11 February 2014

Thoughts on the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

Hello faithful readers of five,

The Olympics are here. I being a big fan of Olympic am naturally in my element. I have some random thoughts about a variety of issues pertaining to these games so thought I would just toss them in the cosmos and let them land where they land
  • I think the games so far have been enjoyable to watch. Despite all the controversy pertaining from everything to Russia hosting, to the LBGTQ issues, to the cost, they have been quite enjoyable. Nothing like sports being that great equaliser. At the end of the day, that is what the Olympics are all about.
  • Canada in particular is doing well. While that should be natural given we are a winter country, that hasn't always been the case. Nice to see that the results of the Own The Podium policies (devoting money towards Olympic preparation) is finally paying off in results. 
  • I have been digging the biathlon and cross-country skiing events this time around. I think I want to look into taking up either (or both) as a sport. I need a winter activity anyways, and everyone I have talked to about this loves cross-country skiing. 
    This would be my response after skiing too.
  • My royal appreciation nerdiness is coming out strong. How cute is King Wilhelm and Queen Maxima from the Netherlands? 
    Wax & Max
  • I can't help but feel sorry for my American friends. I caught a little bit of NBC's coverage of the Olympics. Simply bad. 
  • Speaking of NBC, and journalism in general, I can't help but wonder if there is residual Cold-War bias in how Russia is being portrayed. Now granted, some of the conditions as far as infrastructure is probably bad. But just the way Russia is being portrayed, you would think they were attending a boxing match between Rocky and Ivan Drago.
  • Part of the reason why I am drawn to these games is because of family ties to the area. My grandpa's ancestors come from the Black Sea area. In a twist-of-fate, my third cousin, Chris Robanske, is competing in these games. It's like coming full circle.
  • I have been enjoying spending time with my husband watching the games. Has made the post-NFL-football period less of a letdown. LOL.
  • I've been giving a lot of thought about various levels of governments in Alberta flying the Rainbow Pride flag (as a show of solidarity for gay athletes/protest against Vladimir Putin's archaic laws). My first instinct was to think "doesn't the Canadian Flag represent all of us?"  I had no problems with flying the rainbow flag to be honest. I originally found it sad that the Maple Leaf (or the Stars and Stripes, or Union Jack, or whatever national flag) isn't perceived to represent all of us...and if that is the case, then that speaks more volumes about "us" than Russia. But then I got to thinking. When we see a rainbow, it encompasses the whole world. A rainbow doesn't recognise borders or the reality of what is going down on the ground. A rainbow can be appreciated by anyone from all walks of life. A rainbow, in many ways, is the heart of what it means to be inclusive. I've heard arguments like "well why not fly the flag for _______ group who are also oppressed in Russia?". In reality, the rainbow flag represents inclusion, fairness and diversity for all citizens of this world, regardless of race, gender or sexuality. Although the rainbow flag is specifically represented by one group, the message of the flag represents us all. 

  • How nice was the ballet and classical music at the Opening Ceremonies? It was a nice change of pace from other ceremonies...and quite beautiful. 
  • This warmed my heart today. A Russian cross-country athlete broke his ski. A Canadian coach came to the rescue and gave him a ski so he could continue the race. How Canadian. (Click here to see video). 

Well that's it for now. I may blog some more as stories develop. Have fun watching the Olympics! (Assuming you haven't boycotted them or something. Then if that is the case, have fun watching repeats of Real Housewives of Mother Russia...or whatever!).

6 February 2014

Paint by Number

Hello faithful readers of five, 

There has been much ado on social media about the finale of The Biggest Loser: Season 15. The winner, Rachel Frederickson, lost 155 pounds and went from 260 lbs to 105 lbs, which was almost a 60% loss. Her BMI based on her supposed height of 5'4" puts her either "underweight" or just on the cusp, depending on what chart you read. (Some have her at 16, 17' or 18). 

People on social media have gone crazy, saying she is "anorexic" (and from some posts, that is being kind). Sites like Diets in Review have raised alarm bells by saying things like: 

@DietsInReview: Rachel’s 60 Percent Weight Loss is Nothing to Celebrate; Biggest Loser Should be Ashamed http://t.co/QFwbIlzxYk << What did you think? #BL15 

While some good arguments are being raised in general about the show and their methods, I think we need to stop criticizing Rachel. Repeat after me: 

                                                 People are not only numbers. 

                                    People are not defined by arbitrary numbers.

First off, we are not medical professionals. Even those who claim to be, they are not her medical professional. We have no idea what her health is like.

Secondly, a BMI chart is not the best indicator of...welll...anything really. It is a guideline (one that has been arbitrarily redefined over the years and varies in different countries). It doesn't factor in bone or frame structure.

By that chart, I should be in the hospital right now with a blown artery, oozing fat out of my nostrils. My husband is technically quite a bit "underweight" (more so than Rachel) and has no health issues related to his weight. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, society needs to stop valuing people only by the number they represent on the scale. When some competitors "only" reached weight losses of 25-35%, people were critical for "not doing enough with the opportunity they were given." When they started, they were criticized for "letting themselves go." 

You truly cannot win at any level of weight by arbitrary standards of society. It seems that the only acceptable weight of someone else is what society deems they are comfortable with. If you are too thin (naturally or by diet) or too fat (naturally or by diet) and they are uncomfortable, it's not ok. 

My post isn't ignoring the very real issues of anorexia or obesity. I am not sweeping the very issue of disorders under the rug. But let's be clear that this is a competitor on a reality TV show that was given the best medical & professional supervision on this journey. She may very well have done something like hot sauana or detoxing for the weigh-in for one or two days prior to the final weigh-in, which was not indicative of her efforts prior too (which she claimed she ate 1600 calories a day in the weeks leading). 

So enough with the shaming. Put down the pitchforks and focus on the fact that a beautiful determined person is exactly that - a person, not a number.