I went for a lightweight hike with a friend the other day. I showed up in old cutoff sweats and a torn t-shirt. He was decked out in a high-tech Nike-branded nylon outfit with a Fitbit writstband.

I have no idea why. The guy has bad knees. He can’t even run.

Meanwhile, I’ve been wearing the same brand of running shoes for more than a decade but, even I have to admit, the colors have gotten really trippy lately. This year I got a space gray pair with neon green and blue … well, you get the idea.

When did keeping yourself in shape turn into high fashion?

More importantly, when did we start deluding ourselves into believing that buying stuff would make us healthy?

It’s a perplexing paradox. The more money we spend on athletic clothes, gadgets, systems, and memberships, the more out of shape we become.

The same goes for food. We’re all gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegan or paleo foodies now, but somehow we’re becoming more and more obese.

It’s gotten pretty out of hand.

I have a neighbor who races his bike downhill at crazy speeds, as if that’s exercise. He’s got a gazillion dollar bike, water bottles strapped to his waist, and wears an outfit that could wake you out of a coma. But none of it stopped a cat from darting out in front of him and, well, he’s slowly recovering from a broken pelvis and dislocated shoulder. I hear the cat’s fine.

A guy I work with suggests that maybe people see buying all this pricy stuff as a first step in the process of taking care of themselves. Of course, that’s the easy part. The hard part is actually being disciplined – working out and eating right – every day of your life.

The great irony is that we’re just putting added pressure on ourselves. When we screw up, as we inevitably will, we just get depressed, plop down on the couch, and binge on Big Macs and Cokes. Thus the millions of grossly out of shape people with all sorts of cool gear, gym memberships, exercise systems, and diet books.

You really shouldn’t set yourself up for failure that way.

I once woke up the morning after an epic Thanksgiving feast feeling like a giant slug with a hangover, went for a run and never really stopped. That was about 20 years ago. The only athletic stuff I’ve bought in all that time are sneakers, socks, and shorts. That’s it. And they take up no space in a suitcase. You can run pretty much anywhere.

Oh yeah, I occasionally shoot hoops and do some pushups. Woohoo.

I bet there were no overweight cavemen. It probably takes a lot more energy to hunt and forage for food than to drive to the mall. If people would just get up off their fat butts and run around a little instead of running up their credit cards on Amazon, they might learn that you can’t buy health. It’s actually free.

(Pretentious image brought to you by Secretary of State John Kerry)