

  9. Our ward has an annual 4th of July breakfast every year. I always bring fresh fruit to eat. Among the typical eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, and tons of butter were bowls of watermelon and canteloupe. I was a happy camper. Can I ask where can I find the CES Fireside from May? I would love to read it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Being an overweight person most of my life, I can tell you from experience that we pretend to be happy. But we are not, we are in denial! We want to look good in clothes, we want to be active, we want to play with our kids and do all the things that other people do, and live a long life. We don’t want to be sick and hurt all the time. I was once so miserable & unhappy that I once considered killing myself. I don’t know if I could have ever done that, but that is how unhappy I was with my life because being fat, you just don’t fit in with the rest of the population. Other people don’t take you seriously or even treat you like a person. You are not accepted! But we just don’t have the right tools to help ourselves and Drs. don’t know how to help us. So, we go on living by being patched up for our ailments instead of getting to the root of our illnesses and fixing our health permanently. We are silently dying & slowly falling apart. Believe me, we are not happy people! We are just great pretenders! If anyone tells you that they are happy being obese, they are lying to you and to themselves! There is nothing to be happy about when you are in poor health running from dr. to dr. and not being able to move or even buy clothes. I wouldn’t even let anyone take my picture because I couldn’t bare to look at myself. I would get sick, & say to myself, how did I ever let this happen to myself? That is a very sick and sad life!

    Thanks to Robyn and her 12 step program I have lost 35lbs, gone down many clothes sizes and am continuing to lose and become healthier and healthier. I have even reversed my diabetes which pleasantly shocked my dr. and made her so proud of me. She know talks about me to all her patients and telling them what I have been doing. Trying to convince them to try a new eating approach.

    I am very grateful & thankful to Robyn and this website for teaching me how to help myself and turn my life around to a very happy & healthful one.

  11. http:// says:

    Wow, Leslee. I am so happy for you. Thanks for the glimpse of what it’s like “on the other side.”

  12. What an interesting debate you had Robyn – thank you for sharing. I must agree 100% with Leslee. Being fat does not mean you are happy with yourself. While the chocolate and all the bread in the world might taste good while you eat it, the guilt it brings with it certainly isn’t worth the taste. What was that Weight Watchers little catch phrase – nothing tastes as good as thin feels – or something like that. My boys asked me to get in the local community pool with them. I’m going to continue to put them off because I absolutely don’t want to put on a swimsuit that I know I look awful in. I’d rather have a root canal that be in a swim suit, even in front of my own family. While asking my dr what I would need to do to get off this blood pressure med, I made sure to write down for her greensmoothiegirl.com — and briefly explained it to her. I doubt she’ll look, but at least the info is there. Thank you Robyn for all that you do to help educate us.

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