IN 1955 the U.S. weightlifting team was invited to the Soviet Union and I got a firsthand look at how life was in Moscow then. Many of the countries of the Eastern bloc had the same kind of living standards where wages were extremely low and living quarters were at a premium.
If you were born in a country where 5 or 6 of you were living in one room, sharing a community bathroom and a kitchen with other families, would you spend your free time at home? Or go out to the play field or gymnasium to work off your excess energy and spend your free time with friends of similar interest? How would it be if the government would recognize you if you became outstanding in some sport and rewarded you a room all to yourself or improved your family's living condition?
... In the United States if you were outstanding in basketball, football and baseball, the financial gains can be great but this does not apply to the sport of weightlifting. Weightlifting, as well known and accepted as it may be in Europe and other countries, is still a Cinderella sport in the U.S.
- Tommy Kono (Championship Weightlifting, Beyond Muscle Power, The Mental Side of Lifting)
There are two things that this short passage bring to mind for me:
#1) If you were born in a country where 5 or 6 of you were living in one room, sharing a community bathroom and a kitchen with other families... you probably wouldn't be fat, even if you had plenty of $$. I become more and more convinced that Americans have adapted to a life of sitting - time on task has created a nation of people who are very, very good at sitting... and snacking.
Here in the midwest, (if you don't want to and depending on your job) there is little need to ever get off your arse other than to walk to your car, your desk, and your lazy-boy.
Yes, of course, what you eat matters but, (and I've said this before) more time moving = less time eating.
#2) One evening, when I was a senior in college, my Japanese girlfriend (who is now my wife) and I were walking on campus and ran into one of my former teammates. We talked and joked around, I asked him if he was still training (he was) and I introduced him to my girlfriend. After we had parted, I casually mentioned to her that he was a very cool guy who I used to mosh and have arm-punching matches with, and he was an Olympic bronze medalist and former world record holder in the 400 meter freestyle. She was absolutely shocked and I laughed as we both realized that an athlete of such prominence in Japan would be a celebrity that could not go anywhere without being immediately recognized.