Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: What does Ryan's claim of body fat content imply?

Apparently, Ryan is now saying that he keeps his body fat content between 6-8%. Bill Gifford at Slate explains why this is either a continuation of the bizarre lies of Ryan about his physical abilities or a kind of scary indictment of Ryan's physical ability to actually do his job.

First Ryan (bizarrely) claims that he ran a marathon an hour-plus faster than his actual time. Then Ryan (bizarrely) claims that he didn't really remember his time, because it was a long time ago. Now Ryan (still bizarrely) claims that he maintains the body fat content lower than the body fat content of a professional cyclist.

If Ryan is lying about the small and inconsequential (to governing) things, what does this say about his character? As Gifford writes:
Ryan wouldn’t be the first guy to dissemble about his physical attributes. But with him it’s become a pattern: first the marathon, then the dubious mountain climbs, as well as some minor confusion about the exact level of his skiing prowess. (He told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker that he was on Janesville Craig High School’s “ski team,” when in fact the school only maintains a ski club.) “Sounds a lot like when guys say they can also bench 300 pounds, run a 4.5 forty, etc.,” says Rooney.
But what if Ryan is actually telling the truth? What if his body fat content is maintained between 6 and 8%? Well, the sciences of physiology and psychology tell us the scary possibility of what this might mean:
At very low body-fat levels, strange things start happening. Starved for energy, the body starts consuming muscle instead of fat, in what’s known as a catabolic state. Low fat levels also affect immune function. In the 1940s, the legendary nutritionist Ancel Keys (father of the military’s K-rations) subjected a group of 36 men to a severely restricted diet, amounting to about half what they were used to eating. ... Keys took precise body-fat measurements of his subjects, and found that they bottomed out around 5 percent—1 percent below Ryan’s claim. Whether from lack of body fat, or plain lack of food, they basically went crazy.
Yeah... kinda scary, and if Ryan knew anything about physiology or sports science, he likely wouldn't have make the comment that he has a body fat content of 6-8%. (Hell, if he recognized the simple point that there are sports fanatics out there that make body fat content a major part of their life obsessions, just like there are a lot of runners out there that make knowing what a marathon time means!)

If it's a lie, then it's further indication that he is dishonest about things that have little impact on governing, but is about something for which he obviously prides himself in - his fit body (and don't get me wrong, he is physically fit). However, if he has a tendency of lying about things that he perceives as being his strengths, and he is known as being a serious and capable numbers guy in Washington, then is he actually lying about this personal accomplishment, too? If so, then suddenly his lies do have impacts on governing....

However, and perhaps more scarily, if he isn't lying, then we have to ask the next phycho-physiological question: how mentally stable is this man?

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