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Swole Well —

November 19, 2012

Trigger warning: Frank weight loss science talk and calories in, calories out.

This is just one of the comments I first read when I learned we were being linked to from FCJ:

The lady who wrote that article probably got PTSD from hearing about the Twinkie company going bankrupt.

There was more, but fuck if I’m gonna clutter up the dash with their shit. But it’s like a bunch of 6th grade boys all in love with how snarky and condescending and dudebro they are.

Oh, and by the way, don’t call them dudebros. They hate that.

I love the part where you point out that everyone on FJC are misogynistic bastards making bad generalizations. And then… And THEN… you call them dudebros shot on streroids that can’t use their dicks.

I didn’t know weightlifters could be so sensitive. Geez. I won’t call you roid-ragey shrivel-dick dudebros any more if you all quit with the Twinkie jokes. It’s just as easy for me to reach for a stereotype as you, so don’t give me this victimization bullshit. It’s really not becoming of your whole tough guy schtick.

In any case, I find it odd to say this, but I think we kind of agree on the basic idea of calories in, calories out. Let me explain.

As I wrote in my original calories in, calories out manifesto, I was responding to CI/CO literalists who believe that if you put your goal into a computer program you can make a dietary prescription to get you to your goal weight within a relatively predictable amount of time. I cited the Mayo clinic and the CDC as two examples of CI/CO literalists who believe that for every 3,500 calories you restrict from your diet, you will lose one pound of weight. So, a deficit of 500 calorie per day will come out to one pound per week. Decide how many pounds you want to lose and that’s how many weeks you have to do it, then adjust to a maintenance caloric level and you’re insta-slim.

But from what I have read so far, it seems that what some in FCJ believe is not literalism, but relativism. Calories in, calories out works, it’s just that the variables are extremely complicated and we don’t know exactly what they are, but if you just restrict your calories enough, you will get results. And I’m sure you’ve got your own dietary prescription, maybe some macronutrient balance you believe is ideal (as most people do). And you’d recommend a workout regimen that would be intense and, in order to achieve a loss of greater than 10%, would have to be more than two hours a week.

And yes, if I turned over my mind, my body and my soul to phrakture, he could make me lose weight. Guess what, so can Bob Harper, and nobody likes him either.

The thing that gets lost in all of this “can you make someone lose weight” nonsense is that weight loss itself is not even the issue. At least from our perspective. The issue is twofold: first, is long-term weight loss possible and second, is it necessary for health. (And this is the point where the dudebros scoff.)


If I was going to put my money on anyone’s theories on health, I’m going to go with Dr. Steven Blair (sorry phrakture!). Because the thing is, Dr. Steven Blair has more evidence of what makes a person healthy than phraktrue does. How many clients has phrakture followed for decades and seen the improvements in their health continue long into old age? For Dr. Blair, it’s tens of thousands of people over 40 years.

One of the RCJ folks asked if I knew anything about leptin. I know what I’ve heard from the man who discovered it, Dr. Jeffrey Friedman. He gives two lectures for the 2004 Lecture Series from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The other two are from Dr. Ronald Evans and they’re worth watch if you’re a weightlifter. Seriously. No shit.

But if I had to recommend one lecture, it would be the following by Friedman. It’s an hour long, but totally worth it.


Here’s the bottom line for me… I really don’t care if you’re a weightlifter. I really don’t care if you’re a dieter. I don’t care what you do with your body. It’s your body, it’s your business. Same goes for what you believe about what the human body is capable of. You can believe whatever the fuck you want. It’s your world.

But when you are an asshole to me or mine, I will respond in kind.

If you want to talk science, I LOVE talking science. And I don’t mind admitting when I fuck up, like when I misread the Minnesota Starvation Experiment paper, as pointed out by someone on RCJ. I was in a hurry and I misread the 3,000 calories as a result of the walking (which would be some incredible walking, to be certain) rather than the total daily expenditure. But the point still stands that the rate of loss was not as predicted.

When I say I don’t believe calories in, calories out, I am talking about literalism. But I do think that you can severely restrict a person’s calories enough and make them workout enough that they will lose weight. But most people will regain the weight within five years.

As far as the rate of CI/CO goes, a team from the NIDDK and WHO had an interesting theory as to what the actual CI/CO equation looks like. I don’t have the study in front of me, so I don’t want to make another mistake trying to remember, but it’s over a three year period you lose a fairly unimpressive sum.

Finally, I want to apologize to the handful of people from RCJ who aren’t blatant assholes. I have nothing against people who respectfully disagree, but you clearly have members who are gratuitously dickish.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Hest permalink
    November 20, 2012 3:15 am

    > but you clearly have members who are gratuitously dickish.

    That’s kind of the point … want to have a civil discussion, pick a subreddit that doesn’t have “circlejerk” in its name. There are other subreddits dedicated to discussions of health, nutrition and the like.

    You might not get much of a response though, and have to ply your theories in /r/BodyAcceptance. My prediction would be that you’ll rank with homeopaths and “creation science” in any subreddit dedicated to science-based discussion.

    • Kala permalink
      November 20, 2012 8:01 am

      Ugh, you’re so fucking ignorant or stupid, I can’t tell. But my hint to you is that I think it’s probably the latter.

      The idea of fat acceptance is first of all, not based on any science, it’s a notion under the social justice category and a decision that’s made irrespective of science. The science could point to fat being the most unhealthiest thing ever, and fat acceptance would still be about not hating oneself for the way they are. A person’s worth and actions towards oneself do not have to be about how they look, or even their long term health. So I think that whistling sound is the point zipping past your head.

      In terms of the science of health and weight loss. People see considerable health gains with positive and functional modifications in food intake and exercise habits. Those health gains include improvements in measures of cardiovascular and metabolic health. What people don’t often see is considerable weight loss that is long lasting. I say this because both tightly controlled and not so tightly controlled experiments in weight loss, weight losses as meager as 5% over years get doctors and scientists excited about the efficacy of the intervention. However, a 300lb person minus 5% of their weight is still fat. A 200lb person minus 5% of their weight is probably still fat. But that weight loss is clinically significant, they’ll often find the participants improving in their measures, and thus at least for the time being probably healthier, but they’re still quite or even very fat. Hence, health at every size, you fuckwad. You can improve health, and by all measures be healthy, and still be fat. Weight loss, the improbable prize that it is, is far from the only or the strongest measure of health. But we conflate appearance with health, and either pretend that significantly better health isn’t possible without a lot of weight loss, or that the healthy behaviors simply aren’t worth it if I don’t get to look like my appearance ideal.

      And I’m sure you, like every other bonehead out there who is offended by the idea of HAES (not that you appear to understand what it is), think that you totally know the right way to do things. If only fat people would follow your ideas to the smallest detail and not deviate, then they’d lose weight and keep it off? But you know what Hest, fuck you. Fuck you for the hubris in thinking you and your fucking hobbyist knowledge of fitness and nutrition outweighs the efforts of doctors, scientists, private weight loss companies, etc.

      In fact scientists understand so little about why they get the results that they do, some researchers made the National Weight Loss Registry to enroll participants who have lost considerable weight and kept it off, and hope to and have been plumbing that data to try to understand what makes the people in the registry differ from the millions of people every year in the USA that attempt diets, lifestyle modifications, or other behaviors that are intended to cause weight loss, fail at weight loss.

      And of course, perhaps you will take the Cro-Magnon point of view that I see often, that all these interventions fail because Americans are so so lazy and so so fat and such such liars about their eating and exercise. But you know what? I don’t think the USA suddenly threw it’s integrity and self-respect, among other things, out the window in the last 20-30 years when the population grew fatter.

      Or you could admit that weight loss isn’t possible for everyone, and even for those fat people who have lost weight, they will most likely have to work harder at exercise and eat less than their same-weighted peers who were never fat, for the rest of their lives. The result is not surprising, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that fatness is a survival mechanism, and that once you put your fat on, your body puts in a lot of effort to keep it on.

      And if life ever catches up to those who have lost weight, as it often does for us not supremely-privileged folks, then the fat will creep back up. And it’s likely that life will catch up with most people, our wages have stagnated or fallen with respect to the cost of living, we work more hours, we work at desks on computers, we live in a commuter society so that when we’re up and about and not working we’re probably driving, our food system has significant issues, we don’t have the healthcare system that we should, etc. And for some people (I won’t say most), it seems the weight can creep back up with active constant vigilance and even a full blown eating disorder.

      • Kala permalink
        November 20, 2012 8:16 am

        And I’ll note, perhaps you are not from the USA. If you are from instead, another country with a high or an increasing rate of obesity, it’s likely much for the same reasons, and my comments still all apply.

      • November 20, 2012 8:26 am

        God bless this woman. I love you Kala!


      • Hest permalink
        November 20, 2012 12:16 pm

        > The idea of fat acceptance is first of all, not based on any science,

        yes thank you that is very obvious to everyone, and yet people in the HAES/FA movement keep using words like “thermodynamics”, as if they wanted to have a discussion about facts.

        • Kala permalink
          November 20, 2012 12:28 pm

          You seem to have missed my point, let me attempt to speak in your language.

          Kala say HAES based on empirical evidence. Health movement HAES is.

          Kala say FA is not. Social justice movement FA is.

          Did that work?

          • Hest permalink
            November 20, 2012 12:31 pm

            yeah, you’re implying there’s a difference. I’m sure it’s meaningful to fellow cult members, but to an outsider it’s the same thing.

            • November 20, 2012 12:46 pm

              No, to a person who doesn’t actually know what the fuck they’re talking about, it’s the same thing.


        • November 20, 2012 12:29 pm

          God bless this woman. I love you Hest!


        • November 20, 2012 12:44 pm

          There’s a difference between FA and HAES. HAES is science based and unless you agree that restricting 500 calories per day leads to one pound of weight loss per week, then your definition of “thermodynamics” is not what I’m objecting to.


      • tripleiwthcheese permalink
        November 20, 2012 2:55 pm

        “for those fat people who have lost weight, they will most likely have to work harder at exercise and eat less than their same-weighted peers who were never fat, for the rest of their lives. The result is not surprising, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that fatness is a survival mechanism, and that once you put your fat on, your body puts in a lot of effort to keep it on.”

        You were almost right, I left off the part where you were wrong. Weight loss is “possible” for anyone, but the amount of effort can be different. That being said though you can’t say what kind of will power it takes for a cave dweller like me to keep my weight where it is or that it’s any easier for me than it is for you. Perception is a bitch sometimes and what might look easy for me is much more difficult from my point of view. That’s where most of FCJ stands on the HAES movement. It’s not impossible but it is difficult, most of FCJ is used to doing difficult things.

        You left off the whole dieting doesn’t work argument and included that diets need constant attention. I applaud you for that because in that respect you are dead on. Humans are great at adapting to stimulus, unfortunately they are also creatures of habit and they tend to do things like under estimate caloric intake and over estimate caloric output. It might not always be easy but that doesn’t mean that if you can’t figure out how to lose weight and maintain that weight loss that you should accept obese as your natural state.

    • November 20, 2012 8:57 am

      What I’m objecting to is that when your group acts gratuitously dickish, you all high five each other and celebrate how you took down some fatties. But when I respond in kind by call you meatheads and question whether your pencildick is still useful, a bunch of people from FCJ start crying that we’re picking on them and that we’re not being fair. So, you can either have a civil conversation or you can have a flame war, but you can’t demand civility while calling people gluttonous sloths. And my prediction is that you all will rank with the Tea Party in any real discussion of the science behind weight loss that is taking place in the actual, scientific community (and by that, I mean the researchers who actually study this stuff).


      • Hest permalink
        November 20, 2012 12:14 pm

        > you can’t demand civility while calling people gluttonous sloths.

        why not

        • November 20, 2012 12:43 pm

          Because it makes you a fucking moron hypocrite who I can’t take seriously.


          • Hest permalink
            November 20, 2012 12:48 pm

            C’mon man, I thought we were expanding our minds.

        • November 20, 2012 12:59 pm

          Fucking morons aren’t capable of expanding their minds.


          • Hest permalink
            November 20, 2012 1:01 pm

            That’s what smart privileged media would have you believe. I’m here as a representative of Thinking At Every Intelligence and Stupidity Acceptance, and I really wish you wouldn’t throw your dumb hate around so much.


        • November 20, 2012 1:29 pm

          Because insisting that someone else abide by a standard you yourself aren’t willing to rise to voids any claim that you’re just trying to engage in a frank and civil exchange of opinions.

        • Kala permalink
          November 20, 2012 1:36 pm

          Hest, you’re trolling and you know it. And believe it or not, it’s not cute and it’s not funny.

          I gave you a post with quite a few well-reasoned points. And rather than actually attempt to counter any of them, you degraded into snark and calling me a “cult member”. Perhaps you should pick up a dictionary and look up the word cult.

          Let’s try that I’m actually a graduate student in statistics that is working in public health. What are your qualifications Hest? Why should I consider your bitter and snotty responses as anything more than gum on the bottom of my shoe?

          You inability to read and analyze my points shows me that even speaking in laymen’s terms, you can’t understand the difference between HAES and FA. Of course someone with that kind of comprehension isn’t going to be able to read and absorb information on obesity research.

          You’re a moron. For your sake I really hope you’re <20 years old, because your brilliant posts point to a 15 year old boy.

      • Kala permalink
        November 20, 2012 12:38 pm

        Oh I get it Hest, fat people aren’t worth as much as yourself. How edgy! Next you’ll be telling us that if a lady isn’t attractive to you and you don’t want to fuck her, she should never leave her house.

        • Hest permalink
          November 20, 2012 12:39 pm

          I’m a dumb meathead and what is this

          • November 20, 2012 1:04 pm

            Yep, pretty much. Fuck off.

      • Pzychotix permalink
        November 20, 2012 3:21 pm

        What part of “pick a subreddit that doesn’t have “circlejerk” in its name” did you not understand? If you really wanted that civil conversation, don’t do it in the opposing group’s echo chamber. His point was move that conversation out of there, not that you should try to make peace with the guys in FCJ in FCJ itself.

        • November 20, 2012 3:27 pm

          And what part of “Clear and Present Asshole” don’t your people understand? I’m glad that at least one person can admit that it’s an echo chamber because I’ve seen nothing in there but a bunch of strawman abuse. In any case, I’m done entertaining FCJ. Only one of them has actually tried to provide evidence of their claims, but the studies were weak and the actual information inside the study (as opposed to the quotes from the abstract that he used) didn’t substantiate his claims. I outline that here.

          But I’m done entertaining trolls. If you want to discuss science, then you’re welcome. But if you’re just here to start shit, I’m deleting it posthaste.


          • Kala permalink
            November 20, 2012 3:33 pm

            Well the issue is that the citations you sent me are not studies, they are reviews. Reviews are useful for their specific purpose, but they are not studies in the traditional sense. They do not test hypotheses, they are not meta-analysis. Think of it as more of an op-ed with a scientific spin written by someone knowledgeable on the topic.

          • November 20, 2012 10:22 pm


            On the subject of “entertaining trolls” — Will you just allow me to say that I consider myself a supremely patient person, and on this go-round, you have me amazed at your own patience? 😉

  2. lifeonfats permalink
    November 20, 2012 5:24 pm

    Ban them all. They will continue to keep being douches until they realize they can no longer come on here and spread their stupidity. There are plenty of fat-hating places for them to visit, they don’t need to come here and spout the same old tiresome hate bingo we hear everyday.

    Grow up FCJ members and get a life. Maybe a Twinkie will help you relax?

  3. arc permalink
    November 20, 2012 9:40 pm

    I don’t think you understand what Fitness Circlejerk is. They’re trolls, Fitness Circlejerk exists to make fun of other fitness forums online. If you don’t know what a troll is they’re people who’s actions exist for one reason only: to get a rise out of other people. They cast out lines and drag them through the internet hoping to get a bite, and when you bite on their actions they reel you in for as long as possible and waste everyones time. You’re just playing into their hands by engaging with them.

    You may be confused by people who come here with somewhat reasonable reasons from reddit because this forum has been linked to from other subreddits which have nothing to do with Fitness Circlejerk.

    On a more general note, you are best not engaging with people from fitness forums because you cannot agree on what color the sky is. A common statement I hear is that ‘fatties*’ cannot change their body type and the fitness community is made up in large part by people who were either skinny or overweight and did change themselves.

    Anyway, I hope you all have a nice day

    *in your words

    • November 20, 2012 9:55 pm

      I understand, and I appreciate you breaking it down. For a while, it was mostly the legit people who were responding. And that, I love. But now it’s getting ridiculous. So, I’m getting ready to just cut the cord on these people all together because you said it perfectly: we cannot agree on what color the sky is. I know the research I’ve read, I know the experts I’ve interviewed, I know the lectures I’ve seen, and I don’t need validation from people who, for the most part, aren’t interested in discussing those things, just insisting on their POV. I’m guilty of it as well, but that’s my nature.

      Anyway, thanks for the aside. And don’t worry, we have no problem with being called fatties, as you may have noticed.


    • Kala permalink
      November 21, 2012 12:11 pm

      “A common statement I hear is that ‘fatties*’ cannot change their body type and the fitness community is made up in large part by people who were either skinny or overweight and did change themselves.”

      I don’t think you’ll find that the more science-minded users here, including Shannon, would ever say something like that. What they’re more likely to say is “The current body of research of lifestyle interventions, among other weight loss interventions, shows that it is unlikely that an obese person will be able to change their body type, especially in the long term.”

      And the research really does show that. A study that contains people just as you describe them, formerly fat and now not, is called the National Weight Loss Registry. Now, the results seen by the people who joined this study can not simply be extrapolated to others, as they do not represent the general population by far, but that’s alright because the point of the study is to attempt to figure out why they are different. One interesting result from studies on this cohort and on others, is that people who were fat, and are now thin, have to eat less calories and exercise more to maintain their weight than people their same size who had never been fat. This shows you right there that it’s a more complicated situation regarding weight loss that most people will admit. On top of that, plenty of people can adhere to lifestyle changes and not see anywhere near the weight loss as the folks in the NWLR.

      The zeal of the formerly fat in my mind, is a matter of privilege. They think that the success that they’ve seen in their goals is due entirely to their own hard work. When in fact, it seems more likely that although they may very well have worked hard, that there are other characteristics that made them succeed while peers that worked just as hard failed. The ones I see seem to think that their success is hardened proof that significant weight loss is possible for everyone, and it may very well not be. So many of them are fitness and diet hobbyists, with the free time to pursue those hobbies in excess of what would be necessary to simply maintain good health. Many if not most folks don’t have the time or energy for that, or they would never want those things as their hobbies.

      I saw the same thing at my Alma mater all the time. Students there figured that they got in and succeeded because they were the most intelligent and most hard-working people, when there’s more to your educational position in the USA than simply your intelligence and hard work. Plenty of intelligent, hard working people, born to a less privileged family, would not get to see the success of even a mediocre student at my Alma mater. Part of your success, in just about everything, is the luck of the draw.

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