One of President Obama’s campaign promises was to address the energy crisis. It’s one of his top priorities just after healthcare reform, job creation, education reform and improving his Baseball Opening Day Ceremonial Curve Ball (needs a lot of work).

I beamed with pride when I read that on one front, America is making amazing progress: Energy conservation. According to a recent survey by the widely respected and completely unheard of news publication, The Daily Beast, the United States now ranks #1 in the entire world in personal energy conservation.  Okay, if you want to get technical, it actually called the USA the laziest nation on the planet. But I say it’s all in your perspective. Personally, I would offer my American countrymen a high five but I don’t want to have to get up out of my chair. Turns out, according to this report, we Americans rank:

  • Number one in per person daily caloric intake
  • Number one in number of trips to fast food restaurants per year
  • Number one in per person hours of daily television viewing and
  • Dead last in the amount of time spent exercising per day, or as I prefer to think of it, first in personal energy conservation!

The way I see it, we rank #1 in terms of exercising … our civil right not to exercise. So we don’t extend ourselves physically as much as our grandparents once did. Why did we build cars, planes, and washing machines if not to save us from having to work so hard? When we weren’t fighting Nazis, Communists and Terrorists in the last century, we Americans were working our butts off inventing incredible technologies to make our lives easier, not to mention some really ingenious ways to kill Nazis, Communists and Terrorists. We deserve to take the next century off to rest up and recharge our batteries (another great American invention, I might add).

exercise equipmentSome might quibble that Americans are not very health and fitness-minded. I could not disagree more. We Americans are the most ardent sports enthusiasts in the world – just so long as we can enjoy those sports with a nachos dip in front of our flat panel high def 55” TV. (Go Cubs!)  Would it surprise you to know that Americans rank #1 in the amount of money spent per capita on diet books and exercise equipment? True. So what if we don’t actually adhere to these diets for more than 5 days or get beyond the assembly stage of using most of this exercise equipment? There just isn’t enough time. We’re way too busy watching Monday Night Football and The Amazing Race to carve out time to use our new Pilates Abs of Steel Perfect Core Crunch Butt Toning Rowing Machine Ball. Maybe after the NBA Playoffs are over.

Okay so we might not actually use all the fitness equipment we impulse purchase from the Home Shopping Network after my wife has gone to bed, while I’m channel surfing during a late night Cookie Dough ice cream-eating binge. On the positive side, Americans are the world’s leader in recycling…. of exercise equipment we purchased from the Home Shopping Network. (On a completely unrelated side note, if you’re in need of a treadmill, I’ve got a slightly used 3 year-old NordicTrack – very low mileage – like new. Call me. I’ll throw in for free the “Six Second Abs” DVD I bought for $10.)

french friesA state-by-state comparison of energy conservation, according to a recent Time Magazine article, awards the Blue Ribbon to the proudly plump citizens of Mississippi. The Magnolia State currently ranks as America’s most over-nourished state, just elbowing out those chubby runners-up from Alabama and West Virginia (although technically speaking, I’m not sure how much running those runners-up states do). The article reports that they achieved this bulging distinction thanks to a combination of a love of fried foods, a preference for gravy on everything, pervasive poverty and a morbid fear of fruits, vegetables and fiber.

nauru man

According to another 2010 study, while the USA may be the laziest nation on earth, remarkably, we’re apparently NOT the fattest. We have to bow down to the proud people of the island of Nauru in Micronesia, which ranks #1 for obesity. 80% of this island nation’s 13,000 people are considered obese.

The photo at right is of Anibar Maketea, winner of “Nauru’s Sexiest Man Alive” contest. Americans are downright svelte by comparison, coming in only 9th in the ratings, behind several Pacific island nations and #8 Kuwait. Seems like a few of us aren’t downing our fair share of Krispy Kreme donuts and Big Macs. Come on, people. It takes a McVillage. Do your part and order a large Dairy Queen Blizzard next time. By the way, coming in 193rd and last on this list: Ethiopia, the least obese country on earth. Talk about mailing it in.

Oh, sure some smug marathon-running Vegans out there might pontificate that “junk food and a sedentary lifestyle lead to obesity which leads to premature death.” But I did my own study of these obsessive health nut exercise freaks that run 8 miles a day 6 days a week. And my research shows that while it is true they tend to live on average approximately 10.7 years longer, they spend approximately 10.3 of those years running and stretching.

First Lady Michele Obama continues to make a big fuss about childhood obesity with her “Let’s Move” campaign. She wants us to get our kids out of the living room and into the “great outdoors” to run around. What a horrible message to send to our impressionable young children. I say, keeping our kids safely indoors playing five hours of Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil 5 on their X-Box is much safer than exposing them to the hazards of the outdoors. In front of their computer, the worst injury they might suffer is a strained thumb and an urge to kill an avatar version of their younger sister with a virtual semi-automatic firearm.

The First Lady wants to take your innocent children and thrust them outside into a hostile environment where they’ll be exposed to air pollution, risk getting hit by a car, become exposed to poison ivy or be chosen last in a pickup game of baseball. I love my children too much to expose them to such  personal humiliation and itching. When you think about it, exercise is simply bad for you. Every day people are pulling calf muscles, spraining ankles and tearing ligaments all in the interest of feeling more fit. When was the last time you pulled a hamstring watching the Simpsons? My motto? “No Pain, No Pain.”

renaissance woman Roseanne Barr and John GoodmanAnd who’s to say we’re overweight at all? Who made that call? Perhaps the rest of the world is just dangerously underweight, have you considered that? In the 1500’s at the peak of the Renaissance Era – the “age of enlightenment” – the ideal female form (left) was much heavier than by today’s skeletally thin standards. We all know that fashion trends go in cycles, so it’s just a matter of time before we return full circle to the Renaissance ideal and realize that Roseanne Barr and John Goodman (above) were actually sex pots. Grrrowwwl.

So there you go. We Americans have repeatedly shown that when we put our mind to it, there is nothing we can’t achieve – so long as we don’t actually have to exert ourselves to achieve it. And to the smug people of the Pacific island of Nauru, just a friendly word of warning: We Americans won’t stop scarfing down our McDonalds Sausage McGriddles until we’re #1. Well, I gotta go. I see that the Mississippi Fried Catfish ‘n Gravy Bake-off Semi-Finals are on the Food Channel. Time to get comfy in my La-Z-Boy for all the action.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.*

(* This week’s post brought to you by Burger King, which reminds you to Super Size your order today.)

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2012

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