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Are you a health nut?

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January is resolution season. Holiday shopping frenzies subside and unwanted relatives return home as millions of Americans vow to find a better job, learn to speak a foreign language, save money, read more, watch TV less, and, of course, get themselves in shape. But watch out: Too much chatter about taking responsibility for one's own mental and physical fitness just might get you labeled a "health nut."

You see, human beings can eat junk food till their arteries scream for mercy without ever running the risk of being called a "disease nut." However, frequent use of words like "organic," "natural," or "vegetarian" will send up a red flag.

Feel free to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day; no one will call you a fanatic or zealot. But be wary of how much time you spend at the gym or yoga class or running track. That kind of behavior is reserved for obsessed people.

Sit on the couch all night. Make no effort to avoid hydrogenated oils. Consume those sugary desserts. You'll fit right in. Joining a food co-op or slapping a filter on your faucet could get you added to a no-fly list.

Speaking of flying, airplane food (sic) is an excellent illustration of modern America's commitment to staying unhealthy. Pushers, I mean, flight attendants rolling a shiny cart up and down the ever-narrowing aisle will lean in and smile, "Cheeseburger?" or "Coke?" If you want to garner attention, decline this public offer of slow-acting poison. If you want to chance having Homeland Security waiting for you when you de-board, ask for something that doesn't induce cancer, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. You might as well wear a neon sign on your forehead that flashes: PSYCHOTIC.

Stay strong. It was William S. Burroughs who once made clear, "A psychotic is someone who has just found out what's going on." And once you've found out what's going on and you start speaking up, you'll find yourself with one more categorization: "radical" (as if it were an insult). But I suggest you wear that label with pride. The Latin origin of the word radical is the same as for the word "root." A radical is one who gets to the root of things. Plus, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., declared: "When you're right, you can never be too radical."

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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