Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fatty Fatty Fat Fat

by Robison Wells

I've been thinking a lot about dieting lately. This is because I don't want to diet, so if I think about it in a really constructive way--How would I do it? What would I eat? How many marathons would I run on the first day?--then I can pretend that I'm actually planning for it rather than putting it off.

I'm not a big fan of dieting. Yes, I like being healthy and not dying of heart disease, but both of those things can be accomplished without becoming one of those annoying people who blog about the evilness of high fructose corn syrup. I have a friend who used to talk about things and be interesting, and then he started competitive biking and now every communication from him relates to his morning's ride. And let me tell you, that ceased to be interesting a long time ago.

To me, dieting is like cutting coupons: yes, I want to save money, but I don't want to think about shopping any longer than I have to. I go to the store, I look for the thing with the cheapest price, and I buy it. Likewise, I go to the fridge try not to engorge myself on butter, and that's good enough.

(I mean no offense to people who cut coupons and bike all the time. Good for them. Those things are perfectly reasonable hobbies. My point is that I already have other hobbies, and I don't wish for exercise to become one of them. I don't want to be healthy because jogging is fun; I just want to be healthy so I don't die before I can watch all the reruns of Gomer Pyle, USMC.)

"But Rob," you say, "if not obsessing about dieting actually is good enough, then why are you such a big tub of spongey lard?" The answer: because I currently do engorge myself on butter. I mean, Coke for breakfast is pretty standard for me, and, as any self-respecting Coke afficianado knows, Diet Coke just doesn't compliment a plate of eggs and bacon--it has to be real Coke.

So, the diet that I'm starting is this: Eat Less. Move Around More. It's crazy, I know, but so crazy that it just might work. And, unlike my previous diet and exercise attempts (which usually fizzle out shortly after I remember how much I dislike having to leave my comfy chair), this one will also have some small amount of accountability attached: fellow LDS author Tristi Pinkston has gathered a group of fat people to blog about their weight loss, and I am one of the distinguished fatties. I will be posting there every single day, starting yesterday, discussing how I'm not really dieting like I ought to be. For example, just this morning I posted about how yesterday, Day One of the diet, included a meal of macaroni and cheese and Oreos. So, we're in for some fun.

And the good news is that I'm writing about it over there so that I never have to mention it again here ever. Then, when you see me a year from now, and I look exactly the same then as I do now, maybe you'll have forgotten that I once tried some misguided attempt at weight loss, and you won't view me as a failure. (Well, as a failure at weight loss.)

You can follow Rob on Twitter. Seriously, you can.


At 8/11/2009 2:30 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Sounds like a good plan!

At 8/11/2009 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does eating less include fewer oreos, coke and macaroni and cheese? I want to know if you've given up your real weaknesses like triple chocolate fugde delight and overstuffed ozzy cheesy alfredo pizza with heart clogger garnish. Have you? Or do you just wait until your wife goes to bed to raid to order out?

I'm not sold on the Coke Zero stuff or any artifical sugars. I have way too many friends who ended up with headaches, nerve problems, MS symptoms, a whole bunch of nasty stuff that went away once they stopped faking it with stuff like Coke Zero. If you're gonna eat terrible, unhealthy stuff, do the real thing. Real Coke. Real chocolate. I mean, are you really going to hammer your nervous system with a sugar free ice cream bar when you could do Hagandass (sp?) Really? I say do it right. Eat the finest, best quality unhealthy stuff and enjoy every minute of it. Or do the healthy thing and throw all the crap out. The middle of the road thing is just a cop out.

I have friends like this:

At 8/11/2009 2:39 PM, Blogger Erin said...


Are you saying be fat or don't eat sugar at all? 'Cause that is just dumb.

At 8/11/2009 2:52 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

This is so unlike me, but I have some serious recommendations.

First, you have to ditch the Coke. This was a hard one for me, but if you look at all the calories that just come from that (hey, you can't count the ice!), it's appalling. I recommend trying out Coke Zero first. It was a good "gateway" diet drink. From there, I slowly got addicted to Diet Coke with Lime. What I should have done is gone straight to Diet Dr Pepper. It honestly does not taste like a diet soda. It's very tasty and still has plenty of, you know, pick-up.

Second, and I think this is the one that has had the most impact for me: cut out the french fries. Yes, I know they're so good and convenient, but you can drop a lot of calories right here.

Wendy's Large Fries: 540 c.
McD's Large Fries: 500 c.

Also, I joined a gym and went pretty regularly for about 5 months. Really need to go back, but I'll tell you right now - if you don't have a goal, or some sort of incentive, you won't go. Don't sign up for the 2-year contract, it's not enough.

Anyway, there you go, advice from my personal experience. YMMV.

At 8/11/2009 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. Sorry. I'm not commenting on being fat. Just on the general health benefits of eating healthy food.

Sugar tastes great. Artifical sugar tastes pretty decent if you like that sweet taste. There are some drawbacks to the artificial sugar sweetner that make it a possible health risk as pointed out in this documentary and may give you reasons not to get into the fake sugar consumption:

I'm just saying that if you're going to eat some sweets, probably better to eat the real kind rather than the fake kind. If you think that sweets are a health risk for whatever reason, weight gain, intestinal yeast over growth, intestinal toxin production that crosses the blood brain barrier and cause mood disorders (and the list goes on) then stay away from too many real sweets as well as the artificial ones.

Your diet is a personal thing. Its not a bad idea to read up on it, find out what you can from credible sources and from people who have had success with healthy vs. not-so-healthy eating, if that interests you. If it doesn't, no big deal. In the end, its a really personal choice.

I don't think I'm totally dumb on the subject. I did get an advanced degree in medical physiology where we spent a good deal of time examining the biochemical effects of nutrition on different body systems, and another degree in exercise physiology. I'm not tring to defend my dumbness. Heaven knows I'm idiot in way too many ways to count. Once I got past twenty and filled all my fingers and toes, I pretty much gave up on keeping track.

What I really want to know is if Rob has decided to increase his workouts from one lap to the car and back, to two laps. I think that's a total victory.

And in other exciting Rob sightings, me and my family saw your cool float in the parade. We all got excited. Took photos. Pointed. Waved. We didn't see you on the float. Were your aboard?

Good luck with your fatty, fatty, fat, fat project. This is almost as cool as building a float. Almost.

At 8/11/2009 4:40 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Wow, isn't diet advice FUN?

I just inhaled a bowl of potato chips and a handful of oreos but I'm pregnant so I'm allowed to be patently unhealthy like that. Hey, now there's the answer. Male pregnancy.

Enough said, methinks.

At 8/11/2009 4:50 PM, Blogger Josi said...

Just toasting you with a Diet A&W I got at half price thanks to the coupon I cut from Sunday's paper--I rode my bike to do my grocery shopping--which added great weight (thus resistance training) to the ride home. Ain't life sweet!

(If I might recommend Barry Groves--great books about low carb eating. Hubby is down 45 lbs and I'm down almost 10--it's not a diet, though, it's a eating change that needs to be permanent, but you're never hungry--I'm good with never being hungry. Good luck!)

At 8/11/2009 5:11 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Anon, I agree with you to a point. Yes, I'm going to cut back on the Oreos and the macaroni and cheese. But that's really all I'm doing. Like I said in the post, I'm not seeking to radically change my lifestyle. I'm still going to eat what I like--I'll just eat less of it.

As for aspartame, the video doesn't carry a lot of weight with me. While I completely acknowledge that the history of aspartame contains a few black marks (like the original conflict of interest problems), it has since become one of the most studied--and independently studied--chemicals. If no mainstream, double-blind, peer-reviewed studies confirm anything statistically significant about the supposed side effects, then why would I believe a handful of anecdotal stories? I like science. Of course, if there are some good, reputable scientific studies that confirm things like MS symptoms, then by all means send them over. But when the AMA, the FDA, the American Council on Science and Health, Harvard, MIT, and others all declare that the scary side-effects of aspartame are myths, then there are only two conclusions to be drawn: (1) either they're all wrong, and the lady in the YouTube video is right, or (2) they are all lying. Neither of those possibilities seem very plausible.

All of that said, I hate the taste of artificial sweeteners, so I tried to avoid them anyway. :)

At 8/11/2009 5:18 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Man, I can't even get asked to join the fat club! What's up with that? I envy you - I feel like I need that accountability.

At 8/11/2009 5:20 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Good luck, Rob. I'd love to lose weight, but I don't want to eat less and exercise more. I'm discovering this isn't a very good strategy for getting thinner. Sigh.

At 8/11/2009 6:27 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Oh, and I just found out that I'm going to be breaking the no-fry zone soon. My wife tells me an In-n-Out is going in over by the Outback.

Resistance is Futile.

At 8/12/2009 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oreos are my favorite cookie, hands down, and that is why I never, ever, ever buy them. Seriously. I can down the whole bag within twenty-four hours. (given enough milk.) They are as addictive as any product stocked on the grocery shelf. I’ll feel for you as you experience the withdrawal pains you'll go through, Rob. But don't give up. And don't start hiding a secret stash in that bottom dresser drawer where you keep all your too small belts, old receipts, and miscellaneous junk. Remember, when you eat a single cookie, the tell-tale chocolate crumbs will be in your teeth until you brush. And why would you want to prematurely rid your taste buds of the deliciousness any sooner than necessary? Let’s keep things real.


At 8/12/2009 12:19 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

And let me just say, us fatties are very glad to have Rob on our team.

Sariah, you can totally be on it, too. Just throw me a note.

At 8/12/2009 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't really care much what people decide personally about their health choices. I'm just saying that there are some very good advice about the link between diet and good health that's worth at least considering.

As far as peer reviewed, double blind studies of Searl's Asparatame (Brand named: Sweet and Low, Nutrasweet, et al) there are 527 studies since the first one done in 1970. Of those, 166 specifically studied human safety and consumption. Of those 166 peer reviewed studies 74 were funded by Searl/Nutrasweet. One hundred percent of those studies found aspartame to be safe for human consumption. On the other hand, of the 92 independently funded peer reviewed studies, ninty-two percent identified problems for human safety and reccomended that humans not consume aspartame.

The fact that there is such a huge difference in the results, and that the 74 studies funded by Nutrasweet found one hundred percent of the time there were no human safety concerns, certainly raises a red flag, at least in my mind.

In a more anecdotal setting, in my work with sick patients who suffered from many of the symptoms often atributed to Aspartame consumption (impaired motor control, headaches, nasuea, sensory diskenesia, asmatic symptoms, sinus infections, etc) in every case where sufferers were consuming products with artificials sugars (diet coke, diet sodas, sugar free products, etc.) when the asapartame was removed from the diet, one hundred percent of the symptoms disappeared within two weeks and never returned in patients who discountined artifical sugar use.

For what its worth, I say make your own choices. Do what you feel is in your best interest. But also don't reject advise from people who may have experience that could help. I've noticed that when it comes to the link between diet and health, most people don't want to talk about it until they get sick. That's usually the point they become desperate enough to try anything, indluding a change in their diet. When those changes make them well they suddenly become believers. They can also become annoying with their preaching of newfound health. Sort of like your biker friend. I don't want to annoy you. But I am preaching. Sorry about that.

Experience is such a terrible teacher.

At 8/12/2009 3:38 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...


I assume that you're taking your information from Ralph Walton's paper, since your description is almost a cut-and-paste from that paper's abstract. If so, you might want to check into his research. Yes, he lists 92 studies that, he claims, identified problems with aspartame. I was curious about these studies--(I honestly like science, and if these studies are legitimate then I have no problem believing them)--but even a quick look I discovered flaw after enormous flaw.

I looked at the list of studies he cites, starting with the most recent and working backwards. And I'm amazed that Walton even calls himself a scholar.

One of the so-called "peer reviewed" studies is actually a letter to the editor. Another was published in a journal that exists for no other reason than to complain about aspartame. One study refers to the people who are allergic to aspartame, not to inherent problems with the chemical. One is published in a trade magazine--essentially an paid advertisement.

Now, I didn't want to read all the articles, but I thought I'd give the list the benefit of the doubt and find one that looked really legitimate. So I picked one from the Washington University and the British Medical Journal, titled Aspartame and its Effects on Health. Now remember that this article was cited by Watson as one of the 92% of 92 studies that declare aspartame is unsafe. But what does the article say? "Evidence does not support links between aspartame and cancer, hair loss, depression, dementia, behavioural disturbances, or any of the other conditions appearing in websites. . . Aspartame's safety was convincing to the European Scientific Committee on Food in 1988, but proving negatives is difficult, and it is even harder to persuade vocal sectors of the public whose opinions are fuelled more by anecdote than by evidence. The Food Standards Agency takes public concerns very seriously and thus pressed the European Scientific Committee on Food to conduct a further review, encompassing over 500 reports, in 2002. It concluded from biochemical, clinical, and behavioural research that the acceptable daily intake of 40 mg/kg/day of aspartame remained entirely safe—except for people with phenylketonuria."

Now, of course, I didn't read all the studies. Maybe there are some in there that actually make some good points critical of aspartame. I just didn't find any, in any of the articles I looked up.

My question for you, Anon, is this: when there is overwhelming scientific evidence declaring that aspartame is fine, why do you choose to believe the tiny fringe of naysayers? You said that you have an advanced degree, which means that you must be familiar with rigorous testing of hypotheses and the scientific method. Why do you put anecdotal evidence above overwhelming scientific research?

Imagine this is about anything other than aspartame, a hypothetical scenario: hundreds of well-controlled, peer-reviewed studies come out declaring something safe. Then a handful of patients claim to have an adverse reaction. What is the reasonable assumption for trained scientist? Isn't it that the patients are (1) allergic (i.e. the "flaw" is their body, not the chemical), (2) they are actually reacting to some other unknown stimuli, not the chemical, or (3) the placebo effect. Doesn't that make much more scientific sense than to assume that all of the hundreds of studies are wrong?

I mean, you concluded your last comment with: "That's usually the point they become desperate enough to try anything, indluding a change in their diet. When those changes make them well they suddenly become believers." If they're cutting out aspartame after being told it's making them sick, and then they get healthy, and there is no medical evidence to support it at all--isn't that the very definition of the placebo effect?

At 8/12/2009 4:46 PM, Blogger pwells said...

I have had MS for nearly 40 years and have had plenty of time to experiment with diets to see what helps or hurts. A low fat diet definitely helps MS symptoms and relapses, but aspartame has never shown any effect on my health. I use diet drinks as a treat in my MS/diabetic diet and there is no difference when I drink two a day for months or run out and drink none of them for months.
If I can tell the effects on my health from a high fat diet, shouldn't I also be able to tell the effects, if any, from aspartame?

At 8/14/2009 7:04 AM, Blogger susana said...

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At 8/14/2009 11:40 AM, Blogger Allyson Condie said...

I think my favorite line of this comment train is Rob's "I like science." I'm going to use this the next time I get crazy e-mail forwards about butter.

Great post, Rob!

At 8/17/2009 11:53 PM, Blogger Micah Bruner said...

I prefer being fat and I blame that preference on aspertame.

At 8/18/2009 11:18 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

I am with you, Rob. Us fatties gotta eat our oreos together! I want to be thin and I am willing to do whatever it takes to be healthy except eat right and exercise.


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