The Half Man Challenge

LiveStrong wrist bandIn August, 2009, my mouth got the better of me.

Surprising, I know.

Social media is a big part of my work in agriculture and public policy. From sharing my writing and reporting to discussing the key issues with my social network, Facebook and Twitter are daily tools of my trade.

The concept of an “obesity epidemic” grew, both literally and figuratively, over the past several years, reaching the forefront of the public conscious with government efforts like first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative.

Some of my contacts in the social webisphere offer perspectives radically opposed to my own; I typically enjoy the debate and the opportunity to hear critical feedback on my work. But there is this one guy…

The area of debate when I typically get the most up in arms is when food marketers and their evangelists attempt to persuade consumers that their particular food ideology is the “only way” to eat well. Remember the effort to exorcise rBST from the daily supply?

Rabid food evangelists exist in all walks of life. From The “Subway Diet,” to the “Paleo Diet,” to the well-known “Adkins diet,” some percentage of adopters of a specific food philosophy will exhibit a fervency and zeal bordering on religious dogma.

Such is the case with one of my Twitter contacts. In August of 2009, this Tweep and I got into a series of escalating exchanges over the concept of personal responsibility. I argued that the obesity epidemic is a function of personal lifestyle choices. He argued we’re all victims of an evil “industrial food” complex bent on keeping us fat and stupid.

I’m not big on the victim mentality.

What started as a simple verbal “food fight” quickly evolved into a personal challenge I issued to the world. From my blog that month:

The answers are as simple as Mom’s age-old wisdom: eat your vegetables, and don’t sit too close to the TV. In other words, we eat more calories than we expend. To refrain from being a hypocrite on this issue, I’m dedicating myself to losing 150lbs this year. That’s right, I want to be half the man I am today. I’m excited to say I’ve already lost 13 pounds in the last month, and I’m stepping up my game this week by tightening my calorie count even more.

In the interceding months I’ve written copiously on this issue, and changed my life radically. Starting with the initial 13 pounds I mentioned in the initial post, I’ve dropped 55 pounds as of February 24th, 2011.

How have I done it?

  • Diet modifications and improvement
  • Strength training three times per week, and ideally cardiovascular training on the same schedule
  • Accurate body composition measurement
  • Data, data, data

Our generation tends to look for places to lay blame for our problems. In this case, for some it is easier to blame food manufacturers, and by extension farmers, for issues like obesity rather than accept personal responsibility.

Check out the pieces I’ve written on the Half Man Challenge since August 2009 by scrolling over the “Half Man Challenge” menu in the navigation bar above.

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