Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Weighting Game

I recently watched the documentary Super Size Me where the filmmaker spent his money and risked his life to prove the never-debated point that fast food is unhealthy. While the documentary had interesting moments, my biggest problem with it was that it failed to achieve it’s intended goal: to make me rethink taking a cab through McDonald’s to satisfy my Chicken Nugget craving this Saturday night. If people eat fast food regularly—or even at all-- I can’t imagine that simply proving to them how unhealthy it is would change their eating habits. I don’t know anyone who eats fast food believing that it’s good for them. People eat it for four reasons: 1) they’re poor and can’t afford anything else, 2) they’re too lazy to cook or go to a slower serving restaurant so they choose to stay in the friendly confines of their car while their food is prepared, 3) they’re depressed or drunk and make a bad spur of the moment decision, 4) they’re so fucking fat that they’ve given up any hope of improving the flabby exterior they refer to as their body. None of them are under the impression that when they eat fast food they’re being healthy. So really, the movie was proving a point that has already been made.

Realistically, the Hamburglar is probably in jail because
when the police spotted him he was too fat to run away.
For me, the most interesting moment in the film came when it was pointed out that it is socially acceptable, though usually pointlessly obnoxious, to tell someone to their face that they shouldn’t smoke, but criticizing someone’s eating habits is usually a literal “big-fat-no-no.” To me, this is a huge part of the problem with obesity because while many of us deny caring what others think, I’m hard pressed to believe that always being told not to eat burgers, cheese, sodas and the like by people who care about you would not eventually take a toll on an overweight person’s psyche and cause a change in their eating habits. Granted this “change” may be that they begin to eat even worse in order to drown their sorrows rather than eat better to finally shed some pounds. But this choice, as with all choices we humans make, comes down to personal responsibility and self-discipline. But as our country gobbles and sweats its way to being the fattest in the world, isn't it time we try and change how those around us eat?

So as someone who is also unhappy with his body, I’m saying, with love from me to you: stop being fat!

When I was younger I could eat anything I wanted. Literally anything. I ate a bug off of a tree once. Had no affect on me other than when I would brag to girls in my 1st grade class about it they would yell, “Eww!” and run away—which in 1st Grader Language means, “I want to hold your hand behind the handball courts.” But growing up I was always active, my metabolism was unstoppable, and eating candy, hot dogs or Icee’s had no negative effects on my skinny physique.  And then, like some cruel joke, all at the same time, around the ages of 18-21, my metabolism started to slow down, I stopped playing sports 5 days a week, and I discovered the Devil’s Juice, aka everything from Coors Lite to Jager Bombs to a drink called the 4 Horsemen (I’m not sure what was in that but let’s just say the only bartender who would serve it to me is now dead, and I’m not kidding. R.I.P. Marlin).

I've been eating unhealthy ever since I was little.
Of all of the contributors, I think alcohol was the biggest factor in my weight gain. Not only because alcohol itself is unhealthy, but because of the other decisions it led me to make: late night snacks, too hungover to go to the gym, etc. I think it even gave me “beer goggles” on myself, because I believed I looked fine until I saw a picture of myself from college, looking as sexy as I always imagined I did, except my cheeks didn’t look like they were filled with donut holes like in the photos I was currently posing for. Comparing the old picture to new ones had me scrolling through my Facebook untagging myself in any shot that wasn’t taken from the perfect angle. And I wasn’t even sure that “perfect angle” existed.

Like a fat suit out of a bad Eddie Murphy movie, my body had turned into an unrecognizable shape. The kid who used to eat Double-Doubles and fries and then finish his friend’s milkshake was nowhere to be found, covered in a thick sheet of blubber and shame. Now I know what you’re saying: “Todd, who cares if you put on some weight, as long as you’re rich girls will still love you!” To which I would reply, “Hey, you’ve been reading my blog!” But this time it wasn’t just about what others thought of me, it was about what I thought of myself.

Being fat is fucking depressing. Especially in Los Angeles where there are so many fit people. I know it’s usually a female who is complaining about this type of stuff, but men deal with it, too. Do you know how many women are out there who will only date a guy who is in great shape because for some reason they haven’t evolved out of their cavewoman state of mind where they need to cling to the strongest male for protection from Woolly Mammoths and pterodactyls. It doesn’t matter that none of these meatheads can spell either of those animals, these are the men they instinctively go for.

This guy is the reason I hate the gym.
And the tanning salon.
And the thong store. 
But protection-seeking girls aside, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked so I started hitting the gym. And let me tell you, this is a big deal because I hate the gym. It takes a lot to keep me there. If my iPod battery dies, I leave. If the hot girl in front of me on the treadmill stops running, so do I. If there is a guy lifting weights next to me and screaming so loud that the pimples on his back pop in unison, I head for the exits. So the fact that I made it to the gym 2-3 days a week was basically a small miracle. Of course, afterwards I would head home and I’d lift my shirt in the mirror and silently curse myself: “You fat worthless piece of shit.” Without much visual evidence of improvement I’d step on the scale and find out I only lost one pound. Soon I wanted to give up. But then I realized I was still eating as unhealthy as before. So I started bringing sandwiches to work, getting my dressing on the side for salads, and forcing myself to throw up Chipotle whenever I gave into the craving. Just kidding, I would never disrespect Chipotle like that. Eventually, with exercise and eating healthy, 2 of my top 3 most hated things in the world (the 3rd is washing dishes), I started to see some results. 

Now I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m feeling better about myself. I still have work to do, but eventually I’ll get there. By no means am I trying to preach or say, “Hey I did it, so can you!” All I’m saying is that eating unhealthy is an addiction just like smoking. And with addictions, people always try and rationalize reasons to "just have one more" or say that they’re "going to quit… tomorrow." Whether they are trying to give up heroine, cigarettes or Happy Meals, the challenge is the same, and I think making it socially acceptable to say (politely) to someone you care about, “Maybe you should eat a salad,” isn’t a bad thing.
Don't waste food by eating it only
to throw it up later. There are people
starving in Arica (and apparently Malibu).

So listen fat people: losing weight is a marathon not a sprint. And yes, I realize that you don’t know what either of those things are. But my point is that you have to keep trying, and there are going to be set backs when you just have to eat that burger. Or those plateaus where it seems like there’s just no way you can lose another pound without resorting to cutting off your leg. And there’s even going to be times when you convince yourself that you’re happy with the way you look and that forcing change to accommodate your body to society’s standards is pointless. If that’s truly how you feel, I agree. You should do what you want. But when my health care costs go up because of your diabetes or your kid gets made fun of at school because you taught him that pizza is a food group and now he’s in 4th grade and weighs 250 pounds or you get kicked off of a plane because your gut is leaking over onto my laptop, don’t get mad at society. Look in the mirror for that one. And then truly ask yourself if you’re happy with what you see. And if you aren’t, make a change.

Now go grab a napkin, you just spilled mayonnaise all over your keyboard. 


  1. Was I the only one to get extremely hungry when watching "Supersize Me?" Or when reading "Fast Food Nation?" I've never eaten so much McDonalds during that time. Actually, I take that back - Vegas. Ask Davis.

    Anyways, women are under so much more pressure to be thin. I've been on a diet now for about 10 years - running marathons and shit and watching what I eat. My weight has never really dramatically fluctuated, but when we see women on TV who are 110 pounds, we want to look like them. Guys could honestly be fat, balding, with bad teeth, but have 10 times more game and confidence than women.

    To drive the point home, yes, its all about how you feel about yourself. To be honest, you seem pretty damn happy to me. =)

  2. Thanks Darlene... Like I said its not about getting girls, etc. Its about how I feel about myself. And you're right, I am prettu damn happy.

  3. Hey good post Todd. I too leave the gym if my ipod dies and when meatheads take too long on the machine I'm trying to get onto. I've been eating salads and training for a 10K for I think 2 months now and have only lost I think 10 pounds. Yes, its frustrating to see the scale only move slightly, but you're totally right, its a marathon not a sprint. I wouldn't recommend Atkins or South Beach diets btw. I did it twice before with good results, but it gives you anxiety attacks when you finally start eating bread again. It felt like my blood was boiling. Good Luck.