Archive for the “Random Musings” Category

You ever go to a big party, go to the bathroom, flush the toilet, and the water starts coming … up? This is the most frightening moment in the life of a human being. You’ll do anything to stop this. You’ll lose your mind and start talking to the toilet: “No, please, don’t do this to me. No, come on, you know this is not my responsibility! I didn’t make this happen!” – Jerry Seinfeld

Of course you caused it to happen, Jerry. You flushed the toilet, which filled the bowl with water. More water went into the bowl than went out, and so it overflowed. Call any reputable plumber and ask why a toilet overflows, and that’s the answer you’ll get: more water going in than going out.

Heh-heh-heh … just kidding. A reputable plumber would explain that something has clogged up the system, then charge you a hefty hourly fee to fix the clog.

Back in my standup days, I opened a few times for a comedian I really liked named Tom Parks. He had a good bit about his toilet backing up into his bathtub. (I don’t remember it word for word, and paraphrasing won’t be as funny. Sorry about that.) Parks called a plumber, who fixed the problem and then apologized for the bill, explaining that house calls on a Sunday are billed at two-and-a-half times the usual rate … to which Parks replied, “Buddy, here’s all I want to know: is the @#$% gone from my tub? Yeah? Then you can charge me whatever you want.”

Fortunately, the plumber didn’t attribute the problem to more @#$% entering the tub than exiting.

I bring up the toilet humor because of yet another raging debate about the relevance of calories-in/calories-out (CICO) on the Fat Head Facebook group. I don’t have time to read all the posts in the Facebook group, much less comment on them, but I did chime in on that one. Here’s what I wrote:

Arguing about whether weight gain/loss is caused by the hormonal effects of diet or CICO is like arguing whether your toilet overflowed because of a clog in the pipe or because more water went into the toilet than went out. CICO always applies, but that’s the HOW of the result, not the WHY.

I’m not sure why this is such a difficult concept for some people to wrap their brains around, but apparently it is. So I’ll try to explain one more time:

Those of us who believe losing weight isn’t as simple as restricting calories aren’t denying the laws of physics. People have accused Gary Taubes of ignoring the laws of thermodynamics, but frankly, that’s beyond ridiculous. The man has a degree in physics from Harvard, for pete’s sake. His first award-winning book was about physics. It seems rather unlikely that when he wrote Good Calories, Bad Calories, he just up and decided the laws of physics don’t apply to obesity or weight loss.

What he’s tried to explain in at least a couple of speeches I watched online is that yes, of course, if you increase your body mass, you consumed more calories than you expended. If you decrease your body mass, then yes, of course, you expended more calories than you consumed. But that’s all the calories-in/calories-out equation can tell us. It doesn’t tell us the actual reason weight gain or weight loss occurred.

As I was trying to get across in my Facebook comment, we’re talking about the difference between HOW vs. WHY. If my toilet overflows, then yes, more water entered the bowl than exited. That’s HOW it overflowed. But that’s not WHY it overflowed. The WHY would have something to do with a clog in the pipes.

People who insist that gaining weight is caused by consuming too many calories and that losing weight is therefore as simple as consuming fewer calories are confusing HOW with WHY. The HOW of gaining or losing weight is always the same: a calorie surplus or a calorie deficit. But that doesn’t mean eating more will make you fat or eating less will make you thin.  Your body is rather opinionated about how much fat mass it wants to maintain and will adjust your metabolism accordingly.  That’s where the WHY comes into play.

In his book The Calorie Myth, Jonathan Bailor wrote about a group of research subjects who consumed an extra thousand calories per day for several weeks. According to the CICO equation, they should have all gained 16 pounds. Nobody gained that much (the most anyone gained was eight pounds), and some of the naturally-lean subjects gained a mere half-pound. So let’s look at HOW vs. WHY for those lucky people:

  • HOW they avoided getting fatter: the calories they expended matched the calories they consumed.
  • WHY they avoided getting fatter: their bodies are hormonally geared to stay lean and responded to the extra calories with a corresponding rise in metabolism.

Here’s a paragraph from Good Calories, Bad Calories:

When physiologists began studying animal hibernation in the 1960s, they again demonstrated this decoupling of food intake from weight gain. Hibernating ground squirrels will double their body weight in late summer, in preparation for the winter-long hibernation. But these squirrels will get just as fat when kept in the laboratory and not allowed to eat any more in August and September than they did in April. The seasonal fat accumulation is genetically programmed – the animals will accomplish this task whether food is abundant or not.

So simply limiting food intake didn’t prevent the calorie-restricted ground squirrels from getting just as fat as their free-eating brethren.

  • HOW they got just as fat: they consumed more calories than they expended.
  • WHY they got just as fat: hormones released before the hibernation season commanded their bodies to get fat, and their bodies heeded the command … even if doing so required a drastic reduction in metabolism to provide the surplus calories to store as fat.

Here’s another paragraph from Good Calories, Bad Calories:

In these experiments, researchers remove the ovaries from female rats. This procedure effectively serves to shut down production of the female sex hormone estrogen (technically estradiol). Without estrogen, the rats eat voraciously, dramatically decrease physical activity, and quickly grow obese. When estrogen is replaced by infusing the hormone back into these rats, they lose the excess weight and return to their normal patterns of eating and activity.

Oops. I guess getting fat is all about eating too much and exercising too little after all. Those rats ate voraciously and sat around being lazy. That must be why they got fat.

But wait …

When researchers remove the ovaries from the rats, but restrict their diets to only what they were eating before the surgery, the rats become just as obese, just as quickly; the number of calories consumed makes little difference …. “If you keep the animals’ food intake constant and manipulate the sex hormones, you still get substantial changes in body weight and fat content,” [researcher George] Wade said.

  • HOW the rats got fat: they consumed more calories than they expended.
  • WHY the rats got fat: removing their ovaries caused a hormonal imbalance that commanded their little rat bodies to accumulate fat – which they did, despite no increase in food intake, probably by drastically reducing metabolism.

Awhile back, I watched a TV documentary called The Science of Obesity. It wasn’t very good overall, so I didn’t write about it. But there was one intriguing section about a woman who was lean her entire life, then became morbidly obese within a year. She limited herself to 1500 calories per day, but didn’t lose any weight. Her doctor insisted she was lying about her food intake.

So she did the smart thing and found another doctor – who ran a slew of tests and found she had a tumor on her pituitary gland. Was she consuming more calories than she was expending while becoming obese? Yup. Gaining weight always requires a surplus of calories.  Does that mean she got fat and stayed fat because she was eating too much? Nope. She became obese because of the tumor, which caused all kinds of hormonal hell to break loose.

I recently had a good friend tell me he finally cut way back on his carb intake, especially his bread intake. (Interestingly, he wasn’t persuaded by Fat Head to change his diet; it was a personal trainer who finally got through to him.) He’d been eating less and less over the years in a failed attempt to drop some weight. I remember hanging out with him over a weekend, and he didn’t eat anything until dinner – but then bread was the first item on his dinner menu. Bread, a salad, and some salmon. That was it.

Anyway, after making the dietary change, he told me, “I swear, I didn’t do anything but ditch the bread and potatoes, and 15 pounds just dropped off like nothing. I was never hungry. I never felt deprived.”

  • HOW he lost weight: he expended more calories than he consumed.
  • WHY he lost weight: a change in diet triggered some kind of hormonal shift that moved him from fat-accumulation mode to fat-burning mode.

Maybe he unconsciously ate less, even though he insists he didn’t. Maybe he started releasing fatty acids at a faster rate and didn’t feel hungry because he was eating his own fat. Maybe he started eating more protein, which requires more energy to digest. Maybe his metabolism perked up. Doesn’t matter. The point is, something about the change in diet fixed the WHY of his inability to lose weight. He absolutely, positively expended more calories than he consumed while losing … but he didn’t count calories or consciously restrict his portions in order to do so.

When we switch to a better diet and end up losing weight (and keeping it off) for the first time in our lives, it means we’ve finally addressed the WHY of excess fat accumulation. The HOW of weight gain (whether we gain fat or muscle) is always the same:  consuming more than calories than we expend. CICO and hormones are not mutually exclusive explanations, any more than a clogged pipe and water-in vs. water-out are mutually exclusive explanations for an overflowing toilet.

I don’t like the CICO explanation because 1) it doesn’t actually tell us why a person gains or loses weight, and 2) it encourages people who don’t know what the @#$% they’re talking about to be judgmental — like that idiot reality TV star from England who stuffed herself to get fat and then concluded that fat people just eat too much.

But in a recent email, a reader reminded me that people who attribute obesity to hormones can be judgmental too … or least too confident that they understand the WHY of weight gain and have the answer.

This woman has been overweight for years.  She’s tried everything under the sun, including severe calorie restriction.  When people told her “it’s the hormones, it’s the hormones, it’s the hormones!” she had everything checked and checked again, by endocrinologists, holistic practitioners, you name it.  The bottom line is that she can’t lose the excess weight, and nobody can tell her why.

I’m reminded of the “resistant obese” subjects some researchers described in a study I recounted in a previous post:

This phenomenon of people who do not lose weight is really the most tantalizing thing that confronts physicians.  There are these people who can live on 600 calories and not lose any weight. On what are they surviving?  If we measure their basal metabolism in terms of calories, we get figures in excess of 600 calories per twenty-four hours.  It would seem that on this diet they are in a caloric deficit all time, but still are not losing any weight.  I am still an admirer of the laws of thermodynamics, but these people seem to be thermodynamic paradoxes.

The researchers were describing people under supervision in a hospital.  They weren’t sneaking food or lying about their food intake in a diet journal.  They were locked down in a hospital, but failing to lose weight on 600 calories.  I don’t think they were thermodynamic paradoxes, however.  Somehow, some way, they managed to get by on that ridiculously low intake of food.  Some people just seem to be hard-wired to be very fat.

  • HOW they stayed obese on 600 calories:  The calories they expended matched the calories they consumed.
  • WHY they stayed obese on 600 calories:  Nobody knows.  And nobody should judge them for it.  Those unfortunate people are just proof that scientists still have a lot to learn about the WHY of obesity.

 

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People have asked us in the past how we deal with the sugar-fest known as Halloween.  For the sake of new readers, I’ll answer that question again:

We let the girls go trick-or-treating and eat the candy they collect.

Halloween is a big, fun event for kids, and we don’t want to ruin it by being food fascists.  Kids were enjoying Halloween long before the steep rise in childhood obesity and diabetes.  It’s not the occasional treat that screws up a kid’s health and metabolism; it’s the chronic overload of sugars and other refined carbohydrates.  Those aren’t part of our girls’ normal diets.

So our girls eat Halloween candy — but the deal is that they only get three days to indulge, including Halloween night.  After that, the candy goes away.

The first year we instituted that system, Sara tried to gobble up all her remaining candy on the third day.  She got sick as a result, and most of what she’d gobbled down ended up in the toilet.  Lesson learned … she and Alana have since concluded that there’s no point in filling their bags with a ton of candy they can’t eat without making themselves sick.  In fact, after they haunted a few streets in a nearby neighborhood last night, they announced they were ready to go home.

Sara then separated out the candy she likes — mostly chocolates — and dumped the stuff she doesn’t.  She explained that Pixie Stix, for example, are just a big mouthful of sugar and are way too sweet to taste good.

That’s my girl .. or my screaming banshee, at least during the evening’s festivities.

 

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Hi, Fatheads!

Anyone else notice there’s been an uptick in mainstream media reporting related to the gut microbiome?

It’s even crept into my local paper, which picked up an AP article relating how artificial sweeteners could possibly tie to diabetes via its effect on said gut:

A preliminary study done mostly in mice suggests that artificial sweeteners may set the stage for diabetes in some people.

The study authors said they can’t make dietary recommendations but that their results should inspire more research into the topic.

Basically, the study suggests that artificial sweeteners alter the makeup of normal, beneficial bacteria in the gut. That appears to hamper how the body handles sugar in the diet, a situation that can lead to developing diabetes.

The results, from researchers in Israel, were released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

How about that. Not that this is new — the whole Resistant Starch thing triggered a lot of interest around here in the gut — the “second brain,” as one researcher called it — awhile ago.

It had been on the radar for quite awhile. I remember seeing a year or two ago research talking about how there where over 150 distinct species of this microbiome community that lives on and inside us, but aren’t related to us — i.e., don’t have any of our DNA.  They have 100 times the number of genes we have, and weigh at least a couple of pounds. They drive all kinds of chemical and physiological processes in us, but have been largely unstudied.

Like I said, not new. What is new is that it’s news.

I didn’t think the general media would be reporting on this stuff for years. I mean, you’re just starting to see LCHF get regular respectable mentions, and now even saturated fat is getting better press, but that’s been a decades-long haul.

Within days of seeing the artificial sweetener/diabetes story,  I also saw a couple of other “gut” articles in Yahoo’s new links. One was from Forbes on the same idea, but this time specifically targeting diet sodas as culprits through the same mechanism of altering the gut balance. Then, another linking through to the Huffington Post(!) regarding food allergies:

Mice that were raised in a sterile environment or given antibiotics early in life lacked a common gut bacteria that appears to prevent food allergies, US researchers said Monday.

The bacterium, called Clostridia, appears to minimize the likelihood that rodents will become allergic to peanuts, and researchers would like to find out if it does the same in people.

In the meantime, they found that supplementing rodents with probiotics containing Clostridia later in life could reverse the allergy, according to the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

The precise cause of food allergies is unknown, but some studies suggest that changes in diet, hygiene and use of antimicrobial soap and disinfecting products may lead to changes in the bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract that leave people more susceptible.

I’m not sure what I found more amazing; that the HuffPo would cover something accurately, or that I would read something they printed.

To be clear, many of these studies were looking at mice, and we know that is far from a “gold standard.” I didn’t perform Tom’s normal exercise of pulling up and dissecting the source articles.

First of all, that’s not in my wheelhouse. But mainly, I’m not interested specifically in the research, per se — it’s the fact that it’s seeped into the regular press, and is providing answers to some questions many people seem to be seeking better answers to. Like, “how come all of these kids seem to be allergic to everything these days?”

I also find it interesting in that these are reporting findings that aren’t in line with the current medical establishment zeitgeist. The reports indicate the answer may be in less medicine, less sterile environments, less industrial foodstuffs.

I really didn’t expect to see anything about the gut microbiome until Merk or Monsanto or someone figured out a way to patent a couple of them, then that’s all we’d hear about.

I think it’s possible that the things Tom talked about in his Vox Populi speech — why people just don’t believe the “experts” in medicine, nutrition, etc. and are looking to the “wisdom of crowds” — are starting to guide the questions that get asked, and the stories that get covered.  A couple of years ago, the only answer to food allergies was testing, avoiding, and a prescription. All of your reported options resided in the medical establishment, because those were the only people who got asked.

Now, it’s looking more like the press and regular folks are starting to clue in that there’s other options. Like, keep little Johnny away from the Pink Stuff unless it’s major, and let him go outside and eat some dirt.

Just your grandma told you. See, it was science after all.

….

Well, Tom should be wrapping up the big parts of the book by now so Chareva can start doing her part.  Sorry you got stuck with me for an extra week, but it should pay off in the end. The Wife and I are going down to their farm next week, so maybe I’ll get a sneak preview. At least I’ll get to try this “disc golf” thing.

Thanks for putting up with me. See you in the comments.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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Hi again, Fatheads.

This wasn’t on the agenda, but I just had to see if anyone else caught it.  If you’re a veteran Fathead, you’ll remember Tom’s “Science for Smart People” presentation he gave on the Low Carb Cruise a couple of years ago.  By veteran, I mean a ways back since this was was from over three years ago.

Anyway, towards the beginning, when he’s talking about how Pattern Recognition is pretty much hard-wired into us, he uses the kids in horror flicks as an counter point.  I’ve think I’ve got the relevant section queued up here (if not, drag it to around the 5:45 mark) — it runs for about a minute:

Okay, that always stuck in my mind. Then, a couple of nights ago, I saw this commercial:

Didn’t know if any of you also found it hilarious, albeit vaguely familiar!

BTW, if you’ve never watched “Science for Smart People,” you owe it to yourself to check it out, or maybe watch it again. You might also share it with your or your kid’s Science teacher.

Cheers,

The Older Brother

 

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Perhaps you remember the terms for body types from high-school biology.  These are from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Ectomorph. A human physical type (somatotype) tending toward linearity, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by the American psychologist W.H. Sheldon. Although classification by the Sheldon system is not absolute, a person is classed as an ectomorph if ectomorphy predominates over endomorphy and mesomorphy in his body build. The extreme ectomorph has a thin face with high forehead and receding chin; narrow chest and abdomen; a narrow heart; rather long, thin arms and legs; little body fat and little muscle; but a large skin surface and a large nervous system. If well fed, he does not gain weight easily; if he becomes fat, he is still considered an ectomorph, only overweight.

Endomorph.  A human physical type (somatotype) tending toward roundness, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by American psychologist W.H. Sheldon. The extreme endomorph has a body as nearly globular as humanly possible; he has a round head, a large, round abdomen, large internal organs relative to his size, rather short arms and legs with fat upper arms and thighs, but slender wrists and ankles. Under normal conditions the endormorphic individual has a great deal of body fat, but he is not simply a fat person; if starved, he remains an endomorph, only thinner.

Mesomorph.  A human physical type that is marked by greater than average muscular development, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by American psychologist W.H. Sheldon. Although the Sheldon system of classification does not make absolute distinctions between types, a person is classed as a mesomorph if mesomorphy predominates over endomorphy and ectomorphy in his body build. The extreme mesomorph has a square, massive head; broad, muscular chest and shoulders; a large heart; heavily muscled arms and legs; and minimal body fat. He tends to develop muscle easily.

These are not mutually-exclusive types.  Most of us are a mix.  I’m an ectomorph-endomorph.  I have long arms and legs, but also tend to get fat in the middle … and I definitely have the slender wrists and ankles, despite being thick through the upper thighs and butt area.

Some really beefy guys are mesomorph-endomorphs.  They’re very muscular and strong with the fast-twitch muscles and quick reflexes of a mesomorph, but also tend to get fat around the middle.  Think offensive lineman.

It’s the mesomorph type I’ll be talking about here, so let’s look at another brief definition from an article in Men’s Fitness:

Mesomorphs look well built without setting foot in a gym, and pack on muscle the instant they pick up a dumbbell.

Mesomorphs look well built without setting foot in a gym … Yup.  I’ve known people like that.  In order to stay lean and muscular, all they really have to do is not screw up.  But many mesomorphs do work out, because the results are so rewarding and impressive.  The same article in Men’s Fitness mentioned a study of the effects of resistance training.  Given the same workouts, the ectomorphs put on almost no muscle at all, while the mesomorphs made big gains in muscle size.  It’s character vs. chemistry again – the chemistry in this case being genetics.

The Older Brother and I had a mutual friend in high school who was a perfect mesomorph.  The guy had a small waist, wide shoulders, big muscles, chiseled abs and veins popping out all over the place.  So what did he eat?  Any damned thing he wanted to, including a lot of junk.  And his exercise program?  He didn’t have one.  If he’d ever decided to take up weight-lifting, he would have looked like a Greek god in no time.  I ran into him in a bar 20 years after high school (where yes, he was drinking beer) and he still had exactly the same build.

So here’s the point:  a whole lot of people who consider themselves experts in exercise or nutrition because they look so darned good and are so darned athletic are mesomorphs.  But what you’re seeing in their impressive-looking photos and videos is a genetic gift.  If they don’t totally hose themselves with a crappy diet, they stay lean.  If they work out at all, they put on muscle.

So when they point to their muscles and abs as proof of their superior knowledge about nutrition – or worse, point to an endomorph’s fatter build as proof that he can’t possibly know as much as they do – it’s bull@#$%.  Period.  (Given my last couple of posts, you can guess who inspired this post.)   When I see a natural-born mesomorph posting a picture of his beautiful body as proof of his expertise in fitness and nutrition, I roll my eyes and think, “Well, that’s fabulous.  Be sure to send your mom or dad a thank-you card for passing on those genes”  — especially if the mesomorph has to puff out his belly to produce a “before” shot of himself looking kind of, sort of, maybe a little bit fat.

I’m not saying anyone who happens to be a mesomorph is disqualified from giving diet and exercise advice to those of us not so genetically gifted.  Some really know their stuff.  Mark Sisson is mostly a mesomorph (with a bit of ectomorph mixed in), and I’d certainly take his advice.  But here’s the difference:  Mark knows his ripped build is largely a genetic gift.  He’s said several times that he was lean and muscular even when he was living on what he now knows was a garbage diet.  He just wasn’t healthy on that diet.

It doesn’t prove anything if a particular diet or exercise program works well for a mesomorph, because pretty much everything that isn’t actually harmful works for them.  Vegetarian diet, vegan diet, high-fat diet, low-fat diet, paleo diet, whatever … if these guys get adequate protein, work out now and then, and don’t fill up on junk foods that overcome their natural tendency to stay at a low level of body fat, they’re going to look great.  Their impressive physiques don’t in any way prove they have the answers for the rest of us.

Let’s use academic achievement as an analogy.  I wasn’t genetically blessed in the body-build department, but I was in the intelligence department.  So was The Older Brother.  We both breezed through school.  Sure, we studied, but not as hard as some kids who were B or even C students.

I remember one of my roommates in college looking at the single spiral notebook I took to all my classes and saying, “That’s all the notes you take?  How the heck are you getting A’s in everything?  You hardly write anything down!”

“Uh, well,” I mumbled, “if the professor says something and it makes sense, I just remember it.  I don’t really have to write much of it down.”

That’s a genetic gift.  My dad was like that.  He loved to read, and he could quote from books he’d read 10 years earlier.  When the game Trivial Pursuit came around and we played as a family, he’d mop the floor with the rest of us.  He’d read a ton of books in his lifetime and it seemed he hadn’t forgotten a word.  So he’d finish in maybe 20 minutes, then the rest of us would pretend he’d never been a part of the game and play on.

The point is, I would never, ever point to what worked for me in college – just remember what the professor said! – as proof that it’s the best approach for everyone.  I wouldn’t take a picture of my high-school report cards or the plaque I received when the professors in the communications department at my university named me the top senior in the department, put those pictures on a web site, and point to them as proof that I’m an expert in education or in how to get good grades.

I got those grades largely because I’m a “brain mesomorph,” so to speak.  Brain mesomorphs can pick pretty much any method of studying and still do well, as long as they don’t do something to screw up that genetic gift – like, say, don’t study at all.

The Older Brother and I were both A students, but we approached schoolwork in totally different ways.  I don’t like scampering to meet deadlines, so if I was assigned a term paper, I’d start weeks ahead of time and work on it a little bit every day.  Sometimes I’d be finished days before turning it in.  Then I’d get an A on the paper.

The Older Brother would wait until the day before the paper was due, then start writing.  Sometimes he’d work all through the night and turn in the paper without having slept a wink.  Then he’d get an A on the paper.  Completely different approaches, same happy result.

Neither of us would ever be so foolish as to point to those papers and say, “Here’s proof of my expertise in how to get good grades.”  And neither of us would be so foolish as to point to an average-IQ kid who worked his tail off to get a B in a tough class and say, “Well, I sure hope nobody listens to that kid if he offers advice on study habits.  If he had any expertise in good study habits, his report card would look as good as mine.”

In fact, I’d consider that average-IQ kid who had to seriously apply himself to get all B’s the true expert on how to raise your grades.  He actually had to overcome his lack of genetic gifts to reach that goal.  That’s the kid I’d ask for advice on study habits if my kid wasn’t blessed with a high IQ and was struggling in school, not the high-IQ kid who barely has to study to get straight A’s.

So to paraphrase what I said at the end of my previous post, if you’re 100 pounds overweight, maybe the best weight-loss coach for you is someone who had to struggle to lose 100 pounds, even if he’s still built like an endomorph because (duh) he’s an endormorph.  The mesomorph who’s never been fat a day in his life can’t relate to your struggle, and if he’s like some mesomorphs, he’ll mistake his genetics for proof of expertise.

And if he’s an a-hole of a mesomorph, he’ll consider you a failure unless you end up looking like him, even though you couldn’t possibly look like him unless you had his parents.

Knowledge can be passed from one person to another.  Genetics can’t.   Don’t mistake one for the other.

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Since my last post raised a hubbub and, of course, prompted more online temper-tantrums from the half-baked brains at Julian Bakery, I’m going to share a few more observations about Mr. Collins and Mr. Squealer, then get back to more important stuff.

I’m not going to link to their videos or posts, by the way.  Some of you have already found them and left your own comments – at least until the open and honest Collins and Squealer stopped allowing those comments.  If you want to find their garbage online, I’m sure you can.  I’ll just recount some of their predictable excuses, counter-attacks, whatever you want to call them, and respond.

Here’s my favorite:  Why would anyone take weight-loss advice from a comedian?

Har-dee-har-har!  Comic genius.  That line just never gets old.  I’m sure it will be every bit as funny the next thousand times as it was the first thousand.

(Oh, and the barely-literate Mr. Collins  — who “rights” his own books and who called me a coward for attacking him from behind a computer after he attacked Jimmy Moore and Diane Sanfilippo from behind a computer — also called me an idiot.  Now that is comic genius.  I’m still laughing.)

In the past few years, I’ve posted plenty of letters (many including dramatic before-and-after photos) from viewers expressing their eternal gratitude to the comedian.  I’ve received way more of those letters than I’ve posted.  Some of the letters were so sincere and expressed such heartfelt emotions, I was choked up after reading them.  Those are the people who matter to me.  One of those letters outweighs a thousand snarky comments from internet cowboys who think they’re either being funny or are going to wound my ego with comments like “Oh, yeah, a comedian.  Some expert, huh?”

But what the heck, I’ll deal with the issue at hand, since Mr. Collins and Mr. Squealer raised it again.

Okay, boys, you got me:  I don’t have a university degree in health science, or nutrition science, or whatever degree would be considered an official qualification.  But that is a strange criticism indeed coming from the two of you, since you don’t either.

Mr. Collins earned degrees in criminal justice and forensic science, according to his bio.  So he’s a trained cop.  That’s every bit as relevant to health and nutrition as my degree in journalism.

Oh yeah, great idea, get your diet advice from a cop.  Don’t they all eat donuts?  Har-dee-har-har!

Now of course, Mr. Collins may know a ton about health and nutrition.  But if he does, he learned it outside the university environment – just like I did, and just like a lot of other bloggers and authors did.  Even the doctors who know what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition will happily tell you they didn’t learn what they know in med school.

But the real impressive credentials here belong to Mr. Squealer.  Because, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Squealer achieved his lofty position in life by having the good fortune to be born to a mommy who started Julian Bakery many years ago and then made her son the CEO.

Oh yeah, great idea — get your diet advice from a member of the lucky-sperm club whose mommy started a bread business and then turned it over to her precious little boy!  Great qualifications, there, Dude!  Har-dee-har-har!

Once again, Mr. Squealer may actually know a lot about nutrition.  But if so, he has no official qualifications, and having your mommy make you the CEO of her company is no more relevant of a background than traveling around the country doing shows in comedy clubs.

Oh, but wait … Collins and Squealer already explained in Mr. Collins’ barely-literate post why people should listen to them and ignore people like Jimmy Moore and Diane Sanfilippo.  Here’s the reason:

Just look at us.  Look at our pictures!  It’s obvious we know what we’re talking about, because we have abs!

Uh-huh.  So does this guy:

That’s my son Zack, and he’s always had those abs.  He had those abs when he was living on pizza, potato chips and Coca-Cola.  (He’s since cleaned up his diet.)  He had those abs when he tried and failed to gain weight by massively overeating.  (He was trying to get heavier while playing power forward on his high-school basketball team.)  His mother (not Chareva) had that same ridiculously-low level of body fat even when she developed the very bad habit of drinking a helluva lot of beer every day.

Some people are lucky like that.  They were born to be lean.  The difference is that Zack has the intelligence to realize that just because he’s cut, that doesn’t make him an expert on how to lose weight.  His advice (since he has a nice, self-effacing sense of humor) would probably be something like, “It’s easy.  Go out and inherit my mother’s genes.”

Oh, but wait … in Mr. Collins’ barely-literate post, Mr. Squealer assures us he found the answer to his own (ahem) weight problems, lost the weight, and has kept it off for three years.  And by gosh, he’s willing to post pictures to prove it.

I included two of those pictures in my previous post:

Like I said in that post, that sure doesn’t look anything like a 33-pound weight loss to me.  That looks like the difference between sucking some air into the belly in one shot, then tensing the abs and employing better lighting in the second shot.

But perhaps I was unfair.  Mr. Squealer actually included three pictures.  Here they are:

His body isn’t at the same angle in the middle shot, but the other two are pretty much straight-on.  Since Collins and Squealer like to have fun with photos, I had some fun myself — the difference being I’m not going to tell any lies while having fun.

I took those two pictures, put them in Photoshop, and resized them until Mr. Squealer was the same size in both shots.  (I matched top of the head to belly button, and also made sure his nipples were the same distance apart in both shots.)  On the “fat” Mr. Squealer shot, I drew a red line just below the belly button and just touching the edges of his waist.  Then I copied the red line to the “lean” shot.  These lines are exactly the same width.  You can download the picture and measure yourself.  Here’s what we’ve got:

My, my, my, isn’t that strange?  Mr. Squealer claims he was 220 pounds in the “fat” shot and 185 pounds in the “lean” shot.  The guy lost 35 pounds – nearly one-sixth of his entire body mass, you understand – yet his waist doesn’t appear to have gotten any narrower as a result.  Oh, but he knows all about weight loss, because he used to be fat and had to lose 35 pounds.  Just ask him.  Honest guy like that would never lie.

If those are before-and-after shots of a man who lost 35 pounds, then I’m the King of England.  So I’ll just come out and say it this time:  Heath Squier is lying about his weight loss.  He’s probably just sticking out his belly a bit in the “before” shot.  I’d bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts), he’s never been fat a day in his life.  If he has been fat – really and truly fat — he can post pictures to prove it.

So Mr. Squealer’s qualifications come down to being born 1) naturally lean, and 2) to a mommy who started a bakery and was willing to make him the CEO.  (Given his recent behavior, that might prove to be a bad decision.)

But you wouldn’t want to take advice from a comedian … har-dee-har-har!

Oh, I’m sorry … an overweight comedian!  That’s the latest topper on the hilarious joke.

You see, in addition to showing up in comments and threatening to find me at a conference someday and commit some kind of physical violence for calling him an a-hole (proving that he’s very gosh-darned proud of how he put his life on line to protect my freedom of speech while in the military – just ask him), Mr. Collins added a comment on one of his videos describing me as another low carb failure who can’t even stay below 200 pounds.

Fascinating.  In a reply to one of his barely-literate comments on my previous post, I suggested to Mr. Collins that if someone calls you an adolescent, an asshole, a fraud, or whatever, it’s not a good idea to prove him right with your next response.  I guess he didn’t get the concept.  Because I basically called these guys liars in my previous post, and he responded by telling a lie in public.

Where on earth did he come up with the (ahem) fact that I can’t stay below 200 pounds?  I’ve never said that.  No one else has said that.  The scale doesn’t say that.  I was just at the gym today.  That’s the only place I weigh myself, because we don’t have a scale at home.  I was at 196.  I’m pretty much always within a pound or two of that number, sometimes a little above, sometimes a little below.  And I wouldn’t panic if I did weigh 200 pounds.  In fact, I posted a picture of myself awhile back and noted that it was me at exactly 200 pounds.  Here it is:

Good grief, what a fat comedian!  Is he taking over for Louie Anderson?  Har-dee-har-har!

I’m 55 years old and spent most of my life as a fat guy.  Now I’m not a fat guy.  I’ve gone from this …

… to this.

The towel shot, you may recall, was taken on the morning of my 55th birthday.

In other words, unlike Mr. Squealer, I actually was fat and then got considerably leaner.  I didn’t have to stand in front of a mirror and suck in air and puff out my belly to produce a “before” shot where I look sort of, maybe, kind of, a little bit fat – and then lie about my weight loss.  I was the real deal.

So if I’m a low-carb failure because you can’t see all my ab muscles (which weren’t visible even when I was a rail-thin 10-year-old), I’m fine with that.  I’m not really concerned about the opinions of a couple of dumb-jock types who have no flippin’ idea what it’s like to actually be a fat guy struggling to lose weight.

And speaking of the dumb jocks … their explanation of the “2009” Jimmy Moore picture that was actually taken in 2013 is that it’s no big deal and was probably an honest mistake.  And then, to prove once again that he’s barely literate, Mr. Collins claimed that in my post, I said the picture maybe was from 2011, or maybe from 2012, then decided it was 2013.  Must’ve been tough getting through cop school without being able to comprehend plain English.  I explained, in clear and unambiguous language, why the picture couldn’t possibly be from 2011 or 2012, which means it was from 2013.

But let’s analyze that “honest mistake” excuse, shall we?  How was this honest mistake made, exactly?  What series of errors caused Collins and Squealer to believe that picture was taken in 2009?  The only place I can find that picture online is on Jimmy’s site, where it’s clearly identified as being from 2013.  If you don’t actually know when a picture was taken (and you’re not a dumbass), you find a way to verify the date.  When I found the picture of Diane Sanfilippo I posted, I not only made sure it appeared in a collection of pictures taken at Paleo FX 2014, I blew it up in Photoshop and checked the date on the badge.

And like I said in the post, that picture took only seconds to find.  But Collins and Squealer claim it was really, really difficult to find recent pictures of Diane, ya see.  Uh-huh.  That explains why so many people responded by quickly finding recent pictures of her and posting them on Facebook.

So that claim was clearly a lie.  Mr. Squealer’s claim that he was 35 pounds heavier in his “before” picture is clearly a lie.  Mr. Collins’ recent claim that I can’t keep my weight below 200 pounds is clearly a lie.  So since lying is what habitual liars do, I’m going to step out on a limb and declare that the “honest mistake” about the date on Jimmy’s picture is a lie.  The dumb jocks just didn’t think anyone would bust them on it.

And speaking of Jimmy … yes, he looks heavier in his AHS 2014 picture.  He’s probably gained back some weight since losing the 80 pounds.  According to the dumb jocks, this means nobody should listen to him about how to lose weight.

But since the dumb jocks claim to know everything there is to know about nutrition and health and weight loss (they have abs, after all!), they should know damned good and well that if you spend decades being obese and then lose a massive amount of weight, your body will always fight to regain the weight.  A person who loses 100 pounds to end up at 240 has a totally different metabolism and set-point than someone who peaked at 240.  That’s why nearly everyone who loses weight on The Biggest Loser gains most of it back.  That’s why in diet studies, losing just 10% of your body weight and keeping it off is labeled as “success” — and most people in diet studies fail to achieve that success.

The tendency to become obese is largely genetic.  So is the tendency to be lean and cut.  That’s why twins who are separated at birth and raised in different families still end up having remarkably similar physiques.  That’s why my son Zack was lean and cut on a totally lousy diet and is still lean and cut on a much better diet.

Unlike Collins and Squealer, Jimmy was born into a family of very fat people.  (And I’m pretty sure his mommy didn’t start a bakery she could have him run later so he could think of himself as a successful businessman and expert on nutrition, but I’ll confirm with Jimmy.)  Jimmy’s mother had bariatric surgery, for pete’s sake, and still managed to become obese again after initially losing 100 pounds.  That’s his genetic background.

Yes, Jimmy’s weight has gone up and down.  He will be battling that genetic burden (not to mention the damage he caused himself when he was drinking 12 Cokes per day in his thirties) for the rest of his life.  But battle he does.  For years, he weighed more than 400 pounds.  If he’d just gotten down to 360 and stayed there, he would have been a “success” by diet-study standards.  But he got down to 220.   Then he slowly drifted back up to over 300.  Then he shifted his diet again and lost 80 pounds.  Now he’s gained some of that back.  I suspect he’ll lose it, but let’s suppose he doesn’t.  Let’s suppose he ends up at 250 and stays there.

That would still mean he’s more than 150 pounds down from his peak weight.  It would still mean he’s shed nearly 40% of his peak weight – in a world where most obese people can’t lose 10% of their peak weight and keep it off.  Ask any obesity researcher how he or she would feel about a protocol that allowed people to lose 40% of their initial weight.

So if the two dumb jocks/adolescent bullies who think they know everything there is to know about weight loss (because they have abs!) are so cock-sure about their expertise, here’s how they can prove it:  stop making idiotic videos that attempt to fat-shame people who dare to report that Julian Bakery bread spikes their glucose just like any other bread or is the target of an FDA action.  Stop making more videos and posting more barely-literate comments to justify your adolescent-bully behavior.

Instead, take that awesome expertise of yours, go find some seriously obese people who weigh 350 pounds or more, and coach them into losing so much weight, they look like you — with abs!  Show us what real expertise can accomplish.   Or hell, just coach them into losing 100 pounds and keeping it off.  Show us how you – not some fat comedian and certainly not Jimmy Moore – have the answer these people need.

Because based on what I’ve seen so far, if I were 100 pounds overweight and my choice of a weight-loss coach was either an empathetic, kind-hearted guy who’s actually lost more than 150 pounds and understands the struggle … or a dumb jock who engages in internet fat-shaming and has to puff out his belly to make his naturally-lean body almost look a teensy bit fat, I’m going with the nice guy who’s been where I am – even if he still weighs 250 pounds and I can’t see his abs.

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