I lost eighty pounds. Thirty-three years ago. It’s still gone. Want my secret?
There is none.
(Okay, so throw the computer at the wall and scream SCREW YOU, which is precisely what I used to do. Um. Still do, but that’s mostly because of stupid online dating profiles. But I digress.)
The International weight management (read: DIET) industry is expected to reach 348.1 billion in five years.
Fitness is now a $100b global industry.
Diets don’t work.
Let me say that again, lest you missed it the first time.
Diets. Don’t. Work.
First, diets don’t work.
Second, diets don’t work.
Third, diets don’t work.
I could go on.
Because if they did, we wouldn’t be looking at a nearly $350b diet industry world wide. It’s called the Hope Springs Eternal Model.
I call it the There’s a New One Born Every Minute Model, or the PT Barnum Was Absolutely Right Model.
Because as soon as one diet is shown to be a total flop, another will surface, and we will all be guzzling celery juice.
For my part I’d rather have to eat Casu marzu (maggot-infested cheese from Sardinia).
And then I’d puke, but I’d puke just looking at the celery juice.
Give it time. Someone is going to come out with a magic meal made of masticated marsupial molars guaranteed to make the weight fly off.
If you read nothing else this year on diets and obesity, please see this. I missed it the first time around but as Outside often does, they republish good stuff. This is good stuff. It’s very long. Very detailed. Painful to read and damned important for you if you, like I did, struggled like a banshee for decades about your weight. Please. Read it. It might not only save you trouble but it might also save your life. I almost lost my life trying to be thin.
It might give you peace, it might frustrate the shit out of you (and you aren’t already? Do tell). But it also might give you a note of sanity amidst the insanity. It sure as hell is something I would shove in my doctor’s face before he can get the words you’re just lazy, you need to eat less and exercise more. Putting a copy of the article in his hands is a lot less likely to get you life in prison after beating him to death with the exam room chair.
I’ve been tempted.
But let’s back up.
First, your body (shape, health, etc) is about 85% what you eat. But…..
DIETS DON’T WORK.
I can’t improve on the truth. However as someone who has paid an horrific price for dieting, starving, overeating and beating the holy shit out of myself for being obese, I have done them all. Several times over, in fact.
When I did finally release 80+ lbs, it wasn’t a diet.
Nor was it exercise.
I fundamentally changed everything about how I ate, where I ate, what I ate, why I ate and when I ate. And I stopped thinking that a two-mile run six days a week was going to do a damned thing for my weight issue. It never did and never would. Any more than any fad diet of any kind that might have worked briefly for some-lollipop head in Hollywood was going to work for me.
You note I didn’t say lose the weight. Words matter; to wit, what we lose we tend to find. In fact when it comes to weight, what we lose not only moves back in to mama’s basement but they bring their friends and family with them.
From the article:
For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets. Since 1959, research has shown that 95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail and that two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. The reasons are biological and irreversible. As early as 1969, research showed that losing just 3 percent of your body weight resulted in a 17 percent slowdown in your metabolism — a body-wide starvation response that blasts you with hunger hormones and drops your internal temperature until you rise back to your highest weight. Keeping weight off means fighting your body’s energy-regulation system and battling hunger all day, every day, for the rest of your life. (author bolded)
That last line really says it. Sounds like fun, huh? Yet that is exactly what I’ve learned to do successfully. It’s no longer a battle, and I am no longer hungry all the time, but that took more than thirty years. You that patient, Sparky? It might take you less, it might take you longer. But it does take time.
Now look. You and I can both think of people who may not necessarily fit this profile. However, this speaks to the majority. The numbers bear this out. None of these diet companies from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig would be multi-billion dollar businesses if what they pitched us actually worked for life.
None of them. Their business model only succeeds on our constant failure. Failure=profit.
Just like my gym makes most of its annual revenue in January and banks on the reality that most of us will be long gone by early March.
The gym business only succeeds on our constant failure. Turnover=profit.
If these products, services and gimmicks worked, they’d all go out of business. Failure succeeds for them, sucks for us.
You’re just lazy? Forgive me, but FUCK YOU.
Those who diet don’t lack will power. That’s not the issue. I’ve never seen or met more determined or focused folks in my life, which is why it is monumentally insulting to imply that obese people are lazy and don’t exercise.
There are plenty of skinny people who are lazy and don’t exercise. They can also die young, but from different lifestyle illnesses. Thin doesn’t equate to healthy. But don’t tell that to the masses who still massage the notion that if only they got thin then they’d be happy.
You might just be dead. At least then you might be happy you don’t have to diet any more. But that is the cost of the hook in your cheek.
Healthy equates to healthy. What that looks like for you is as different as a fingerprint.
Having been one of those obese folks, I beg to differ about the laziness. Not too many folks have either my willpower nor my determination. That I was able to make it work is testament to that, but that is not the norm. Not at all. And I spent decades battling the diet battle, forever in search of the One that Works.
They don’t. In case you missed this the first time, Diets Don’t Work. Here it is again, lest you leapt right over it and couldn’t be bothered. You and I are sure bothered by being out of shape, or what society tells us is out of shape. It’s time to reshape that discussion. Read it, or continue to suffer.
Diets Don’t Work.
No supplement, no fat-burning magic fruit. Nothing. If there was something that actually worked, trust me, we’d know it by now. Whoever discovered it would be richer than Croesus, and we’d be falling all over ourselves to buy it.
We’d fucking mortgage the house and give way our first-born male child to get it. We’d suck ugly dicks (whoops, we do that already) and sell the grandchildren into sex slavery to get our hands on the Diet That Works.
Hasn’t happened. Because nothing works.
Diets don’t work.
At least, no special diet, per se.
Exercise is NOT A WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM in and of itself. It’s part of body care. Part of being healthy. But if you bought a 24 Hour membership solely to lose weight, please go get your money back.
What does tend to work, and did for me, and those few who have made it past a decade or two or five, is simple, and monumentally hard to do.
But you can.
Here ’tis, the magic formula:
You stop being sincere and get fucking SERIOUS. People sincerely want to do a billion things that will never, ever get done. Ask my beloved friend Ian who sincerely wanted to quit smoking, and died of lung cancer at 54.
Yeah, you’re gonna all right. I was for years. Then I just. Fucking. Did. It’s just remarkable what happens when you stop talking about doing X and just do X. Once you’re operating from your heart instead of your head/ego, the rules fundamentally shift. You cannot make yourself do something that looks like suffering for the rest of your days. That’s why those of us who have been successful talk about what’s sustainable.
Make yourself a study project from here on out to establish: your body type, what is reasonable for you to accomplish (nothing Tom Brady hawks will turn you into Tom Brady. Hell, even Tom Brady isn’t Tom Brady any more but I digress). For example: am I willing to shift my eating habits for the rest of my life because I’m worth it? Am I willing to do the research, the trial and error, which is never-ending, to discover what foods work, what exercise I will do for life because I enjoy it ( for health, not weight loss)? Am I willing to do a complete and total makeover of my relationship with food, which means stop using it as punishment and reward? Stop the emotional bullshit connection that I have built with food? Recognize that it’s not about the food, rarely ever is about the food, and never will be about the goddamned food? It is and always will be something far deeper, far more painful, and rooted in our emotions. You don’t do that work, then however your pain presents, it will continue, or morph into something else. I am the poster child for this very thing.
That’s why this takes years. Because health really is mind-body-spirit-psyche. You skip any of them, and the whole house comes down. Rinse. Repeat.
I said this was simple. Not easy. Not even. That’s why so few of us lose massive amounts of weight and it’s still gone thirty years later. Man, that’s one very sparse crowd. Because weight is just a symptom.
That’s just one reason why diets don’t work. Another is the physics, see this. That’s the third time I sent you to the same article. I hope you actually got through the whole thing.
If you’re dumb enough to say yes to the above(and I was, look where it got me, NO DONUTS) well then. Kindly throw out all the stupid books, articles, videos, exercise machines, programs (wait wait NOT THE NEW PELOTON).
Please. Just stop with the insanity. The Paleo, the Keto the the the the. NONE OF IT IS SUSTAINABLE for life for the vast majority of us. Kindly note: for those epileptics for whom Keto was designed, this isn’t for you.
Let me tease out the key piece of that last paragraph. None of it is sustainable for life for the vast majority of us.
Nor is any of this for those of us (my hand is also up) for whom age or illness or whatever has or have caused metabolic or chemical changes so that we can’t eat (strawberries, yogurt, pineapple, chocolate-oh FUCK YOU-and pretty much my entire diet). Okay but I can have Hákarl. My Icelandic friends are in stitches.
About sustainability. Yes. That.
When my once pencil-slim mother put on weight later in life she went on the all-lettuce diet. Iceberg, mind you. None of those vitamin and minerals-rich deep greens. Flavored water in wilted leaf form.
Yah. She’s going to eat that every day all day for the rest of her life. There’s the rub. Whatever you end up eating has to be sustainable, because the second you revert to that triple cheese pizza you’ve been dreaming about, you’re done.
Rinse, repeat, failure; and profits for diet and exercise industries.
There is no one-size-fits-all-diet. There is no perfect pill. There is no guaranteed formula. That’s why this is work.
There is no perfect food (although here I agree with my buddy Kris Gage that eggs are just about the single most perfect food on earth, do the research and fuck the cholesterol). There are only the perfect foods for your body, your metabolism, your weight, your age, your activity level, your cultural background….you get the picture.
That’s work only you can do. And it takes constant love and a lifetime of genuine curiosity and deep respect for your remarkable, amazing, worthy-of-your-love body to stay on top of what works. A nutritionist and dietician can only go so far for you. They don’t fill out your skin suit. You do. You want to get serious, learn to become Master and Commander of You.
Those foods will change as you go through life, loss, pregnancy, illness, aging, upsets. It’s a constantly-moving target. The trick is to turn that into a Murder on the Orient Express kind of mystery. Because your body is a mystery. Most assuredly your doctor doesn’t have a clue, especially if said pot-bellied, smoking doc tells you you’re lazy. Mirror, please.
There is no perfect exercise. There is only what you will do, consistently day after day, year after year for the rest of your life. That can morph and vary with all the same parameters as your diet. What will you do? What will you enjoy? What gives you pleasure?
Because if you hate to run, you will only run as far as the fridge and say Fuck this.
As you bite into, wait for it, my goddamned donut.
Give that back.
Ultimately there is only one road to sanity. That is to get comfy with the shape you’re in. Stop insulting yourself and being insulted by mindless fuckwits who hate themselves even more than they hate others.
Because this: I wouldn’t wish forty years of constant battles about my weight, my value as a human as it pertained exclusively to my weight or lack thereof or too much of on anyone. Once I started just taking better care of myself, the weight really did come off. It took a year, and then it’s taken another 32 of them to maintain. It never gets easy. I do not get to go back to my (donuts) and my previous habits.
I can’t get those years back. I can, however, continue to have a sense of humor about the slight poundage that comes and goes, note that it’s there, two weeks later note that it isn’t. Those facts don’t affect my standing in society, which is already lower than whale shit, nor does the presence of or sudden disappearance of a roll of skin over my jeans mean the end of the world. It means the end of those jeans, or at least banning them to a box for the short term. But that in and of itself does not fucking determine my life quality.
I am Master and Commander, Right Sovereign Queen of my own Body.
As you can be.
Diets. Don’t. Work.
Loving yourself enough to stop punishing your precious once-in-a-lifetime body through food, starvation, self-loathing based on…..what, exactly?….Yeah. Love’s a much better recipe.
Now where did I put that donut?
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