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Worried About Your Waistline? Just Become Amish! | Manolo for the Big Girl

Worried About Your Waistline? Just Become Amish!

MSNBC posted an article the other day discussing the results of a study on obesity. No, that’s not the part that’s news. Studies on obesity, weight control methods, health risks (never benefits, always risks, even when fat proves to have beneficial properties) connected to weight, use of battery-operated weasel socks to combat fat, etc. come out all the time, and most mainstream news sources put the articles at the top of their lists. Why? Because people read them. One more story about weight and how to combat it isn’t news. The part that’s news is what the study informs us we should do about our weight.
Anyway, the theory is that some 30% of white people of European ancestry (no word on any other ethnicity) have a gene variant that makes them more likely to gain weight. The study was done to see if exercise can combat genetics.

The answer was an overwhelming yes! Apparently all you have to do to be thin is to exercise moderately…for three to four hours a day, Amish style.

Three to four hours a day? Unless you have a physically strenuous job or the kind of lifestyle that allows you to spend the entire day at the gym with your personal trainer, that just doesn’t sound likely for most of us. Also, the people who ‘overcame’ their genetics to be slim were among the Amish of Lancaster County, PA. Their daily lives include working fields with teams of oxen, milking cows, scrubbing laundry without a washing machine, feeding and tending horses, cows, oxen, pigs, and a dozen other kinds of domesticated work and food animals. These activities are more strenuous than the author’s suggestion that we all just use the stairs once in a while, take a brisk walk after dinner, or do bit of modern-style housecleaning. I don’t know about you, but my laundry routine doesn’t include scrubbing garments on a washboard one by one, cranking a wringer, or hanging everything out to dry on a clothesline by bending and lifting and pinning and doing it again ad nauseum.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for exercise. I not only don’t have a car of my own, I don’t even have a driver’s license. I walk everywhere I go unless I’m going a very long distance…say more than five or six miles. I do my own housework. I can carry a fair amount of poundage in my arms. I encourage everyone to find fun ways to move that keep the body flexible and strong. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the couple hours a day I actually get to spend with Mr. Twistie fending off a couple ‘spare’ pounds.

I actually enjoy spending time with my husband, with my friends, and yes, even watching television.

I’d also like to point out that I have in my possession (on my wall and everything) a photograph of my great-great grandmother. She lived in the nineteenth century. In point of fact, her husband (my great-great grandfather) fought in the Civil War. My great-great grandmother lived in a time when the way the Amish live now (in terms of physical activity, at any rate) was just plain how people lived. She bore and raised nine children, living on a working farm. She worked in the fields alongside the men. In addition to that, she helped tend the animals, did the cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and child care. She chopped wood and built her own fires. In short, she was physically active a lot more than three to four hours out of every day. And you know what?

In that photograph, taken when she was about four or five years older than I am today, she was still considerably fatter than I am now.

8 Responses to “Worried About Your Waistline? Just Become Amish!”

  1. Mo September 13, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    I agree, their suggestions are ridiculous. So you can “overcome” genetics. Wow, did they tell the geneticists? Cause I’d seriously like to “overcome” being 5 feet tall. And I also have a photo, of my maternal 4th-great grandmother. She’s a little taller than I am, but she sure as hell isn’t what I’d call slender. And our faces make the resemblance obvious, not just in the fact that they’re round. Hell, my Grandpa always had a large stomach, and he built oil tanks for a living.

  2. raincoaster September 13, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    All my ancestors are skinny as reeds, so god knows what strange mutation resulted in me, but even when I was working on a farm I was still curvy. And I was the ONLY person on that farm, looking after 10 horses, 2 dogs, 4 cats, and 400 acres. That was unquestionably the thinnest I’ve ever been as an adult, but it’s completely unrealistic to think I’m going to find the time to add four hours of digging out basements, and five hours of riding a day to my current busy blogging schedule. It’s so hard to type on horseback!

    It also reminds me of those ridonkulous articles that claim housework counts as a workout and you can lose weight just by cleaning your house. Let me ask you this: do you clean your house now? And are you thin? You could, presumably, get thin by cleaning sufficient OTHER people’s houses in addition to your own, but then we come up against the time constraints mentioned earlier. Besides, who looks good in those rubber gloves?

  3. rosarita September 13, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    Too funny. I live in Amish country, in the central US. Like, the announcements at my local WalMart store are made in English, Spanish and German. The first settlers here were Amish, and my family background is Amish and Mennonite. Newsflash – the majority of Amish women I see in public at said WalMart, etc. are fat. The Amish eat lots of meat and potatoes, homegrown vegetables and fruits, and lots and lots of desserts, most notably pie. Their homemade breads, cookies, pies and jams & jellies are in great demand by tourists and locals alike. Lots of hard work on the farm (I have never seen an Amishman mow the grass or do any type of gardening, that’s strictly for the women and female children), and lots of cooking and baking, and lots of eating! I get a great deal of satisfaction from doing the same. :)

  4. Plumcake September 14, 2008 at 12:01 am #

    wait, so that’s TOTALLY not what I’ve been using my battery-operated weasel socks for…IYKWIM(AITYD)* Damn, there goes ANOTHER voided warranty.

    *If you know what I mean (and I think you do)

  5. Olivia September 14, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    But if we become Amish, how will we read this blog?

  6. Twistie September 15, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    Oh Plumcake, nobody uses battery-operated weasel socks in a way that fails to void the warranty!

    Olivia, I think that’s the best argument against becoming Amish I’ve ever heard.

  7. Jo September 15, 2008 at 9:39 pm #

    Great heavens. I have a job (nurse) that requires 3 to 4 hours of moderate physical activity a day. I also work out at least three times a week with a trainer, and run and walk on my own. And I’m *still* a generous size 14, even with eating healthy and all that crap.

    My theory is that my sister and I are a combination of throwback to previous generations and good examples that antidepressants really *do* change the way you metabolize food. I went from a size 4 to a 12 and then to a 14 in a little under a year, even with huge amounts of exercise and calorie restriction.

    Scruit, I say. As long as my body moves as it should and I can put in a full 14-hour day at work without trouble, as long as I can mow the lawn/tile the backsplash/walk the dogs/build shelves/whatever without falling over, I’m not complaining.

  8. Amish Books February 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

    yea there arent many people that could exercise like that other than professional athletes but man if i could I beat I would be in amazing shape.