Horrible Pieces of Advice Provided By Fools

June 21, 2004

If there’s one thing that drove me from ambivalence about publicly discussing the Losing of the Cow, if there’s one thing that made me feel like I was just going to have to get over the weird secrecy that sometimes settles over this whole issue (“The first rule of Fat Club,” and so forth), if there’s one thing that made me think, “All right, whatever, I’m telling,” it’s the wildly diverse expanse of unbelievably asinine advice about losing weight that you can find scattered everywhere you look. I’m not even talking about the Big Questions — surgery pro and con, Atkins and South Beach and Sugar Busters and whatever else. I’m talking about insipid little “tips” and “hints” and “tricks” and other “unbelievably ill-informed yap-flapping” that your local idiotic magazine columnist is congealing into a revolting mass for the August Take It Off By Christmas! issue as we speak.

So here, in no particular order, are my top ten choices for the most infuriating, nitwitty, knuckleheaded advice that I have run across — in most cases, over and over and over again.

1. Want chocolate? Have a pickle!

No, people really say this, and things like it. The idea being that if you crave something sweet and you counter it with something salty, you’ll kill the craving. I’m not saying this has never worked for anyone — what I’m saying is that if it works, it’s because you don’t want the chocolate that much in the first place. If you really want the chocolate, the pickle isn’t going to do anything except change your setting from “want chocolate” to “want chocolate, and am grumpy and irritable.”

I am a great believer in learning to recognize real cravings in the “craving” sense rather than the “feel like it” sense, and then . . . well, giving in to them, within reason. There was a woman on the WW boards a week or two ago who posted this frantic plea, complete with many exclamation points, about how she was madly, insanely craving a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Couldn’t stop thinking about it. Couldn’t concentrate. Couldn’t talk herself out of it. What, she asked should she do?

“Well, you could take a tablespoon of whipped peanut butter, and you could mix it with a cup of Fat-Free Cool Whip, and then . . . ”

“Take three peanuts and split them in half and lay them carefully on the flat side of a Hershey’s kiss, and then . . . ”

“EAT THE FUCKING BLIZZARD.”

Yeah, that last one was me. Because . . . are you kidding? It’s a Blizzard. It’s not a nuclear weapon. And honestly, she’s had a Blizzard before if she’s craving one that badly. She knows they’re not THAT good. If they’re driving her to distraction, I would personally advise eating one. Or eating half of one. Or eating three spoonfuls of one and throwing it in the trash. (I have done, roughly speaking, all of those things in similar circumstances.) And whatever plan she’s following, count it for whatever it’s worth. I find that a lot of the magic drains out of that stuff when you suck out the emotional sway it has over you when you’re posting in all-caps on the internet about it.

Another example: There are people on those same message boards who will tell you that you can make a margarita from Diet Sprite, a tiny amount of lime juice, Crystal Light lemon-lime powder, and a tablespoon and a half of tequila. TWO POINTS, WOOOOOO!

Right. Two points. And it might even be tasty. But that is not a margarita. If you drink something that is mostly Diet Sprite, and you expect it to be a margarita, you will wind up wanting to beat the crap out of someone. Don’t take yourself there. Have the margarita or have the spiked Diet Sprite, but they’re not the same thing. Better to get yourself accustomed to the fact that you can only have a margarita once in a while, I believe, than to have a sad imitation every day and tell yourself it’s the same thing.

2. If you find yourself tempted to eat, take off all your clothes and stare at yourself in the mirror, and think about whether you reeeeeeally want to eat.

Yes, that’s brilliant. Because what you ought to encourage someone to do when she’s trying to climb out of a pit of despair is to embrace her disgust with herself and poach in it like a salmon fillet. Great plan. Hate Yourself Thin in 30 Days.

Sure, you can call this some weird form of “accountability,” but to me, it’s gratuitous and cheap, sort of the porn of self-loathing. And in addition to the corrosive effects of self-loathing generally, I think it’s safe to say that the one thing that fifty years of this kind of advice have conclusively proved is that self-loathing is the one thing that we can safely say is ineffective. Shame has been tried. Scolding has been tried. What else have you got?

3. You should want to lose weight only for pure, noble, warm-hearted reasons. Never be angry. Never want to please anyone.

Okay, this is where we discuss the seven deadly sins.

Sloth and gluttony are kind of not helpful, I will grant you. The other five, however, are valuable tools in my personal arsenal, and I use them regularly. Pride? Obviously. Envy? Yep. Lust? Um . . . heh. Anger? Done it. Greed? Please. Heard anything about the differences in pay between fat people and thin people recently? That’s five deadly sins that are on your side and only two that are working against you. With odds like that, there’s nothing to do except embrace sin, within reason.

I mean, yes, for the most part, my motivations are pure. I want health, I want control, I want blah blah blah. Much of the time, I’m hippy-skippy-productive-positive-thinking girl about all of this. But if what it takes on a particular day is concentrating really hard on how much I want to stick it to some piece of shit who yelled an insult at me out of a goddamn car window in 1994 because I had the audacity to walk down the street? Then on that day, that’s what it takes. My subconscious mind certainly isn’t polite about the crap it sometimes tosses out to mess with me; I might as well throw everything I’ve got back.

4. A great person to go to for advice is your doctor.

This one is tricky. For some people, who have some doctors, this is actually very good advice. But it’s also very perilous advice, because unfortunately, there remain a certain number of completely clueless doctors, and they are some of the worst people you can possibly talk to.

When I was in eighth grade, I went on my own initiative to see our family doctor, who had been taking care of me for so long that my file at his office said “Baby Linda.” He’s the one who “put [me] on a diet” when I was eight, and he’s also the one who later put me on the shakes. But anyway, I went to see him, which required pretty much all of the resolve I had when I was that age, and I told him that I wanted to lose weight. I just went totally belly-up and asked him for help, which was . . . oy, embarrassing, sort of, and incredibly uncomfortable, and . . . I mean, I was in eighth grade, you know? Hard time.

Anyway, he stepped out of the office for a minute, and I heard him across the hall talking about me to the nurse — who was a really nice lady, actually. And this is what I heard him say, in a voice dripping with skepticism: “Well, she says she wants to do something about this.” And then he came back into the office, and he was carrying a little yellow booklet with black letters on it. “I just love this,” he said with a bitter chuckle. “The title of this just says it all.” He handed it to me, and the title was, Are You Really Serious About Losing Weight?

Sigh. No. No, Dr. Dumb-Ass, I’m not serious. I’m just kidding around. You know us fourteen-year-old fat girls and the great time we’re having about it. Don’t mind us, we’ll just be over here stuffing our faces with bonbons in a carefree fashion, as you know we are wont to do.

Jerk.

5. Be “Really Serious About Losing Weight.”

Yeah. Dr. Dumb-Ass’s little book brings me to my next point, which is that with all the really difficult, really complicated old stuff that you have to slog through when you’re doing this, it’s really easy — and really deadly — to lose your sense of humor. I don’t think anyone does anything for life that feels like drudgery. If I let myself become grim and unhappy about it, all contemplation and no fun, then I start to get antsy and want to quit.

You just have to get your chin up off the floor. People who do this with some slump-shouldered, miserable, lip-biting mentality are doomed. I’m not sure what expression I used to wear while taking my daily walk in the tunnels under the Capitol complex in St. Paul, listening to Tina Turner singing “River Deep, Mountain High” when there was nobody within a hundred yards of me, but suffice it to say I am fairly sure it was not “grudging.” I mean . . . it’s Tina Turner, people. There was shimmying. And technically speaking, it was for my health.

6. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

Okay, I despise this little saying, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, the fact that you look at a fat person and assume that they live to eat is a pile of judgmental bullshit. Even at my heaviest, I had friends, I was in school, I loved my family, I loved music, I was writing . . . I was unhappy a lot, and I had a lot of bad habits, but I wasn’t living to eat, dipshits.

Furthermore, that “eat to live” thing kind of makes it sound like you should subtract the entire joyful or pleasant experience of food and think of it as, basically, vitamins. That will not work. People like eating good food. You don’t have to be an American-ified, McDonalds-eating, sofa-surfing testament to empty calories to enjoy food. And you certainly don’t have to become, for lack of a better term, a medicinal eater in order to lose weight. What crap. The best thing I have made at home in the last year, probably, was an absolutely perfectly seared piece of salmon that I did in my very own cast iron skillet. It was absolutely awesome. I don’t suffer, believe me. My own experience suggests that plunging yourself into that anti-tasty-food attitude just sends you back on the cycle of “cheating” and “repenting” and a lot of other bad-news behaviors that you can’t sustain.

7. Pretend you are adopted.

Okay, I admit I have heard this advice only once, but it is here to represent an entire list of pieces of bad advice found in a book that I read over and over (and over) again in junior high, which was called The Woman Doctor’s Diet For Teenage Girls. The part of the book I hated the most (aside from the part where she said you shouldn’t wear your hair curly, because one of her patients came in that way once and “looked like a fat Little Orphan Annie doll” — yes, this was a doctor) was her list of “excuses” and “responses.”

They were like this:

Dieting is boring.
Being thin is exciting!

I was meant to be fat; my mother was fat.
Pretend you are adopted.

Seriously, that was her answer. “Pretend you are adopted.” Not “yes, you may have a predisposition, but where you are in the range is up to you,” or anything like that. Just “pretend you are adopted.”

I read that book until it fell apart. I remember how she said that you should come home after school and, if you feel hungry, go for a walk and then open a window. Open a window? I remember how she said that it may be reasonable to consider surgery if you’re 100 pounds overweight, because someone may lose “20, 30, even 40 pounds,” but that’s about it, and they’ll still be fat. I remember how she told about her friend the doctor who would test girls to see whether they were overweight by throwing them over his shoulder and seeing whether he got a pain in his groin. She thought that was really great. I find myself a little more skeptical. I mean, Dr. He-Man gets a hernia and you wind up on bread and water.

My point is only that the worst advice is no advice — it’s the “fuck you, loser” advice, which is basically what that entire book was. (Be sure the read the reviews on Amazon; fortunately, I am not the only one to have noticed the problems with this book in retrospect.)

8. The Sacred Trinity.

No, no, not that sacred trinity. This sacred trinity: Celery. Cottage cheese. Melba toast.

I totally get the use of celery as an aromatic — in a recipe like a stew, with onions and carrots. Other than that, the persistence of these three foods in the Diet Hall of Fame utterly mystifies me. I mean, they’re mostly gone now, and that’s a good thing. And yes, there are devotees of celery and peanut butter, or of cottage cheese and peaches.

But seriously, this is the part where I briefly become Jerry Seinfeld, because . . . what is with cottage cheese? And has anyone ever eaten Melba toast? How did Melba toast become famous? Was this before Saltines? I mean, granted, it predated reduced-fat Triscuits and many of my other ubiquitous snacks, but how bad can things have been?

And celery . . . I mean, I understand the raw vegetable thing. I do. But . . . baby carrots, you know? At least they taste like something, and they have nutritional value. Celery? Crunchy water. Iceberg lettuce sticks. Shut up, celery.

9. Television is the devil.

Yeah. It’s killing me.

10. Think about how great you’ll feel about yourself . . . later.

This one is always really well-intentioned. It’s also wrong.

I really wish I had been keeping a better journal at the time I started this whole thing in earnest, because I no longer can really put myself in that place — such long odds, such a long way to go, none of the little day-to-day rewards I get now with getting into littler clothes and gaining confidence and getting praise and so forth. I mean, it’s hard now. I think sometimes about what I did then, and I think . . . that, by far, is the thing that I’ve done that I’m most proud of, is the first day. People started to congratulate me a lot later, but if you want to know when I had my Rocky Balboa moment, it was then. It’s not easy now, but it’s easier. Then? Good grief. With the news stories telling you how bad your chances are, and the scale staring back at you like, “Oh, RIGHT,” and how stupid you feel trying to walk or get on and off of a step in the living room (what I used to affectionately refer to as “the hamster wheel”) when you feel so . . . well, ungainly . . . that’s hard. And when I say hard, I’m saying . . . hard.

So I wish they’d tell you, you know . . . don’t imagine how good you’re going to feel. Just go ahead and feel good now. Every day on the hamster wheel is a day you’ve already won.

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84 Responses to “Horrible Pieces of Advice Provided By Fools”

  1. Dani Says:

    Fantabulous entry; had me nodding my head and grinning and outright laughing. And that last one, #10? That one is gold, solid GOLD. That reason exists because of us, deciding when to start and how to start and how to keep going when there’s not even a light at the end of the tunnel to be seen.

  2. Jenny Says:

    All the doctors I have encountered have always tsk tsked my weight and told me I need to do something about it. NO SHIT! And everything they suggested I do could have been pulled out of a fad fitness magazine. I could have saved myself $55 and feeling like a loser if I’d just bought the magazine.

    Maybe in future posts you could cover how to start on the road to permanent weight loss (after having been detoured countless times by crap diet plans).

    I have been on numerous diets and somehow worked up the motivation to attempt them all, but I’m not sure I have the guts or strength or whatever you want to call it to try again.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us! It’s so encouraging to encounter people who are triumphing.

  3. Lane Says:

    I heard about your site on pamie.com, and even though I don’t have a (big) weight problem, I still really enjoy it. Keep it up; you’re a really good writer.

  4. Stacy Says:

    AMEN SISTA! By far the most honest (and hilarious) post about weight-loss issues I’ve read in a long time. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  5. ladymisstree Says:

    I’m with you on all of these. ‘Pretend you are adopted’? Sweet skateboarding Christ? And add to the emotional troubles you may already have? These people are smoking crack.

    I hate ‘nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.’ Well, sweetheart, if I KNEW (or remembered) how good being thin felt, I wouldn’t be here then, would I? I swear, the next person who spouts that shite at me is getting a knee-capping.

  6. Jessica Says:

    Word, as the kids say. [Although…I like cottage cheese. But it has a lot of Points.] I never got that “lose weight to EMBRACE YOUR HEALTH” bit. I lost twenty pounds because of 1)vanity 2)anger and 3)yes, lust. The face that I feel way better is just a nice side benefit. I mean, I know me: I’m the girl who didn’t start exercising until she got some cute workout clothes. I AM SHALLOW. Embracing my shallow-osity is the only thing that got me off my ass.

    Anyhoo. Great entry. You rock.

  7. Joelle Says:

    dude.

    I can’t even talk. I nearly pissed myself on this entry. You are so right.

    omg. ow.

    See? there’s another good one: laugh yourself thin! it’s a great ab workout!

    Yeah, eat me, Family Circle.

  8. sara Says:

    Ahhh… another brilliant entry. How do you know exactly what goes on in my head? I spend a significant amount of time on the WW boards when I’m bored at work and I too question some of those posts that freak out over cravings. If I want a margarita (mmmm, margaritas), then, damn it, I’m having a margarita. I’ve been losing weight for nearly a year and that kind of thinking hasn’t derailed my progress yet.

  9. Kim Says:

    Yes. All of this is very true. My addition? SHAPE magazine gave the adivice last year “If you are craving a cupcake? Imagine a fly on it.”

    Yeah. That works.

    Thanks again for a great entry.

  10. Kerry Says:

    “Unbelievably ill-informed yap-flapping.” Love it, and you’re oh so right. Especially on #2. It’s a struggle every day to look in the mirror and feel halfway decent about what I see, and these idiots are saying, “Go ahead, hate yourself!”

  11. Laura C. Says:

    I also found your site via Pamie and have been loving it. I’m also in the Twin cities so woo-hoo!

    I too get really tired of the self-loathing and shame that gets piled on dieters as “motivation”. One of my co-workers and I got into a bit over a fight because she literally hates herself at her current weight and looks in the mirror and mentally hurls insults at herself. She was deciding to start Weight Watchers because she was so digusted with her body and I got so frustrated and pissed off at her for thinking about herself that way. She didn’t understand why I was trying to get her to love her fat self, like the fat wasn’t part of her, like there was no way she could be awesome if she was overweight. I hate this idea that if you are thin, you will totally be happier and have all your emotional shit together. It’s much more likely that if you don’t like yourself fat, you won’t like yourself thin or that you still won’t be happy with your exterior.

    I also hate the whole “eat to live, not live to eat” phrase because it just perpetuates a “war” against food. Food should not be my enemy. Food never did anything to me. It didn’t shove itself down my throat. It didn’t force me to make cookies that day I was bored or sad or whatever.

    I’m currently doing weight watchers myself and struggling with loving me as I am as well as fighting the urge not to see food as the enemy. I’m also struggling to eat whole, yummy foods on WW and not just replace everything with its fat-free version. The boards are kind of scary with these crazy “recipes” like the “margarita” you described.

    Ooh, there’s this very cool site I’ve found about women and weight lifting, http://www.stumptuous.com/weights.html
    If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. It’s feminist and very interesting. Thanks again for sharing your great writing!

  12. Kimmy Says:

    Brilliant! This sort of thing is exactly why I’ve had such a skeptical outlook on the whole weight-loss culture. Thank you for your rational approach to the whole thing. It’s genius.

    Btw, I have a request for a future column. How the hell do you figure out who’s on the other end of your rope?

  13. Meredith Says:

    So brilliant! PLEASE keep writing!

    Great advice about the blizzard…I personally think that by not giving in to a craving, you just give it more power. If I reall wanted a Blizzard, I’d get one, then remember that they’re actually kind of gross.

  14. Di Says:

    Wow.

    And I don’t mean that lightly. See that little heap over there, it’s my socks, blown off. By you.

    I am equally tired of thinner people telling me that they maintain their weight by moderate portions, or what ever. Like telling me that is going to make the lightbulb go off. “Oh, you mean, I can’t just eat this whole pound of butter and expect to stay as slim as you?” I’m tired too of having to justify my own eating habits to people who are doing other weight loss plans. I’ve been doing weight watchers, because I hate the idea of “You can’t have that. Not now, not ever.” That comes with some other plans.

    So thanks for making my morning. Now I’m going to finish this donut here, since I was craving it, and a slice of light bread with sugar-free fruit spread wasn’t going to work.

    Cheers!
    Di

  15. calceus Says:

    OK, I’m dying over the “open a window” advice. Um…huh? You know, it’s so stupid, I could actually see it working. I’ll just wander over to the porch, open a window, and let the pounds fly off.

    God.

  16. Cait Says:

    Cottage cheese is actually not that bad if you add cinnamon and a little Splenda.

    It is never going to be an icecream sundae, though. You’re right on the money in dealing with obsessions; go ahead, buy it, eat it. Stop eating at the point where the spoonful you just ate didn’t taste as good as the one just before it, because you’re at the point of diminishing returns. Throw it away and get on with the day.

    Because the alternative, in my experience, is this: You want a Blizzard, but you “can’t have one” because “it’s fattening.” So you eat a pickle, and then another pickle, and you wander out of the kitchen. Then you come back and eat a granola bar, or a WW two-point bar. Later you have a spoonful of fat-free coolwhip with some peanut butter, and then you have the whole container of cool-whip with peanut butter and chocolate chips, and at the end of the day you’ve eaten a buttload of total crap and you are lying in bed thinking about that Blizzard. Better to just eat it and go on with your life.

  17. Col Says:

    OMG – how much did I love this post?!

    Yes, yes and yes… πŸ™‚

  18. Coleen Says:

    Cottage cheese is a beeyotch. Sadly, it is my beeyotch, and I cannot shake it as a breakfast habit. But I can proudly say that I hate celery and Melba Toast, and also that the only reason I think I’m adopted is that I’m the only one standing 5’5″ with red hair (everyone else is 5’8 or taller brunettes).

    This is a great site so far. You’re inspiring me to get back on the wagon with mine.

  19. Peter Says:

    I’ll never figure out how I stumbled into this page, I may never find my way back. Hell, I never even had to lose weight, I was the skinny kid that had to go on a regimen of food and exercise to bulk up for my chosen career and now that I’m retired I’m the skinny old man you see that has to wear suspenders because he’s got no butt to hold up his pants.
    Why did I read this all the way through? Brilliant writing.
    I may never ‘see’ you again but I’m glad I ‘met’ you. We all have something to overcome, it’s nice to see anybody succeed.

  20. kdeweb Says:

    OMG! You are so completely right on all counts. These dieting tippers make me so ill. As for your last point, about how the hardest part was at first when you had no real evidence of progress really hit home for me. It is so much easier now that I get the people whose jaws are on the floor over how much better I look. I have that daily affirmation that I AM doing this. Not to mention the smaller clothing – I am giong shopping in my own damn closet. I am wearing clothes I haven’t fit in for 4 years. You can’t get more affirming than that. However, at first, it was a major struggle not to go tackle the vending machine and grab every m&m, snickers, mr. goodbar or crunch and suck them all down. Now, I no longer even glance in their direction. I am completely detoxed from those foods. Doing what you can on a daily basis is ALL you can do. If you screw up, then start doing it right the next day and forget about it. We are human after all and as such have weaknesses. Deal with it and move the hell on! Great post! Great, great post! I only wish your site existed when I first started.

  21. Wing Chun Says:

    I love all three of cottage cheese, melba toast, and celery, but that is because part of me is an old man — it’s the same part that loves beets and brussels sprouts. And for about the first eight months I was on WW, I ate a can of tuna (with Miracle Whip and relish, obviously) and several celery stalks as the main course of my lunch and looooooooved it.

    But, I take your point.

    Also, people think Blizzards are gross? I totally drove twenty minutes way out of my way last night to go get one. Love them. And I’ve figured out the kind I get is only about eight points, which is a lot, but some weeks, that is completely worth it.

  22. Eva-lon Says:

    Man…I’m so glad I came across this site (thanks Joelle & PDtD!). Two of my friends and I have been trying to lose weight and generally help each other to be healthier for the past few months and we’ve been having trouble. Various family events, weekends with lots of drinking…the motivation is hard, the diet tippers are annoying (doctors being at the top of the list), sometimes everything just doesn’t seem to want to work. Anyway, we’re having another weight loss summit tomorrow night to reassess things and try to recharge – I may just bring printouts of this post cause it just RESONATES. The post from the 18th, too. Please keep it up. I second whoever said you’re helping to get some of us back on track. Thanks.

  23. A Says:

    Mmm, good stuff.

    So when are you putting this in to book form? πŸ˜€

    I have never read anything like this before. The rebuttals of the bullshit cliches are a breath of fresh air.

  24. Flavia Says:

    A big shoutout to you, Linda, all the way from Brasil.
    This is absolutely incredible writing. Great job!

  25. Karen Says:

    Hold on there, sister!! Melbas, with cottage cheese, no less, are one of my faves. I have always loved them & they have been good to me!! That said, I am totally on board with eating the thing you are craving in the first place and not waiting til you have emptied your kitchen of every suck ass substitute and then going and eating the real damn thing anyway on top of it! Whew! I think I’m still a little mad at the fat free cheese.

  26. Kathy Says:

    I’ve loved your writing at TWoP and your main blog, so I wandered over when you linked to it, and am blown away.

    Up until my late 30’s I was one of those annoying people who could eat anything and not gain weight. Then came the double whammy of quitting smoking and perimenopause (which is sooo damn unfair, I can’t even tell you!!), and bam! On went 30 pounds..I swear almost overnight.

    It’s been a struggle ever since, and my exposure to the diet ‘culture’ was quite a shock. Bunch of damn idiots. Your writing is really resonating with me. Thanks for taking what I was thinking and articulating so wonderfully!

  27. rac-girl Says:

    I had a craving, more like a full on desire for peanut butter on a bagel. I hate peanut butter more then I’ve ever hated anything in my life. I got a bagel w/ creamy peanut butter for breakfast cause if i didn’t, I would have eaten everything else I could find. I took 2 bites and was done. So worth it.

    Seriously, open a window. how the hell does that curb your urge for anything

  28. Lesliele Says:

    LMAO– honestly… you *should* write a book… I would pay good money to have 250 pages of your musings to devour over my lunch every day…

    I have a topic of possible discussion… Those women in the office who are constantly on different fad diets… and eating with them every day… Oy.

    I’m on a quest to lose 75 lbs so that I can be back to my size 12 weight of 155. I’m not one to take part in fads, though… and I’m driven absolutely INSANE by these women who make it their job to watch every morsel that goes into each others’ mouths!!! I eat small portions throughout the day, and I just *know* they’re thinking, “Geez… look at lesliele… Eating AGAIN!! No wonder she’s such a heifer!!”

    I get angry with myself when I feel bothered or self concious about it, but, sometimes all I want to do is go hide out alone… which I do, for the most part. I’d rather eat my lunch with a good book than with a bunch of snarky skinny bitches anyday!

    /tangent…

    Keep up the posts… you really put a smile on my face and keep my brain churning!

  29. Gwyn Says:

    I got pointed here by a friend from livejournal. As a fat chick who has completely ignored dieting, etc, for a good portion of my like because of advice like this and the self loathing that comes with, it was a breath of fresh air to read this. I’m currently trying to change my eating and exercise habits, and you have some really good tips here. Thank you.

  30. LMCP Says:

    In college I went to the doctor for my yearly physical and got on the scale. He said to me, “you’re too young to gain 10 pounds a year.”

    I looked him dead in the face and said, “you’re too young to have a comb-over, do you wish to continue this conversation?”

    I love your posts, they have me in stiches!

    Posted by Beth at June 23, 2004 09:33 AM

  31. Amanda Says:

    I love your site. I followed the link from pamie.com and I am so glad I did. Why do people think it is so easy to lose weight? I don’t want to be thin – because thin people truthfully make me nervous! I just want to look better. And please, to not be motivated by pride, vanity and revenge? Who doesn’t want to go up to an ex and be like – look at what you are missing! I am fabulous!

    http://www.livejournal.com

    scarlett78

  32. A Says:

    I already commented on this entry but I had to share this (fits in rather nicely with the just have the damn blizzard part)…

    “Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”

    –Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey

  33. Shawna Says:

    And all this time I’ve been checking the “writing” section of your site for updates… This is fantastic!

  34. Natalie Says:

    I may print this and give it to those who continue to “encourage” me by saying “You have a pretty face, if only…”.

    Thanks Linda.

  35. Shannon Says:

    Awesome. Priceless. (you)

    Speechless. (me)

    Please keep on writing! Your no-bullshit approach is better than….opening a window πŸ˜‰

  36. J9 Says:

    Three posts, containing more common-sense diet advice than pretty much any other weight-loss site, book, or article I’ve ever read. You rock. I want a t-shirt that says “EAT THE FUCKING BLIZZARD” in big yellow letters.

  37. Wanda Says:

    I love how dieting books make being thin the answer to all of your problems. Like being skinny is automatically going to cure the years of low self esteem. Especially when to get thin you did things like put pictures of supermodels on your fridge and one of those disgusting oinking pigs inside to remind yourself not to eat because you’re a fatass.

    I love your site. Thanks for your refreshing outlook on weightloss.

  38. Bee Says:

    Amen & Hallelujah! You go on singing girl, right out that goddamn open window. Thanks for the inspiration. I too have eaten the fucking blizzard after a mondo craving and I gotta say, that craving went away and I haven’t needed one since. And jayzus, I almost want to read that book, purely for the entertainment value. Thanks again for the uplifting and hilarious words.

  39. Bee Says:

    Hm, just tried to post and it didn’t work, let’s give it shot #2:

    Amen & Hallelujah! You sing it girl, right out that goddamn open window. I too have been one to just EAT THE FUCKING BLIZZARD and I tell ya, giving into that craving made it go away. Hasn’t been back since. And jayzus, I want to read that book purely for the entertainment value. What misguided bullshit!

    Thanks for the inspiring & hilarious words!

  40. J.W. Says:

    OMG! I have cottage cheese (granted, it’s the 1% with pineapple built in and I never eat cottage cheese w/o fruit, but I do like it plain, too), celery and Melba toast in my kitchen right NOW.

    LOL… laughing my ass off. You are a fuckin’ riot, and so right. But celery is yummy, as long as it’s got something on it. It’s so nice and, well… crunchy. I put Laughing Cow cheese on it. Yum. Sometimes I dip it in salsa.

    Oh, and Melba Toast? First ate them in a diner, back when I’d eat anything except peas and salmon. I liked them, so when I realized how low in pts they are, I added them to my routine. I don’t have ’em that often… but they are tasty, I swear.

    Of course, I’m talking to someone who willingly eats salmon, so maybe there’s no accounting for taste after all.

    Anyway, thanks for the laughter and insight. You really need a book deal. You’re a hoot.

    J.W.

  41. Kimberly Says:

    Once again, completely right on.

    And dear sweet baby jesus, I feel it’s necessary to give one more moment to “the first rule of fat club …” Because sometimes talking about these things is like talking about masturbation. Being fat is bad and wrong and good lordy we shouldn’t talk about what the actual experience of being fat is … that’s like condoning it right?

    Sometimes I really wish I could take out an ad that says, “If you could shame me into being thin it would have WORKED ALREADY.” I will never, ever understand why people take my weight so personally.

  42. Tarn Says:

    I had a book called the Teen Diet Plan when I was, well, a teen, and it had a list of 50 everyday tips for keeping slim. The one I remember most: Imagine fat as great big globs of yellow goo, dribbling down your chin and onto your clothes.

    Um, thanks Teen Diet Plan. I just needed help eating fewer fatty foods, I didn’t want to vomit every time I thought of a hamburger.

  43. Argyro Says:

    There is a man with a deliriously successful loss of mega pounds. I found his site somewhere ages ago, I saw his before and after shots and was standing in awe and admirations looking at my screen for at least half an hour. Jaw dropped and all. Then I went into some tips he gave. And read that when he thinks of pasta he imagines the spaghetti as being a banch of worms. I was petrified! Your post brought all this back to my mind.

    Feeling disgust about food is disrespect to the hundrends of hungry people of the world.

    Not feeling good now is disrespect to life itself.

    Your post was an amazing one. I feel specially lucky and trully honoured that I had the chance to reed it.

  44. myst Says:

    This made me laugh so hard on a Friday. Thank you for your honesty and this wonderful recap of the wall of shame. Totally!~ Awesome blog, good info…thanks for the inspiration to kick ass.

    mystie

  45. Mindy Says:

    Wonderful commentary. I felt like I was there in the office with you and the doctor when you were in Eighth grade. Your courage was tremendous. Too bad his empathy and intelligence didn’t come close to matching yours. I identified with the “Woman Doctor’s Diet Book” as well. I never read that. I had my own book that almost fell apart from rereading. It was a Scholastic book, the title which escapes me, about beauty tips for teenage girls. I had a horrible experience using some of my dad’s shampoo with an ingrediant that was supposed to be healthy for my hair. It just made it especially greasy. Thats when I realized that authors didn’t really know everything. I had such hopes for that book. Thought it would help me finally discover all of the secrets to become an un-dork. Didn’t work. One thing both the doctor and the book should have stressed, but didn’t, is what realistic and healthy weights could range from. I was 5’7″ in High School and weighed 150. I was convinced that I was hugely and grossly overweight. I was told by my DP that I was hugely and grossly overweight. I was told and treated by peers the same way. I realize now this was a good and healthy and attrative weight for me. Now I am 44 and 212. I am actually happy with that, ’cause nine months ago I was pushing 270. That is a bad weight. 150 was not. I am aiming for that weight as my someday weight. The 135 the metlife charts want is not realistic. The 115 that actresses and models of my height live at is obscene.

  46. Moose Says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Back in 7th grade, I was 5’5″ and 120 pounds, and everybody told me I was “fat” because I was over 100 pounds. It didn’t matter that I was one of the tallest in the school – no one took height into the consideration. So that’s when I started dieting – because I believed them. I started starving and could drop 10 pounds in a week with not eating and exercise, but it would come back on when I wasn’t looking (mostly when the starvation caught up with me). By 8th grade, I was 130 – and by 9th grade I was 140. And every year thereafter I gained 10 pounds a year, ad nauseam, ad infinitum. I graduated from high school at 172. I’ve always wondered – would I have gotten so heavy if I didn’t start starving at such a young age? I didn’t even know that I was “overweight” until these midgets told me that I was. I managed to kill my metabolism with all that starving. My top weight in my adult life was 212. Two months ago I was 168 and thinking how I weighed less than when I graduated from high school; I went on vacation and am right back up to 178 and am wondering if I’ll ever get it off since it took a year to get off that 10 pounds!!! I will always be a big girl, being of Northern Swedish peasant stock, and you should hear the comments I’ve gotten!! “You can’t be Swedish, your legs are too short and you’re not thin and gorgeous.” Or, “You’re Swedish? How come you’re not beautiful?” Honestly, can you believe people can be so cruel?

    I work for a lawyer (who’s not so thin either, by the way). Her daughter is anorexic and this lawyer cannot understand why. I can; I’ve heard the comments this lawyer/mother has made to the kid. She said to me one day about the daughter’s anorexia doctor, “XXX has no respect whatsoever for this woman. She’s fatter than you are . . . aaahhhh . . . not that you’re fat.” Hello? Did she actually think that the last part of that sentence negated my understanding of the first part of the sentence? And this is a LAWYER! It’s a scary world out there. Since this episode, (which I’m sure she’s forgotten), she has told me that she’s finding it SO DIFFICULT to keep her weight down now that she’s past 50. Oh, Lord, how my heart BLEEDS for her!

    Anyway, I love your writing!! Will put it in my favorites and continue to read it. Thank you! Keep up the good work, and write a book! People will LOVE IT!

  47. Glib Gurl Says:

    I agree with every single thing you said . . . so true! I am at the beginning of my WW journey. (Well, sorta . . . I’ve been enrolled in the program for several months but only now am I actually starting to try and *work* the program.) And I’m finally getting to realize that yes, I CAN have Ben & Jerry’s . . . the REAL kind, not that no-sugar, low-carb stuff. I just can’t have it as much as I’d like . . . and, with all the weight I’ve got to lose, I should focus on feeling good NOW . . . because, according to my friends who are already lifetime members, it actually is harder once you stop getting the little benefits of being down a pound here and there.

    Great post!

  48. Beth Says:

    BAHAHAHAHA!

    EAT THE FUCKING BLIZZARD. Indeed. I did just that earlier in the week. Strawberry Cheesecake Blizzard. Not specatcular, but damn I’m not depriving myself of one measly Blizzard so I can lose an extra 3 ounces this week. Don’t think so.

    Keep writing. Please.

  49. Chickie Says:

    A friend pointed me to Losing The Cow, because I am a losah and need to be led by the hand to the cool places. I think I need to send her flowers.

    About three years ago, after two years of working WW, I’d lost 63 pounds and had about 50 to go. And I just … stopped. And I’m back to about 7 pounds below my highest weight. Granted, I had a baby in there, but the baby is almost a year old.

    Just today, I told my husband that I’m going back to Weight Watchers on Monday. Then, tonight, your site. And I know now what I didn’t know then – that I need to keep going until I find that guy at the other end of my rope and kick his ass, instead of eating pickles when I want chocolate or opening windows when I want a margarita.

    Please, keep writing. And share the margarita recipe, too, if you’d be so kind!

  50. Mindy Says:

    Have you ever passed as a slim person? Years ago, after my first success with Weight Watchers, I had lost 57 pounds and was back at my High School weight of 150. Heh. In High School I felt like a disgusting fat pig at that weight. As a 25 year old, I was glad to be there. I was a fertility patient as well. I had been told that losing weight might make it easier to get pregnant, so bam, I was there. I was referred to a specialist. His office was more like a fancy law office than a medical practice. Wood paneling, original artwork, Persian carpets on the parquet floors, and antique looking furniture. I was back in his inner office after my exam. I complimented his office. He smiled in pride, then looked a bit worried. “You ought to see some of the women that come in my office. They are HUGE. They must weight more than 200 pounds. I worry they may hurt my chairs.” Well, I should have run away screaming at this point. Or I should have said “No Shit. You treat women who want to get pregnant. If you know what you are doing,they all should weighh more than when they started here.” I wanted to have baby so much, though, that I just giggled. Traitor. He did manage to help me get pregnant. Too bad it didn’t work out properly, it was an ectopic pregnancy, and I had to have surgery to remove it after it ruptured. I read my surgery notes afterwords. He wrote I was a “5’7″ overweight female…..” So, I thought I was passing but I wasn’t. Jerk.

  51. Sue Says:

    A doctor, and he’s more worried about his chairs than his patients? What an ass. I, too, was considered overweight in high school and college at 5’8″ and 155 pounds, but when I look back on those pictures, I looked great. Wish I could get that thin again. It didn’t help that when I was a teen, Twiggy was in vogue. I remember poring over my first Seventeen magazine that seemed to have Twiggy on every page. I could never understand why looking like a concentration camp victim was supposed to be so great, but clearly it had somehow become the ideal.

    Linda, I’ve loved your writing since the first TAR recaps, and now you’ve inspired me to take action on my weight (joined WW this week). Please keep it coming.

  52. Laura Says:

    Just had to run in here and comment on the damn Woman Doctor’s Diet for Teenage Girls! I, too, read that piece of crap cover to cover, over and over. Even now, some 20 odd years later, some of the woman doctor’s words of advice visit me in my nightmares, especially “Stomach growling? Ignore it.” Why, of all the things that have entered my coconut through the years, does that stick with me?

    I also needed to say you came along at just the right time for me. As I had decided to quit trying. After losing 55 pounds on Weight Watchers and watching 15 creep on over the last two months, I had decided to quit pulling on the rope. You have made me rethink that. Mainly because I want to kick the guy’s ass on the other side of that freaking rope! Thanks.

  53. Kim Says:

    This is probably the best thing I’ve ever read about the struggle to lose weight. Seriously.

  54. divaquest Says:

    Very good entry! People should just take it one day at a time. You can’t have “support” from people who act like Fitness/Food Police – or who make you feel terrible when you take a step in the wrong direction. Losing weight is about learning, one day at a time, one step at a time.

  55. Deborah Says:

    You weblog is hysterically funny and refreshingly honest. Thanks for cutting through all the bullshit and posting it. I appreciate it and look forward to reading more.

  56. donna Says:

    Your notify list doesn’t work yet. fyi

  57. Sara Trice Says:

    Trying desperately not to laugh at my desk so my asinine co-workers (who I often think are saying “No wonder she’s such a heifer, look at her eat!” behind my back) don’t ask me what I’m looking at.

    Glad to know there are kindred spirits out there who understand that sometimes you should eat what you want, and the rest of the time, learn to want what you should eat. And fat free cheese blows goats.

  58. Jes Says:

    Haha, I love this man. I love it. Except the fact that you make my writing look like a piece of well processed cow’s dung. HOWEVER. I look forward to reading your brilliant posts.

  59. Melis Says:

    Found you via pamie.com and I have to admit-when I read your entries, I hear *my own voice* saying these things! I’ve been dealing with weight since 98 when I was plagued with a freak blood disease whose treatment involves high doses of corticosteroids. Yep. Prednisone. Anyway, your take on everything is very honest, brutal and very REAL and that would be why I’m sending everyone I know to come read your stuff. The advice about eating a pickle? Oh sure, that’s great if you want to swap a craving for water retention from all the damned sodium those things hold!

    Am pregnant at the mo but will DEFINITELY be reading until I can do more about the impending doom that is the scale. Oh yeah, before I forget…the cottage cheese I have in the fridge expired a week ago and the celery has turned to soup. Melba toast? Who actually eats shingles??

  60. eve Says:

    AMEN. Yes, yes, yes, yes. OK, so 59 of us agree with you – who are the people that still give this advice!? Yikes! Thanks, have a good one.

    Eve

  61. nicole Says:

    “The first rule of fat club..” LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  62. Jane Says:

    Hh..eee… hee …hee Haaaaa..ha..ha.. Right On!!! I typed in “How to kill a craving for chocolate”.. and I get this excrutiatingly humorous piece of writing!!! haa…hee hee… I’m PMSing.. for sure…and I ain’t eating no pickles.. Melba toast…(can you say…stale cardboard)!!…no cottage cheese or celery either. And look in the mirror at myself naked.. ha!! I have fun with my fat tummy.. I keep saying ..”Ugh, I’m so fat” and my 16 year old son says to me “Mom, quit saying that ..no you aren’t”.. so I pull up my shirt and show him the white/beached-whale rolls..ha!!!! And he is so grossed out it cracks me up.. FAT Can be fun ladies.. Peace love togetherness and remember…Listen to the colour of your dreams.. ( :

  63. Laura Says:

    Thanks for a great piece of writing! I know I went through a spell where I bought every magazine I came across that offered “secrets to weight loss success.” Which was pretty much ever single magazine on the stands. What a waste of money. We all know WHAT to do, the dilemma is always how to motivate yourself to actually DO it.

  64. Maegan Says:

    I LOVE YOU. I really, really do.
    This has to be the best thing I have ever read about struggling to lose weight.
    Please write more.
    I won’t be all schmultzy and tell you “you are my inspiration”, but you kind of are.

  65. Mandy Says:

    You so totally rock.

  66. Melissa Says:

    Notify sign up is not working:

    Email notifications have not been configured! The weblog owner needs to set the EmailVerificationSecret configuration variable. at lib/MT/App/NotifyList.pm line 29.

  67. Jenn Says:

    And what’s up with “Woman Doctor”? Sweet tapdancing Christ.

  68. Jeevesmom Says:

    This was great. Thanks for speaking for ME! It sums up my feelings exactly.

  69. Heather Says:

    Hey, when are you going to update? You write such hilarious stuff, and then you leave us hanging. πŸ™‚ Come back, pleeease!

  70. TVitela Says:

    Hi Linda,

    Wow, you are not only funny, but a great writer. Thanks for giving me a good laugh and a spiritual lift at the end of a very hard day.

    You have a gift of being yourself and your sharing certainly helped me out. Reminds me that losing weight is so much about being in touch with yourself and not only on the pounds. Keep up the great writing! Tammy

  71. Laura Says:

    Your site is awesome…but I’m beginning to go through withdrawals w/ your lack of updates! You can’t give us 3 awesome entries and then just leave us hanging like this.

  72. sabrina Says:

    You’re my hero. Can I marry you?

  73. Jennifer Says:

    More more more! Please don’t portion control this fabulous writing!

  74. Alex Says:

    Like most of us,I don’t care for gratuitous advice.I tend to ignore it,even resent it some times.
    Four years ago,at age 30,I was 230lbs and was feeling fat.I wasn’t concerned about how I looked,I’m a slob anyway,but I was worrying about getting sick – I read the papers.I didn’t like the idea of a “diet”-could never understand about calories and carbohydrates and all that stuff.So I went to the Doctor and asked him what I should do.(Asking for advice is OK,it can always be ignored).
    He said “Eat less”.I enquired about exercise.He said “Living is exercise.”
    Well,the guy has an MD from Vienna and an MD from Edinburgh too,I figured he knew his stuff.
    I thought about the whole thing for a while,and I wondered just what I should eat and how much of it.While I was pondering I noted that my superfit cat ate from a small variety of foods,and yet was very healthy (and,she’s exceptionally beautiful as well).
    So,what I did was this:-
    Breakfast:two pieces toast with grilled tomato
    Lunch:cup of soup,any sort,usually chicken.
    Dinner:casserole:a small amount of meat,about a handful,and as many varieties of veg.as I could be bothered with.
    After six months I was 165lbs,and still am.
    Now I need to fix my heavy smoking and drinking.I do not know how to approach this.I enjoy getting pissed (that’s drunk,not angry)and I really enjoy a smoke–especially of a major power factor cigarette.It makes my eyes water and leads to the peace that passes understanding.

  75. Alex Says:

    Hey—I’m Alex,not Jennifer.I don’t suppose it matters–sorry if it’s bad press for you Jen.

  76. Kathy Says:

    2. If you find yourself tempted to eat, take off all your clothes and stare at yourself in the mirror, and think about whether you reeeeeeally want to eat.

    That actually is more of an incintive to eat for me. Hell, if I look this bad, then one more bowl of ice cream won’t make a difference.

  77. Libby Says:

    Have to disagree with you on two points. I looove to eat, I’d rather eat than do anything else. I have run up debt eating out. And I do seem to enjoy food more than my thin friends. It’s part of what keeps me fat-I’d rather enjoy eating than eat like my skinny friends who really just seem to look at food as fuel. And two I really like the holy trinity. Celery is delicious-plain, with salt, yum. I put two sticks in my bloody mary, I get pissed when wings don’t come with celery sticks. And frankly melba toast tastes great-especially w/cottage cheese. otherwise you rock!

  78. Val Says:

    I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed reading a weblog this much. Not only are you funny, a marvelous writer, and incredibly clearsighted in analyzing the funny/stupid/serious/painful issues of weight loss, you do a wonderful job in general of talking about society’s issues with weight loss. I’m really glad to have found you, and I’m dead impressed in twelve different directions.

    (I’m sure you’ve heard it before [and if not, shame on the universe!]: but regardless, there it is again. πŸ™‚

  79. afg Says:

    i don’t think i can say anything that hasn’t already been said about 20 times above.

    but you rock. really really rock. this post is one of the best things i’ve read. ever. and i read a lot.

  80. afg Says:

    i don’t think i can say anything that hasn’t already been said about 20 times above.

    but you rock. really really rock. this post is one of the best things i’ve read. ever. and i read a lot.

  81. Dana Says:

    Wow. What a great article. I teach high school girls, and I’m going to tell every one of them to read your blog!

  82. Judy Says:

    Love it! I have lost 43 lbs. on Weight Watchers, didn’t post a loss this week after eating on plan, so ate a whole package of malted milk balls. I had convinced myself I have been depriving myself of anything I like for too long! Back on track today, of course, and I loved your comments. I don’t even read magazines any longer–have always been at least 150 lbs., 5’5″, and considered fat–mostly by a stepmother who was 5′ tall and 105 lbs. Now I am in my 50s and finally feeling good about myself.

  83. Nikki Says:

    LOL I wrote one of those Amazon reviews. I wish I could find that “Woman Doctor” and smack her in the face, just once.
    I really enjoy your entries, thank you.

  84. galnoir Says:

    I realize I’m over three months late in commenting on this (since I just stumbled my way in here today), but I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over the Woman Doctor’s Diet. I, too, read that piece of crap — and had completely repressed it until just now. What I remember most was her list of personal characteristics of “normal dieters” and anorexics, and how it managed to make anorexia sound like a character virtue. For example, anorexics are neat freaks while “normal dieters” range from “somewhat neat” to “slobs.” Urrrgh!

    Love this entry, love your blog. Thank you.


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