Now that the Thirtieth Olympiad is underway, I blew most of my weekend watching the games in a hypnotic state and doing little else. I had planned to see my buddy, Coco, on Saturday. That visit surely would have entailed copious glass lifting and draining while shifting my game-watching venue to her TV. When I ventured outside for bottled water I got caught in a downpour. My Jack Purcell badminton shoes got wet. I did not want to venture out into the elements again so I canceled. I returned my attention to my TV where I watched scantily clad women play beach volleyball and embrace each other following every kill. This is an event I find exciting on many levels.
When I was younger and possibly more demented than I am now, thanks to a habit of inhaling, I used to fantasize about competing in the Olympics myself. This fantasy was misguided since I cannot swim, I’ve never taken gymnastics, I’m allergic to horses, I’m not a fast runner, I take after my mother in archery i.e., I could shoot an arrow into the sky and miss, I’m too scrawny to lift weights, I have an aversion to sharp objects ruling out fencing, I lack the gun-shooting gene, judo has no appeal, so what’s left — competitive whining about the absence of an event to suit Olympic misfit me?
Actually there is one athletic activity I loved back in the day and that was cycling. I discovered my affinity for bike riding when I attended an eight-week film program at Stanford in summer 1979. I realize now that pumping the pedals hard to avoid being late for class is not the same as cycling the Tour de France, much less competing for Olympic gold. At this stage in life I no longer harbor any personal Olympic fantasies. After watching the endurance test that was Friday’s opening ceremonies I needed ten hours sleep and had to pop two Aleve upon waking I felt so stiff.
Earlier this month I read an article in The New York Times written by Gretchen Reynolds called “The Couch Potato Goes Global”. Coincidentally I was sitting and eating ginger snap cookies while reading:
“… [T]he total combined weight of human beings on Earth now exceed[s] 287 million tons. About 3.5 million tons of that global human biomass is due to obesity, a third of which exists in North America, although we account for only 6 percent of the world’s population.”
I stopped eating cookies shortly after reading that, but resisted sticking my fingers down my throat. Hey, they were good cookies. The article went on to discuss research conducted by the World Health Organization about global activity. They discovered:
“The latest figures suggest that the world’s population has become disturbingly inactive. According to the researchers’ calculations, 31.1 percent of the world’s adults, or about 1.5 billion people, are almost completely sedentary, meaning that they do not meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of walking or other moderate activity per week, or about 20 minutes a day.”
This made me feel a tad guilty about being an armchair athlete all weekend so I worked up a sweat doing masochistic house cleaning. I scrubbed my bathroom floor with a toothbrush. Afterward, I resumed watching the Olympics. During a commercial break I checked out a tool that the BBC posted online that lets users compare their biomass with people in their age groups from other nations. Much to my relief I discovered that mine is equal to women my age that reside in Vietnam. This factoid could be convenient if I ever need to pursue a new romantic partner. I’m confident that I can reel her in by revealing that my Body Mass Index is the same as a grandmother in Southeast Asia.
Here are my Global Fat Scale results.
There are nine nations with women my age with a lighter biomass than me. They probably cycle and scrub their bathroom floors with toothbrushes.
If you dare, you can check out where your biomass fits in amongst 177 nations by clicking here. Be forewarned American readers, the US ranks eleventh on the Global Fat Scale. The mean BMI in the US is 30.46; not an Olympic-worthy feat especially when the medal that’s awarded to inactivity is early rainbow catching.