by Barbara Berkeley, MD
In the interests of political equity, I feel it only fair to observe that Al Gore has become oversized. I report this because I have written in the past about Mike Huckabee, a Republican who--during his political ascendancy---devoted energy and considerable lip service to the themes of healthy eating, exercise and weight loss. He lost around 100 pounds, wrote a book about his successful lifestyle change and became a cheerleader for health. Then he gained a whole lot of it back.
Losing and gaining in the public eye is not limited to political figures. As we all know, certain celebrities tend to weight cycle. Following the fortunes of Kirstie Alley, Jessice Simpson and Oprah is a pleasant exercise in schadenfreude for the tabloid reader. But celebrities don't claim to be leaders or even role models. Politicians, on the other hand, are theoretically supposed to be the people who represent us and provide leadership.
In 2009, Al Gore was in weight loss mode. To see a photo of him after losing, click here. Associates questioned about his new regimen were quoted as follows,
- He decided this year it was time to buff up.
- "The man's as healthy as a horse," a Gore confidant said.
- Gore is doing a lot of running, walking and other exercises.
- He has also developed a new-found commitment to eating the right foods, close associates report.
But an appearance on today's Morning Joe clearly shows that Gore has let those commitments slide. It
might be a bit difficult to see on this smaller video, but on a large screen TV, Gore's increased girth was unmistakable.
As I've said in my blogs on Huckabee, I feel that politician weight-cycling makes two important points. First, it is annoying when public figures lose weight for political expediency. Sprucing oneself up strictly to gain votes is understandable, but maddening---especially when accompanied by moralizing and pronouncements about what needs to be done to achieve permanent weight loss. Perhaps more importantly,though, the failure of public figures to keep weight off is sure confirmation of the extreme difficulty of weight maintenance. Surely no one wants to go in front of the camera looking less than their best. Nor does anyone want to appear foolish after they have exhorted others to simply exercise more and eat better...and then seemingly have failed to do the same themselves.
Still, the ballooning size of those who struggle with weight in public has the benefit of allowing the rest of us to breathe a sigh of relief. We are all imperfect and few of us have the answers. For those of us who have to some small degree controlled the problem of weight regain, perhaps we can't be blamed for a small additional moment of pride and satisfaction. It remains true that successful weight maintenance is a rare commodity in the U.S. If you've got some of the answers, you've got something worthwhile indeed.
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