As you both may recall, I’d finally reached a point a couple of years ago where I was determined to shed the excess weight I’d packed on over a period of time grappling with all the stress, anxiety, and depression resulting from matters of business, and my indelibly-linked personal life, spinning wildly out of my control.
Around the same time, I posted about my irritation with what I felt were some very misleading NutriSystem adverts being run which centred round Amy of Fayetteville, Georgia. For example…
Shortly after that post went up, I received quite a number of snippy comments and unpleasant emails from the wife of a doctor who was utterly outraged over what she perceived to be my complete lack of compassion for Amy and her deeply touching personal journey to lose 28 pounds. I subsequently deleted all the comments and emails after seeing it was an uphill battle of trying to talk logic and sense to someone who appeared to be belligerently, if not defiantly, choosing to disregard or even comprehend my point of view. That is not to say I expected this person to agree with me in any way, only that she try to understand my argument so that we could work from even just a smallish patch of common ground.
Unfortunately my intolerance for people who deliberately want to remain obtuse and unreasonable for no discernable reason other than ‘just because’ had reached its limit when I was told that I lacked credibility because the picture I posted was not actually of Amy.
And it wasn’t for two reasons: one, I felt that my version, though quite clearly meant to be taken as humour, did, in fact, perfectly depict the sort of thing NutriSystem were trying to market, i.e. magic fatlessness; and two, I was unable, at that time, to find an adequate image – or any image – of young Amy from Fayetteville, Georgia which better illustrated my point. Or illustrated any point at all.
That particular matter, as can be seen above, has now been rectified. I think it’s also fair to say that my illustration wasn’t too terribly far off the mark.
It’s unfortunate, however, that humour and sarcasm are simply lost on some people.
Later, after I’d responded to this reader, pointing out that it was not my intention to seek or assert credibility in the matter, only to state an opinion, and, after assuring her that I felt the basic idea behind NutriSystem was, as a means to an end, perfectly legitimate and that, yes, I completely understood that some people really do need the support of such a plan – whether it’s Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or whatever – to assist in attaining their weight loss goals, but that what I hated was their misleading advertising, her doctor husband then joined the fray and launched into me with the same myopic fervour: you have no credibility, you’re not a doctor, you don’t know anything, you suffocate puppies – you get the idea.
What I failed utterly to communicate to this couple, or what they simply chose not to recognise, was that, in my opinion, it seemed the image of Amy used by NutriSystem to depict the ‘before and after’ comparison was just ever-so-slightly deceptive.
In the ‘before’ image, Amy is clearly seated. However, the chair or sofa or whatever it was she was sitting on has been eliminated to accentuate her former girth all the more and, so, makes it seem – and read very that closely, MAKES… IT… SEEM – as though her weight loss was far more dramatic. That is not to diminish her achievement in any way. Rather it is to point out that, without a legitimate side-by-side comparison, the differences between ‘before’ and ‘after’ cannot accurately be judged. In fact, it would appear from the photograph that Amy lost considerably more than 30 pounds. And if so, good on her. Or maybe her 30 pounds were larger and puffier than the 30 pounds other people may be hoping to shed.
And it’s not to say losing nearly 30 pounds can’t make a difference in some people: it most certainly can. If they have a smaller build, indeed, such a loss can be dramatic. But… one simply does not immediately go from being Gardulla the Hutt to amazingly ripped, tanned, and well defined just by eating less food.
It doesn’t happen.
And if it does, it certainly doesn’t happen quickly and it most assuredly doesn’t happen without exercise. Not unless you’ve spent time languishing in Dachau. Your arms don’t go from flabby ‘Lunch Lady’ arms to beautifully sculpted just by following the Glycemic Index Chart unless the food packaging is considerably heavier than most and therefor opening it constitutes an extreme upper-body work-out.
And though Nutrisystem don’t hide it, they certainly don’t go out of their way to clarify that these sorts of results are not typical for most of their users. They also don’t provide a relative time frame in which this very astonishing transformation took place for our Amy. Or at least not in any of the advertising I’ve seen. Maybe it’s on a late-night infommercial. I don’t know. I don’t watch them.
So what I had objected to was the fact that people were being enticed by the illusion – read that carefully, the ILLUSION – that unwanted pounds will magically fly away just by eating NutriSystem food when, in fact, if you have a look at the fine print or simply analyse the claims, the weight loss breaks down to about 1 pound, maybe more, per week – which is actually normal for any diet claim. If you lose 20 pounds in 16 weeks or 200 pounds in 305 weeks, it still breaks down to about 1 pound, maybe more, per week.
Thankfully, in their more recent advertising spots featuring Dan Marino – an apparently well-known sport person of whom I’ve barely any knowledge beyond the confines of the adverts – NutriSystem have pulled back from their previously dramatic and misleading images.
Dan is shown to have returned to his so-called ‘playing weight’ (a figure which is left undefined) by losing nearly the same amount as our young Amy. Yet the transformation for him, whilst still a substantial loss – as you will not seen on the right – is nowhere near as visibly pronounced as Amy’s.
And why oh why must I bring all this up again? Well, it fills space, doesn’t it? Gives me something to whinge about, gives you something to look at other than the last post you’ve read just stuck there for days and days…
And because, despite periodic backsliding and occasional set-backs, most of which I have documented here at one time or another, I’ve managed to lose 62 pounds – or roughly half of my projected goal – over the past 20-odd months and, just like Dan, no-one can tell.
After analysing and radically altering my admittedly poor eating habits, adopting a primarily vegetarian lifestyle and cutting out as many processed foods as I possibly could, cutting my caloric intake down to far more sensible levels, growing my own veggies and herbs, biking, walking… the weight loss appears insignificant.
I haven’t gone from, as fellow blogger Rachel at Lessons Learned calls it, ‘Fatty McFatterson’ to being just a mere shadow of my former self in any sort of readily discernable way.
Do I notice a change? Of course I do. I can walk up stairs without wanting to fall over, breathless and red-faced; I can pick things up from the ground without straining and sweating; I can button shirts I could not previously button; my pants, once straining at the seams, now require a belt to stay up; I no longer have the symptoms of sleep apnoea; I can get up from a kneeling position without a system of pulleys and wires; but more people seem to notice when I’ve had my hair cut. And I still try to hide the waist size sticker on clothing from the store clerks (because that way they don’t know you’re fat).
So yes, I call shenanigans on some of the NutriSystem adverts, and on the tedious and annoying Fat Burning Furnace and it’s stupid ‘one weird old trick’ nonsense seemingly ubiquitous on the internet, and on Montel Williams and his saffron oil supplements and his green smoothies and his prohibitively expensive Living Well Pressure Cooker which accomplishes the same sort of thing a $20 slow cooker will, or supermegapoop colon purges, or acai berry miracles because they are all trying to sell people a magic antidote to adiposity.
And the real answer to the problem is simply eat less, eat healthfully, and exercise more. And, of course, don’t expect a radical or immediate change. There are very few things more demoralising and irritating than switching on the television and seeing trim, tanned, and toned models who have only seen stretch marks in photographs telling you how miraculous their weight loss has been by drinking some sort of cat sick-looking load of bile from a container they won’t recycle because it’s too much work or by taking pills to melt away the inches.
It doesn’t work that way. It works through hard work and perseverance.
Back in late December, at the height of the post-holiday sales events offered by many retailers, I decided to purchase a ‘home gym’ to help get past the plateau I’d been stuck on rather maddeningly for several months. I briefly toyed with the idea of just joining a gym, though I realised a friend of mine was correct when he told me, ‘Fat people don’t go to the gym.’
Skinny people go to the gym so they can stay skinny. Fat people buy gym memberships and then never use them, effectively paying a ‘fat tax’ to help keep the gym open because fat men don’t want to work out next to hot skinny women in purple spandex and look like a fat loser.
So I opted to take what amounted to a 4 or 5 month gym membership and buy a less costly version of one of those As-Seen-On-TV! contraptions hawked by out of work actors from the 80s. I had previously purchased an inexpensive treadmill so that I could go for walks or have a nice heart-attack inducing jog during the winter months, but it wasn’t going to do much for muscle tone. Hence the TorturCiser300 found a home in my living room.
I used it regularly throughout January and lost another 5 pounds – or about 1 pound, maybe more, per week – and could feel the difference. However, the unusually warm February got me motivated to paint the living room and start a few projects which, unfortunately, put me off my strict regimen. Now those things are nearly complete, I can go back to using it for more than an expensive coat rack.
I’ve got 60-ish more pounds to go and then I, too, can walk along the beach or past a pool in slow motion to the hard crunch of heavy metal guitars. Or not. Pink was never really my colour anyway…