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The Weight-Willpower Myth
August 13, 2009 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin Whether because exercise makes us hungry or because we want to reward ourselves, many people eat more — and eat more junk food, like doughnuts — after going to the gym.
posted by dgaicun (167 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I may be able to agree with that premise when referring to the first couple weeks of exercising. But anyone who sticks with a daily/semi-daily exercise routine over long periods will find that they have less desire to chow down on Big Macs and Dunkin Donuts.
posted by wabashbdw at 6:39 AM on August 13, 2009 [15 favorites]


So we've had the "diet alone won't result in weight loss" slough of feel-good (or feel less bad) reports, and now we get to the "exercise alone won't result in weight loss" complement.

Hmm. Seems like an unsolvable problem to me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:41 AM on August 13, 2009 [21 favorites]


The Hacker's Diet makes much the same point. Needless to say (and as the Time article points out), there are reasons other than losing weight why getting regular exercise might be a good thing.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 6:43 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I heard that ignorance is strength, too
posted by trunk muffins at 6:43 AM on August 13, 2009 [11 favorites]


Actually specific changes to one's diet alone will result in weight loss. I'm not sure what you're talking about.
posted by scrutiny at 6:43 AM on August 13, 2009


TIME Magazine proposes a two-fold solution:

1. Exercise is useless. Give up exercising.
2. With the spare time freed up by not exercising, drive one's fat ass to the mall to buy advertised products, including junk food like french fries and donuts, and electronic fitness gadgets.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:44 AM on August 13, 2009 [12 favorites]


Mebbe not. But as someone exercising a lot at the moment, I look at donuts and so forth and think to myself - "remember the pain you went through just to burn off one of those - is it worth the momentary pleasure you'll get."

I'm currently rewarding myself with some natty new threads rather than junk food.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:45 AM on August 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Why is the author doing all that ridiculous shit in the gym?
posted by creasy boy at 6:45 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let's see, people do something good in order to facilitate doing something bad and then do not get the benefit of the good thing because of the negative consequences of the bad thing.

Yeah, that's news.
posted by oddman at 6:46 AM on August 13, 2009


Sigh. Exercise will make you thin if you maintain a calorie deficit over time. If you exercise, you can fit more calories in your budget before you have an overage, thus ensuring more satisfaction and better nutrition.

I understand that there are behavioral discussions to have about what people are likely to do, and how habits and psychology interact with weight loss efforts. But really -are we still pretending we don't understand this? News, Time?
posted by Miko at 6:46 AM on August 13, 2009 [13 favorites]


I can't believe there is an entire journalistic industry based on elementary school addition and subtraction of calories. Hey kids, if you burn more calories, and then "reward" yourself by eating more calories, you don't lose weight! Now let's put it in a song!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:47 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yeah, pretty junk article. Benefits of burning calories negated when surplus of calories consumed.
posted by empyrean at 6:49 AM on August 13, 2009


Hey kids, if you burn more calories, and then "reward" yourself by eating more calories, you don't lose weight! Now let's put it in a song!

Mefi Music Challenge! I may seriously suggest this, the world needs more ukulele-based songs about dieting.
posted by hellojed at 6:50 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Like wabashbdw, I've found that when I exercise I eat better. The last thing I think about after busting my ass on the StepMill for an hour is completely negating that with shitty food. I couldn't eat a doughnut if someone put a gun to my head. I've lost 68lbs since February and owe it to working out and eating less. But I do see people at the coffeehouse near a bunch of gyms that come in after a workout and order a 500 calorie coffee drink. YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!
posted by birdherder at 6:51 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Fat people wish to justify to themselves their weight problem is something other than self-inflicted. Eating right? We've designed a study to prove otherwise. Excercise? The running... it does nah-thing.

It's that simple. Putting their own health in their hands scares the living hell out of them because they don't want that responsibility so their chubbiness is genetics and fate.

This is an unspoken factor in the health care debate. Have you seen any skinny people shouting down the senators? Nope.

Why? Because they recognize they have been neglecting their health for years and they don't like the idea that a government run system may actually hold them responsible in the future. They may say "these ailments were caused by your meat, cheese, and soda diet. we're prescribing a strong dose of get off your ass and stop eating so damn much you fat bastard."

Why do you think the "No government is going to tell me how to die" is such a popular maxim?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 6:54 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, it's easy to grasp the whole, "do the math" mentality. But the psychology of weight control is important too.

At our former gym, they had a smoothie bar. It's fairly common knowledge that smoothies are marketed as health foods. Full of anti-oxidents and protein and good for you stuff. They are also loaded with calories.

So what's the answer? Probably the thing that's been the answer for years. Everything in moderation.

Walk more, eat less, exert yourself.

I absolutely loathe the gym and exercise. Can't stand them. I'm happy to be able to point to something, even something in a rag like Time, to justify my avoidence of sweating.

I am happy to tool around the grocery store or the mall, in air conditioned comfort.

It reminds me of Sleeper, where it's discovered that health food is crap and hot fudge sundaes are healthy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:57 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Diet alone *will* result in weight-loss. I've lost 60 lbs already doing just that. That isn't to say that exercise won't help. Just that lack of exercise does not cause a violation of the conservation of energy.
posted by DU at 6:57 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kilojoules in
Kilojoules out
SCIENCE!
posted by peacay at 6:58 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never said diet alone wouldn't result in weight loss. And I will say that exercise "alone" (ie: holding diet constant) will, too. I was commenting on the swath of pop-health articles designed to let people comfortably settle back into blissful ignorance.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:59 AM on August 13, 2009


Why do you think the "No government is going to tell me how to die" is such a popular maxim?

I think we should scrap America and start over. First things first: Make "Freebird" the national anthem.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:59 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Diets and exercise don't work for the same reason a Luddite's computer doesn't work. People aren't doing it right, and they have no interest in doing it right. It's not easy, so it's not worth the effort.

People don't want to lose weight, they just want to be thin.
posted by Saydur at 7:01 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Exercise to burn calories isn't the most efficient way to shed weight, but building muscle mass, which burns more calories by simply existing, is a great benefit to working out. If you weight train, you gain muscle mass, and your body needs more calories to maintain that muscle, which means you can actually eat more and weigh less.
posted by xingcat at 7:03 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I do see people at the coffeehouse near a bunch of gyms that come in after a workout and order a 500 calorie coffee drink. YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!

Really? Maybe they really like 500-calorie coffee drinks, and they go to the gym to burn off calories so that they can drink 500-calorie coffee drinks. In that case, they're doing it right.

Just because exercise means you don't want to eat donuts, it doesn't follow that exercise means other people don't want to eat donuts. Donuts are pretty great. You should try one sometime.
posted by robcorr at 7:05 AM on August 13, 2009 [16 favorites]


Exercise made me thin. Fourteen pounds in a month. I ate like a fuckin' rabid hyena and lost weight.*

*of course, I was swimming every morning, running at lunch, and riding two hours after work.
posted by notsnot at 7:11 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Food is underpriced and act of eating overrated. Short term happiness ends in tears.
posted by Free word order! at 7:13 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mefi Music Challenge! I may seriously suggest this, the world needs more ukulele-based songs about dieting

Can you make that guitarron? My sausage fingers make playing a ukelele an exercise in futility, like a polar bear trying to build a ship in a bottle.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:13 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I may be able to agree with that premise when referring to the first couple weeks of exercising. But anyone who sticks with a daily/semi-daily exercise routine over long periods will find that they have less desire to chow down on Big Macs and Dunkin Donuts.

Actually, I've found that just staying away from these for awhile in favor of actual food accomplishes the same thing. I've managed to lose almost 30lbs since January with no real increase in exercise. I'm not a runner, don't care much for the gym thing, but I do like to hike, so I do that once or twice a week.

But having just steered clear of things like Big Macs and donuts for several months was an eye-opener. Not only did I find these things completely unappealing and unfulfilling when I tried them again, but eating them actually made me a little sick. I can't even drink more than an 8oz glass of Coke at this point without feeling bloated and getting a stomach ache.

But that certainly doesn't mean that exercise doesn't have its place too.
posted by spirit72 at 7:14 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


People don't want to lose weight, they just want to be thin.

Uh, no shit.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:14 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I was worried that there wouldn't be a lot of people in this thread saying how EXCERCISE TOTALLY MAKES YOU LOSE WEIGHT, especially considering the article is an explicit contradiction to that fact, including a quote from a highly placed health researcher that exercise is "pretty useless for weight loss."

But you guys came through.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:15 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


The point of exercising is not to get thin but to get fit.

It may or may not help you lose weight.

It can however redistribute that weight very effectively from fat to muscle, causing a dramatic shift in body shape.

Exercise also (in my experience) changes the kind of food you desire, in a good way.

Exercise also (in my experience) improves sleep quality dramatically, which also has an effect on dietary preferences (look it up).

Exercise also (in my experience) improves your overall mood, which results in less comfort-food-stuffing.

Exercise means I can drink beer and maintain a healthy weight. Win/win.
posted by unSane at 7:17 AM on August 13, 2009 [19 favorites]


What struck me is how the writer seems to find her exercise regime absolutely hateful. She is utterly miserable when engaged in her fitness routine, and seems to be just going through the motions. I don’t know why one of her personal trainers didn’t inform her that exercise doesn’t have to be a grim slog. Exercise can be enjoyable, something to look forward to, if you actively seek out activities that are fun for you. Your personal fitness hour doesn’t have to be a bleak grind spent alone in a windowless, stinking gym. You can engage in a group activity, or take part in a team sport, or join something like a master’s swim team so that your fitness time is also social time. Perhaps she wouldn’t feel the need to reward herself with a greasy burrito if exercise was a reward in itself.

Exercise is not just a tool to lose weight; it’s a lifestyle. It keeps you mentally alert, it makes you more able to recover from illness and psychological stresses, and it teaches you that you can change yourself with directed effort. It saddens me to think that some people will read this article and decide to forego their exercise regime in favour of more radical dieting. To me, this is yet another dubious article from Time.
posted by sid at 7:19 AM on August 13, 2009 [15 favorites]


There are lots of reasons to exercise that don't have anything to do with being thinner: cardiovascular health, muscle tone, bone density, and on and on. There are, in fact, people who exercise who are able to maintain a good weight without it--which means that when they do exercise, they actually have to up their caloric intake in order to maintain their starting weight. This is all to say that just because you see people drinking 500 calorie smoothies after working out, it doesn't mean they're doing it wrong.

Studies have shown that people routinely misjudge both the amount of food they eat and the calories in what they eat. In addition, most people overestimate how many calories they burn whilst exercising. Taking that in to consideration, it's no surprise that most people don't lose weight through exercise. If you think you're taking in 1500 calories a day and burning 500 calories a workout, when you're really eating 2500 calories a day and only burning 145 calories a workout, of course you're not going to lose like you think you should.

When it comes to losing weight, whether you're doing it solely through dieting or exercise and diet, nothing is more valuable than keeping a food and exercise diary so you can accurately track calorie intake and caloric expenditure through exercise. It's the only way to be sure. (Nukes not included.)
posted by elfgirl at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hm. Unlike the claims made in the article, I find that exercise moderates by appetite rather than increases it.

It can however redistribute that weight very effectively from fat to muscle, causing a dramatic shift in body shape.

Also very true.

Something like a pound of fat contains 10,000 calories. Placed in that context, a 2 mile run isn't going to do much to shed pounds, even if you do it every day. Long term, though, you stop gaining weight and you become healthier. Plus, having more muscle mass itself burns more calories.
posted by deanc at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2009


From the article:

The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised — sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months — did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did.

So, then, the people who exercised did lose more weight than the people who did not? I would like to know what "significantly" means.

Also, all groups of the women lost weight. Why are we comparing women who exercised to women who did not? They should be comparing the weight of the exercising women before exercising to their weight after. If we do this, we see that the women who exercised lost weight. They don't give us numbers, but they do tell us that they lost on average one inch on their waist.

The women who did not exercise are completely useless to this study. They were told not to change their dietary habits or exercise habits. And they lost weight over the six months. Why? Maybe because they knew they were being tested and weighed. Who knows? But since they, too, lost weight, wouldn't an obvious conclusion to the study be that we should just not change anything and we will magically start losing weight like those women in the control group?

The study had women exercise for six months. They lost weight. They lost on average one inch on their waist. And the angle of the article is that exercise doesn't help lose weight? This is so lacking in logic that it is amazing.
posted by flarbuse at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anecdotal evidence:

About 6 months ago I decided I was feeling kind of flabby, so I took up jogging. Kept it up for a couple months, and the weight was dropping off at a pretty consistent rate. Then in April, while out jogging in the morning, I was bitten by a dog. The antibiotics they put me on wiped out my intestinal flora, so I basically had to give up on running for a few months while I recovered from the antibiotics. The weight's been coming back at a pretty consistent rate.

Conclusion:

I am a werewolf. At night I eat fatty Americans, and this is why I'm gaining weight.
posted by logicpunk at 7:24 AM on August 13, 2009 [16 favorites]



Actually, I've found that just staying away from these for awhile in favor of actual food accomplishes the same thing. I've managed to lose almost 30lbs since January with no real increase in exercise. I'm not a runner, don't care much for the gym thing, but I do like to hike, so I do that once or twice a week.


I had the same experience and I've kept the weight off for 4 years now. I've never touched a big mac since and I have donuts and soda a few times a year. I think it makes a bigger difference because it's so so so much easier. I can eat healthy at my desk, but it's so easy for exercise to fall by the wayside when I am busy.

Exercise is really good for you, it's just a bad weight loss strategy for most people.
posted by melissam at 7:25 AM on August 13, 2009


Something like a pound of fat contains 10,000 calories.

3500 calories, actually.
posted by jedicus at 7:26 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I consume high calorie smoothies after I exercise, but that's because I'm trying to gain weight, not lose. Not everyone exercises for the same reasons.
posted by alligatorman at 7:30 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have you seen any skinny people shouting down the senators? Nope.

Actually, I have seen some very skinny people doing just this. They may not have been paragons of health for other reasons, but it seems odd to imply that only fat unhealthy people are disrupting town hall meetings. Is the corollary that slim healthy people would never disrupt a town hall meeting?
posted by blucevalo at 7:30 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


unSane: Exercise means I can drink beer and maintain a healthy weight. Win/win.

Lo, it was written in the Blue and, once evaluated in the cold light of reason, determined to be wise*.

* So wise in fact that it wrapped around the wisdom continuum, lapping foolishness, and sidling back up to itself with a non-stick greasy smile. It was never determined why wisdom didn't realize it was beside itself but we didn't really care because we had toddled off to the pub for a pint or three.
posted by djeo at 7:31 AM on August 13, 2009


Exercise is not just a tool to lose weight; it’s a lifestyle.

Exercise is mind numbingly boring, mostly under fairly unattractive conditions indoors. To play is the thing.
posted by ijsbrand at 7:33 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Funny, I eat much healthier (more total calories, but less fat more protein) when I exercise regularly. It's when I'm sedate that I crave French crullers and old fashioned doughnuts.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2009


There's also growing evidence that when it comes to preventing certain diseases, losing weight may be more important than improving cardiovascular health.

Actually, there's quite a lot of evidence of the opposite. If you are out of shape and overweight and decide to do just one thing, diet or exercise, you will become much healthier if you choose to exercise rather than diet--even if you don't lose any weight!

In any case muscle weighs more than fat, so gaining a little weight is a good sign. A much better measure is your waistline. But, again, just being in shape through exercise is

The long running (and still running) Nurse's Health Study is just one example of a many large, long-running studies of large populations that comes to the conclusion that it is better to exercise than to diet and better to be in shape than to be less overweight.

Where does this author get his wrong conclusions from? Seems like he's projecting his own problems in trying to use exercise to lose weight, which is really not the goal you should be going for. Be active every day, exercise, eat less sugar and white starches (donuts), and don't worry about your weight (within reason), and you will be much healthier than the average person.
posted by eye of newt at 7:35 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jeez, people, it's not the amount you EAT that makes you fat, it's the amount you DIGEST. This is simple physiology.
posted by snofoam at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why exercise won't make idiots thin
posted by orville sash at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What struck me is how the writer seems to find her exercise regime absolutely hateful. She is utterly miserable when engaged in her fitness routine, and seems to be just going through the motions. I don’t know why one of her personal trainers didn’t inform her that exercise doesn’t have to be a grim slog.

The writer is a male, but yes, he certainly seems to abhor exercise, even outside the gym, although he claims in a throwaway line at the end that he loves how exercise makes him feel. One reason the trainer may not be telling him that exercise doesn't have to be a grim slog is that some people expect exercise to be hell and seem to relish the punitive aspects of going to the gym, putting yourself through torture, and coming out at the other end having paid some sort of penance. If exercise is actually fun and not misery, that defeats the self-punishment.
posted by blucevalo at 7:38 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a recent convert to the "making positive changes to your diet alone will cause you to loose wait" camp. Thanks to SparkPeople (diet/nutrition tracking site) I've been able to lose 16 pounds in just under two months. I'm still eating foods I enjoy and haven't resorted to switching to lite-beer, but I'm learning (or relearning and actually applying what I learn) about portion sizes and balance. The weight loss is great, but for me the more important thing is that I actually feel better. Which is why I'm finally starting to actually exercise as well - that's been a harder habit to get into my routine, but I know the rewards will be well worth it. Other than walking a few times I haven't done much yet, but I'm trying to get over that hurdle and into a routine.

It seems like diet and exercise are two of those things that most people actually know the basic information to make a positive change in their life, but for various reasons choose not to act on it. I know for me it was more laziness and complacency than anything else. And four tacos always seemed better than one or two.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:41 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I find that a few pints of Guinness and a cigar before bed really suppresses my appetite for doughnuts in the morning. In fact, I hardly feel like eating at all. Coffee would be nice though.
posted by JeffK at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


What struck me is how the writer seems to find her exercise regime absolutely hateful.

Isn't it a dude? I kept waiting for the reference to Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) from the Mayo Clinic's James Levine.

You can't just be sedentary all day, sitting behind a desk as most of us are for hours and hours at a time, then run around for 45 minutes and think that makes up for it all. The human body was made to move. I think it is important to get into the mindset where you don't combine physical tasks. So if you have some groceries, unless there are other issues, don't try to carry 10 bags at once - make more trips. Went downstairs and came back up without getting another thing you meant to? Make another trip. I try to do things that I want to do and not limit myself by the physical (even if repeat) activity involved. We do that a lot and don't realize it. It takes a change in mindset though, because you lose time that you'd otherwise be sitting around.
posted by cashman at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty suspicious of this article. It's easy to find some studies that support many conclusions. It's easy to fudge the results one way or the other using narrative:
...after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lb. of fat to muscle — a major achievement — you would be able to eat only an extra 40 calories per day, about the amount in a teaspoon of butter, before beginning to gain weight. Good luck with that.
I mean it doesn't seem like a lot. But aggregate that out over every day of a year, and it's a noticeable difference. Add it up over a lifetime and your health outcome will be very different.

It's a lot like making an argument "so you invest 100 dollars in an IRA every year after one year you will have a whopping 106 dollars; enough to order an extra value meal at McDonald's. But hey you can supersize it!"

Other stuff is similar sloppy. Gortmaker, who has studied childhood obesity, is even suspicious of the playgrounds at fast-food restaurants. "Why would they build those?" he asks. "I know it sounds kind of like conspiracy theory, but you have to think, if a kid plays five minutes and burns 50 calories, he might then go inside and consume 500 calories or even 1,000."
Or maybe they build them to attract kids in the first place. How often do kids play first and then decide to order food? I'm not disputing that what he said could happen or that it does happen, but the why he posits seems like a stupidly complicated answer. Also McDonald's does care how many calories you eat? They care how much money you spend. The two have some relationship but it's pretty loose. 12 oz of soda cost as much as 32 oz of sweet tea if I recall correctly.

I don't think the whole article is wrong, it's just such a perfect example of asshole journalism. Lead with the counter intuitive claim that even if it's wrong would be something that people would want to believe. A self serving lie. Cherry pick evidence to support that lie. Back track so that the thesis you advanced is no longer true and it it's place is a rather sensible conclusion that isn't what anyone wants to hear and isn't shocking.
posted by I Foody at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2009 [13 favorites]


My main problem with most magazine articles and TV stories about diet and exercise is that they seem to focus on one magic cure-all that makes all of the other options obsolete. It seems like there's always a new "eat anything you want and as much of it as you can" type pill or shake, or some exercise devise that says you can lose some crazy amount of weight and only have to exercise 10 minutes a day three times a week. The focus always seems to be about LOOKING good rather than on FEELING good and being healthier. No wonder so many people are confused.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:48 AM on August 13, 2009


Something like a pound of fat contains 10,000 calories.

3500 calories, actually.
Hm. Well, I guess I was wrong. That said, as anyone who has used the calorimeter on the exercise machine knows, burning 500 calories is really tiring, so trying to lose a pound a week on exercise alone isn't going to be easy unless, and this is the funny part, you're pretty athletic to begin with.

I'm one of those people who gets unhappy and lethargic if I don't get regular exercise, so regardless of how much I weigh, I need to exercise to stay sane.
posted by deanc at 7:54 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have lost 38 lbs and 4 pants sizes in 3 months, entirely via the basic arithmetic noted by the Kabaddi Champ. It is straightforward, and works with 100% certainty.

The trick is coming up with satisfying redirections for your urges. Having a supportive but attentive partner is a big help -- my wife notices every time I steer clear of the Monte Cristo, and reminds me that I can have grilled cheese any old time.
posted by jake at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read this article a few days ago and I had a few thoughts:
1) It's possible. I started a cardio/strength program long before I started changing my eating habits and I lost weight even while chowing down. Granted I do better with healthy eating AND exercise, but 10% of my weight went away with exercise alone.
2) He mentions weight a lot but not body composition or size. That seemed fishy to me.
3) Totally underestimated the other benefits of fitness & exercise.

Seems like he was setting out to prove a point.
posted by pointystick at 7:59 AM on August 13, 2009


What a shitty, shitty article. THAR SHE BLOWS!
posted by ob at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or, hey mouthbreathers: don't eat donuts or french fries or other calorific shit after working out if you want to loose weight.
posted by ob at 8:03 AM on August 13, 2009


Time publishes these articles so discussions like this will take place so that their web traffic will increase. I've been hearing people discuss this all week. Were Time to publish an article entitled "Sensible Changes in Your Diet and Activity Level, Done Conscientiously and Maintained Over a Long Period of Time, Will Encourage the Loss of Excess Body Fat But Will Not Render You Into A Buffed Out and Shredded Mesomorph," it wouldn't help the terrified journalists over there keep their jobs.

Sometimes not reading the fucking article is a service to humanity.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2009 [15 favorites]


GAH! You guys are totally doing it wrong!

What you need is the Shake Weight!!!!!

Be sure to open your mouth as you use it.
posted by fungible at 8:08 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just reading this thread reveals how much confusion there is about health, weightloss and appearance.

The title of the Time article is "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin." But the content of the article is really about why exercise doesn't necessarily lead to weight loss. Then there is discussion in this thread about health, which is not related either to weight alone or to thinness.

First, exercise absolutely does make you thinner. It changes the ratio of muscle to fat in your body, even if you eat more calories. There is very little muscle around your waist. The largest muscles are in your back and legs. It's because of this that guys like Arnold, who weighed upwards of 230 lbs as a competitive bodybuilder, could still maintain a 34" waist. If you only run, your legs definitely get stronger, a little larger as do stabilizing muscles in your back and chest, and the fat gets burned off. In either case, your shape changes, even though the number on the scale might not.

You can lose weight by dieting alone, obviously, just eat fewer calories than you burn. The problem is that you won't necessarily get thinner the way you expect. Fat is burned off in the reverse order it is put on, and the order is determined genetically. So if you accumulate eight first around your waist, you have get rid of a large amount of the fat everywhere else before you start burning off the fat on your waist. Furthermore, you need to be absolutely certain that on a reduced calorie diet your are reducing only the crap you shouldn't have been eating in the first place, and not cutting out nutrients, protein, etc that you actually need.

The bitter truth is that there is only way to be simultaneously thinner, lighter, and healthier - hard work. Very hard, very unpleasant work.

You can do this work naturally, by spending hours a day doing physical labor, the kind of labor that starts at 7:00am, ends at 7:00 pm and drenches your clothing. That's what we we're genetically suited for after all.

Or you can do it artificially in a gym, by running and lifting and running and lifting and not resting for more than 90 seconds over the course of an hour. The key to a successful workout is properly defining where the warm-up ends and where the exercise begins.

To lose weight running you only have to run about 3 minutes. The last 3 minutes. The 3 minutes where your legs are burning, your heart feels like it's going to explode, your side is cramped, and you want to vomit. You should run for those three minutes. all the other time running is the warm-up.

If you want to build some muscle, it only takes one rep. The last one. The one that you think might kill you. The one that makes you want to quit. The one where the pain in the muscle makes you almost faint, the one when you can literally feel the sweat pouring out of your skin as fast as it can, the one where it takes 30 seconds to lift a tiny 40 pound weight and you are screaming the whole way. Just do that rep.

What's the big deal, right? Just 3 minutes running, and one rep per muscle.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:11 AM on August 13, 2009 [25 favorites]


Its been said, but this article is unmitigated bullshit. It is so insanely irresponsible to write a feel-good article telling people just to shrug their shoulders and carry on. Its no surprise that people get discouraged with weight loss when there are so many conflicting messages. How can anyone possibly think its a good idea to say that exercise might make things worse?
posted by zennoshinjou at 8:14 AM on August 13, 2009


Consistent exercise?

What won't Americans blame their weight gain on?

Other than themselves, I mean.
posted by 256 at 8:15 AM on August 13, 2009


It occurs to me that this guy's making an argument for fatalism, based on the assumptions that your willpower is a constant, and your desire matches a caloric surplus that is also constant. So if you use your willpower exercising, you burn maybe 200 calories, but then you desire 200 calories more than normal, and you've used your willpower, so you have no choice but to eat the extra 200 calories. But if you use your willpower to eat less than the caloric surplus you desire, you'll shave some calories off but you'll get less exercise because the willpower's all used up and you have less energy. Hence it is a priori impossible to change anything about your life!
posted by creasy boy at 8:17 AM on August 13, 2009


Why would you want to exercise when you're getting free health care?
Now pass the gravy.
posted by rocket88 at 8:17 AM on August 13, 2009


more anecdotal evidence:

When I was 19, I took a job as a nanny for a summer. I didn't live with the family in question (the family owned a hotel, so they gave me a room to stay in), and my only mode of transportation was a bicycle. My calorie consumption decreased due to having to feed myself on my low wage, and my calorie burning increased dramatically because of the bike. I dropped weight like a stone (something like 30 lbs in 4 months). But I was draggy, hungry, and miserable the whole time.

I laud and congratulate those of you who say you feel better after exercising and eating portion controlled meals. But I can't count myself among you; I become an absolute bitch to be around if I don't eat a decent meal.
posted by LN at 8:24 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also like how he makes the analogy about how willpower is a muscle and using it tires it, but he stops short of completing the analogy with willpower is like a muscle and using it exercises it, allows it to grow, allows you to develop good habits that inertia made seem very difficult before. We don't make our kids do chores because they're so good at chores and having kids doing them takes a load off. We make kids do chores to adapt them to something other than perpetual indolence.
posted by I Foody at 8:25 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


Finally, here's some science:

1. A study comparing the efficacy of diet alone, exercise alone, and diet and exercise on the weight, fat and lean mass of overweight women: the combination of diet and exercise resulted in the greatest net loss of fat, the greatest net loss of weight, while increasing lean body mass.

2. A study of overweight men and women demonstrated that 15 mins of endurance training (exercise bike) + weight training (i.e. lifting) resulted in significantly greater weight and fat loss than 30 minutes of endurance training alone. And unlike endurance training alone, the combined program increased lean body mass.

3. A study of 40 obese women comparing diet to weight training specifically, showed that the combination of weight training and diet resulted in the greatest loss of fat compared to dieting alone or weight training alone.

Moral of the story: diet + weight training + a few minutes of cardio = best plan for most people.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Seems pretty straightforward. It takes extended vigorous exercise to burn any significant amount of calories. Something like an hour of non-stop high speed bicycling or rowing or kickboxing will burn a bit over 1000 calories. And that's assuming

Someone in bad condition couldn't possibly maintain that level of exertion for an hour. The level they can maintain doesn't burn anywhere near as many calories -- more like 200-250 over an hour. If they follow that up by chugging a single 12 ounce (310 calorie) gatorade, they've gained 60-110 calories.

By skipping the mayo on their sandwich (~100 calories) and the butter on their toast (~60 calories per piece), they've reduced their net calories for the day by close to the same amount as an hour of light exercise and barely noticed the difference.

Exercise and muscle gain in particular should increase your base metabolism a bit, but it's slow, slow going by comparison. It has definite benefits, but it's not the way to lose lots of weight quickly.
posted by Narual at 8:31 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


The author doesn't state his height or age, but considering rising obesity rates, maintaining a weight of 163 for most of his adult life likely has him fitter than most Americans. What a terrible attitude. As already said, it's not about what your body weighs, it's about what it can do.
posted by rainbaby at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2009


The bitter truth is that there is only way to be simultaneously thinner, lighter, and healthier - hard work. Very hard, very unpleasant work.

I went from a stable, immovable 180 lbs last year to a stable 165 lbs this year by small diet and exercise changes.

Diet: I changed my diet a bit - wine instead of beer. No fast food or soft drinks - too sugary anyways. I'm eating much better food and happier about what I'm eating.

Exercise: I swim in an outdoor heated pool a few times a week. Its wonderful and something I look forward to.

My point is much of the food people eat, especially in the US, is really just fatty junk. And most people can find some kind of exercise they enjoy - a bike ride through the countryside, a walk in the park, a morning swim, pick-up soccer or basketball with friends.... This doesn't have to be hard.
posted by vacapinta at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2009


I said this in an AskMe quite a while ago, but it still holds true:
A goofy mind experiment that has actually worked for me in the past to get back on a regular exercise program:

Tell yourself you have hidden arcane knowledge, and actually know a magic spell that you can cast to make yourself more confident, more energetic, better-looking, and more successful in life overall.

You have to cast this spell once a day for it to be successful, and it takes about half an hour to go through the magic ritual. The ritual can consist of a number of things, but can be quite physically demanding! Still, you know that if you cast this magic spell every morning, over time it is guaranteed to attract the favourable attention of the elder gods, or Norse pantheon, or whatever, and they will bless you with better health, more energy, self-confidence, yadda yadda yadda.

Half an hour out of your day to cast a magic spell with guaranteed results? Who wouldn't do it?

Again: goofy. I know. But it actually does the trick for me when I'm trying to get back on a routine after a while off due to illness, travel, etc.
The addendum here, obviously, is that the Gods also demand sacrifice: everything you do not eat is left for their ultimate consumption. If I do not eat a donut, it becomes the donut of Thor. I leave it for Thor to consume at his leisure. This pleases him, he rewards me with more confidence and an improved cardiovascular system, etc. etc.

I've never failed to lose weight through exercise; when I'm not exercising and trying to shed a few pounds through diet alone, I always get paranoid about muscle burned off. Like many of the above, I feel more like eating crap when I'm not following an exercise routine.

It's cyclical, for me, and self-forgiveness has become a huge part of the equation. I think it's more important to say "okay, I've had a bad few days, now back on the Good Lifestyle wagon" than to follow my old bad pattern, which was to eat a cookie, spend ten minutes doing the Sesame Street Don Music "I'll never get it right! Never! Never! Never!" head-banging-on-the-piano thing, then eat Ho-Hos until I pass out.

People like the author, I suspect, expect perfection and perfect results from exercise + diet, and any combination of things not working as fast as they want, or them letting themselves down (hence the "slog" mentality, as that's an attitude that comes from self-imposed pressure) makes them thing the whole system doesn't work.

It does work, but part of it working is just trusting the math. Caloric deficit equals weight loss. More exercise will help you reach a caloric deficit, and provide a number of ancillary benefits.

I've messed around with low-carb and primate and vegetarian and etc. diets in the past. Anything that requires me to be analytical and obsessive about what I put in my mouth just winds up stressing me out, and then I reach that "oh, fuck it" breaking point. The only thing that keeps me in great shape is eating without stress, not eating too much, and exercising six days a week.
posted by Shepherd at 8:53 AM on August 13, 2009 [45 favorites]


Damn world, why can't this be simple?

If calories in = calories out then weight is maintained. If calories in < calories out then weight is lost. If calories in > calories out then weight is gained.

Anecdote:

My friend weighed 420 lbs 4 weeks ago. On Tuesday at his doctor's appointment he weighed in at 378 lbs. For those who have trouble counting calories, that's 42 lbs in 4 weeks, or 10.5 lbs per week, or 1.5 lbs per day. He's not exercising, no more than he was before he started his diet (which is walking his dog), but he is dieting. He's restricted to 800 calories per day, spread out over five 160-calorie 'meals.' That sounds as dangerous as base-jumping without a parachute to me, but he meets with a doctor each week to ensure he's staying 'healthy.'

If losing weight is your goal, it really is as simple as restricting your calories and forcing your body to use its fat as energy.
posted by trueluk at 8:53 AM on August 13, 2009


For those bored with exercise, I found the Crossfit program works well, even if you have to tone the weight or reps when you begin. You rarely do the same thing twice, so you're constantly being challenged, which is more fun hitting the treadmill for an hour.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2009


Exercise makes you feel better. It makes you look better. It may or may not make you lose weight depending on all the other variables, but it helps.

Skinny people with no muscle tone don't look that great.

If you hate exercising you are doing it wrong. Do some research, find something you enjoy, reap the benefits. You don't have to kill yourself or feel like you are on the verge of collapse when you exercise in order to get the benefits. In fact, if you do you probably are doing it wrong.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:05 AM on August 13, 2009


incidentally i would like to apologize and retract the word "American" from my earlier comment, replacing it with the word "people".
posted by 256 at 9:11 AM on August 13, 2009


Skinny people with no muscle tone don't look that great.

So, every thread is about hipsters, now?
posted by everichon at 9:12 AM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]




the kind of labor that starts at 7:00am, ends at 7:00 pm and drenches your clothing. That's what we we're genetically suited for after all.

cite?
posted by Bookhouse at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2009


So, then, the people who exercised did lose more weight than the people who did not? I would like to know what "significantly" means.

It's a statistics term which boils down to meaning there is no real difference at all between the two conditions.

Don't be embarrassed about not knowing this though because hardly any science writers get it right and a great deal of scientists also engage in crap like calling their study's results "marginally" significant or "highly" significant when significance is a binary decision and any mention of size is a crazed reification of a probability value meant only for use with lookup tables. It's like saying that a field goal was highly scored because it went through dead center. [Pets peeve on head.]
posted by srboisvert at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


YEAH SERIOUSLY FATTIES GET OVER IT
posted by grubi at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


My friend weighed 420 lbs 4 weeks ago. On Tuesday at his doctor's appointment he weighed in at 378 lbs. For those who have trouble counting calories, that's 42 lbs in 4 weeks, or 10.5 lbs per week, or 1.5 lbs per day. He's not exercising, no more than he was before he started his diet (which is walking his dog), but he is dieting. He's restricted to 800 calories per day, spread out over five 160-calorie 'meals.' That sounds as dangerous as base-jumping without a parachute to me, but he meets with a doctor each week to ensure he's staying 'healthy.'

The thing is, at 420 lbs., your friend burns more calories to maintain his body weight than someone who is, say, 200 lbs. So by doing the absolute minimum of exercise (sitting upright, standing, walking), he burns a tremendous amount of calories just to maintain the body mass he already has. Cutting down, even just a little, will result in a deficit in which the body will consume its own mass (generally, without resistance training, muscle before fat) in order to maintain itself.

As his body mass shrinks, he's going to find that he'll have to restrict calories further in order to keep losing weight. A good way to mitigate that is to add exercise, which consumes calories, builds (and maintains) lean muscle mass, and keeps his cardiovascular system and bones in good shape.

Think of The Biggest Loser. In the first few weeks, the contestants lose ginormous amounts of weight, because the smallest changes in diet and activity level have their bodies consuming themselves. Later on, they have to restrict calories really severely AND exercise like fiends to make any noticeable improvements.
posted by xingcat at 9:29 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everybody is different.

The problem of losing weight isn't knowing that you have to maintain a calorie deficit. The problem is finding a way that's easy for you to stick to. And that depends entirely on who you are.

I personally find that diet is most effective. But a bit of exercise helps too. In particular, a bit of weight training helps burn more calories per day.

But this will vary for everyone. Some people might find exercise useless, some may find aerobic exercise helps, some might find that weight training helps. For some people it helps to nibble all day at low calorie snacks, for some people it helps to stick to big meals.

So, I dislike this kind of OMG METHOD X FOR WEIGHT LOSS DOESN'T WORK FOR MOST PEOPLE article.

There is no miracle weight loss method that will work for everybody. So, any weight loss method can be made to look futile this way. But it's irrelevant if you're trying to lose weight, the point is to find a method that works for you.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2009


It's like saying that a field goal was highly scored because it went through dead center.

That phrasing is weird, but I don't see anything objectionable in the concept. You could call a dead center field goal 'solid' for instance, and likewise saying that a field goal attempt barely missed/succeeded is perfectly legitimate. With significance tests this makes even more sense since you get to put up the field goal posts yourself. There is nothing special about the 0.05 and 0.001 significance thresholds; they're just arbitrary levels of error people are comfortable with. Since people's risk tolerances vary, it can, for instance, be useful to know that a result just barely made it under 0.05.
posted by Pyry at 9:46 AM on August 13, 2009


Basic math of thin = use more than what you put in. Learned that from a kinesiology major at UT. That being said, I use the fitness center at my local junior college for free, because I'm a student and I fine as long as I consume enough lean protein and water before I work out, I'm not inclined to eat crap when I'm done. But still, use more than what you put in. You can't consume calories and not use them efficiently - the result is fat. Building muscle will help you use calories more efficiently, I don't care who you are.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2009


*find
posted by PuppyCat at 9:51 AM on August 13, 2009


Your brain wants you to be fat. Because it worries; what if there's no food tomorrow? Which made sense not so long ago.

The only way I get around this is: no wheat, no sugar, something green every day. Because then I'm still eating really well, but the stuff that converts to fat super fast is minimized. YMMV, etc. etc. I ain't skinny, but I am much healthier when I eat that way.

I have tried to ban the word "exercise" from my vocabulary and replace it with "yard work", and "playing with my kid." The downside: I don't know exactly how many calories I'm burning/reps I can do, though I do have a good sense of how long I can give piggyback rides to a 44-lb kid.

Upside: I'm not bored stupid. My god, exercise is boring.
posted by emjaybee at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


As his body mass shrinks, he's going to find that he'll have to restrict calories further in order to keep losing weight.

I think the point was that 800 calories is crazy restricted. Like famine countries level.
posted by smackfu at 9:52 AM on August 13, 2009


My god, exercise is boring.

Well, it can be, but as you point out, that's really up to you.

Tennis is boring? Volleyball is boring? _____ (fill in your own) is boring?
What about riding your bike around your neighbourhood/city/countryside?

A treadmill and crunch/plank routines are not the only options.

Honestly, the main reason I can see why people adopt a more pain = more gain approach, taken to extremes, is so they can call the whole thing off a few weeks later as uselessly masochistic, and get knowing nods from others who rely on the same crutch.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:03 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dieting makes you look good in clothes. Exercise makes you look good naked.
posted by bink at 10:05 AM on August 13, 2009 [20 favorites]


On Wednesday a personal trainer will work me like a farm animal for an hour, sometimes to the point that I am dizzy — an abuse for which I pay as much as I spend on groceries in a week.

That's really what "doing it wrong" means, to me. Instead of a gym membership/personal trainer that you hate (and spend valuable food/alcohol/drug money on), why not run or bike to the gym and back?

Take the stairs at work every day, hell, take the stairs in every building, even if you're going to the 22nd floor. Sell your car. Stop watching TV or restrict it to an hour or 30 minutes a day... (Honestly, I *love* television more than you can imagine, but when the average person is watching 4 hours per day (!) or however ridiculous the number is these days, it's not hard to figure out where that time for exercise and physical play went.)

Health and weight are so intertwined with our entire lives that it's silly to think we can manage them on 60 minutes three times a week. It has to be a complete (and realistic) lifestyle.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2009


man, fuck articles like this.

anecdote time, since Time magazine has apparently sanctioned trumpeting them as legitimate news:

you know what I've discovered has had a positive effect on my health and body image? motherfucking Rock Band. no joke. you drum your ass off at that game for an hour a day 3 or more days a week, and you're getting surprisingly good cardio. I've been learning recently that fat reduction is mostly a matter of cardio and diet (specifically, that you can't target fat deposits with strength exercises like situps or pushups, so it's all about cardio for dropping those pounds) and fuck if rocking out to The Police and the Chili Peppers for a few hours a week hasn't had a damn effect. plus, since it's fun as hell I can do it for an hour or more and the time flies by.

sure I'm hungry afterward, but since I've been having fun I don't feel like I need to reward myself with a cheesesteak or a burrito. I just drink some water and grab whatever good food is around the house. I mean, shit, if you're going to have a miserable time working out and then use it as an excuse to eat badly, just find something fun to do instead.
posted by shmegegge at 10:18 AM on August 13, 2009


shmegegge:

I'm down with that. ANother reason to convince my wife we need a PS3 and Beatles Rock band.

"How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people...?"
posted by grubi at 10:24 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh man, the beatles rock band. I think it'll work with my current instruments and just the new game disc, but I really want that bass!
posted by shmegegge at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2009


With the usual caveats about anecdotal experiences not equaling data, my own experience is completely contradictory to this article. I'm another one who finds that following a regular exercise routine is a key component in pushing me to maintain a healthy diet (I do allow myself a "cheat" day once week). While I might crave a donut or pizza or a Big Mac after a long workout, I spend way too much time, energy and frankly, money (in the form of gym membership) on exercise to want to completely counteract the results with a junk food splurge. Anyone who works out for more than a month realizes that exercise without diet is fruitless if there is any sort of vanity component to your workout goals.
posted by The Gooch at 10:32 AM on August 13, 2009


Emphasis of title corrected for content of article:

"Why Exercise Won't Make YOU Thin... because you're weak-willed and either kind of dumb or at least wilfully ignorant.
Exercise itself is a good thing done properly, but you're not going to do that, are you?"

So congratulations, TIME, on insulting your target audience.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:34 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Durn, I think a lot of the problem is that we have this category "exercise" and we all picture stuff we did in gym class or joylessly going for the burn, and there is no fun in any of that to me. Bores me stupid.

So I banned the word, because I once I think of an activity as "exercise" I immediately want to stop doing it and go eat something bad for me. Which is what I think happens to lots of Americans.

There is a puritanical suffering-is-good competitive/masochistic streak that really comes out in "fitness culture" that is repellent to a lot of people who don't get off on that. What would be much more effective is tapping into the memories of fun that you have from childhood...aimless bike riding (as opposed to competitive), wandering the woods, camping, chasing your dog around, and hell yeah, playing Rock Band. Probably won't get you abs of steel, but you may live longer or at least enjoy whatever time you have. Fuck exercise.
posted by emjaybee at 10:48 AM on August 13, 2009


lol...i just linked this in another thread...Best. Exercise. Video. Ever. If they gave it away free there would be no more fat people.

also, forget where it was, but i read about a study recently that found that fast food places that offer 'healthy options' actually cause people to eat worse. see, you consider the salad, but go with the burger. but because you considered the salad, you decide to reward yourself with a side of fries and a hot fudge sundae.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:53 AM on August 13, 2009


"I kept waiting for the reference to Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) from the Mayo Clinic's James Levine."

Jim's a bit of a freak case though. His work desk consists of a cheap treadmill with a hospital table extended over it, so he walks while he's typing. He was using it when I first met him. The "treadmll desk" has become rather famous because of his efforts.

But the NEAT thing is important. Exercise builds fitness, but what you do when you aren't exercising makes the biggest difference. Things like standing rather than sitting, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking up the escalator instead of passively letting it move you. NEAT is why I have a job right now, actually. The lab in which I work is using a rodent model of NEAT to study obesity.

As to why BMI is still used, it's simple - it's something you can measure at home, so it's easy to explain to people. We don't all have access to a human-sized full-body MRI machine tuned to detect fat and lean mass relaxation curves, or a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometer; both of which are better at guessing lean mass to body fat ratios than BMI, but they aren't the kind of thing you can expect everyone to have (although scales that guess at your fat mass using bioelectrical impedance aren't necessarily expensive, they don't tell you lean mass).

Trying to publish a paper on an MRI-based body composition device right now, in collaboration with Jim Levine. This one is meant for rats though, not people.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:56 AM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


emjaybee: Definitely. The medical community has generally tried to shame, cajole, coerce, and convince people to loose weight and change diet for 40 years now and has produced 40 years of rigorous peer-reviewed work showing only moderate weight-loss in the best cases and marginal long-term results in most cases. Ditch the scales and charts and focus on how much fun you can have.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:02 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree with that, emjaybee, and I think its what Levine is tapping into with that N.E.A.T. concept. Just keep moving. Walking to the mailbox to mail a letter. Parking at the first open spot. Walking to the library to return some books.

From what I've seen, the trouble is that it takes time, and people aren't able to restructure their mindset to know what to take that time from. They think that doing these things takes too much time and imagine all the other things they could be doing (that typically involve sitting around). If you're used to dinner taking 20 minutes (getting in the car, grabbing mcdonalds/wendys/arbys/tacobell, going home or eating it in the car) then the time spent cutting up vegetables, controlling meal portions, mixing sauces, preparing foods and eating them seems like a waste of an hour.

Even cleaning up - there are guides trying to get you to do it super efficiently, in 20 minutes. To me, trying to hurry up and do something lightning quick is what mentally wrecks people's abilities to get out and take a walk, or park further away from a building's front door, or walk to a mailbox. It's kind of the tl:de of the world.
posted by cashman at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2009


The above shouldn't be taken as fatalism. But when you've tried something for the last 40 years and gotten results that are the exact opposite of what is desired, it's time to rethink both the problem and the solution.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2009


the kind of labor that starts at 7:00am, ends at 7:00 pm and drenches your clothing. That's what we we're genetically suited for after all.

cite?


Yeah, might as well.

The evolving cave-man of my imagination sat around or wandered around foraging or fishing maybe 95% of the time until he saw an animal at which time he had to categorize it something to run away from or something to chase after. Depending on that decision and how everything panned out, there might be a fight, and he might eat, or alternatively be eaten (note that being partially or completely eaten is very helpful for weight loss but not so much for overall health).

This is, of course, mostly just my imagination, largely informed by cartoons. But let's run with it, so to speak.

It is a higher baseline of activity than sitting in front of a desk, but does come closer to the one workout a day model than we might guess.

I think the 12-hour body-breaking labor notion is as much a industrial-era artifice as a sedentary job is; owing to a division of labor where some do physical work all the time and others do none at all.

I will also say with high confidence that the shredded 3% fat body type didn't come about at all until we had established enough 'environmental control' where the inputs and outputs were due to choice instead of being results of a survival contest. Which illuminates how, finally, what we're genetically suited for is at best a rough guide of what we should be trying to simulate in our lives anyway. What we evolved to deal with killed most of us.
posted by Bokononist at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess just to be the sole naysayer in the group: the one time I was overweight in my life was when I was exercising religiously each day (running and the gym). I ate healthy, but I also ate A LOT.

Now I eat a mix of healthy and junk food, I maybe go walk once a week, and I am thinner (15-20 lbs lighter) by the sheer fact my food cravings are minimal.

You can probably argue that I was healthier when I was "overweight", but I'm just glad these days not to be thinking about food all the freakin' time.
posted by thisperon at 11:53 AM on August 13, 2009


I don't think this is such a bad article, and it does point out a common perceptual problem, which is that people tend to way understimate the calories in what they eat and way overestimate they calories they burn through exercise.

"I just worked out for 40 minutes, that's more than enough to make up for eating this bran muffin, and bran muffins are healthy anyway, right?" is a pretty common thought, and not really that crazy or stupid, but doing the actual math proves it to be false. The problem is, as the article points out, most people don't do the math.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:54 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gosh, I've been exercising for decades and I haven't lost any weight really. All I've got out of it is tremendous cardiovascular health, expanded lung capacity, increased libido, more confidence, greater satisfaction in motion, resistance to injury, better bone density, increased strength and muscle tone and an upbeat positive attitude most of the time.

But yeah, what with all these muscles, I've got roughly the same gravitational pull on me as some fat slob who does nothing but eat donuts who contains the same mass, so hey, what's the point?

Ye gad what an f'ing stupid article.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:55 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Skinny people with no muscle tone don't look that great.

Hey, no need to get personal.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:56 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love cappuccinos. I love cheesecake. I frickin' LOVE cheeseburgers. Holy crap do I love them. But I also exercise, and when I indulge on crap food, I exercise more. Calories, for me, are like a credit card. Don't eat what you can't pay off right away. Or something like that. Anyway, it's worked pretty well for me, but I don't overindulge all the time, either. I'm lucky in that I also really love a good bowl of fresh spinach with some rice and tofu. You just have to balance it all out. It's that simple.
posted by katillathehun at 11:59 AM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I just worked out for 40 minutes, that's more than enough to make up for eating this bran muffin, and bran muffins are healthy anyway, right?" is a pretty common thought, and not really that crazy or stupid, but doing the actual math proves it to be false. The problem is, as the article points out, most people don't do the math.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:54 PM on August 13


Reading that got me wondering what the numbers are for a bran muffin. A Starbucks oat bran muffin has more cholesterol and more carbs than a Big Mac, despite having only 130 fewer calories and a quarter of the protein.

Just goes to show you that the assumptions most people make about the nutritional content of food are probably way off.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:17 PM on August 13, 2009


Yes, most people don't do the math. Unless you run on a treadmill with specialized equipment you can't do the except in an abstract and arbitrary way. Deceptive packaging and out of sight/out of mind nutritional information for restaurants make doing the math unlikely. And we know from two generations of failed attempts to convince people to do the math that they won't.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:29 PM on August 13, 2009


Pastabagel: A Starbucks oat bran muffin has more cholesterol and more carbs than a Big Mac, despite having only 130 fewer calories and a quarter of the protein. Just goes to show you that the assumptions most people make about the nutritional content of food are probably way off.

Oh you mean the thing made out of bread has more carbs than the thing made out of beef? Really? And the thing made out of beef has more protein? Color me shocked.

*facepalm*
posted by jock@law at 12:44 PM on August 13, 2009


Counting calories is critical...at one point I would go to the gym and burn 500-800 Calories only to eat a 1,000+ Calorie meatball sub as my reward. I was aware of the fallacy at the time but knew I'd probably be eating a 900 Calorie dinner had I not exercised anyway and knew I was still improving my overall health. I've lost a ton of weight by controlling carbohydrates and exercising...three weeks of Atkins induction (less than 20 grams "net carbs" per day) gave me dramatic results but I'm trying to more realistic now, keeping it around 100g (with much slower results, but still losing at a very gradual pace) and while realizing that in many ways I was actually eating much healthier during the "extreme" Atkins experiment -- tons of green vegetables, fiber supplements by absolute necessity, etc. The extreme aspect of the diet forced me into a workable routine, but I need to incorporate the best bits and pieces of that into something more sustainable over the long-term.

Lately I've been trying to eat around 1,500 Calories a day, burning about 500 on most days via the elliptical and my friend Hulu.com, which is decidedly not boring to me, thanks to my TV-junkie upbringing.

I love cycling around the neighborhood but find it more boring, sadly. The elliptical works for me and while the "muscle confusion" aspects of P90X and other cross-training programs appeal to my desire to kick things into gear, I also enjoy the simple mundane routine of hopping on the elliptical, and having grown quite accustomed to all of the pre-programmed 30-minute routines, I can choose to kick my ass from time to time by cranking up the resistance or putting in another 15-30 minutes.

As a data point, I find that morning cardio has less of an impact on my food cravings than when I work out in the afternoon / evening. This probably has something to do with the fact that we've culturally designated the evening as "big meal and sit on your ass time" whereas morning is more like "eat quick and get shit done time."

Lately I've been finding it harder to work out in the mornings -- it's a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby I fell off the wagon and know I have to get back on. I was much happier with the consistent morning routine, and had time to prepare a decent lunch and dinner to boot. On the other hand, I had to go to bed much earlier and had less alone time with the wife once the kid was put to bed.

I've always intuitively tried to live up to NEAT without being specifically aware of the acronym and the folks behind it. I find myself running up and down the stairs all of the time for various absent-minded reasons (where's my damn wallet!) to the point where it feels like I'm deliberately choosing to inconvenience myself. When it comes to parking, getting a spot as close as possible is not only not doing one's self any favors fitness-wise, but you end up spending more time hunting for a spot and avoiding the swarm of people around you when trying to leave.
posted by aydeejones at 12:54 PM on August 13, 2009


On cycling -- I believe my pace on the elliptical is about twice as efficient at burning calories over time compared to my cycling pace, so when I say "cycling is boring" I'm taking the fact that it seems I need to spend 1-2 hours at it for consistent results into consideration. It definitely feels like a "slog" to me and I'm quite excited when it's over, whereas the time on the elliptical just burns away. As a change of pace, cycling and swimming are great for me, but I can't count on doing that 5-6 days a week.
posted by aydeejones at 12:58 PM on August 13, 2009


Unless you run on a treadmill with specialized equipment you can't do the except in an abstract and arbitrary way. Deceptive packaging and out of sight/out of mind nutritional information for restaurants make doing the math unlikely.

The problem is not that the information is unavailable or difficult to obtain. There are a myriad of sites where you can estimate caloric burn from different exercises, including some that do so using multiple variables (sex/age/weight/fat %/RHR/etc). Most of these will give you fairly accurate burn rates to use. There are also a number of sites and programs where you can find nutritional information for a wide range of foods, including foods from commercial restaurants.

Most of the information you can find at these sites is close enough to use for tracking caloric intake. Neither estimates, caloric intake or burn, need to be exact measures. They just need to be reasonably accurate. This is absolutely doable with the information out there.

The problem is that people don't want to take the time to do any of that. As you state at the end, they won't do the math. That doesn't mean the numbers aren't there to plug in, though.

It comes down to what someone said above: people want to be thin, they just don't want to have to work at it.
posted by elfgirl at 1:00 PM on August 13, 2009


Calories, for me, are like a credit card. Don't eat what you can't pay off right away.

This is brilliant. Believe me - and I'm not being sarcastic -- this is huge. For some reason, this resonates more than anything else people tell me as a way to lose weight. If I can't afford it, then I'll have to do without. If I get a little behind, then I need to take the time to make up for it. No big expenditures, always giving myself a proper deadline to catch up. Maybe even charge myself interest for those times I can't make the deadline! If I'm really good, it'll be like an Amex, and I'll pay it off clean at the end of the time period.

I can show economic responsibility, so why not gastroecoonomic responsibility? This is a nice mind-shift. If I lose weight, I'm giving you credit, katillathehun.
posted by grubi at 1:17 PM on August 13, 2009 [3 favorites]




elfgirl: My position is that calorie-accounting needs to go the way of the command-line interface. A useful tool for those people who are willing and able to put up with the unintuitive cognitive load, but unnecessary for many people.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:25 PM on August 13, 2009


Well, I hope it helps, grubi. That line of thinking works best if you're tracking all of your calories, though. I keep a food diary. There are lots of sites out there for that purpose, and they also estimate calories burned through certain exercises. I like SparkPeople.
posted by katillathehun at 1:37 PM on August 13, 2009


Calories, for me, are like a credit card. Don't eat what you can't pay off right away.

Wow, I should really start thinking about credit cards that way.
posted by nanojath at 2:10 PM on August 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


My position is that calorie-accounting needs to go the way of the command-line interface.

That's why Weight Watchers invented points, which are just rounded calories with encouragement for high fiber and low fat diet.
posted by smackfu at 2:14 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gosh, I've been exercising for decades and I haven't lost any weight really. All I've got out of it is tremendous cardiovascular health, expanded lung capacity, increased libido, more confidence, greater satisfaction in motion, resistance to injury, better bone density, increased strength and muscle tone and an upbeat positive attitude most of the time.

The increased libido alone should be reason enough for everyone to get buff. I thought that by this point in my life, sex wouldn't get better. But, no, I've discovered that in my middle age, going on a health kick out of mortality fear, that while sex was really good even when I was 20lbs overweight, sex is mindblowingly incredible now that I've got rock-hard abs and a ton of stamina from all the yardwork I've been doing. Heck, doing that work might also increase testosterone levels, 'cause I'm at least as horny nowadays as I was during my late teens.

And I must have strengthened hell out of my back, because I don't get back pains any more and that is despite doing a lot of digging and lifting. That's a nice relief.

Fitness is fucking sexy, believe it. What an incentive!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:24 PM on August 13, 2009



Oh you mean the thing made out of bread has more carbs than the thing made out of beef? Really? And the thing made out of beef has more protein? Color me shocked.

*facepalm*
posted by jock@law at 3:44 PM on August 13


To be fair, a Big Mac has 3 slices of bread in it. And yes, I was very surprised that a Big Mac has less cholesterol than an Oat Bran Muffin.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:27 PM on August 13, 2009


The best thing I ever did for my health was lighting a Dorito on fire. Seriously- at your next BBQ, light a Nacho Cheese Dorito on fire, set it on the grill, and watch how long it takes to burn. About 3 minutes in, you'll really, holy shit, this is what my body has to do to deal with each and every one of these I eat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:46 PM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


smackfu: That's why Weight Watchers invented points, which are just rounded calories with encouragement for high fiber and low fat diet.

But here again, Weight Watchers has been in operation for 46 years and has not made a dent in the trends, and even simplified point systems have failed in terms of mass adoption in spite of heavy promotion and advertising?

It's long past time to shift the focus away from willpower and inflated claims of weight-loss effectiveness, and start looking at things like city planning, entertainment, our messed-up agricultural system, and the design of our labor and education. Riding the city bus statistically has better outcomes than long-term diet plans.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:46 PM on August 13, 2009


f thin. I just want to be strong.
posted by debbie_ann at 2:47 PM on August 13, 2009


Starbucks oat bran muffin has more cholesterol and more carbs than a Big Mac

Muffin=cake. If you wouldn't eat cake as a meal, then don't eat a muffin either. Also see: pancakes, waffles, etc.

Baked or fried dough--i.e., flour, water, maybe milk, oil, eggs, and sugar; not nutritious. Delicious, but not nutritious. I don't care how much fruit you put on/in it. Just eat the fruit, skip the dough.

We could probably do a lot to reform America's health if we stopped using dessert foods as breakfast.
posted by emjaybee at 2:48 PM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


And dessert foods as desserts. Don't most people have dessert after dinner? I don't, but I've always thought that made us the odd ones out. Indeed, I think most people eat a lot of prepared foods: store-bought cookies and granola bars and muffins, single-serve microwave dinners, etcetera.

Essentially, many people live on candy.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:02 PM on August 13, 2009


Riding the city bus statistically has better outcomes than long-term diet plans.

OK, I lost you here. How does a bus improve health?
posted by smackfu at 3:14 PM on August 13, 2009


if I had to guess, I'd say it's because buses don't do door-to-door service, so you'll be walking farther distances than just "from the parking lot to the front door."

you could also substitute bus with subway if you live in a city that has one. that is, IF I understand him correctly.
posted by shmegegge at 3:26 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe the guy needs to to come to terms with not being seventeen any more, accept that as he gets older his body is programmed to start storing away a bit of fat for lean times, and get on with his life.

http://kateharding.net/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/
posted by chrisgregory at 4:00 PM on August 13, 2009


He has a point (in social terms not individual bodies). The supersized portions (heavy on the carbs) started in upscale-food circles to cater to fitness fanatics who needed / wanted to carb-load, and then trickled down to the rest of us. Furthermore, on visiting L.A., the supposed realm of thin and fit movie stars, I did see some thin and fit people (since I'm not on the A-, B-, C- or D-list, mostly college students at USC and UCLA and yuppies in Westwood and Santa Monica), but I also saw more fast-food restaurants than I have ever seen anywhere else.
posted by bad grammar at 4:29 PM on August 13, 2009



Riding the city bus statistically has better outcomes than long-term diet plans.

OK, I lost you here. How does a bus improve health?


Yeah, lost me there too. I think it's a case of correlation vs. causation. NYC is supposed to have the best public transit system in the US and before I came here I had read that the people here are supposedly thinner because of it. I was shocked to find that there are large numbers of not just overweight, but morbidly obese people here.

Putting people on the subway doesn't make them thin. Manhattan also just so happens to also have an equally large numbers of skinny yuppies who go to yoga class every day.

Real bike paths that aren't terrifying to ride on make a true difference, but they would require large amounts of planning and restructuring to work in the US.
posted by melissam at 4:46 PM on August 13, 2009


To counter LN's example:

I'm a nanny and I am moving around all day long. I have a 28lb weight with which I do umpteenthousand reps of lifting per day. I graze on food constantly, but it's all "kid food" - low fat stuff, mostly fruits.

I am happier and saner when I'm working (though more exhausted, though most of that is mental exhaustion from being "on" all day), not to mention maintaining a healthier weight. I can honestly say that I'm heavier than I look (honestly, when I reveal my weight, people do double takes) because of muscle mass. I swam competitively as a kid, and "exercise" in the form of swimming and yoga are just "things that I do" - I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be, but the desire to do these things is because they make me happy, not because they make me "thin."

Really, the best thing I've found in terms of weight control is food control. I eat what I want when I'm hungry and I stop when I'm full. Thing is, if I actually listen to what my body ACTUALLY wants, very rarely is that thing "FRENCH FRIES" and very rarely does "stop when I'm full" mean "ordering dessert."

PS: I have no idea how on earth anyone manages to lose weight while working at a desk. Of course, I have no idea how anyone works at a desk. I would lose my friggin' mind.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:55 PM on August 13, 2009


I actually have to totally agree.

Case and point, me: Put on about 10 pound while studying for 2 bars in 1 year. Started exercising harder than I ever have in my entire life. Now I am not a naturally athletic person. I start exercising for 1.5 hours a day 4 days a week, plus the occaisonal bikeride and more walks. I am starving all the time, it's unreal, I've never been so hungry on such a regular basis. Didn't lose a pound. Nothing. I absolutely killed myself for 2 months with no real results. I know people talk about building muscle, but my clothes all fit exactlyt the same and my thighs look as fat as ever.

Fast forward a month, I start a different excercise routine. Exercising about 40 minutes, 2 times a week, very light cardio. Break a sweat, but not much of one. I've lost 3 pounds in about 3 weeks. Trying to get the right amount of exercise so you burn some calories but so your body doesn't freak out and demand food and demand it now is very very difficult. I seriously question people advocating hard core exercise routines + dieting. They are very difficult to maintain and really have never given my the type of results that when I did the calories in/calories out math I should have been getting.
posted by whoaali at 4:59 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The world is full of skinny fat people and vice versa.

Exercise and a change in diet helped me become fitter and keep off unwanted flab. And I continue to eat just fine. I even have a beer now and then.

But I don't miss McDonald's at all; it's poison anyway.
posted by bwg at 6:00 PM on August 13, 2009


Portion control gets my vote, too. Awareness of just how small a healthy meal is is kinda shocking. Piece of meat not bigger than a pack of cards. Half a baked potato. Etc. So just limiting oneself to portion size is enough to make a big difference — for pasta, I now eat half as much as I used to! (But, hey, I'm no longer a teenager, either; I shouldn't expect to keep eating like that!)

But in another factor of portion control is awareness of what one's eating. Just a sketchy awareness of sugar, fat, and fiber content is enough to make some pretty good decisions. And I find the more I choose healthy, the less junk and fast food appeals. The idea of eating a fast food hamburger revolts me.

Smaller amounts of healthier food. Works for me.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:12 PM on August 13, 2009


Oh. God. I knew that Kate Harding article would make it here eventually. Will people please stop quoting her "Healthy at Any Size" bullshit. She starts out with some sound ideas about separating obesity from fitness and eating right and BMI being over rated and everyone deserving basic dignity and respect... then she says some absolutely unscientific and dangerous garbage of how the overwhelming evidence produced by medical science is wrong about obesity itself being unhealthy and has nothing to do with diabetes or heart disease.

Jesus. It's like people can't help but be extreme on this issue. She's wrong, okay. You cannot be "healthy" at any size. It's a cute catch phrase but it's complete garbage. You can be perfectly healthy being "over weight" IF you eat right and exercise. The problem is people are no longer merely 40-50lbs over weight. They are +100lbs over weight - morbidly obese. But once you are morbidly obese eating right and exercising becomes harder and harder.

And more and more kids are starting out their lives morbidly obese which absolutely leads to extreme health problems much earlier than is necessary and harder to reinforce good habits later on. And the fact all this Any Size bullshit simply feeds the propaganda from the Junk Food and Processed Foods industries - sometimes I think these people get their funding from McDonalds. The "Fat Acceptance", movement, while well intended, just goes way to far and throws facts right out the window in favor of ideology. They are like Global Warming deniers.

It's infuriating to read such horrible unscientific misinformation.
posted by tkchrist at 6:42 PM on August 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is Time Magazine. Subtext is everything: this article appears during the healthcare debate.

The primary change in the "new" healthcare is a focus on prevention, not treatment. That's where the new money is/will be. That's why Pfizer stock is dead money but Wellpoint has nearly doubled. Or didn't the insurers get the memo that Obama wants to destroy them?

You would think exercise would be a part of prevention, but it's a costly one: most private insurers offer discounts if you sign up for a gym. Hence the real point of the article: gym exercise doesn't help. So now we can safely remove that little perk.

Additionally, the article emphasizes that what you eat matters; note the little dig at McDonalds for having playgrounds in their stores. This is support for an eventual tax, if not outright regulation, of the food industry.

Not judging it, just pointing it out.

Someone might say, "but who cares what Time says? What did the actual scientific publication in PLOS say?" Here's what you need to know: medical science isn't directed by scientific articles, it is directed by the reporting of the scientific articles. PLOS publishes in order to be written up in Time-- because once it gets in Time, it goes from "here are our findings" to "here's what science knows."

Good luck, everyone.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 7:39 PM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that no-one has noticed that this article is practically a rewrite of the (much better) "The Scientist and the Stairmaster" piece by Gary Taubes in New York Magazine two years ago. Previously linked here.

I liked the Taubes article, and I suspect there is something to what he's saying. But bear in mind that Taubes was also responsible for kickstarting the Atkins fad.
posted by pascal at 8:18 PM on August 13, 2009


I do not have time to read the comments above. I am sure there is wisdom there, and I am sorry I have to go to bed at ten, MST, after a little reading.

But I do remember hearing from my doctor father that exercising influences one's appetite. And I do believe that the human body is used to exercising. And I lost twenty pounds when I started going to the gym regularly.

I am really interested in the debate about how much of, say, our need to make art is a function of our genetic heritage. However, it seems silly to maintain any position that physical exercise is not inextricably linked to our general well-being - and our weight. I think the social dimensions of our obsession about weight must be responsible the ridiculous premise of the TIME article. That and the need to come up with a controversial premise linked with a tantalizing cover to sell a few thousand more copies at airports.
posted by kozad at 8:35 PM on August 13, 2009


melissam: "I was shocked to find that there are large numbers of not just overweight, but morbidly obese people here. "

be aware, on any given day in NYC you are seeing a whole fuckload of tourists. depending on where you're walking you may, in fact, be seeing more tourists than people who actually live within the 5 boroughs.
posted by shmegegge at 10:20 PM on August 13, 2009


We could probably do a lot to reform America's health if we stopped using dessert foods as breakfast.

I had made a similar observation when watching a lot of these IHOP commercials. It occurred to me that every single one of their specialty pancake dishes was dough covered in whipped cream and syrup. I turned to my wife and remarked that it's not a breakfast place; it's a dessert place. At least Waffle House touts their hash browns and eggs once in a while.

In short, fuck dem dere IHOPs.
posted by grubi at 5:34 AM on August 14, 2009


shmegge: if I had to guess, I'd say it's because buses don't do door-to-door service, so you'll be walking farther distances than just "from the parking lot to the front door."

Yes, people who ride public transportation on a regular basis are statistically thinner than people who don't. The effect size is larger than the benefit of long-term health maintenance programs which struggle to show consistent long-term weight-loss.

tkchrist: And more and more kids are starting out their lives morbidly obese which absolutely leads to extreme health problems much earlier than is necessary and harder to reinforce good habits later on. And the fact all this Any Size bullshit simply feeds the propaganda from the Junk Food and Processed Foods industries - sometimes I think these people get their funding from McDonalds. The "Fat Acceptance", movement, while well intended, just goes way to far and throws facts right out the window in favor of ideology. They are like Global Warming deniers.

It's infuriating to read such horrible unscientific misinformation.


We've been putting people on diets for 40 years now, and the best studies show that average sustained losses at the 5-year mark run between 3-7%. Other studies put 5-year success rates at around 20% of people maintaining long-term weight-loss. Diets and exercise show much better results for multiple other health metrics. But weight-loss is extremely problematic.

That's the unpopular but scientific fact.

Sure, there are some wackos out there on the fringe who think that any kind of diet recommendation is bigotry. The majority of the "Fat Acceptance" movement is demanding realistic expectations regarding treatments that can only offer long-term benefits of 3-7%. And given that realistic long-term benefits are only 3-7%, you can't eyeball a person's BMI and make conclusions about his or her health and exercise practices.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:32 AM on August 14, 2009


Or to put it simply, more people within the fat acceptance movement are asking for:

1: realistic expectations for behavioral interventions of maintaining a reasonable percentage loss over a long period of time rather than setting a target of a 25 BMI.

2: a shift in focus to heath indicators that appear to be more amenable to behavioral intervention.

3: research into alternative approaches that look at metabolism and appetite regulation.

4: fighting cases where fat people are subjected to bona fide discrimination and harassment.

I fail to see how any of the above are unreasonable.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:24 AM on August 14, 2009


Nothing wrong with being fat. But it's nice to be healthy. In fact, I think it's healthier sometimes. I guzzle OJ like it's going out of style in the winter. In the summer, I drink it, but less. But I think because I get my heart rate up, I juice my body temperature in midwinter on a treadmill or climbing or skiing, I'm bulletproof while everyone else around me is sick. And yeah, it's the OJ, but it's also that my metabolic rate was 3xs some other guy's this afternoon and I've got body heat coming off me like I just came from an orgy - he said "hmmm...little tired, it's winter grey out, think I'll take a nap on the couch" and I said "hmmm...little tired, think I'll hit the bag and then push myself to the limits of my endurance running it out."

It is funny though the whole "looks" and discrimination thing - summer I'm pretty svelte. I don't like carrying extra weight when it's hot. 'Cos fat's an insulator. But in the winter, I eat a bit more, bit more fatty stuff, swim less, etc. etc. and I put on a few pounds. And it's funny, but every year - EVERY YEAR - the same people give me the same crap "Oh, Smed, getting a gut there!" "Whassamatter Smed? Gettin' old?" Ha ha ha.

Irritating. There's nothing wrong with carrying a few extra pounds - especially in the winter - as long as you sustain your health. I mean, why do YOU care how *I* look? So yeah, there's some validity to that.
But it's still about you. What I mean is, the weird part is, you have access and total control over your physical equipment all the time. It's just a choice matter and consciousness and not deluding yourself. Not saying anyone is, but when people who are very overweight talk to me, it's mostly excuses they're making for themselves. Because I really don't care.

I mean - ok, I look at guys who are gigantic and if they're not competing I do get to wondering WTF it is they do for a living they can spend 8 hours in the gym.
But on the other hand, if you're 150 - 200lbs overweight the words "I don't have time" shouldn't be in your f'ing vocabulary when it comes to your health.

I've known beefy guys who will spend 8 to 10 hours straight working on engines - motorcycle guys are the worst - make the thing purr like a kitten, bust a knuckle, grease in their hair, turning wrenches so damn long their knees give, but ask them to stop smoking, eating crap food, maybe spend 15 minutes on cardio or doing an f'ing sit up - "hey bud, I don't have that kind of time."

It's a continuum. It's habit and integration. Too many folks think they can just jump right in, start going like a bat out of hell and do it every day from that day on. As though you can fix the engine once and ride it like hell for the rest of its lifetime.
Or go the other way, f'it, we heal don't we?

Habits are tough to form. Once you do form them you start to rely on them though and they make maintaining your health much much easier.
But again, people think it's got to be backbreaking labor like fixing something. When really, it's more like riding. Just put some time aside, every day or 3 or 4 times a week, to be good to your body. That's all. And make it a habit. Hell, people masturbate don't they? Ya find time for that, look at it that way. It's just extended play.

2 yo Child: "Dad, I want to go to Kiddieland!"
Smed: "I dunno."
Child: "I wanna go! I wanna go I wanna go!"
Smed: "Awww...ok."
Child: "Dad, I want the (whatevertf cheap gizmo toy they have in grocery store checkout lines)"
Smed: "Hmm...?"
Child: "I want it! I wantitwantitwantit"
Smed: "Aww...ok."
Child: Dad, I want to go to McDonalds!"
Smed: "MCDONALDS! ARE YOU NUTS!? NO! Jeezus, let's get some ice cream or something."

I like ice cream. It's a specialty food. You can't really, comfortably, eat it conveniently (e.g. before going to sleep like milk and cookies), there's no mistaking it for some kind of other more legitimate 'food' type food. It's straight up, no b.s., dessert. It's not something you should eat as breakfast and/or lunch and dinner and we all know that. So it's harder (not impossible of course) harder to make a habit out of it.
McDonalds, et.al. - different story. It -wants- to become part of your life. Hell, look at their commercials. Like Coke, they're selling this whole 'lifestyle' thing.
And that's the deal. If you've bought into something like that, whether it's McDonalds or fixing your Harley or whatever, you've bought out of yourself.
But your body is the most important piece of equipment you're ever going to have. Might as well put in the time to maintain it properly.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:54 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I fail to see how any of the above are unreasonable.

That is all very reasonable. My dispute has never been with the reasonable side of the movement. And you know how you'd know that? By reading the first paragraph I wrote where I agreed about BMI, instilling dignity etc.

Good lord it get's so tiring having to deal with Metafilter Telephone tag.

My only expose to this movement has been here on Metafilter. And ever single post outlining this movement has also, along with reason, spewed nonsense common to people like Kate Harding. Like how obesity has no link to diabetes or heart disease. Somehow the entirety of medical science, except for a few hand picked fringe studies are all in the pockets of the Diet Industrial Complex. And if people like me have the temerity to side with Medical Science on the issue we are cast as on the pay-roll/ stooges of the evil Diet Industry or are LOL Fatty. You know the Diet Industrial Complex pales in comparison to the Fast Food and Processed Food industries, right?

What really gets me? Rarely is prevention mentioned.

Healthy diet and exercise early in life establish good habits prevent people from becoming obese in the first place. People are not just destined to be obese. The euopeans are not obese. Asians are not obese. It is not a foregone conclusion. Let me state again. Dieting and EATING RIGHT are not the same thing. And if people begin eating right and exercise at a young age they rarely become obese. But when you start with the false premise that people can be healthy at any size why bother preventing something that isn't a problem in their view.

Pretending that obesity has no negative consequences goes against all the accepted science and is irresponsible. The comparison between what I have read of FA and Global Warming denial is apt. Ideology over science.
posted by tkchrist at 3:37 PM on August 14, 2009


We've been putting people on diets for 40 years now, and the best studies show that average sustained losses at the 5-year mark run between 3-7%.

BTW. I just read the PDF and it doesn't really say what you implied; ie, what dismal failure diet was at all. In fact:
    This analysis of 5-y weight-loss maintenance indicates, on average, that obese individuals maintained weight losses of 3.0 kg, representing a reduced weight of 3.2% below initial body weight. These individuals were successfully maintaining a weight loss averaging 23.4% of their initial weight loss at 5 y. These average values are higher than those reported in earlier studies (24, 32, 35) and indicate that most individuals who participate in structured weight-loss programs in the United States of the type reported in the literature do not regain all of the weight lost at 5 y of follow-up. McGuire et al (49) reached similar conclusions from a random, cross-sectional telephone survey of US adults.
Also:
"Six studies reported that groups who exercised more had significantly greater weight-loss maintenance than did those who exercised less.
posted by tkchrist at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2009


Dieting and EATING RIGHT are not the same thing. And if people begin eating right and exercise at a young age they rarely become obese.

And then we eliminate most of phys-ed from the schools. As if fitness isn't a necessary component of adult life.

...do not regain all of the weight lost at 5 y of follow-up...

How many of those people who gained the weight back had ceased to exercise? How many ceased to treat food as something requiring a sense of responsibility? tl;dr; the article, but I'd be surprised if those who maintain a "diet attitude," ie. remain active and eating healthy, gain the weight back.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:24 PM on August 14, 2009


tkchrist: BTW. I just read the PDF and it doesn't really say what you implied; ie, what dismal failure diet was at all. In fact:

Actually it's horribly dismal, let me break the numbers in that quote down for you:
Average weight-loss at 5 years: 3kg. (6.6 lbs)
Average weight-loss as percentage of initial weight: 3%
Percentage of weight loss that was maintained over 5 years: 23.4%

If I'm calculating this right, the average participant maintained a loss of 220lbs to 213lbs. (After initially losing an average 26.4 lbs).

Now to me, that looks like a miserable failure. If the goal is to get people under a threshold BMI, 3% (6.6 lbs) doesn't even come close. It isn't even the the fucking ballpark. Until the medical science can offer better than 3%, it has no business expecting or offering more than that.

What really gets me? Rarely is prevention mentioned.

Except that the "personal responsibility" side isn't doing that much to talk about prevention either. The obesity crisis clearly can't be blamed on a failure of willpower. People have been harassed about EATING RIGHT for the last 40 years. Looking at transportation, agricultural practices, education, and labor is significantly overdue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:46 PM on August 17, 2009




It doesn't help by opening with a blatant ad hom.. Then on page two, we have a classic case of shifting goalposts:
Cloud does accurately make note that the exercise group did lose an inch in waist circumference but undermines that achievement by saying that it was only a “slight” achievement. In reality, losing an inch in waist circumference is no small feat.
Except that losing an inch in waist circumference is a small feat compared to the stated health goals of reaching a 25 BMI. If an inch in waist circumference is "no small feat." Then we really shouldn't impose a negative judgment for failing to loose more than an inch. Which is where I think fitness advocacy goes all pear-shaped. It then points to 20.8 lbs of potential weight loss over a five-year period, while ignoring the fact that the five-year studies of actual weight loss demonstrate different outcomes. 20 lbs is fairly easy to achieve in short-duration studies, but that shrinks to 6 lbs after 5 years. Still a loss, but not the magic numbers that are claimed to be the goal.

It gets somewhat better after that when it sticks to the facts, but then jumps to a conclusion that the whole thing can be dismissed as a personal LOL fatties.

Which is fine. Yes, exercise and diet will result in moderate weight loss and weight maintenance. Just cut the moralistic crap and quit moving the goalposts for your convenience.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:46 PM on August 17, 2009


That Examiner article is spot on"

However, the entire premise of the article is that the weight gain or the poor food choice is the result of exercise. Exercise has no bearing on food choices made by the subject...Once again, it feels like the entire article is a rationalization for his lack of fitness results. He looks for outside sources to blame.

That guy queued up at the end of a looong line of people to look for outside sources to blame.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:00 PM on August 17, 2009


Yes, exercise and diet will result in moderate weight loss and weight maintenance.

Exercise and diet will work as much as you put into it. Barring serious genetic defects and the onset of old age they should work a hell of a lot better than moderately unless you only put moderate effort into it.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:05 PM on August 17, 2009


P.o.B. Exercise and diet will work as much as you put into it. Barring serious genetic defects and the onset of old age they should work a hell of a lot better than moderately unless you only put moderate effort into it.

Well again, the hash facts uncovered by medical science are 3-7% average weight loss after 5-years by people putting in a great deal of effort and participation into medically-supervised studies. Now personally as a designer, If I saw that a program was only reaching 1/4 to 1/2 of its goal, I'd really consider rethinking the approach.

Note, I'm not suggesting people should eat crap and not exercise. I'm saying that weight loss goals should be realistically grounded in the long-term research that shows a 1-inch reduction is no small feat for many people.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:23 PM on August 17, 2009


And from my background in evaluative research. Blaming the participants for the failure of a program is a copout. If it fails to meet those goals, it fails to meet those goals. Pointing to an effect size that's less than half of what it needs to be and saying, "but look! it really does work!" is voodoo science.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:31 PM on August 17, 2009


So we don't blame the participants...and we say what? The facts we know about physiology do not work as we thought they did?

The two basic ideas here are:

A)Dieting: A change in the qualitative and/or quantitative portions of food consumed.

B)Exercise: An increase in energy expenditure by way of increases of force and/or distance.

Until you can prove to me that either of these two things are wrong, than I don't care what study you trot out like it was prize winning pony of some kind, because at that point you are conflating the failures of the participants with the failed execution of proper dieting and exercising.
Look, on a long enough timeline everything fails*, but until then you're going to have to put in the work.

These are basic fundamental ideas that work. You can't get around that. They work. Full stop.

*Why yes, I did just praphrase Fight Club. You're welcome.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:06 PM on August 17, 2009


*Augh*Typos.
conflating failures of the participants with the failed execution of proper mysterious failures of dieting and exerciseing
posted by P.o.B. at 11:18 PM on August 17, 2009


P.o.B.: So we don't blame the participants...and we say what? The facts we know about physiology do not work as we thought they did?

We say something that we say all the time in regards to scientific fact: theory doesn't translate well into messy real-world practical trials.

It's not the theory of physiology that's being questioned, it's the insistence on holding patients responsible for goals that the medical science says are difficult to achieve. If it is the case that an inch is "no small feat" then we should be focusing our attention on single inches at a time, and not go LOL fatties when that process is difficult and frustrating in environments that put up roadblocks to reaching those goals. What I object in the Examiner article are not the well-researched facts, (which I praised), it's the repeated implication that the original Time author is morally unqualified to comment for reaching goals that Examiner admits are difficult.

Until you can prove to me that either of these two things are wrong, than I don't care what study you trot out like it was prize winning pony of some kind, because at that point you are conflating the failures of the participants with the failed execution of proper dieting and exercising.

Translation: Like a global warming denier, I'm going cherry pick the research that supports my case, and ignore the rest.

When the entire point of the intervention is to help people loose weight, and the weight-loss by active participants falls short of the needed goals, how is the intervention a success again?

And why is there so much resistance to 1) setting more realistic goals, 2) trying to find ways to improve the results, and 3) changing the world we live in to make those goals easier to achieve?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:01 AM on August 18, 2009


KJS you miss the much more important and larger point. And you didn't address one of my real criticisms of FA.

Of course once people become obese losing weight is difficult. The ages in the study were between 31-59. 31 years of eating poorly and and not exercising is far to long to set high expectations of any sort. BUT. The entire point is to PREVENT them from becoming obese in the first place.

You know as well as I once people become obese the effort to exercise and eat right becomes exponentially harder. THAT is what this study reflects.

However, just throwing up our hands and exclaiming that obesity is just the New Life Style and some kind of inevitability is an epic tragedy. And that is what I see with FA.

And why is there so much resistance to 1) setting more realistic goals, 2) trying to find ways to improve the results, and 3) changing the world we live in to make those goals easier to achieve?

Oh. Jeeze. There isn't. I spent most of my adult life helping people of all ages and all body types get into shape. But going around claiming "Healthy at Any Size" is going to help anybody. You and I both know it's bullshit.

Facts are facts. Once people become obese the likelihood they will eat better or exercise AT ALL diminishes quickly over time.

So people like Harding telling people "Hey, being obese isn't unhealthy." —and that is what FA people say in every link I have read here in the blue—removes the last real material motivation to save peoples lives. And it's irresponsible.

Harding and others right here in the blue have argues that obesity is an extension of human lives being longer and more food available in modern diets. Except that is simplistic bullshit. Europeans are not as obese as Americans. They live longer than we do and have much less incidence of heart disease and diabetes. They don't have an insane diet industry like we do. Hardings argument is a failure.

In America we a conflagration of tragedies tied to our diets that the Europeans don't have. Some of it not directly keyed to individual behaviors. From the Farm Bill to the collapse of physical education. But some IS tied to individual responsibility; we have wanton consumerism and this perceived right to literally consume as much absolute shit as we can fill our faces without consequence. Before I get behind the FA movement I want to see these kinds of things, as well as the FACTS of actual medical science—all of them, addressed.
posted by tkchrist at 10:53 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's the insistence on holding patients responsible for goals that the medical science says are difficult to achieve. If it is the case that an inch is "no small feat" then we should be focusing our attention on single inches at a time

Nobody is holding anybody to anything. That's the point of having a personal responsibility for owning your own body. There is no user manual for this thing and we all know that generally makes products harder to use when problems arise.

Translation: Like a global warming denier, I'm going cherry pick the research that supports my case, and ignore the rest.

This isn't global warming. This isn't even close to the same realm to be of comparison. There are hard rules that are known to govern the human body, and there are simple ways to execute these rules into action. When you have a study showing that people were not able to lose weight over an extended period of time, then the obvious conclusion is that they failed to properly execute these rules NOT that it is inhumanly possible to do so. It is really disingenuous to juggle these things around, then throw them behind your back and look at the crowd with "where did they go?" look, because that's how it seems to me you keep presenting your case. I also notice, in light of showing up with "studies that prove your point", there is a general disregard for everybody else who successfully manage their weight.

And why is there so much resistance to 1) setting more realistic goals, 2) trying to find ways to improve the results, and 3) changing the world we live in to make those goals easier to achieve?

I would have to agree with tkchrist on this. You are certainly free to throw your suggestions out, but there most likely isn't anything that could be added to any of those three things that people haven't tried already. I would say even the large scale changes to our world need to start at the personal level with tried and true techniques.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2009


tkchrist: It feels like you are playing a no true Scotsman here by yelling about unnamed and unquoted FA advocates over there, while insisting that you mostly agree with the FA advocate you are responding to. Except that evidently I'm not a true FA advocate when I advocate for improving existing weight-loss methods, prevention, and reasonable treatment of people regardless of their BMI.

Facts are facts. Once people become obese the likelihood they will eat better or exercise AT ALL diminishes quickly over time.

Here is what chaps my ass on this issue. There are people I love deeply who work day after day and meal after meal to lose and maintain the loss of a significant amount of weight, and they are still treated like shit because their successes are not spectacularly visible. I'm an FA advocate, not because I think that fat is healthy (it isn't) or because I think people should give up on weight-loss (they shouldn't), but because I honestly believe that the unrealistic standards and pure bullshit that fat people face are a part of the problem.

P.o.B.: Step back a bit. The issue at hand isn't justifying fatalism. The issue is how do we improve the real-world behavioral efficacy of medically supervised weight-loss programs from 3-7% at the 5-year mark? We both want for people to be happier and healthier. But what you see as "tried and true" I see as "tried and significantly found lacking."

Passing the buck here is a cop-out. We need a method (or perhaps more than one) that helps people make those behavioral changes and supports them in maintaining those changes over extended periods of time. The current methods used are not good enough if the best they can offer is 3-7% at the 5-year mark. And I feel pretty confidant in suggesting that the medical community that deals with obesity isn't satisfied with those numbers either, and is actively working to improve them.

The nature of science is that real-world data trumps theory, whether we are talking about the design of o-ring seals on the space shuttle or medical protocols for obesity. We can theorize until the cows come home about how it should work, but that doesn't change the way it actually does work.

And personally, I'd put my money on the fact that supportive and incremental approaches are more likely to work than moral judgment, based on the fact that treating fat people as moral failures has done squat over the last three generations. Meanwhile, supportive and incremental approaches appear to have a much higher efficacy for dealing with other medically significant behavioral concerns like addiction and mental illness.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:29 PM on August 18, 2009


The issue is how do we improve the real-world behavioral efficacy of medically supervised weight-loss programs from 3-7% at the 5-year mark? We both want for people to be happier and healthier. But what you see as "tried and true" I see as "tried and significantly found lacking."

Well I don't think we are going to meet when we have different understood ideas of what "real-world" means. I think one of the reasons is that medically supervised is a bit of misnomer and beyond that I could add a whole side rant on the inadequacies of the medical profession as it relate to the health & fitness field. We could even talk about the idea of having qualified personal trainers be a larger part in what you believe to be adequate studies? And even beyond that perhaps behaviorists?
posted by P.o.B. at 4:08 PM on August 18, 2009


P.o.B.: Well I don't think we are going to meet when we have different understood ideas of what "real-world" means.

Well, the 5-year longitudinal study protocol is a pretty standard way of measuring the long-term efficacy of anything from chemotherapy, to quitting smoking. Furthermore, I'd argue that those numbers in fact, reflect a level and quality of care that's criminally unavailable to many Americans. But silly me, I sort of see universal health care with a focus on prevention as a critical piece of the puzzle (*). Saying that the numbers are likely to be higher elsewhere runs right against the demographic data that obesity rates are growing.

If, by all means, personal trainers and behaviorists (do you mean psychologists? therapists?) can report a better success rate, then quite obviously we need to find a way to get everyone who needs one into the care of personal trainers and behaviorists. However, there again, when I've had the benefit of the care of personal trainers and psychologists, the emphasis was on support and reasonable, incremental goals. The certainly didn't blow smoke up my ass about what I could achieve in a year.

Which is the entire point.

(*) Contrary to the claims of John Mackay, who ignores the fact that the growth of obesity rates are most severe in communities that are undeserved by both medical care and groceries. The counter-point to simplistic explanations that it's all due to consumer excess is rates of obesity and resulting medical complications are inversely correlated with SES, not only in the United States, but in newly-industrial nations as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:00 PM on August 18, 2009


And I'm honestly baffled how advocacy of continuous incremental and reasonable goals translates into "give up and do nothing."

When you have a study showing that people were not able to lose weight over an extended period of time, then the obvious conclusion is that they failed to properly execute these rules NOT that it is inhumanly possible to do so. It is really disingenuous to juggle these things around, then throw them behind your back and look at the crowd with "where did they go?" look, because that's how it seems to me you keep presenting your case. I also notice, in light of showing up with "studies that prove your point", there is a general disregard for everybody else who successfully manage their weight.

I don't see how you get this impression when:

1) In the study (actually a meta-study) people were able to lose weight over an extended period of time. An amount of weight that the author of the Examiner article called, "no small feat."

2) No claim has been made that it is inhumanly possible to lose weight. Just that real-world long-term efficacy is quite modest compared to claimed targets. If, indeed, the problem is that people "don't follow the rules" (and that's probably the case). Then the obvious question is what do we need to do to help people follow those rules? Which isn't an absurd question to ask when we look at other medical issues with behavioral ties like smoking or HIV transmission. And it's a question that seems to be asked rather frequently by professionals who deal with obesity as a medical concern.

3) I don't know how you get that impression that by quoting an article in which many people successfully manage their weight, that I disregard those who do. One of the points I'm making is that you can't eyeball that kind of success. For some people, that's a stable 250 after a decade at 300. For some people, it's a 22 BMI and the Boston marathon. For some people, it might be holding the line in the face of an average gain of 2 lbs a year. I count myself as successful at losing weight (and no, I'm not going to give you more information.) My (repeatedly stated) desire is more successes and larger successes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:31 PM on August 18, 2009


KJS we cal all agree that being healthy is the goal. And obviously a better goal the simply "weight loss."

So. For the tenth time that is not what my problem with FA has been. Again, I only know what I have read about the movement from links posted here (like the Harding link above). And repeatedly the intrinsic health problems related to obesity are either utterly dismissed or severely downplayed. Which does not help people follow the rules either.

I think we can all agree that reducing caloric intake and increasing calories burned leads to weight loss. Right? Unless you know of some sort of magic way around the laws of thermodynamics.

It should not have to be stated that I think we can all agree that obese people deserve dignity and equal treatment.

I think we can all agree that not everybody is gonna be Bradjolina.

And I think we can agree that improving your own personal health is largely a personal responsibility. Nobody can exercise for you.

Finally, I hope to Christ, we can all agree that in general obesity is not a healthy state of being and free of serious health risks. Certainly it's not a net positive to have 40% of our population sliding toward morbid obesity.

Okay. So. While we can and should follow every possible method to build healthier, happier, people more misinformation isn't gonna help.

Telling people the science is unclear, or worse, telling them that there are no long term health risks and massive societal costs associated with an obese society is out-right dangerous. It undermines the entire happier-healthier goal. And for the tenth time that is my problem with the FA movement as it has been linked to here.
posted by tkchrist at 7:41 PM on August 18, 2009


Not that you have said those things in relation to FA. But read the Harding link. It's in her first paragraph.
posted by tkchrist at 7:42 PM on August 18, 2009


Here is what chaps my ass on this issue. There are people I love deeply who work day after day and meal after meal to lose and maintain the loss of a significant amount of weight, and they are still treated like shit because their successes are not spectacularly visible. I'm an FA advocate, not because I think that fat is healthy (it isn't) or because I think people should give up on weight-loss (they shouldn't), but because I honestly believe that the unrealistic standards and pure bullshit that fat people face are a part of the problem.

Well, you're bringing a bit of baggage in here. I understand your frustration. But becuase PoB and I know that personal responsibility is a necessary part of the healthy individual equation and know that obesity is not a desirable state for an entire society doesn't mean we treat obese people like shit.

And that's what chaps MY ass. Like I'm some sort of LOLFatty bigot becuase I actually want to help people and simultaneously tell them the truth. It's insulting as fuck. I know for a fact I have saved peoples lives by helping them get in shape.
posted by tkchrist at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2009


KJS, like I said I don't think we're going to meet on this.

Furthermore, I'd argue that those numbers in fact, reflect a level and quality of care that's criminally unavailable to many Americans

I'd highly doubt that, but then we would be nitpicking across twentysome studies?

If, by all means, personal trainers and behaviorists (do you mean psychologists? therapists?) can report a better success rate, then quite obviously we need to find a way to get everyone who needs one into the care of personal trainers and behaviorists.

Sure. Yes, behavioral therapists are still around. If it's behavioral intervention you want then maybe possibly a behaviorists would suit you.

As far as 1,2,and3. You seem to argue one way than reverse directions to suit what your currently stating. Up thread you called the data "fucking abysmal." Previously you didn't agree with Nogiec's counter argument but now you want to use it to prop up yours? Fine.

Just that real-world long-term efficacy is quite modest compared to claimed targets.
Again you are trotting around the meta-study like it's the be-all-end-all for what to expect. I disagree.

I think weight management is a personal thing (problem, challenge, pastime, etc.) It seems you want it to be more than that and you don't like the available options. I don't have an answer for you in that context. What are the unrealistic standards that you seem to think is such a huge problem?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:31 PM on August 18, 2009


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