"Live the healthiest life that you can enjoy - [...] do your best."
August 11, 2015 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Yoni Freedhoff is an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa and the founder of the Bariatric Medical Institute which is a multi-disciplinary, ethical, evidence-based nutrition and weight management centre. Dr. Freedhoff has been referred to as Canada's most outspoken obesity expert and the Canadian Medical Association Journal once dubbed him a Canadian "nutritional watchdog". In other words, he's a respected professional - and he's using that power for good.

Dr. Freedhoff's blog, Weighty Matters hosts a collection of rants, research analysis, and light-hearted commentary. He writes in a friendly, humorous, and approachable way - and regularly discusses the ridiculousness of junk food health fundraising, explains why telling people to take the stairs doesn't make any sense for weight loss (and points out that people don't necessarily practice what they preach) and why exercise in general is good (but not for weight loss or management), pulls apart weight loss and exercise studies to show what they really prove, suggests that you just frickin' eat butter, and has addressed why Canada's Food Guide is problematic.

Sometimes he agrees with Coca Cola. He often points out how hard it is for parents to help their kids make healthy nutritional choices. Do you know how to feed your children? Have you noticed how food is marketed to children in every part of modern society?

Prefer to take your science-based diet advice offline? Freedhoff is the author of The Diet Fix – arguably one of the most sane, rational, and reasonable books about food, weight, and diets. How does he approach weight maintenance and loss? "The most important factor in sustaining your weight is not just tolerating, but actually liking your life and being both consistent, and, believe it or not, imperfect. Truly, your job in regard to both weight and health is to live the healthiest life that you can enjoy - in other words, to do your best." (amazon author interview)

He's also a regular poster on Facebook , Twitter, Google+, and has an infrequently updated YouTube channel, too. He pops up in the media fairly frequently - including columns at US News & World Report, Psychology Today, and Huffington Post.

You may not be able to have Dr. Freedhoff as your own doctor - but he's been trying to help other physicians understand how to work with patients. In 2010 he wrote a book, available to purchase - and which he insisted be available free online. Reading Best Weight: A practical guide to office-based weight management (pdf) might be enough to help more physicians treat patients with respect. His suggestions include: setting up the waiting room with comfortable chairs and removing magazines that encourage unhealthy eating; providing appropriate gowns, scales and blood pressure cuffs in the exam room; not using scare tactics or stock phrases when discussing weight; the physical and mental barriers to weight loss; and identifying a patient's "best weight" which, ultimately, isn't based on a specific number.
posted by VioletU (73 comments total) 100 users marked this as a favorite
 
I already follow his blog and had no idea he was so well known and experienced. Thanks for all the links!
posted by aclevername at 7:23 AM on August 11, 2015


Great post! The Diet Fix was a life changer for me. the message to live the healthiest life that you enjoy was such a turnaround from the usual message that short term suffering and self-hatred will lead to transformation.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:35 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ok, so it isn't exactly a Brutal Crossfit WOD, but I think it's a good idea to advocate for healthy alternatives to not moving around much when it's such a low-stakes option (elevator vs stairs).

I think we should advocate for having better stairs in office buildings. None of that hot heavy air, carpeted stairs crap.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:45 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think we should advocate for having better stairs in office buildings.

Taking the elevator may kill you slowly, but providing lots of ventilation to a set of fire stairs will kill you pretty quickly.
posted by yerfatma at 7:48 AM on August 11, 2015 [30 favorites]


Ok, so it isn't exactly a Brutal Crossfit WOD, but I think it's a good idea to advocate for healthy alternatives to not moving around much when it's such a low-stakes option (elevator vs stairs).

Yes, but this is a post about losing weight, and taking the stairs is a really really stupid way to try and lose weight. As one of the links says, you would have to climb 122 flights of stairs to make up for eating a Snickers bar. And most people, after that 122 flights, will want a Snickers.

From the link:

And stopping taking the stairs would be a shame given that when it comes to health, exercise is the world's best drug - it's just not a weight loss drug - and tying stair climbing (or any exercise) to calorie burning rather than health, misinforms the public about both.
posted by zabuni at 7:49 AM on August 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


He had me at this:

You know what else has a "delicious buttery taste"? Frickin' BUTTER!

Also, the science. The delicious, buttery science.

And reasonable advice that's realistic for real people:
...my life is hugely conducive to exercise. My office has a gym and showers. I'm my own boss and consequently didn't run into trouble when I blocked off slots during my work week to exercise. I don't work shifts. I have my health. I'm not injured. My family is healthy. I'm married to an incredibly supportive spouse. We're financially stable. We have access to childcare when we need it.

In short, I'm incredibly fortunate and incredibly privileged (and incredibly thankful), and while surely I could have exercised more, I couldn't have done so without that more becoming negative.

That said, there are those who can and do enjoy more. And of those great exercisers, some are filled to the brim with self-righteous sanctimony and assert that because they themselves are capable of exercising in large enough quantities to impact their weights, so too could everyone else. But those people, undoubtedly, don't work with the general public on lifestyle change. Because if they did work with the general public they would understand that for most people, real-life challenges, concerns, and responsibilities often understandably trump finding 3.5 or more hours a week to enjoy moderate or greater intensity exercise. Whether it's caregiver responsibilities, co-existing medical illnesses, mental health concerns, severe financial strain, holding down multiple jobs, chronic pain, chronic child or parental mental or physical health problems - these issues and more, definitely, fairly, and rightly challenge the luxury of enjoying large quantities of intentional exercise.

My exercise mantra remains the same. Some is good. More is Better. Everything counts. And the good news too is that lesser amounts of exercise, while unlikely to have a dramatic impact upon your weight, may well have a dramatic impact upon your health, mood, sleep, and quality of life, all the while preserving your functional independence as you age.

We need to consciously stop tying exercise to weight as its lack of affect therein and/or the incredibly large amounts required to affect it, might well lead a person to give up, or never start exercising, yet exercise, at any weight, might as well be magic when it comes to health.

Some is good. More is better. Everything counts.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2015 [43 favorites]


I am sick and tired of hearing shit like "Be happy! Love yourself!"

Happiness is simply not an option for millions of people. Self-respect is off the table. It's just not going to happen. Freedhoff needs to check his privilege.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:01 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


might want to read the bit that mandolin conspiracy quoted--he has an acute awareness of his privilege, and his message doesn't boil down to "be happy love yourself."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:11 AM on August 11, 2015 [30 favorites]


"Take the stairs" isn't necessarily good for you if you're carrying a lot of excess weight, and is pretty ableist when you think about it. Some people are not able to take the stairs without pain or doing great damage to their knees; it's not a moral issue.
posted by SassHat at 8:13 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


I literally can't tell if Faint of Butt's comment is ironic or just very American
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:17 AM on August 11, 2015 [44 favorites]


Same, but for the entire thread.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is quickly turning into the most Metafilter thread ever, but thank you VioletU for making this post. Dr. Freedhoff's approach reads as refreshingly pragmatic.
posted by indubitable at 8:21 AM on August 11, 2015 [19 favorites]


I haven't read most of your links yet but I just read the one about feeding kids and it was great, and just what I needed to read right now. Thanks for posting, I will be reading more of this.
posted by gerstle at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2015


I'm generally an advocate of taking the stairs but I live eight floors up and by the time you do eight double flights of small stairs you are going to be dizzy and out of breath and feel like crap. I run about 5 times a week and I don't take the stairs in my own building because it makes me feel awful. I'm pretty sure making people who are likely in poorer shape than me take the stairs is a recipe for near instant fail plus it rather disastrously simulates heart distress symptoms.

I used to take the stairs in my old building when I was three flights up and that actually felt good right up until I had a patella problem. Then I had to take the elevator and I always felt awkward about it because there is no way you can tell someone if someone without a limp is trying to let their knee take it easy for a while.

So yeah. Do what you can. Try and stretch what you can achieve a bit every time. Be as mobile as you can for the sake of your long term mobility. Weight loss is more about doing other stuff.

Also be sure and check your privilege. It probably won't fit in the overhead compartment.
posted by srboisvert at 8:24 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I fear stairs vs. elevators is going to be added to the list of topics that metafilter doesn't do well.
posted by TedW at 8:43 AM on August 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Then I had to take the elevator and I always felt awkward about it because there is no way you can tell someone if someone without a limp is trying to let their knee take it easy for a while.
Are you saying that you felt you needed to justify your use of an elevator to others or to yourself? I sincerely hope that no one gave you any kind of crap (out loud or just a side-eye) about taking an elevator three floors. It is exactly the reason you state - they have no idea what is going on in your body at that moment.
posted by soelo at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was feeling pretty good about how we structure meal time in my family, and then I get to this in the Do You Know How to Feed Your Children article, "Don't pressure your children to eat (one bite rules are fine), or withhold dessert unless they eat their veggies." We do the first part, and hardly ever have dessert (mainly because if we have desert on hand I eat too much of it), but we definitely tie getting seconds of anything to eating the veggies for the first helping. I guess that needs a rethink.

Although, since my kids seem to take genuine pleasure in eating the fruits and vegetables, so I probably don't have to worry too much.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


His junk food fundraising posts are pretty eyebrow-raising:

MS Society of Canada also Encourages Drinking Maple Syrup to End MS
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, this is an amazing amount of information from a resource I didn't know existed. Thanks for a great post.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:59 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


MS Society of Canada also Encourages Drinking Maple Syrup to End MS

You need the maple syrup to cut through the savoury of the poutine.
posted by srboisvert at 9:05 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is quickly turning into the most Metafilter thread ever,

Wouldn't that involve the question of whether it is correct to carry your obese cat up the stairs while watching True Detective on some new glasses-mounted broadcast gadget that runs or doesn't un on Windows, OS, and/or Linux?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:13 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


The problem with stairs that no one talks about is: it's not moderate exercise.

Stairs are intense, and that goes against "3 hours of moderate exercise" or even just "do your best". Along with probably most people, I take most stairs (at work, at home) at a rate that won't end up with me panting and embarrassing myself at the top of ... 1 flight. They're like wind sprints instead of a steady jog for a mile. Even at the gym, the real stair treadmills are really quite intense. I can go hours on a "step machine" but that stair treadmill had me in 10. Very few people use stairs for 10 flights, and even that's only a few minutes' worth. It's intense.

But it's taboo to admit that stairs are hard. They're part of almost everyone's daily life, right? It should embarrass you if you avoid stairs, right? The easiest way to add exercise is just to take the stairs, right? Do you feel the shame?

Fuck "just take the stairs".
posted by Dashy at 9:40 AM on August 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've lost 50 pounds in the past six months by following the advice of DietDoctor.com. Never hungry, I haven't exercised at all and I've been drinking bourbon like a meteor is heading for Kentucky. LCHF for the win. You may disagree. You may tell me it's terrible and bad for me. But it's working for me.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't think that Dr. Freedhoff has an obligation to provide advice that works for everyone in every category ever, so it's a bit pointless to say that he's being ableist, no? Especially when he points out his own privilege in this post. I'd guess that if you're too overweight to even use the stairs this probably isn't the blog for you. If his advice isn't for everyone, so be it, right?
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 9:46 AM on August 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think recognizing the difference between "here's the solution I found to my problem" and "here's the solution to your problem" is important, whether you're the person with the solution or the problem.
posted by Mooski at 10:23 AM on August 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


advice isn't for everyone, so be it, right?

This is the internet. Everything must be for everyone everywhere at all times or I shall take great umbrage at what is obviously an insult aimed at me specifically.
posted by aramaic at 10:24 AM on August 11, 2015 [24 favorites]


I fear stairs vs. elevators is going to be added to the list of topics that metafilter doesn't do well.

F*ck all y'all. I take the stairs...and I carry a f*cking elevator while I do it.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:27 AM on August 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


I don't even own an elevator.
posted by maryr at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2015 [59 favorites]


I speak from personal experience. It's almost impossible to maintain weight loss without completely giving up sugar. Even the tiniest treat is going to give you cravings, so cold turkey is the only way to go. It stinks, but it's true.

All I can say is that your food memories fade over time. It's been almost three years since I last ate ice cream, and I don't miss it at all, but I last ate chocolate a month ago and miss it more because not enough time has passed.
posted by Beholder at 10:39 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thank you for the links! I've been trying to add more exercise/movement/activity to my life and trying not to get sucked too much into the weight loss aspect of it, and it's hard to find engaging writing about it that's science-based and acknowledges that everyone's life is different, and that's ok.
posted by jaguar at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I speak from personal experience. It's almost impossible to maintain weight loss without completely giving up sugar. Even the tiniest treat is going to give you cravings, so cold turkey is the only way to go. It stinks, but it's true.

For you, maybe. I can take or leave sugar, and I almost never crave it. Again, it's silly to say that what's true for one person is automatically true for another.
posted by jaguar at 10:43 AM on August 11, 2015 [18 favorites]


He's got a point about exercise. I joined a gym a few months back, and I've actually gained weight. (I don't think it's fat, though.) My pre-existing fat seems to have moved around a bit, but it didn't disappear. The only way to consistently lose weight is use more calories than you take in over a significant period of time, and that requires either: 1. A whole lot of exercise every day, or 2. dietary restriction, or both.

In a way, it's a good thing that exercise doesn't burn fat more efficiently. If it did we'd all be in constant danger of literally starving to death.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:43 AM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, "Exercise is the world's best drug - it's just not a weight loss drug" is a wonderful phrasing of a wonderful concept.
posted by jaguar at 10:50 AM on August 11, 2015 [25 favorites]


I don't think the stairs vs elevator/escalator is the real issue. By opting for "stairs" one is saying "yeah, i understand the importance of being more active in my daily life".

So take the elevator all day, every day. But if you are exercising on a regular basis, the elevator vs. stairs thing is moot.

It's a way of getting sedentary people to be less sedentary...it's not like they are more likely to accept "walk or bike to work". So you gotta go for the stairs vs. elevator stuff.

Baby steps....on the stairs.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've lost 50 pounds in the past six months by following the advice of DietDoctor.com. Never hungry, I haven't exercised at all and I've been drinking bourbon like a meteor is heading for Kentucky.

Ok. I want to know more about this bourbon diet.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:08 AM on August 11, 2015 [8 favorites]


I haven't exercised at all and I've been drinking bourbon like a meteor is heading for Kentucky.

I kind of do this already, but I'm sad to report I'm a touch avoir du poids.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2015


For you, maybe. I can take or leave sugar, and I almost never crave it. Again, it's silly to say that what's true for one person is automatically true for another.

Perhaps you're blessed, but most people are going to have worse cravings after splurging, not less. Honestly, if most people were like you, we wouldn't have an epidemic of dieters who constantly take off and put on the same weight over and over again. How many people reading this have successfully dieted only to regain all their weight, because they decided to reward themselves with just one treat? That's because that treat woke up their cravings and caused them to jump back into their old eating habits, so for anyone trying to lose weight, simply measure your cravings before you eat the sugary food (high carb, whatever) and then measure your cravings again an hour later.

BTW, when I said sugar, I also meant high carb, but they usually go together. Basically, anything sweet tasting is going to trigger cravings. The worst offender being soft drinks, because of the caffeine, but even fruit can cause a spike in cravings.
posted by Beholder at 11:30 AM on August 11, 2015


How many people reading this have successfully dieted only to regain all their weight, because they decided to reward themselves with just one treat?

Pretty much every single post of the linked blog disagrees with this point, so I'm not sure why you're presenting it as a given.
posted by jaguar at 11:34 AM on August 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


As a general rule, the words "it's pretty simple" belong nowhere near a discussion of dietary habits, especially not when weight loss is also involved.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:37 AM on August 11, 2015 [17 favorites]


I don't take the stairs in my own building because it makes me feel awful
Try slowing down a little bit. I finally tried keeping my pace a bit easier (just below having to breath heavily - about 160 bpm heart rate for me) a week ago on a steep trail, after making it my habit to charge up stairs and trails as fast as I could, and the difficulty eased amazingly, even as I managed a better pace than anyone else on the trail at the same time (let alone my own personal best). This is purely anecdotal, but if you're running five times a week, you've got the fitness level to make it worth trying, no?
posted by wotsac at 11:46 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find Freedhof a refreshing change of pace compared to the braying ass brigade that is the combined force of the heavily industrialized weight loss business and the self-appointed tut-tut squad that gives left-leaning folks the opportunity to enjoy the same kind of moralizing incessant smugness that the religious right applies to "health issues" like being queer while feeling like self-righteousness is okay because we are just trying to help you.

A decade ago, I lost a substantial chunk of weight I'd accumulated over a decade of immobile indentured cubicle servitude, after losing the beige job and spending a couple years as a building contractor. I'd cashed out a huge 401k and could afford to eat healthy food, and because my schedule was not set by some tiresome middle management drone, I could afford to take a midday thirty minute nap in a corner of the job site when the peaky energy curve that you get when you're dieting valleys out and leaves you groggy. When I went to work for other people again, I lucked out and got a job in a museum with a sprawling campus, and I was salaried, worked long enough hours that I could continue my occasional midday naps and I was on my feet almost nonstop, to the point that I dumped my desk in favor of a tall standing workbench/desk.

The weight stayed off, and I moved on and up to another arts world job...that turned out to be more desk-bound than I'd hoped, but I biked between the two facilities I ran and the head office, and had a fair amount of physical work maintaining a giant clock, a huge garden, and tending to old buildings, and I was still doing well when I injured myself on the job and spent six months nearly immobilized by pain. Regained most of my lost weight then, alas. Pulled it together, got the nerve damage under control with physical therapy I could afford because I had a combination of health insurance and money set aside that covered the uncovered stuff, lost a bit of weight, but the job bogged down at the desk, and I was just on the leading edge of a recurrence of the chronic pain when my department merged with another department in the same field, when seniority came up, I was laid off.

Thing is, we Western folks love that sort of sports movie attitude where we think it's all just a matter of being gung ho and toughing it out and putting in 105% and otherwise spewing motivational poster bullshit, but having lots of extra time, no money, and a chronic pain issue that I couldn't treat because I couldn't afford to meant that I spent a large chunk of 2013 on my side, until I got lucky again when I spent a week with my family in Georgia, cooking and working around the old family homestead, and, oddly not being in pain because...well, I had to really think about it and then it hit me—I never sat down. Chairs, as it happens, are poisonous to me.

The ACA came along and I could work again, largely because I could afford the risk of working in construction with health insurance to cover me if I was hurt on the job. I kept up with the old exercises my physical therapist had given me in 2011, and I cleaned up my weight bench and started lifting weights every other day. I don't "exercise" in the plastic-fantastic American way, where we drive everywhere, then drive to the gym to simulate being an actual person in the world—I treat my truck as an occasionally necessary poison, and I walk to the store, to the library, to the movie theater, or wherever I'm going, and I take my bike when it's a longer distance, or my motorcycle when I can, because there's a physicality to riding a motorcycle that is dynamic in a way a car just isn't.

I weigh one pound less than I did in 2006 when I decided I wanted to lose some weight, but I've never been in better shape. I've haven't been more active, on a moment-by-moment basis, since I was a kid. I'm strong enough to kick the door off a car and I carried the old refrigerator out of my current workplace like a backpack. Hell, when I do any tests at the doctor's office, they always think they've picked up the wrong reports because my numbers disagree with what is supposed to be true because I'm a burly dude.

"Joe, you really need to lose a little weight," say concerned family members, and it's that same old eye-roller because people seem to think that we fat people don't know that we're fat, and that the need to keep on telling us, lest we forget.

I've been on that ride before, so I just shrug, but what I'd tell a better informed person is that I am at exactly the best weight and fitness I can achieve right now, with my current financial situation (dire), my current work situation (wildly overbooked as a freelancer), and in terms of energy level throughout work days that vary from heavy construction to computer-bound (learning about the glycemic index in the last few years really helped a lot, though). When I have had the right circumstances to work solely on my health, I've done so, but right now, the equation is more complex...but that doesn't mean that I'm not attentive to my health any more than one is being neglectful of one's finances for not buying a house when one cannot afford a house. When there is space and the resources to improve, I will improve.

When you genuinely can't move forward on a goal because the situation isn't just right, there's no shame in that, but we're raised to be ashamed of ourselves, and of our presumed failings, and our supposed moral weaknesses, and that persistent autoerotic shaming, as well as the constant attention from the tut-tut squad, undoes us when "do the best you can" is absolutely good enough for this moment, right here and right now.

Really getting things under control is hard. Being a person in the world is hard. Not living somewhere stupid, where you're doomed to be a slave to a car is hard. Not working in sea of cubicles when that's what your fellow countrymen do is hard. Turning down all the treats and indulgences that massive teams of corporate demons have engineered to be as addictive as heroin is hard. Affording good, healthy food that's satisfying and doesn't knock you out in cyclical sugar crashes is hard. Staying motivated, and knowing that you are a good and worthy and noble animal even when you have to compromise and put some things off and plan for when you can do things you need to do, but can't now? Hard.

Being right here, right now, fully immersed in the present moment, and being comfortable being whatever we are, no matter what messages we've taken in, even as we intend to change things about our corporeal selves? Hard. Very hard.

Worse still, it all calls on us to learn ourselves. My diet will probably not work for you. I could take some smugness in how little sugar I consume, but I just don't like sugar as much as, say, a little room temperature wedge of Gorgonzola Piccante. The life I've built for myself will probably not work for you. The little town in which I live, where I can walk or bike everywhere? I was brought here as a baby. It's just luck that I like it and was never geographically ambitious enough to move elsewhere. I can work in construction because I'm built that way and because my dad taught me how to build things and fix things. What seems simple to me is only simple because I've occupied this place in the world for a very long time.

So, if you turn away the "simple" solutions and the easy solutions and the obvious solutions and the medically approved solutions and one weird trick solutions and the solutions with an acre of fine print, you're left with a much harder road, but if you think that you are worth the effort, you're on the journey with the best traveling companion you'll ever find.
posted by sonascope at 11:50 AM on August 11, 2015 [53 favorites]


As an RDN I'm so happy to see Yoni Freedhoff getting some nice press. I'm a long-time reader of his blog and I appreciate the fact that his advice is reasonable, based on scientific research and his experience as a practitioner, is meant for the long term rather than just lose weight now!! (and gain it back later), and takes into account the actual challenges that real people face when they attempt lifestyle change.

I've read his book and it is hands-down the best "diet" book I've encountered, in that it is closest to what I tell my own patients, and it's what I've actually seen work in practice among patients who've been successful with long-term weight loss.
posted by antinomia at 11:52 AM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I take the elevator at work because it makes it easier, energy-wise, for me to get through the day. My energy is patchy for reasons that aren't physically apparent (bipolar).

I also figured out recently that the reason I hate cardio and have always hated cardio is because two of the main physical results of cardio (breathlessness & raised heart rate) both individually make me really anxious, and the combined effect is hell. Enough to totally negate the famous exercise endorphins that I thought must be made up or I was too perma-depressed to have any of because I always felt worse rather than better after working out.

Raised heart rate makes me anxious because it feels like pure anxiety that I've induced myself on purpose. Breathlessness makes me anxious because I developed a complex around sounding out of breath when I was younger. My somewhat-fat-prone and also super-fat-shamey dad, who really really didn't want fat kid, repeatedly shamed me about my fitness level (while we're here, dad, thanks for the eating disorder; it's a shame for you that all your perfectionism, crash dieting and self-denial didn't stop you dying of cancer at 56, but it kinda makes me feel better). I internalised that message as "oh no, if people hear I can't breathe when I've done active stuff they'll know I'm one of those bad fat people who isn't fit", so I started trying to suppress heavy breathing as much as possible. Which, turns out, makes things worse and makes me feel like shit. So when I do cardio, I feel like I can't breathe because I need to breathe more than usual but I've literally forgotten how to breathe normally in that situation so I feel like I can't breathe even more. And also realy anxious.

I started lifting with kettlebells a few months ago, and it's the first time I've found exercise I can genuinely keep doing every day without hating it and myself and feeling like shit. And if I hadn't figured this out on my own by pure chance, I would probably have gone to my grave feeling like a gross person who couldn't do anything physical. Because no one was going to challenge the assumption that I felt shitty when I exercised because I was fat and bad and unfit in the first place, and that the only way I could change that would be by pushing through, which I don't ever feel like doing because of how shitty it makes me feel. Strength training, turns out, is awesome. I like that the aim is to be more strong. That jives really nicely with my whole philosophy on my body and the purpose of moving it. And it doesn't feel like a can't-breathe-y punishment, which cardio always has done.

Bonus: when it comes to HAES/non-deranged food advice, I'm a huge fan of the Fat Nutritionist's blog.


I don't take the stairs in my own building because it makes me feel awful

Try slowing down a little bit.


I read the first line as a complete sentence, not a request for advice.
posted by terretu at 12:43 PM on August 11, 2015 [18 favorites]


I read the first line as a complete sentence, not a request for advice.

In addition to Gygesringtone's excellent point, this is another one that should be stapled onto the top of every weight-loss discussion on the Blue.
posted by Etrigan at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm off to the gym right now. I don't know if I will take the stairs or not-- local thunderstorms means my knees are very stiff and painful. I felt pretty triumphant last year when I was able to get up the stairs only a few months after a hip replacement, and now it looks like I'm headed for a knee replacement. It sometimes makes me a bit blue but I try not to put too much importance on whether or not I can make it up the stairs today. My gym has a great motivational poster that I keep in mind: "No matter how slowly you move, you are still lapping everyone who is sitting on the couch.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:03 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not if that couch is located in an elevator! Check and mate, health.
posted by No-sword at 1:30 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm puzzled why people are calling this guy "ableist" when the core argument he makes is that exercise is not a valid prescription for weight-loss. He says it is good for other reasons but almost completely useless for weight loss. He quite specifically rejects stair climbing as useful pointing out that it would take 122 flights of stairs to burn off a mini mars bar.
posted by srboisvert at 1:58 PM on August 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


I like the cut of this dude's jib.

Not one person here cares, but I've lost 25 pounds in a year through "exercise alone". It's not the easiest way, I guess, and I'm making no claims about health (I average 30-40 standard drinks/week). I love eating all sorts of horrible things, and a stiff whisky and diet coke after work makes me feel great. I was surprised by the fact that getting up earlier to exercise actually meant I got more done before work.

A year ago I hadn't tried running in over a decade. First time out it took me almost 45 minutes to go three miles (yeah, that's basically a not very fast walk, I know). Now I run 21 miles/week, and did 5 miles the other day at a blazing (for me) 8:30 average pace.

Ymmv of course. But I feel great, and am hoping in another year I can say I've dropped another 25.
posted by booooooze at 2:23 PM on August 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


There are many ways to have a disability, and I didn't find his blog particularly ableist.

Take the stairs, not because of calories, but because even small amounts of exercise are pretty good for you. When I worked on the 6th floor, I took the elevator to 5, and did 1 flight of stairs, working my way up to not using the elevator. One co-worker with a disability did the stairs faster than me, able is as able does. Exercise is also an excellent way to reduce your chances of contracting diabetes, and diabetes is very, very bad for you.

I'm not a fat advocate or well-versed in how to discuss the issue, but his Obesity Book, linked as a pdf, is, so far, freaking awesome. There have been many comments and some ask.mes from people who have been fat-shamed at the doctor, and who then don't want to go back to the doctor. I'd give the book to any medical professional who needs to get educated about it, which is most of them.

And, dear lord, his commentary on sugar and crappy food-like products being *everywhere* are spot on.
posted by theora55 at 2:37 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Diet Fix is one of the better books on nutrition and exercise I've read, if not the best, and I've been plowing through some pretty godawful stuff along the way. I actually feel as though his strategies are something I can healthfully and successfully implement and get somewhere with.

Don't know if his ideas will work for everybody, but what he advocates sounds to me reasonable, and most of all practical, after I've gone through years of trying and failing at many and sundry diets that were supposed to be the be-all and end-all for "real" weight loss.
posted by blucevalo at 2:47 PM on August 11, 2015


"Not one person here cares, but I've lost 25 pounds in a year through "exercise alone"."

Congratulations! That a great achievement. And by exercising early in the morning you might be giving yourself a metabolic boost throughout the day.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:01 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reader, I took the stairs.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:07 PM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


i'll just say spending several months in a wheelchair has been amongst the most enlightening experiences of my life.
posted by mrdaneri at 3:49 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Taking the stairs in a wheelchair is FUCKING HARD.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:27 PM on August 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Having just come from a doctor's appointment where my (possibly soon-to-be-ex) doc literally said, "I feel like I have to harrass you about your weight!" all chirpy perky, as if that is not an assholish and counterproductive way to start the conversation... I'm off to read more of this doctor's work linked above. While I keep taking the elevator, because my knees and ankles like when I save them for actual hiking, not smug moral superiority in my workplace/on the Blue.
posted by TwoStride at 4:37 PM on August 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


This blog is nice and refreshing, thanks.

And about the "take the stairs" thing: Living in Utah, it's endlessly amusing that everyone thinks that's the #1 weight loss tip. Because THERE AREN'T THAT MANY STAIRS HERE.

I've lived into my 40s without ever having a job where there were *any* stairs to take. My house doesn't have any stairs. And in the small town I live in now, I'd pretty much have to visit a hotel to find a place with 4 flights of stairs to take.

And... IT DOESN'T WORK. It's just bad for your knees and doesn't burn as many calories as a brisk walk or a nice bike ride.
posted by mmoncur at 4:38 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think I'm probably one of those people who need to just give up sugar, honestly. Though carbs will probably come after that, but one thing at a time. Sugar takes over my brain; I found myself grabbing a damn packet of the stuff almost without awareness today, because I'd let myself eat a fucking peppermint an hour before. What the hell, body. I wish I could just scrub my brain of that sick need entirely. But I have mostly let go of the weird societal expectation that I should be able to eat tiny tastes of it and not enough to gain weight. Sorry, I can't.

Exercise only works for me if I'm doing something purposeful, so generally housework/yardwork. I can't make myself want to jump up and down rhythmically in sync with other people for love or money.
posted by emjaybee at 8:53 PM on August 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


And, dear lord, his commentary on sugar and crappy food-like products being *everywhere* are spot on.

I just ate a meal pieced together from a grocery store deli counter. It was actually pretty good, except that the salad was astoundingly, almost nauseatingly, sweet. Who on earth puts that much sugar in a salad?
posted by Dip Flash at 8:53 PM on August 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just ate a meal pieced together from a grocery store deli counter. It was actually pretty good, except that the salad was astoundingly, almost nauseatingly, sweet. Who on earth puts that much sugar in a salad?

I have a weakness for that nuclear-green KFC coleslaw, and also the kind you can get at deli counters. But I kind of categorize it as "candy" when I'm putting it in my face, because it's so unbelievably sweet.

Louis CK was right: "The meal's not over when I feel full. The meal's over when I hate myself."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:04 AM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ok. I want to know more about this bourbon diet.

LCHF is Low Carb High Fat. It's similar (or, exactly similar) to the ketogenic diet. Low carb like Atkins, sure, but also focusing on high fat foods -- stuff like whipping cream, meat, cheese, bacon, avocados, coconut, eggs, nuts. Leafy greens high in fiber are A-OK, too. Berries are sweet and low-ish carbs.

It's filling. It's tasty. Expensive! But hey, how much is losing 50 pounds worth to you?

Beer has carbs. Wine has carbs (not as much as beer, but still).

Guess what doesn't have carbs? Spirits!

Guess what spirits taste great without the need for sugary mixers? Whiskey!

Guess what kind of whiskey I like? Bourbon!

Works for me!

This message brought to you by Makers Mark.
Makers Mark: The Volvo of Bourbon.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:26 AM on August 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Who on earth puts that much sugar in a salad?

Sugar in a salad? WTF? Is this really a thing somewhere? or is this like those American salads I see on Pinterest that have jello or marshmallows in them?
posted by harriet vane at 5:32 AM on August 13, 2015


It is almost impossible to exaggerate how much sugar or other sweetness is added to everything in America
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sugar in a salad? WTF?
I assume it was in the dressing and not granules shaken on top. Sometimes there are candied walnuts or sunflower seeds that add sugar as well.
posted by soelo at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are some very sweet Italian dressings out there.
posted by maryr at 12:37 PM on August 13, 2015


I love this stairs discussion. I work for a sports governing body in a building full of sports governing bodies. People roll their eyes at me on a regular basis for taking the lift instead of the stairs. I hate the stairs. They're really steep, and there's two flights of them, and I run three times a week - I don't need to walk up the stairs for the sheer bloody hairshirtedness of it.

One day a sign went up in the lift saying we should take the stairs because we would burn 10 calories doing it. 10 calories! Least persuasive health information campaign ever.
posted by penguin pie at 5:20 PM on August 13, 2015


There was an elevator congestion problem in my office. The facilities people wanted to put up signage that said "If you have meeting that's one floor up, take the stairs! It's great exercise!" or some such.

I forced them to revise it to "If you are able to, please consider using the stairs."

At least there's that.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:33 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sugar in a salad? WTF? Is this really a thing somewhere?

The popularization, through the efforts of megacorporate marketing departments, of fucking raspberry vinaigrette, sliced strawberries, and glossy sweet walnut mess as salad dressings is closely related to my coming to hate "salad" even more. My prior resistance to salads is that (A) I'm not rich, (B) I live alone, so home salads ain't happening, and (C) I'm not a rabbit has been amended with (D) I'm not an infantile rabbit with insecurity issues, which is what that "luxurious" comfort food thing is all about.
posted by sonascope at 5:12 AM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honey dijon dressing persuaded me that kale was in fact edible. The ratio of dressing to kale has dropped substantially since the first attempt.
posted by peppermind at 5:39 AM on August 14, 2015


Kale is meant to be mixed in smoothies with pineapple or sauteed with other greens and a bit of bacon.
posted by bgal81 at 1:30 PM on August 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


The popularization, through the efforts of megacorporate marketing departments, of fucking raspberry vinaigrette, sliced strawberries, and glossy sweet walnut mess as salad dressings is closely related to my coming to hate "salad" even more.

most bottled / commercial dressings in the USA are completely saturated with HFCS, "cane juice" or other weasel words for C12H22O11.

my weight dramatically improved, not from exercise (which I do a ton of, see also "decent amateur bicycle racer") but when I got my head around how much sugar / simple carb I was eating, and more importantly, what constitutes a realistic portion size. Realizing that parental Depression-era "clean your plate" food shaming was just another thing my mom did to me, rather than for me, was another breakthrough.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:12 PM on August 14, 2015


suggests that you just frickin' eat butter

Sir yes sir!
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:40 PM on August 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


(This doc is great!)
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:46 PM on August 16, 2015


I found his book on MP3 through my library and so far so good. Nice mellow Canadian voice, too. (He narrates it himself.)
posted by epersonae at 9:37 AM on August 19, 2015


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