How Fat Monk Syndrome Changed My Life

Here’s a ridiculous article I wrote a few months back and forgot to upload here.  Oops.  Enjoy!

I read an article the other day. No, I listened to an interview on the radio the other day. It was about a new study being done to understand why a certain sect of monks in Thailand, or maybe it was Taiwan—I don’t think it was Tibet—are suffering from obesity at an alarming rate. I could Google the place they are from, but so could you if you really want to fully understand the plight of the aforementioned fat monks. This particular essay will in no way provide any useful understanding of the topic.

Fat monks in Thailand

This essayist is not so interested in the how’s and why’s of the pitiable state of those poor suffering monks. Though, from what I gathered, despite the fact they are eating a controlled diet, fasting often, and meditating all of the time, these particular monks are obese. To be honest, I couldn’t hear the whole interview because my kids were in the car with me and were arguing about whose turn it was to kick the back of my chair.

Maybe those super smug hot yoga junkies aren’t the pinnacle of health and fitness they seem to be as they ring out their sweat-soaked towels. Apparently it is a low protein diet coupled with a ridiculously sedentary lifestyle that leads to their tragic weight problems. There may be other contributing factors, but my children staged an all-out whining mutiny imploring me to change the station when the lady on the radio began to describe the diabetes and subsequent leg amputations that are often associated with Fat Monk Syndrome.

The condition is not actually called Fat Monk Syndrome. At least it wasn’t called Fat Monk Syndrome, or FMS for short, but after this article hits the mainstream media, I have no doubt that the use of the term FMS will become as ubiquitous as PTSD and LMFAO.

I’m not sure how much time and resources have heretofore been dedicated to the FMS issue or how long the study is to go on. But the point is, there are fat monks out there. Fat Monks! Unhealthy fat monks!

These are the folks in our world that are supposed to have it all figured out. They have devoted their lives to a higher power. They spend their time doing the things we are all supposed to do: they meditate, they contemplate, they practice extreme self-awareness all while breathing deeply into their navels. These poor individuals have not spent their lives docked in front of flat screen televisions plying themselves with football and nacho cheese sauce. These humble humans have not Supersized themselves at the drive through. No. The fat monks of Timbuktu have spent their lives dedicated to something larger than themselves (and clearly that something must be really, really large to keep ahead of those monks).

How then is it possible that there is an entire population of monks that are extremely obese and extremely ill?

The moment I became aware of FMS changed my life. Just before I yelled back to my kids, “Can’t we ever listen to something that I want to hear on the radio for minute? I’m the one spending hours a week chauffeuring you to birthday parties and oboe lessons all week! Is it too much to ask that I get to finish hearing this story?” I had an epiphany.

Unfortunately, while I was yelling, I missed the explanation as to what is being done to ameliorate the devastating impact of FMS. But luckily, my epiphany was about me, not the monks per se. So for the purpose of my thesis, I had all of the information I needed for a massive revelation—an enormous, if not altogether fully informed “ah ha” moment: all of a sudden, those monks represented every enviable lifestyle that I, for my entire adult life, could only dream about and deride myself for being too weak and too unfocused to ever embrace.

And it was at that moment, for the first time in decades, that I learned that I may have been right all along to avoid such aspirations. If these holy monks were victims of FMS, maybe they weren’t the only ones. Maybe FMS is a worldwide epidemic afflicting all extreme lifestyle practitioners! Maybe those super smug hot yoga junkies aren’t the pinnacle of health and fitness they seem to be as they ring out their sweat-soaked towels in slippery locker rooms across the globe; maybe they too are unhealthy and silently suffering from FMS.

And maybe all of those marathon runners, with their ice packs and knee braces, should be pitied, not envied. What about the raw vegans and the PTA presidents? How about those people who manage to save all of their receipts for tax purposes or those who get up and make their beds every single day or remember to get their dogs vaccinated every year?

These extreme humans used to represent for me the unattainable. I used to read about them in magazines that I’d skim through at the checkout line at Walmart. I used to hate those people. And I would have gone on hating them had I not been made aware of the underreported epidemic of severely overweight religious devotees across some swath of Asia or Africa. Now, I just feel bad for them all.

I am almost tempted to start an FMS awareness campaign, but that sounds like an awful lot of work.

How Fat Monk Syndrome Changed My Life