The Outward Appearance

In high school, I had an obese teacher who claimed to have once been the cheerleading coach for Madonna, who had graduated from my high school some 20 years previously. For years I wrote her off as a compulsive liar–it wasn’t the only hardly-believable claim she made. In retrospect, it would have been very easy to either verify or repudiateĀ  her claim, as the school no doubt would have had records, but at the time it never crossed my mind to do so, and now it would require more effort than I really feel like putting into it (that is to say, it requires any effort at all, which is by default too much).

I bring this up because Yi noted thatĀ  Michael Phelps consumes between 10,000-12,000 calories each day, but burns so many off that he has trouble gaining weight. Like Yi, my first reaction was that it would be nice to have that problem. I definitely eat more than I burn each day. But it got me thinking: Phelps’ stomach is undoubtedly enlarged. When one day he stops working out nearly as much, will he also think to stop eating so much? Will he be able to retrain his body to desire less food? Or will he one day become one of the millions of Americans who suffers from weight issues because he failed to adapt? I’d love to see a study of former athletes to know if there’s some sort of major weight gain trend among them.

It also makes me wonder about my old teacher. If athletes require that many calories a day, it’s entirely possible that she legitimately was a cheerleading coach once, but didn’t decrease her caloric intake as she stopped exercising heavily. If that was the case–what a horrible fate! It’s bad enough being overweight in a Photoshop world. It would be even worse for one who used to be thin–who had a legitimate claim to fame–but gets discredited just for being the product of a consumer environment.

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