For his part, Lloyd cites Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as an example of a health nut whose meditation and other health-conscious practices are a replacement for smoking. Once, such a person supposedly “would have smoked 40 or 50 or 60 cigarettes a day instead.” He “would have ended up dying earlier,” Lloyd admits, “but the effects of nicotine — regular hits of dopamine, raised alertness, speedy reaction times and powerful anti-anxiety and antidepressant qualities — would have given him everything he gets from meditation and more.”
Similarly, Walther’s main sentiment when the health-conscious Paul Ryan replaced the cigarette enthusiast John Boehner as speaker of the House was contempt for Ryan’s healthy lifestyle. Writing for the Washington Free Beacon, Walther alleged: “This is a guy who is obsessed with health and exercise, the kind of man who can tell you exactly how many calories he ate last week. He probably owns a $200-plus bicycle helmet.” Walther’s reaction to a description of Ryan’s exercise routine was simply “Ugh.” Smokers cannot honestly claim that their habit is healthy, or that being healthy is only for the wealthy. That they instead devalue health shows their argument’s weakness.
The Lady of the House’s younger brother likes to make quips about how silly it would feel to die healthy. He’s young, though, so I can imagine it still seems witty to him. The aforementioned Will Lloyd, though; I’m not sure what his excuse is. In his response to Butler and Dent, he makes a virtue of spiritual depth out of the necessity of laziness — apparently only those who slowly poison themselves truly appreciate the evanescence of life, you see — before offering up the same juvenile retort to those who exercise: “Do they think it’s possible to be healthy forever?” If he’s going to construct men of straw in the workplace, I hope he’s at least careful not to drop one of his smoldering cigarette butts nearby.
I enjoy the ritualistic discipline of rising early to exercise. I appreciate the patience necessary to improve my physique. I respect the sobering awareness of how much work it takes to be fit, and how easily fitness can fade once laziness and rationalization creep in. I love being able to work with a nutritionist and learn new things rather than pass off stupid dietary habits as the cumulative wisdom of the ages. And on a more practical level, I savor the moment at the end of a long, busy day when I can say with pleasant surprise, “Hey, my back isn’t killing me,” or “Hey, I don’t feel completely exhausted; in fact, I feel pretty good.” I’ve been unhealthy, both by choice and by cruel fate. There’s no ambiguity at all: life is better when you’re healthy. Of course we all have to die of something. Of course some fitness enthusiasts are tedious egomaniacs. But as people like Lloyd and Walther prove each time they peck at their keyboards, shallow, boorish people can be found everywhere, pursuing every type of pastime. And body odor isn’t anywhere near as foul-smelling as tobacco smoke.