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F-grade tips from Buzzfeed

November 4, 2014

Weight LossFat HealthExerciseEating DisordersMy Boring-Ass LifeFat NewsDiet Talk

Trigger warning: Frank discussion of eating disorders and weight loss.

Disco Ball

Photo comes from cat_fuentes on Instagram.

On Saturday, Buzzfeed published “15 Former Couch Potatoes Share Their Best Tips For Getting In Shape.” You know, 15 former couch potatoes share how they got healthy. In other words, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re going to read how 15 people lost weight.

The opening paragraph describes a guy who would, “trick himself into using the spin bike more often.” Am I the only one who finds the concept of trickery completely insulting? I get the mental image of a dude on a bike thinking, “Ho ho, what’s this? My couch got really skinny and sprouted pedals? Wait a second… I’m on a bike! How did that happen?”

Time for some editing.

  1. Make it easy for yourself to work out in the mornings — OK, I like the general concept of this one. Cat wants to exercise, but knew it was never going to happen after work. She’d come home, prep everything for the next morning, then go about her regular evening activities. If that’s what works for her, more power to her. I do something similar because I don’t want to do anything after I’ve walked through my front door. I’ll bring my skates to work, hit the rink, cooldown by doing my Costco shopping, and then do absolutely nothing the rest of the night. Bravo to Cat for not mentioning weight loss in her tip. We’re 1/1.
  2. Master the art of portion control — Hmm, what do you suppose the goal of this one is? Yup, Emily lost 70 lbs. and I gained a bingo on my diet talk card. She couldn’t dream of running a marathon while she was fat because she was fat and we all know fat people can’t/won’t/don’t run. I hit bingo with the invocation of “mindless munching.” I come across that infuriating phrase all the time when I’m looking for what other people have eaten in Situation X. For instance, what low-carb options are there at a ball game? The consensus seems to be peanuts in shells so that my hands would be busier than my mouth to reduce all the damage from my “mindless munching.” I brought in hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky, and almonds dusted with cocoa. I enjoyed it all mindfully because how the hell do you not notice yourself eating? A healthy portion is the amount that is right for you. Trust yourself to know whether that’s whole pizza, a slice of pizza, no pizza or something else. We’re now 1/2.
  3. Get enough sleep — This opens up with the tale of Rachel getting a breast reduction, learning to cook, and exercising now that she has less boob. She emphasizes the importance of a regular bed time and getting enough hours of sleep. No weight loss mentions here either. 2/3.
  4. Don’t aim for perfection — Laura lost 80 lbs. in 2007, then gained most of it back in 2012. Big surprise. She wanted to get back into shape (read: lose weight), so she decided to try running. As it turns out, she hated running. Like any rational person, she didn’t spend a lot of time running. I don’t like flipping my eyelids inside out. Guess how much time I spend doing that? Because Laura is not me, she decided that what she really needed was a friend who lost 100 lbs. running to hold her accountable. The mantra of accountability? “You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to do it.” That worked for Laura and now she loves running. Me, it reminds me too much of gym class. I wasn’t good at anything we did, I did it anyway, and now that I’m free of that system, I do none of it. If someone was to tell me I don’t have to be good at softball, I just have to play it, my response would be some variation of, “No I don’t.” And then I’ll go do something I find fun. Laura did mention simulated surfing and swimming, so she did diversify a little bit. If she weight cycles again, I hope she ups the water activities instead of convincing herself that she loves running. 2/4
  5. Find a workout you love — That way it doesn’t feel like a chore, and it’s something you’re excited to do. Well this is ironic. Ben knew he hated the gym. When looking for an activity to help him cope with sobriety, he discovered that he didn’t like hip-hop dance either. He didn’t turn to social media to force him to get into a gym or dance studio. Instead, he tried Krav Maga. Guess what? He loved it enough to eventually become an instructor. Bravo, Ben! 3/5!
  6. Try to do some form of exercise for 30 minutes (or three miles) every day — Kit was suffering from disordered eating and body dysmorphia. She felt this was hypocritical because she was a personal trainer. Because of that, she decided to enforce the above exercise rule. I’m not sure how that helps either problem, and apparently Kit isn’t either, because her results paragraph is primarily about being the same weight. I’ve read some of Kit’s fitness articles and knowing this makes me feel sorry for her. 3/6
  7. Focus on creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle, not temporarily following a fad diet — Delores weighed 350 lbs. and discovered that her weight stopped her from living. Weird because the next sentence didn’t involve her dropping dead. She says, “I used to be this vibrant, sexy woman, but I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to do anything.” Coupled with taking a multitude of medications for conditions attributed to being fat (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure), she decided she needed to stop being fat. She made a “lifestyle change” to lose 20 lbs. and then she started going to the gym every day until she achieved her 150+ lb. weight loss. It seems to me that Delores may have been suffering from depression. Exercise might help with that, and we know it also helps with diabetes and cardiac health. This would’ve been true at 350 lbs. or 200 lbs. If she weight cycles, I hope she gives herself permission to keep living her life. 3/7
  8. Make working out a social activity — Julie felt like going to the gym solo meant trading exercise for her social life. By working out with friends, she can have both. She’s also emboldened to try more forms of movement. Good for Julie and her friends! 4/8
  9. Distract yourself, if you need to — Oh, hey! It’s the guy who tricked himself into being on a bike! Jeff was able to forget he was on a bike by watching the first three seasons of 24. Of course, he warns you have to be disciplined enough to not watch 24 when you’re not on the bike. Is it just me or does that undermine the distraction angle? I mean, if you’re not supposed to know you’re on a bike when you’re watching 24, why wouldn’t you watch 24 whenever you want to? He pedaled his way through Buffy and Angel, which must make him a better person than me because I like to focus on skating when I’m skating and TV when I’m watching a compelling TV show. To point or not to point? It’s a stupid tip, but it doesn’t mention weight loss so I’ll give it to him.  5/9
  10. Learn to lift weights — When Mackenzie found herself gaining weight, she was suspected of having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — naturally, her first priority would be to get her weight under control. Although PCOS ended up being a misdiagnosis for me, my first priority upon receiving it was to find out what options I had to not bleed for months at a time Different strokes and all of that. Mackenzie hired a nutritionist and trainer who showed her the joy in lifting weights. Now she views lifting as a way to achieve “strength and confidence and power,” rather than a weight loss method. In the end, 6/10
  11. Use social media to find cheerleaders and to hold yourself accountable — Jamie is paralyzed from the stomach down and uses a wheelchair. After she started gaining weight, her chair wasn’t a good fit for her. Rather than try a different chair, she auditioned for The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (Why? Why? Why?). After posting about the bullets she dodged on traditional media  (no wait, that’s my take), her sad and compelling posts moved a trainer and nutritionist to volunteer to help her. Jamie started a Facebook page for accountability and apparently that works for her. I’m still shaking my head trying to understand why the hell I’d voluntarily create an outlet for people to come by and “motivate” (in my experience, read: insult) me. I’ve made some posts about not falling during my first class, committing to multiple classes, and the saga of finding a boot that’ll work for me, but rarely specifics about things I’m working on. Do you know what motivates me? Doing something I like. Because I like skating, I don’t have to “force” myself to go, “distract” myself from being there, or get people on Facebook to “hold me accountable.” Because of the boot saga and my immune system acting like Joe Biden with a shotgun, I’ve been off the ice for a couple of months. I can’t wait to get back to it and I sure as hell don’t need people telling me to do so in order to keep losing weight.  6/11
  12. Build a solid foundation of good habits first, and then add to it slowly — Josie is a mixed bag. Like many of the above, she wanted to lose weight. She got skinny, but felt like crap. She turned her attention to eating better and then she felt better. She also did it incrementally. That’s a good lesson and I’m feeling generous, so 7/12.
  13. Eat more fiber and lean protein — Arjun wanted to become a Marine officer, but the military has weight, appearance, and fitness standards. He trains hard, but doesn’t think he can be fast until he’s lighter. He eats well, exercises, and loses weight. I’m voting present on this one. He chose to have his appearance dictated. 7/13
  14. Keep a food diary, if it helps you — Javier was in a car accident and gained 45 lbs. while bedridden. He kept a food diary, in the name of accountability, of course. Again, I don’t think weight loss would be my first priority in that situation, but it’s not my life. I suspect his body would’ve returned to its set point as he was able to resume his life. Javier ends up being another toss up. I’m not a big fan of this Use External Forces To Hold Yourself Accountable philosophy, but he does describe the diary helping him determine whether he was eating when he was hungry. This story gets a bad grade regardless so 8/14.
  15. Celebrate how exercise makes your body feel and do things that make you feel sexy! Now why couldn’t this have been number 1? In fact, why not make this a story on its own? Oh, because it’s still couched in not being fat. Theresa gained weight and was too tired to go to the gym. She drummed at a dance class and was inspired by the women there. This is all positive so far. She started dancing and loved it… because there was a community to hold her accountable. *headdesk* What the ever-loving hell? Is intrinsic motivation dead? Maybe it’s just my issue. 9/15

In all we’re at 9/15, which, at 60% is a solid F. The thing that turned me to Health at Every Size® (HAES) was that there were only three things to think about: 1) healthy eating, 2) joyful moving, 3) loving your body. It’s easy to individualize, doesn’t require buying anything special, and there’s no group shaming. As you might have guessed, I’m not into that at all. If I had to give my tip, it would be this:

  1. You know what is best for you — Love running? Go running. Prefer trampolining? Do that. Eat what makes you feel good, do what you enjoy. Anything else is unsustainable. You are more capable than you’ve been led to believe. Live your life now because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Gingeroid Sig

15 Comments leave one →
  1. purple peonies permalink
    November 4, 2014 3:54 pm

    #11 makes me extra sad. there’s SO MUCH fat phobia in the paralysis/wheelchair user community… it’s almost like displaced internalized ableism on top of the internalized fat phobia. i am a chair user and it SUCKS that i’ve put on some weight to the point where my chair doesn’t fit exactly like it used to. the solution when gaining or losing weight when it comes to clothing is just buy new clothes. but with a chair, that’s easier said than done. wheelchairs cost thousands of dollars, and insurance will only pay for chairs every 5 years (if you’re lucky enough to have insurance or have insurance that covers chairs)…. rather than blaming the chair manufacturers for having zero flexibility (why can’t it be easier to accommodate by making it cheap and easy to swap out an axle plate and widen the side guards? or a fully adjustable frame that can grow or shrink in width?) and blaming the whole system for being so unaccommodating for disabled people, the fault lies within us, and we must change our bodies to conform to the tools we are issued.

    • Dizzyd permalink
      November 5, 2014 3:42 pm

      Kind of like the idea that you should modify your own body to fit the ideal of society, and don’t tell us you can’t do it, we don’t want to know.

  2. gingeroid permalink
    November 4, 2014 7:26 pm

    Sounds like you’ve got a few ideas for innovation already! A modular wheelchair could solve a lot of problems and would likely have a market in hospital, airport, etc. settings where you’d need to adjust one on the fly to accommodate a range of people. I’ve read about some cool innovations in the area of prosthetics with 3D printed parts and legs adapted to activities like rock climbing. There’s a lot of untapped potential in adaptive technology.

  3. November 5, 2014 2:31 am

    I know you think #9 is silly, but I do it, and I recommend it to people. I don’t have TV at home, and I ONLY watch TV on the treadmill/stair-climber/bike. I also have to use machines during the winter, because otherwise I will fall on my face due to ice. I don’t enjoy it, but I also don’t enjoy the depression that comes from being inactive. So on that, I disagree whole heatedly and think that your personal prejudice is showing.

    • November 5, 2014 10:26 am

      I do it too! It helps get me to the gym sometimes. “Okay I should go to the gym and I get to watch the next episode so if nothing else I get to watch my show.” And getting to the gym is the hardest part.

    • gingeroid permalink
      November 5, 2014 11:13 am

      What I find silly about #9 is the trickery concept. For instance, a portabella mushroom with tomato & mozzarella doesn’t make me think, “I’m eating pizza,” but I can enjoy it as a stuffed mushroom. In the same vein, watching TV/listening to music while you exercise is one thing, but pretending you’re not exercising because you’re watching TV is another.

      • Jennifer Hansen permalink
        November 6, 2014 1:04 am

        This! I don’t need to trick myself onto my exercise bike. I know that the second half of my workout will feel great as my circulation wakes up and my brain makes happy juice for me. The first half, though, is uncomfortable, awkward, and boring, boring, boring. So I reward myself for getting on the bike anyway by clipping a light onto my current book and reading as I pedal. (It’s a reclining bike.) As long as the speedometer shows the number I am aiming for, I can enjoy a good book on my way to an exercise high.

        Denying myself the pleasure of a book unless I am on the bike–ahahahahaha no.

    • Telle permalink
      November 10, 2014 10:31 pm

      I’ve found that since I’ve started listening to an audio book while walking, I’m much more motivated to walk. I was getting bored walking outside.. walking around a track was worse.. and with the impending cold weather I’ll be stuck walking inside which is worst. Listening to music helped a little bit, but I’m finding getting lost in a book is a great way to pass the time while getting some exercise.

  4. November 5, 2014 10:23 am

    What’s the issue with strangers losing weight if that’s what they want for their bodies? Isn’t that what the HAES movement is about anyway, doing what you want for your body and loving yourself by treating it right? If strangers on the internet losing weight is a trigger for you and just the mention of losing weight upsets you, then obviously you are not very confident and maybe the HAES movement isn’t doing it for you.

    • gingeroid permalink
      November 5, 2014 2:36 pm

      I do not write the trigger warnings. I’ll leave that to atchka to discuss.

      My problem is the conflation of weight & health. The article’s title is about couch potato to health, not couch potato to skinny. You want to lose weight, lose weight. However, a smaller body does not guarantee better health outcomes. Adopting healthy habits, even absent weight loss, does result in better health.

    • Dizzyd permalink
      November 5, 2014 3:55 pm

      I’m confident enough to know that losing weight is not for me, but you’re free to do what you want. What is probably triggering to people is how these strangers feel entitled to tell everyone else what they should do and sneer down on those who don’t want to or can’t do it – along with the peanut gallery that eats this stuff up, and the society that encourages this “concern trolling” rather than allow each person to decide for themselves what is right for them without feeling put down for it.

    • November 5, 2014 9:33 pm

      Triggers are not for the author, they are for our readers who have a variety of backgrounds, many of whom have struggled with eating disorders. If you can’t respect that, you don’t have to read.


      • Sophie permalink
        November 6, 2014 1:10 am


        I love your replies to tricky posts, you are so on the ball as a moderator, well done. Reading all your logical and non attacking replies, helps me, particularly when I am confronted with fat phobic comments( especially the subtle and covert ones).



        • November 6, 2014 2:19 pm

          You’re welcome, Sophie. I just call ’em like I see ’em. 🙂


  5. Dizzyd permalink
    November 5, 2014 3:38 pm

    Amen to that last one!

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