Why It’s Hard to Get a 6 Pack

(*6 pack abs, not beer.)

I’m on an anti-dad bod crusade.

I’ve become the family garburator, and I’m getting tired of the spare tire that comes with it.

My goal is to get rid of some stubborn fat.  I know I can do it.  I’ve been in great shape before and I know how to buckle down and improve my body composition.

There’s only one rule: be super diligent with what you eat.

Eating the right amount of calories and nutrients is the only important thing.  If you have the time, it’s a lot of work but it’s very doable.

But this time I have more responsibility and less time than when I did this in the past.  More than ever, I’m feeling like the whole food system is stacked against me.

See the food system, that’s everything from food producers and manufacturers, to restaurants, to storage, to retail, is the solution to a pre-industrialization food problem.  Before the mid 1800s (and for most of human history) food was expensive, scarce, and hard to get.  If you lived in the early 1800s, chances are that food would have accounted for 75% of your household budget.

Then boom, along comes the mechanization and tools of industry, and the problem could be addressed with a whole bunch of new techniques and strategies.  When the population could all of a sudden worry a less about food, more time and energy could be spent moving society forward.  It was a win for everyone.

150+ years later we have a different problems.

Every system has intended and unintended outputs.  For the food system, the intended output isn’t just food, it’s abundance, convenience and variety of food.  Those are the priority, not making sure someone can control what and how much they eat.  For some vain guy trying to look good in a bathing suit, it’s a pain, but the system over time has also produced some really undesirable outputs.

The First is Food Waste.

Here’s a fun fact: 900 million tons of food is wasted every year.

The average American (who is 150 lbs and technically overweight) eats one ton of food a year.  So all that wasted food is enough to feed 900 million overweight Americans.  The world average person is only 136lbs (and presumably eats at least 25% less food), so if you divided all that food waste up, it’s likely that just half of it would feed all the world’s 697 million food insecure people.

The Second is the Environmental Impact.

All that wasted food takes energy and resources to produce.  A lot of that energy production causes environmental damage.  In fact, food waste produces 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide.  If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after the US and China.

Finally, there’s the Health Problems.

As a guy getting older, these hit my radar in a big way.  Even though I’m very lucky and don’t live with food insecurity, statistically I’m very likely to end up with heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, diabetes, or cancer which are all linked to our modern diet.

Listen, I’m not here to point fingers or blame anyone.  Like many things we have now, the food system is a product of the industrial revolution and nobody could have predicted what the long term effects would be.  But we have new tools and know all this bad stuff, so shouldn’t we be looking to make it better?  Or is it more important to protect our god given right to walk through the grocery store at 3am and be able to choose from 16 different flavors of Doritos?

Wish me luck on my quest to get my abs back, it’s going to be a tough one.