You’re fat. Yes, you. The one in the back wearing the sweat pants and NASCAR t-shirt. Don’t try and hide behind that candy machine, I can see your big butt crack. Come on out and try to deny it. I dare you. You can’t do it, can you? That’s because you’re fat. Hell, we’re all fat – we’re Americans.
Take that Snickers out of your pie hole for a second and listen to me. There’s a really easy explanation for why 65% of us are overweight and 31% of us are considered obese. We eat too much crap and we exercise too little. It really is as simple as that. And if I hear you make one damn excuse about genetics or how diets are too hard, I’m going to stuff Ho-Ho’s down your throat until you choke to death.
Chew on this for a while: The average American is 22 pounds overweight. Twenty two pounds! That’s close to what the average woman gains during pregnancy. And you want to know why? Well, in just the past 10 years our daily caloric intake has increased from 1832 calories to 1983. Add to that the fact that only 26% of us do any regular exercise and on average we spend more time in our cars that working out. So the next time you’re wondering how your pants shrunk so much in the dryer – guess what? They didn’t.
Now before you go thinking that just taking the stairs and not super-sizing your fries is going to make you into John Basedow, just hold on a McMinute there, Tubby. Half the battle is what you eat, too. The average American eats three burgers and four orders of fries per week. Jesus, I’m packing on a few pounds just thinking about that. I have maybe a burger a week tops, so even taking into account Anna Nicole Smith and Billy Joel, some of you out there are keeping the curve up. Per capita, we scarf down 50 pounds of French fries a year. I’m surprised you’re not pumping pure grease through your veins. Maybe you are. And in the approximately one second it took you to read those last three words, 350 slices of pizza have ended up in Americans' ever-expanding guts. If you think that sounds gross, how’s this for a gross fact: We spend more money on fast food than we do on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and music combined.
So the way to getting rid of your fourth chin is to get rid of the fast food, right? Wrong. You’re just as bad when you stuff your face at home. While your fat ass is parked on the couch watching Wheel of Fortune, you’re chowing on 21 pounds of salted snacks – the equivalent of a family-sized bag of chips per week. Of course stuffing your face with that much crap makes you thirsty – to the tune of 300 soft drinks (60 gallons) per year. But of course when you’ve been eating so much, a bag of chips and a gallon of Coke only count as an appetizer. How about a hot dog for dinner? If you’re like the average person, you’ll chew on 70 wieners this year. I know I can account for maybe 10 dogs when I go to ballgames. Judging from your cankles you’ve been picking up the slack for me.
Whoops, I almost forgot about dessert. But I know you didn’t. If you’re like everyone else, you’ve spent plenty of nights cramming your gaping maw with the 23 quarts of ice cream you’ll down this year. No wonder Ben & Jerry are smiling on their carton. They’re making you fat, you’re making their wallets fat. On those rare times you’re not in the mood for some Chubby Hubby, why not pig out on a few candy bars? We’ve got you marked down for 400 this year. So get eating, Porky.
Are you full of facts yet? How about a few more to fatten you up? You should be eating about 35 grams of fat per day, but like everything else you put into your quickly ballooning pear shape, you want more. How does twice as much sound? More? OK, if you want to be average, you’ll top out at about 73 grams of total fat per day. And you wonder why you can’t see, let alone tie, your shoes anymore.
With all this dietary gloom and doom, how the hell are you supposed to fit into an airplane seat? Well, why don’t you start with some fresh fruits and vegetables, because right now only one in four of us are getting the recommended daily servings of them. And buy fresh stuff for God’s sake. 90% of the food you buy is processed. 90-friggin-percent. That stat is as embarrassing as having to take your shirt off to play basketball. (Not that you’ve played ball, or done anything more physical than open a beer in months.) Then stop eating so damn much. There is absolutely no reason you need 25 pounds of candy per year. And finally, exercise. Walk to work. Take the stairs. Do something other than sit on your ass all day. Because I am not renting a crane to lift you out of bed when you hit the quarter ton mark.
I know I’m being a little harsh here, Fatso. But hell, if you’re “average,” I don’t want to know who “below average” is. Now go have a salad.
Matt would love to be George Plimpton...welll, except for the being dead part. He supplies the doing and the writing. All he asks of you is the reading.
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11.18.02 @ 1:00a
And with no irony whatsoever, the tag for the day is "rum cake! rum cake! rum cake!"
11.18.02 @ 12:38p
Ironic? Huh? Us? Nah.
11.18.02 @ 1:09p
I can't vouch for a rum cake's caloric and nutritional levels, but I'm guessing it's not part of a well-balanced diet.
11.18.02 @ 1:30p
By the way, the true test isn't your weight. It's your Body Mass Index.
Enter a few basic stats and this link will tell you where you stack up.
11.18.02 @ 1:55p
That's great. According to that chart, I'm obese.
I'm not obese.
Isn't there a lot of be taken account for with muscle and whatnot?
According to that chart Arnold Schwarznegger is obese, too.
11.18.02 @ 2:18p
Well, BMI doesn't work for "elite athletes or heavily muscled individuals", but more most people, it's been the medical standard for about 25 years.
Here's another, slightly more involved calculator. It's a rough way to figure your Lean Body Mass.
This will give you the weight of your non-fatty body parts and a rough body fat percentage.
11.18.02 @ 2:32p
BMI isn't the true test either. It's how you look and feel. If you're skinny as a rail and get winded lifting your shoes, you are not healthy. Some people's bodies just tend to gather fat in one area or another. Genetics cannot be overcome.
Note: this is not a blanket approval for people to eat like Matt describes and then cry genetics when they get fat. You put in too many calories, you gain weight. Period. End of story.
11.18.02 @ 5:51p
BMI is garbage.
Jael makes a good point about overall health. However, the best way to determine healthy weight isn't weight at all, it's percent body fat.
But still, far too many Americans are fat, and that's progress for you.
11.18.02 @ 6:24p
It does come down to the individual. My BMI says that I am right at my normal weight and while I always am, in all fairness I also know that I could always lose a few pounds here and there.
But the stats here are appalling. If I ate three burgers a week, I would just start feeling grotesque. Now, excuse me while I get back to my birthday cake and diet coke.
11.18.02 @ 6:25p
There are actually a bunch of ways to determine percent body fat. There's the underwater method, which is most accurate, but the biggest hassle. There's the pinch test, which is easy and pretty close. And there's the lean body mass index, see above link.
I actually have a bathroom scale that gives a body fat percentage reading. It's not terribly accurate overall (+/- 2%) but it's accurate to itself - which means I can at least gauge if I'm going up or down.
11.18.02 @ 10:11p
Good to know that once again, I am way below average. Thing is, though, since I eat approximately four hamburgers, ten orders of fries, and about twelve quarts of ice cream in a year, SOMEONE out there is eating my share along with their own. I wonder if it's that lady who looked at the donuts in my grocery cart the other day and and said, "Jeez. Must be nice to be able to eat like that and still stay so skinny."
11.18.02 @ 10:26p
To hell with her.
There is indeed, something called metabolism. And when you have a thyroid condition, like I have, you have to monitor that puppy constantly, otherwise you pack on the extra 25 pounds in two years, like I did, because you don't know you have a thyroid condition while exercising 3-4 days a week and eating all the proper servings of veggies, lean fats, etc...and still gain weight because, at 34, you have "the metabolism of a 60-year-old."
That being said, now that my thyroid is regulated, I have to be even more stringent in my health plan. And the slimmin' is happenin'. I also leg press 100 pounds and lift 65. Not bad for a "fat" girl.
11.18.02 @ 11:08p
Oh, I know, Tracey - all I did was pick the right parents, really. The fact that I am a very picky eater just helps me maintain my "natural" weight. For years, I thought my weight was due to the amount of exercise I got waiting tables and tending bar, but since I "retired" I seem to be the same weight, so it's gotta be the metabolism.
My husband has no thyroid at all, so we're all over the monitoring thing - that poor man can gain weight watching me eat if his meds are even a little off.
11.18.02 @ 11:17p
I'm pretty lucky, too. I'm at the same weight I was when I was a junior in high school. (Well, except for my senior year when I weighed 20 lbs more than I do now because for football I ate 5 meals and lifted weights every single day.)
Then again, I usually don't eat very much, walk most everywhere, live 6 flights up, and hit the gym (somewhat irregularly).
I must admit, when I was doing research for this, my jaw was on the floor half the time. I couldn't believe people really eat so much crap.
11.18.02 @ 11:34p
Matt*'s that way, too. He can still wear jeans from college. And while his food intake is legendary, (that boy can do some serious eating!) he's on a stict 5-6 small meals a day routine most of the time and an average of 3 days a week playing intense A-level racquetball.
He's quite the hottie, in my opinion.
Juli, I feel your husband's pain. But I will conquer this this, one way or another. The slow advance, it's obvious, but it will happen.
I have to admit. I went to one of those Chinese buffet places with a friend of mine back in my small "no healthy choices at all" hometown a couple of weeks ago.
I had a salad, sushi, some lo-mein, fruit and pudding. Not too bad. Some of the people in this place went back for completely full plates 3 and 4 times. Ugh.
I think Americans have a problem associating "value" with "quantity" and those "all-you-can-eat" places are the worst, and the quality is usually substandard. No nutritional value to speak of.
11.18.02 @ 11:56p
I must admit, when I was doing research for this, my jaw was on the floor half the time. I couldn't believe people really eat so much crap.
I was actually wondering if this could possibly be accurate. I know I can eat my weight in pizza (hey, we all have our weaknesses and mine just happens to live next door to a gourmet pizza maker) but even given THAT - I am trying to imagine anyone eating enough to put these averages that high. 70 hot dogs a year would be roughly six per month. I know I have seen people eat three hot dogs at a sitting, but I can't even imagine they could do that twice a month!
11.19.02 @ 12:04a
Juli, I took most of these averages with a grain of salt when I saw each one the first time. But I'd find them time and time again quoted from different sources.
For example, the 350 slices of pizza per second fact I found on several pizza industry sites (claimed with honor) and also on a NIH page (cited with horror).
11.19.02 @ 12:53a
I checked out both of those calculators, and there was a .2 difference between them. Either way I'm overweight, but I look Marvahlous!
11.19.02 @ 5:03p
Regarding the hot-dog question ...
In the spring of 2001, upon finding that I had sized myself out of the dress Michelle had already chosen for me to wear in her wedding, I signed up for Weight Watchers. And the message boards on their Web site were an eye-opener. For every one thread about finding a yummy new vegetable, there were 10 about making low-calorie angel-food muffins with pie filling or how many Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches you can eat in a week and still lose weight. The emphasis for most people, sadly, was NOT on eating healthier - it was on finding lower-calorie versions of the same crap they always ate.
Anyway, to get to my point, there was also a "daily menu" thread for people to post what they'd eaten over the course of a day, ideally giving other people healthy ideas. But invariably, there were at least 10 menus that included fat-free hot dogs. So that tells you what these women were eating on a near-daily basis before they joined Weight Watchers.
11.19.02 @ 10:02p
Considering all the other stuff I hear is in hotdogs, I think I'd want the fat instead.
To be honest, I've never really been on a diet to lose or gain weight. My health dieting came about due to kidney stones, and learning what not to eat so I didn't have a recurrance. Needless to say, dieting of any type is hard.
I have one friend who is on the Jenny Craig system, and I was surprised at how expensive it is. The cost alone would prohibit me from dieting.
11.19.02 @ 10:10p
It's not cheap to cook healthy, either, and it takes a lot longer. I end up compromising a lot - skinless chicken breasts, or very lean pork chops, frozen veggies (good for you) and served alongside one of those very high sodium, very low "nature" pasta side dishes. You win a few, you lose a few.
My great-grandmother (who, according to family legend, was the smartest person who ever lived) had this to say about healthy eating: "Eat food that remembers where it came from" (i.e. fresh and minimally processed) and "Everything in moderation - including moderation" (i.e. it's OK to eat a gallon of ice cream - as long as you don't make a habit of it.)
11.19.02 @ 10:16p
Juli, your great-grandmother was very smart.
On my way out of work today I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie someone offered me without thinking about it and ate it on the way home. Do I think one cookie will kill my weight? No. But it did make me realize how easy it is to pick up something and eat it without even thinking about it.
11.20.02 @ 9:24a
Oh my gosh. When I worked at the performance marketing company, we had a lot of things delivered. The primary delivery company we used kept itself top of mind by placing jars of M&Ms all over the building.
It was sooo easy to grab a handful on the 1st floor at 10:30...then grab another handful at the receptionist's desk at 1:12...and another in the post office at 4:48....
You just never realize it.
The first year I was working at home, I ate like a pig, as just about anything I could want was right there! But my habits have greatly improved. I now think it's an advantage for me to fix something more healthy and then just sit back at my desk and continue working.
11.20.02 @ 10:11a
Well, one thing they tell you if you want to lose weight is not to vary your diet. The human body is designed to want variety, as a means to get all of the nutrients we need. But have you ever noticed that you're stuffed after, say, two or three pieces of pizza, and then someone can bring out chips or dessert, and you're suddenly hungry for those things? That's a major reason why salad bars and buffets are bad ideas for weight watchers.
11.20.02 @ 10:22a
I've never heard that before. You should absolutely vary your diet to keep from splurging. Salad bars and buffets are a bad idea because you eat large volumes. It's much better to eat a chicken breast and half a bag of frozen vegetables Monday, turkey noodle soup Tuesday, etc., than it is to eat nothing but fried chicken all week.
michelle von euw
11.20.02 @ 12:36p
Actually, Adam, most weight loss experts advise exactly the opposite. If you don't vary your diet, your metabolism becomes used to a balance between fuel and efficiency and you burn only enough calories to function, and store the rest. By varying your diet, your metabolism doesn't get the chance to "settle in" and therefore, burns more calories than you need, meaning that less are stored, and you lose weight. (Your examples sound more like overeating than varying, as Jael pointed out.)
11.20.02 @ 1:25p
Don't forget exercise as a huge part of all this. Diets basically starve your body, which in turn lowers its metabolism to compensate for the reduced food intake. That's why most people put weight back on after a diet. But if you exercise, that raises your metabolism and keeps you burning calories.
Muscle burns calories even when you're doing nothing. So a heavily muscled person will actually burn more calories than a fat person, even if both are just sitting on the couch all day.
12.2.02 @ 1:18a
Seen at Sam's Club this afternoon, in the frozen hors d'oeuvres section: battered and fried macaroni and cheese bites.
Kathy once bought these little Mexican-style pizza things, and we had 'em in the freezer for over a month. I finally took the package out when we needed a fast dinner and I saw that each one had like 28g of saturated fat. I had her take them back. That's just ludicrous.
12.2.02 @ 11:45a
This weekend, Donahue had a special on MSNBC about how fat Americans are getting. He had one guest (a surgeon) who was saying the only way for a lot of people to lose weight was to get that stomach reduction surgery.
I was horrified that anyone would think that.
12.2.02 @ 12:29p
But people insist on eating crap like this.
Chocolate covered french fries? As if deep frying them weren't bad enough?
That's why people need stomach reduction surgery. Because they blatantly refuse to eat anything that's actually good for them.
12.2.02 @ 12:31p
I refuse to think that stomach reduction surgery is the only way for people to lose weight. A faster and possibly more comfortable way than many alternatives, sure, but not the only way.
12.2.02 @ 12:51p
But you'd better believe that with all the hype surrounding Al Roker's surgery and subsequent weight loss there'll be people lining up around the block to get it done.
12.2.02 @ 12:57p
Oh I know, it's been the topic of discussion in the lunchroom at work for a couple of weeks. But the general consensus is that admitting that you had to get your stomach reduced in order to lose weight is embarrasing/shameful enough to make excercising look a lot more fun.