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You are not a fat person…

September 20, 2009
Cover design by my daughter

Cover design by my daughter

There is a lot of confusion as to the title of my book: “You Are Not A Fit Person”.  This is made doubly so as my book title is also my twitter name.  I am apparently insulting a lot people just by following them.  To each and every one of them, my apologies, it seems that not only is my book title rather insulting, but somewhat confusing as well.

You see, it was about six years ago that I realized that I was doing what the experts told me in terms of weight loss, and I wasn’t losing weight.  I kept hearing about this epidemic of weight gain in Great Britain, the US and Canada, and listening to the fit people act disgusted that us overweight people were so lazy and stupid that we couldn’t follow their simple rules and be as fit as them.  It dawned on me then that there was something else going on.  After all, we aren’t lazy and stupid and I know how hard I was working to lose weight.

I suggested to some fit friends of mine that maybe fit people were just different from us unfit people.  That was a mistake, they were livid.  They certainly didn’t feel that way at all and they sure let me know.  It was at that moment that I became sure I was on to something.  Think about it with me for a second.

What if there are distinct differences between fit people and the rest of us, differences so ingrained and innate (and possibly genetic) that the fit people aren’t even aware of what they are?

They think they are the same as us, just harder working.  What if they aren’t?  I began researching this probable scenario as soon as it dawned on me.  I found out that they aren’t.  They are nothing like us.

I want to be clear here that what I mean by fit person isn’t exactly that they are in great shape, although they are, just that they are in great shape because they are lucky enough to have as habits, desires and behaviors, those habits, desires and behaviors that are likely to end up In fitness as an outcome.  These are the people who find fast food repugnant.  They prefer going to bed early and getting up and going for a run before the sun comes up to having another drink and ending the night at some diner eating a chili-cheeseburger.  In short, these people are nothing like us.  We have always known that their lives are less colorful and exciting than ours.  We know, even as we inch our way to the grave with every deep fried onion ring, that we wouldn’t change places with them, yet still, as we age and get more and more overweight and less and less a shape we are proud of, we want to find a way to not commit suicide by sedentary behavior and over-consumption.

Chapter 2-You Are Not A Fit Person

Unless you really want to become one of them, a gym rat who goes to bed at 7 and gets up at 5 to go for a swim before getting a run in and then going to work at the gym, they really can’t help you.

Yet we all look to fit people for help:

What makes matters much worse here, is we have the entire publishing world lined up against us.  Book and magazine manufacturers only want experts.  We want to see photographs of fit people and hear how they stay fit.  We want to see and hear how celebrities (who most often are fit people) got fit, or for those few who aren’t innately fit people, how they stay fit (the answer is their livelihood depends on it by they, hope I didn’t destroy the suspense by the way).  It isn’t a conspiracy of fit people incidentally, although I almost wish I could rant about it being one, it really is a case of us doing it to ourselves.  We buy books that are written by doctors, even when the doctor means they hold a phd from an non-accredited liberian healing institute that they received for a 12 week program.  We use as evidence that the person is able to help us get fit the fact that not only are they fit, but they are handsome or beautiful as well.  We really are the worst consumers of our own health products.

The failings of the health and wellness industry to date is all around us.  Just look around.  Are we healthier, are we more well?  Are we fitter with a better sense of self-image and healthy body-image?

The problem isn’t the type of exercise:

It is like we get sucked into some bizarre scene from cheers.  The one where Cliff, Norm, Fraser and anyone else lined up start arguing about one thing and end up in a totally different argument about something that has nothing to do with why they were arguing in the first place.  Every year there are a dozen new diets, even though diets don’t help.  Every year there are a dozen new exercise machines, even though exercise machines themselves aren’t going to help us (even if they were well designed and they rarely are).  Every year so called experts trot out and get behind one of these and argue semantics with other experts who are behind other items.  How often have I heard people I respect and care about mimicking these arguments about whether cardio is better for weightloss than resistance exercise, or whether exercise or diet is more important.  It appears to me that the industry as a whole benefits so greatly from us arguing about which tool is the best so they can sell us a whole new group of tools the next year, that they are doing this on purpose.

It isn’t the tool…seriously!

I use as an analogy the building of a house all the time.  In many ways what we are doing here is building a house (the house of our soul, so to speak even more metaphorically).  What we are constantly getting is expert builders standing around comparing hammers.  This hammer is better, no that hammer.  Please buy my hammer.  Can’t you see how good it is, look at the beautiful house I built.  Well, they didn’t just use the hammer to build the house to begin with, but that is the product that they are endorsing so that is the tool they are going to sell you on.  As well, even if you had their whole toolkit (which you don’t), you don’t have their training.  You have none of it.  You need a lot of training to be able to build a house.  It isn’t a simple task.  As well, all we are talking about so far is carpentry, but there are many trades to building a house.  You need an electrician, a plumber, a drywaller, etc.  There are many different facets to getting fit.  Exercise, eating, planning, motivation, etc.  Finally, all of these things are great, but without a great set of blueprints, or plans, nothing as complex as a house can be built.  You need to build a foundation before you put up the walls, and you need to know where everything is going to be if you are going to start right.  You need a step by step plan to get build a house, and you need a step by step plan to get fit.

Think about all of this the next time you see an exercise tool on TV and wonder if you will get fit with it.  What if they were selling you a saw and showing you a $4 million dollar mansion.  Guaranteeing you that the mansion could be built with that saw (in small print it would also say, house built by team of experts with training in many different trades.  Materials not included and cost additional $2 million dollars.  Not intended for anyone who has not built a house before.  The person who built this house was shadowed by an expert house builder who actually did all of the work.  Results not typical).

I think you can clearly see that we are all allowing ourselves to be scammed by buying what the fit people are selling us.  But it isn’t intentional.  In many cases these are the things they use to get fit.  Some of them sell us the exact training techniques they use.  But this isn’t what we need.  They can’t see it because it worked for them.  We can’t see it because we are so hard on ourselves for not getting fit using the same things that we just feel worse and worse about who we are.  The irony is we are making the fit people rich just for being what they are, fit.  They were born fit, and they can’t help us, but you know what, let’s pay them anyways because what… they weren’t lucky enough already to be fit and good looking!?!?!?

Does that explain the title:

So that is why my book is entitled: You Are Not A Fit Person.  Because they are different.  Because you shouldn’t be listening to them.  You should be listening to people like you who understand what the obstacles are.  We need books that bridge this understanding gap for us.  That is what my book is.  It addresses the missing pieces.

All of that said, is it a good title?  What do you think?  Will it jump off of a shelf or will it insult people? Would you pick it up and find out what it meant, or just ignore it?  My daughter who did the title above, wrote ‘You Are Not A Fat Person’.  I like that, but I was thinking more of a ‘You Are Not A Fiat Person’ (with the I crossed out, as you weren’t fit, but now you aren’t fat).  Please leave me your thoughts on this and whether you think there really is something to what I am saying here.

Thanks,

Mark Vaughan

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicole Ferreira permalink
    September 21, 2009 1:00 pm

    I like what you are getting at here. I think that it is a great concept and actually do like the title idea. One of the things that I have noticed in my experiences is that people want to hear from others that succeeded, but more importantly, from someone who actually understands the challenges that people are faced with when trying to become more fit.

  2. September 22, 2009 11:46 am

    Maybe I should apologize to you…
    You see, I wasn’t actually insulted. My twitter friends and I joke around all the time… When I tweeted
    “Great. Now I am being followed by @URNotAFitPerson . He hasn’t even met me. How can he know?”
    My twitter friends who read and respond to my tweets regularly were laughing at “How can he know?” and adding amusing followers of their own..
    Cookie Monster..
    Poo…
    etc…

    I’ll give more thought to the name of the book, but I really don’t think your title conveys what you are sying in the explanation. I think humorless people will be offended, and people with a sense of humor will make fun of it.

    Good luck with your book. It does sound like an interesting concept.

  3. September 24, 2009 1:09 pm

    Hi

    I thought when you followed me on Twitter, “oh, not another fake follower!?!” But after reading the above, I really feel your onto something. A person, & I am on this journey myself, needs to make mental changes before they will ever see physical changes. What’s more these changes, in lifestyle, need to be permanent in order to benefit the person long-term.

    Everybody is different, different things motivate different people. I cannot stand football, but would happily hit the piste day after day, if only there was snow in England! I used to weight train but depression crippled me after my dad’s death, a chapter I can now thankfully put behind me with all the bad eating habits. I never took up weight training again. But enough of my life story!

    Whatever you do, you will only do it well if you engage both mind and heart along with body & soul.

    So I wish you good fortune (not believing in luck.) Word of mouth can/should overcome any reservations about an oddly named book.

  4. October 1, 2009 5:25 pm

    Hey Mark,
    I enjoyed listening to your ideas and looked at some of your developing chapters. I will look forward to how you flesh out your ideas. Yes, I think there are differences too in behaviors, committment and attitudes and ‘you name it’ between what you call ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’ people. I see alot of people struggling in the weightloss challenges I coach. The ones who make it ‘happen’ demonstrate very focused, consistent effort and committment over time, something that the challenge does not give them but reinforces. I too feel there is a chemical ‘addiction’ of sorts because of certain foods people eat such as high fructose corn syrup and I do think it affects people’s thought processes. Digestive health may play a factor too, as a bad diet disrupts healthy absorption of nutrients.
    Anyway, I like your title-it’s good to draw attention to your work. People will be movitated to see what you have to say.
    Marji
    wlclive-site launching soon

  5. kevin permalink
    October 4, 2009 7:41 pm

    I find your idea interesting, but when I look for someone to follow, I do not only look for good ideas, but for good leadership. To take an issue as sensitive as weightloss and the self esteem issues involved and to have such an insensitive titles suggests to me that even though your reasoning may be sound, it is reasonable to question if your understanding of the emotion or psychology is complete.

    I think you are trying to use shock to try and grab attention, which brings up many issues, I do not watch tabloid tv, I do not listen to shock radio and I will not follow drama laced advise, no matter how true as the advice exists out there with more sensitive people that still can be direct with their message.

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      October 4, 2009 8:06 pm

      Thank you very much for the comment Kevin. I know what you are saying, and I really don’t mean to be insensitive. In fact, I really was hoping to make a totally different statement. I am trying to say, ‘Don’t feel bad about who you are, the people who you have been forced to compare yourself to are totally different from you. You don’t want to live like them, so stop comparing yourself to them. They are ‘Fit People’. You aren’t. You shouldn’t try to mimic them because you won’t succeed, it isn’t healthy and it will only hurt your self esteem’. I was hoping to make that distinction clear, but it is quite tough. I really want to get that point across in the title, and clearly some people are not seeing that. Any thoughts for better titles? Thanks again for your thoughts.

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