NADLER: HANDMAID’S TALE IS GOOD EXERCISE
I’m no scientist, but I think watching Handmaid’s Tale is good exercise
I’m obsessed with the TV version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Obsessed. Yes, I was obsessed with Margaret Atwood’s novel when I read it a million years ago, too, but hell, that was … what? Like, more than two (three?) decades ago. And considering I can barely remember what I did this past weekend (laundry), I can hardly be expected to remember the details of a book I read when I wore knee-high combat boots, matte wine lipstick and black velvet chokers, back when those things were big the first time around.
So yes, I’m obsessed. It’s among the best of a long list of excellent shows I’ve binged this year, maybe even The Best. And those of you who know me know I watch a lot of TV. A lot. So I’m kind of a big expert when it comes to sitting around, staring at a screen. Expert.
I save the best ones — or rather, the ones that hold the most promise (step it up, “House of Cards”) — for the treadmill. You know, so that I’ll actually get on it, which is half the battle right there, as far as I’m concerned. And even though that means I’d normally finish a 10-episode season by sometime next January, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is so good — so good — I am on Episode 7. And I started it a little over a week ago.
Pretty good, huh? Yeah, I’m so proud of myself, I’m actually writing about it in the newspaper. And while I’d like to take credit for my own efforts, I kind of have to give Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Moss and the producers their due with this one. If I become less overfat, I will have them to thank.
Oh, what’s that? Didn’t I mean to say overweight? Or obese? Or pleasantly plump? Or schmaltzy, as my people have wont to say while motioning in my direction? (I think the actual Yiddish word for obese is “zaftig” but “schmaltz” implies greasy fat like from a chicken or something, so it’s way more flattering.)
Anyway, apparently now we are to refer to the zaftig among us (or schmaltzy, as the case may be) as “overfat.” And even those of you who have a normal BMI fall within what’s considered to be a healthy weight range and are fit, exercise regularly and all that … you might be overfat.
I’m almost certainly overfat. As a matter of fact, 80 per cent of women, 90 per cent of men and 50 per cent of children in the U.S., Greece, New Zealand and Iceland are overfat, according to a recent CNN report.
So what is this new term and why has it fallen into our lives? Well, back in January, a group of scientists from the University of Auckland published a paper in the Frontiers of Public Health advocating for the replacement of the word “overweight” with “overfat.” Overweight puts too much emphasis on the scale, they argued. Overfat generally refers to the amount of belly fat a person carries, the fat that is most dangerous to our internal organs. And even people who have a healthy body mass index or fall within what’s considered to be a healthy body weight can be carrying an unhealthy amount of belly fat.
(I’m being so general right now because as mentioned, I’m an expert at TV, not science.) The story is making the rounds on social and some traditional media.
So what does this mean for schmaltzy among us? It means we’re not out of the woods, not by any stretch. We’re deep in the woods, hunting desperately for a snack, maybe a squirrel or some berries or something. We have a lot of work to do, more than we previously thought. Because we need to focus not just on losing fat, but belly fat. And that stuff is stubborn. We kind of knew that before but now scientists are calling us overfat, which just sounds meaner than chubby or obese or even zaftig, so we’d better step it up.
And again, being an expert on TV, not fitness, I know that running can be great for lots of things — heart, mental health, etc. But getting rid of belly fat? Women’s Health says yes.
Just keep exercising, specifically the aerobic kind. Also, eat more protein, sleep better, get more fibre, don’t sleep in on weekends, do yoga, drink tea, eat vinegar (ew) and polyunsaturates. See? Easy peasy. But if you need some motivation for getting on a treadmill, elliptical, that sort of thing, look no further than your TV. “The Handmaid’s Tale.” You won’t regret it.
Now scientists are calling us overfat, which just sounds meaner than chubby or obese or even zaftig, so we’d better step it up.
Elisabeth Moss, left, as Offred and Alexis Bledel as Ofglen in the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood.