Serena Williams is officially the reigning champion of the Pacific and Asia. She entered the draw of the Australian Open ranked 81 in the world, and unseeded in the tourney.
More importantly to tennis talkers everywhere, she entered the tourney significantly overweight.
Much more importantly.
You cannot find an article with a dateline of 1/15/2007 or higher that references Serena without referencing her ample stature, her excess pounds, her inability to move on the court, her poor "fitness," her fatness.
Even Newsweek, in an article published two hours ago, noticed, "Throughout the tournament, commentators called her overweight, pointed out her huffing and puffing, and asked, How could she win being so unfit?"
I contend that Serena won because she was overweight. I implore her to keep the pounds she has.
Here's my reasoning:
1) Fat is a psychological shock absorber. Plain and simple, the people who survive concentration camp interment are people who show up overweight. The initial shock of the experience doesn't do them in like skinny people. People with overly low Body Mass Indexes don't handle psychological shock well.
2) Tennis is a psychological sport. A match is a measure of the ability of two people to maintain aggression in the face of constant frustration and setbacks.
3) Serena endured psychological setbacks better than any of her opponents.
Is there any science behind any of that, you ask? I doubt it, and I don't care.
I entered the army at almost 6'1" and 165 pounds. I left basic training at 185 pounds. What do you think the odds are that anything I gained there was fat? The charts say that my weight should be 168-192 since I'm large-framed (using their elbow-width measure.)
If at age 59 I am 7 pounds above the best body weight of my life, I'm overweight?
If I weighed 168 pounds I would be an emotional wreck day-in and day-out. Do you have any idea how much I would have to starve myself to reach that number? I could not even reach 192 without a serious and inappropriate change in lifestyle.
If you make me choose between 200 pounds too fat and 20 pounds too thin, I will not hesitate. If I'm too fat, there will be a couple tennis balls I cannot run down. But if I'm too thin, I will give up in the middle of the match. I won't have the reserves to stick with a difficult match.
Serena stood out there with the best, and watched them wilt under the pressure of her raw aggression. She got stronger as every match progressed, and they grew weaker. She pulled from a deep well of emotional strength, and they came up empty.
As the season progresses, I look for Serena to cave in to the pressure, and to begin to eat less and exercise more. I expect her to lose those few extra pounds. And I look for her to lose heart in the middle of her toughest matches and wonder why.
The announcers of the tennis world have chosen a wrong standard, and I wish they'd shut up.
Yes, obesity is bad. Define it realistically, though. Hyperthyroidism should not be needed to maintain an ideal weight.
I don't have a single study to quote to back my assertion that fat is a buffer against psychological stress. I apologize for that, but I don't have the time to find them. They don't exactly grow on trees if they exist at all. I am simply satisfied with my personal experience on the subject.
Diets are good, when they are good. I think you all know my diet. If they have been eating it for the last 6000 years, I eat it. If they invented it during the Industrial Revolution, I try to avoid it. White flour, white sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, preservatives etc., all bad. Meat, dairy, grains, veggies, fermentation, all good. Dessert - yep. Same rules, but yep.