December 17, 2007

Weight Loss Blogs vs The Scary Real World

[Posted by Crabby]

Cranky Fitness considers itself a "health and fitness" blog rather than a "weight loss blog," but we travel in similar circles. Lots of our readers are trying to lose weight for health reasons. And many of the health principles we advocate (when we're not totally blowing them off ourselves) are those that will also help with weight loss: ditch the junk food, eat your vegetables, exercise regularly even on days you'd rather shoot yourself, watch your stress levels, blah blah blah.

(And if we can get some press coverage every so often for being a "weight loss blog?" Then hell yeah, call us a weight loss blog! Whoops, is knitting popular this week? Perhaps we're also a knitting blog! (We almost ended up being a chess blog once, but that's a whole other story)).

Anyway, if you're trying to lose weight or get healthy, you may visited some great weight loss or fitness blogs out there on the web, as there are a lot of them. And you may have compared your efforts and motivation and accomplishments to those of the blog authors and thought: God, I suck!

Perhaps you've visited Kelly at Fitness Fixation. When she's not spewing amusing obscenities about cupcake deprivation, she's usually undergoing some sort of physical torture that makes Navy Seal training seem like a day at Cub Scout camp. She's very motivating, but wow, that girl is scary tough.

Or if you aim to eat a natural, nutritious diet, perhaps you've been to Mark's Daily Apple, where they really eat healthy and don't even complain about it. Unless you're unusually good about this stuff, it's hard not to feel a bit chastened after reading pages and pages of nutritious all-natural suggestions. (But if you're lazy like some of us, you may have also noted how much more shopping and cooking is involved if you want to be All Healthy like Mark is. Yikes!)

And as far as weight loss, there are a whole host of amusing, inspirational diet bloggers who actually practice what they preach and lose a ton of weight! And they're so sensible and realistic about how they go about it. Mousearoo and Pasta Queen and Lady Rose and Roni come to mind, although there are so many others. And there are those who excel not only at their accomplishments, but at keeping things in perspective. They take the ups and downs in stride and manage to motivate others with their wise observations. (Like Glam and Soap Box Girl and Katieo and, well, the list goes on and on).

But the cumulative effect of reading all these blogs? Sometimes you can end up feeling like a lazy, self-indulgent, weak-willed slacker.

And then you go out in the real world. And all of a sudden, you're no longer a slacker, but a health and fitness fanatic! Because you try to eat real foods when you can, and exercise, and you know that long-term goals will take a lot of hard work to meet. But you check out what so many other people around you are doing and it seems to make no sense at all. People drive on an errand three blocks away, they eat crap all week long and then suddenly decide to go on some bizarre diet that they can't stay on for more than two days.

If this has been your experience (and it may not be at all, which is why comments are always so welcome!) then you might find this article interesting.

Mike at Diet Blog caught this a few weeks ago. It's not a rigorous scientific study--it was just a survey of 2000 women done by British magazine. But even if it's not totally representative, it's still freakin' scary to see how these women are dealing with the issue of weight loss.

Some of the survey results:
  • Each pound lost cost more than $1600 to achieve;
  • Nine in 10 women had gone at least a day without eating; 30% had gone two or more days; and 7% had gone more than four days;
  • Twenty percent followed a pattern of having an “eat day” followed by a “non-eat day”;
  • Forty seven percent said they ate only one meal a day;
  • More than half said a diet to them meant eating less than 1,000 calories a day;
  • Thirty four percent had taken diet pills, 30% had made themselves sick, and 11% had taken speed or cocaine to lose weight.
  • Ninety percent said they could not stick to a diet for longer than a week, even though 19% said they tried to diet every day.
Wow. Does anyone else feel like that's pretty messed up? Or notice a disconnect between what they read on their web rounds and what people seem to be doing "out there?"


  1. When I read the diet and exercise blogs, I get depressed and feel inadequate - for the most part, they don't motivate me at all, except to make me want to beat myself up some more.
    At least you make me laugh.

  2. Yeah, well done cranky :) Personally, I'm too damn cheerful! ;-)

  3. I wonder about the women who responded to this survey. The only females I knew who would go 4 days without eating so that they can lose weight were in high school. (And yes, they were all quite thin already, but you know what high school is like.)

  4. Thanks anonymous and weightlossguru! And I admire all the cheerful motivated people--but I think the slacker part of me is pretty entrenched. I think the important thing is to set realistic health and fitness goals and feel happy about even small accomplishments--which for me, will just have to do!

    And Mary, I do think these were at least youngish women, average age 23 as I recall. Magazine surveys are far from scientific, too. But yikes, 4 days?

  5. oh dear, more blogs to visit. I'd say thank you but.... uh... well.... I don't have time!


  6. ok, great post. I'll be back later to leave a real comment...

  7. $1600 for each pound...about 90 some odd pounds...*takes off socks to count as she is NOT a math major* wonder I'm so poor!

  8. Crabby! Katieo's been leaving fake comments again! :(

  9. I'm on board with this post! Every day when I venture out into the real world, I'm shocked! Then I come home, go into denial, and repeat the cycle the next day :-(
    Dr. J

  10. Eat day? non-eat day? 1,000 calories a day? Is it just me, or does this sound a wee bit unhealthy?

  11. That's the joy/agony of blogs... you can always find one to fit your mood. if i've demolished a block of chocolate, i can find someone whose done the same for that "thank god it's not just me" reassurance!

    then again every time come home all feeling really smug and hardcore after the gym, i seem to read about someone's who's just ran a casual marathon and i'll be wallowing in inadequacy!

    That survey is a bit worrying. Maybe it's an age thing; i know now my pals are in the late 20s early 30s bracket we're all giving the finger to crash diets etc etc and just generally chilling out about our bodies...

  12. I thought when I entered into a program to become a registered dietitian that I would find like minded people, sort of like the weight loss/fitness/health community but in real life. Boy, was I wrong! There are a few exceptions but mostly my classmates do not drink water, do not eat vegetables, do not cook, etc. etc. It sort of boggles my mind as to why they are interested in this field and how exactly they plan on helping patients navigate a healthier life if they scorn it themselves.
    That breaks my heart that people are starving themselves, I know it happens but I just hate to hear it happens quite so often.

  13. More than half said their idea of dieting was less than 1,000 calories a day? That's not a diet, that's outright starvation. No wonder 90% can't keep it up for more than a week! It's amazing they even last that long!

    It's like the lifestyle of eating nothing but junk day-in and day-out is so ingrained that actually making any kind of an effort to eat real food instead is unthinkable.

  14. Ok. Those statistics are just scary. I can't go 5 hours without eating.

    I agree with what Shauna said. Whatever the mood, or mistake, or victory, there's always someone to celebrate/commiserate with.

    I can't say I ever really feel inadequate when i read others success and victories on weight loss blogs. I think I am extremely adept at making excuses-"Well duh. they totally cut out sugar from their diet. I'd never do that so I don't feel bad I'm not where they are" or "Oh yeah? Try doing that on no sleep with a bunch of little kids underfoot!" etc.

    That's not to say I don't ever get frustrated. Seeing lots of people lose weight while I'm stuck in rut isn't exactly fun. I think it's detrimental if it were to derail me; but most of the time it's just motivating.

    Then of course there's the days where i just stay away from the computer all together.

    (and Mary, har har...)

  15. Stumbled upon you and now you've given me even more blogs to read!!

    That is absolutely crazy that study. It is really scary how the desire to lose weight can trump logic and common sense!

    I love a variety of blogs - eating, weight loss, tri, fitness. I know my limits on exercise and clean eating but love to see how people can train for an ironman, and eat clean. But most of all I love to read people like me - someone just trying to do their best!

    I'm going to link to you from my blog, hope that is okay!

  16. Four DAYS without eating? Must be young 'uns.
    Good post, Crabby. The Bag Lady is cranky today and can't think of anything remotely amusing to add to the comments section today. Damn.
    Might have something to do with the fact that she got on the scale this morning - holy crap, where did all THAT come from?

  17. Katieo, I hear ya!
    I'm amazed when celebs are lauded for losing baby weight quickly. First of all, it's not healthy. Secondly, these folks have MONEY! They can afford a personal trainer who comes to their home, and a nanny to watch the kids while they work out, plus a chef to make all that healthy food (or at least one of those diet food delivery services), let alone the maid service, personal assistants, etc. Plus, if I were given a contract for a movie or a runway show that said I had to weigh X amount by this date, and was being paid a whole lot of money to do so, I'd probably be in great shape too.

  18. OMG that is just ...just...way out there! Drugs! Non-food days! Four days without food!
    I am so glad that I am perfect the way I am (roflmao)! Well, I tried to type that with a straight face, er, hand?
    Anyway, I am glad that I don't obsess about getting thin. Maybe a bit of inspiration wouldn't hurt, not to mention willpower, which is of course why I read all these blogs.
    No they don't make me feel inadequate, but they have made me think about how to go about planning to lose the tonnage eventually.
    I am just going to aim for healthy.

  19. Great comments everyone--I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks these survey girls are bit bonkers! And sorry to be a bit rushed, I'll be back later on...

    Katieo, I can't go more than 5 hours either! And I love your perspective on not making comparisons.

    And Shauna, what a great blog, and I'm very curious about your upcoming book!

    Erin, I can't believe that there are so many messed-up future nutritionists out there, that's kind of scary!

    Sure Sara, I'd be flattered if you linked!

    And azusmom, I totally agree--and yet so many women compare themselves to celebrities and feel fat because of it. It's nuts!

  20. "And then you go out in the real world. And all of a sudden, you're no longer a slacker, but a health and fitness fanatic!"

    I love that comment - it is SO true! I often get down on myself and think that I could be doing so much more, so much better, etc.

    And then I look around me - at some friends, people at the grocery store, the mall, wherever - and I see that I am doing pretty well! At least we have a clue and we are trying our best - I think that's a lot more than we can say about the average person out there!

  21. Non-food day?
    I can't ever see tha thappening :)
    If anything other fitness blogs give me a kick in the pants when (like now..heh heh) I haven't been as good with my workouts as I should be. It reminds me that I've come a long way and can't give up now...and that everyone else who is like me also struggles too.
    It's good to know :)

  22. wow! four days without eating? is it even possible to go that long wihtout eating? man, does that make me feel willpowerless? by two or three in the afternoon i feel like im dyin if i havn't eating yet! haha crazy...


  23. No food? For four days?! Can I have their share? Hey, someone should eat it! That's completely insane. They're probably not very pleasant people to be around- food deprived or not....

    And honestly, what does four days of not eating get you? A wrecked metabolism? A water-weight loss? Not making a doody in the potty? Hey, maybe that's it... they can't eat because they won't have access to the toilet, er, no that can't be right.

    Your guess is as good as mine. It's sad really.

  24. Well, no wonder so many women have screwed-up metabolisms, if they're starving themselves!

    I eat every couple hours, albeit small amounts each time. I love my food too much to give it up!

  25. With all the great information out there, and still people are doing @#&* like this? It's disturbing.

    Great post, Crabby.


  26. Thanks Erin, Geosomin, BritGirlee, Glam, BunnyGirl, and Lisa!

    From all I hear, eating frequently is better for weight loss than starving yourself, so I don't think there's any need for us to cultivate the ability to not eat for four days at a time!

  27. Hmmm. Mostly I feel encouraged when I read other people's blogs. However, I don't read that many blogs (I'm picky & lazy!). Instead, I read a few blogs a lot.

    As far as how my friends in the real world handle health issues, I guess it's a mixed bag. Two of my closest friends seem to view diet and exercise as an extension of self-care. That said, I know my best friend is a lot like me: sometimes she's on top of her game, but other times, well, not so much. I've met very few people who don't care at all about what they eat or if they exercise, but maybe that's because I'm no longer in my twenties! It all changes after thirty!

    In high school it seemed like all the girls (including moi) followed crash diets and insane exercise routines for really short periods of time to drop a quick 10lbs. I remember my best friend in high school ate nothing but air popped popcorn and grapes for a couple of weeks in order to get back into a size 3. Instead of being horrified, I was impressed with her will power. Thank god for maturity, such as it is.

  28. Very interesting. Thanks for the heads up regarding other blogs. I’ll be sure to check them out.

  29. Yes! Realistic is the way to go!!!!Thank you for writing about this. I say this to my clients all the time. It's nice to direct them to this blog so they hear it from someone else too!

    Bill Yeager Personal Trainer Southington CT Connecticut

  30. Thanks Lily and HPT and SoapBox girl.

    And Soapbox girl--that popcorn and grape diet sounds just like the kind of crazy stuff girls were doing in my highschool too! Lets hope a lot young women outgrow this screwed up thinking.

  31. Wow, those stats describe my boyfriend's attitude towards dieting to a tee. I've been working really, really hard trying to get him to understand basic physiology and how those sorts of things set you up for failure. I do manage to get through to him, but if he falls back into old habits, he falls back into that frame of mind again, too.

    Anyway, this post is fantastic! I shared it with my internet friends... most of us are perfectionists, and don't know how to take things slow, easy, or in moderation.

  32. By the way, we're both 25, so it's not an exclusively teen thing, nor an exclusively female thing. :)


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