Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Entire City is Going on a Diet

When I have thoughts of leaving my tiny metropolis and leaving somewhere else, this is exactly the sort of thing that always dissuades me from doing so. Tel Aviv is one of the most entertaining and amusing cities in the world. Every day there are fascinating things going on. Right now, there's a coffee and theater event close to my house, and several fantastic exhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

However, the most entertaining occurrence these days is Health and the City - a citywide event, happening mostly on the beaches, and designed to make all of us fitter and healthier. The idea is as follows: there are fitness classes, at almost all hours, right on the beach; health consultants, dieticians, and exercise instructors give free advice to all participants; many restaurants in the city are offering discount salads and whole-grain dishes; there are lots of discounts in fitness clubs; the mayor even spoke on the radio, encouraging all citizens to walk more.

I know some of the lesser enthusiasts would see this as a nuisance and perhaps even a paternalistic attempt to regulate the citypeople's behavior (after all, are we less worthy citizens if we don't exercise, or if we eat junk?). I also dislike the emphasis on weight loss, rather than health (this city needs less, not more, weight-related neurosis). However, you really have to applaud the city for creating what I believe must be the world's greatest health support group. Going on my daily walk, I saw folks doing pilates on the beach and push ups in the park; it was fun to see how dedicated everyone was, and I can only hope it will lead folks to explore local farming and nutrition, as well.

Most important, these enterprises always make me smile; it's so much fun to live in such a benevolently crazy place.

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