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Condescending Idiots… part II

December 13, 2011

I was going to call this Condescending Idiots… the conclusion, but I realized there will never be a conclusion… there will just be more and more condescending idiots…

Below is a long diatribe that can be skipped and the article will still make perfect sense:

So, I figure I should get this second part out of the way for a couple of reasons

A) so that I can write more uplifting tales, including talking about the new year about to dawn on us, and

B) today I found out that Canada pulled out of the Kyoto accord and I am now in a terrible mood.  This isn’t just about the planet and all that global warming stuff for me, it actually goes much deeper.  You see, I am a Canadian.  Our national identity consists of Hockey, drinking beer, being polite and taking care of our planet.  Greenpeace started right here in Vancouver when I was just a little kid.  Paul Watson is a Canadian.  Sinking a whaling vessel is just what we do.  Kids in the US got G.I Joes with Kung Fu Grips for Christmas, we got ‘sink the whaler’ action kits, complete with water hoses.   So, to get to my point, I like hockey fine, but I don’t play it.  So far, neither of my kids do although they both compete in ice sports).  I love the world cup, world juniors or the olympics, but to tell you the truth, if we don’t win, I am not going to lose any sleep.  As for beer, well I love beer, but I am almost as likely to pick up a glass of wine these days, and I certainly don’t drink it in the quantities I used to when I was in University, so I have a hard time really identifying with it.  That leaves my national identity being politeness and the environment.  Well… politeness only (and make no mistake, I am quite polite, but I have to apologize for being sad that that is all I have left in my national identity), because of this announcement.  Canada condemned at home and abroad for pulling out of Kyoto treaty.  Stupid Harper.  Apparently Canada is the laughing stock of the world when it comes to environmental action at these international meetings.  I hear they are difficult and unhelpful…  We even earned an award for this:

…although Canada was given the “colossal fossil” award by campaign groups in Durban for its “reckless arrogance”.

I have no idea what the colossal fossil award is, but I am guessing it isn’t a good thing.  We are being chastised by Japan and China…

Canada is within its rights to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol, according to the lawyer Josh Roberts, at the environmental law organisation ClientEarth. He pointed out that article 27 of the protocol allows any country to withdraw three years after the protocol is in force, a deadline that has passed.

Roberts said the get-out clause was fairly standard in international treaties, but was scarcely ever used. “Countries can trigger these release clauses, but it happens very rarely. For example, Japan, Norway and Iceland all left the International Whaling Commission’s treaty, but such moves are rare.”

Oh god… we are now as bad as those whaling nations… maybe even worse… I may have to get out my sink the whaler action kit and take a bath tonight… maybe I should have a beer with that bath rather than a glass of wine.  The Canucks are playing the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight… Go Canucks Go!!

End of Diatribe.

So, back to bad tips from this article: Little Daily Tricks to Wake Up Slimmer.

#7 Be A Crunch Monster

“Fill your plate with crunchy, chewy foods like carrots, apples, and whole grains. They take more time to chew, and their fiber makes your body work harder to digest them—so you’ll burn more calories during your meal. Eating this way can increase your total calorie burn by 5% throughout the day!” —Leslie Bonci, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Sports Medicine

Crunchy, chewy foods??!?!  Seriously… what does crunchy and chewy have to do with healthy?  As I state in Chapter 5 of my book, You Are Not A Fit Person, Fibre is good for you.  It is really good, but fibre has NOTHING to do with the crunchiness of the food you are eating.  I would say a cucumber is pretty crunchy, crunchier than a tomato, but a cucumber has a fraction of the fibre of a tomato.  Refried black beans are actually very high in fibre, but they don’t crunch.  They aren’t chewy either.   Do you know what is crunchy though?  Potato chips.  They are super crunchy.  You know what else is crunchy….  Yep, the crunchie chocolate bar.  Man was I ever hooked on those as a kid… that honeycombed miracle of sugar covered in chocolate…  Do you know what is Chewy?  Taffy is chewy…

None of that food is good for you.  None of it will make you healthier.  The whole crunchy thing is just terrible advice.  Much better advice would be snack on fruits and vegetables, or don’t snack on anything that comes in a package…  Either of those would do… crunch monster though….  come on, at least try with your advice!!

#8 Keep it Simple

Could it be?  Could this actually be a good piece of advice?  Well sort of:

“Just focus on cooking wholesome food; you’ll eat well and could even lose 5 pounds in a week. For breakfast, have yogurt and some fruit; for lunch, eat a soup and a winter salad with tuna and walnuts; at dinner, fill your plate with 3 to 4 ounces of fish or chicken, a couple of veggies, and a piece of fruit. And feel free to use a bit of butter or olive oil—you don’t have to deprive yourself.” —Mireille Guiliano, author of The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook

Well, except for the ridiculous ‘you could eat well and could even lose 5 pounds in a week’ thing.  You COULD… You Could lose a hell of a lot more in the long run if you ate like this.  The thing is, the menu planning of this day is great.  If you could eat like that all the time you wouldn’t have a weight problem I would think.  That is seriously healthy eating, but it is anything but ‘drop[ping] weight without dieting.’  It is literally dropping weight BY dieting…  Keeping things simple is a great idea, but that is a pretty harsh beginning to any better eating plan.  Start by just cutting out your starches with dinner.  No rice, bread or potato.  Fill up the empty spots with vegetables.  Break the meat and potatoes cycle or the fish and rice cycle.  Easier than this tip and it will help you in your life!

#9 Beat Booze Bloat

“Downsize your wine glass to cut calories. Wine glasses today are giant goblets, so it’s easy to pour 6 ounces, or one-and-a-half servings, without noticing. That means those two glasses a night might actually be closer to three (almost half a bottle!), adding up to 300 calories. Instead of drinking this way every day, have a regular-size 4-ounce glass a couple of times a week. You could drop more than 20 pounds this year.” —Tim Church, MD, director of preventive medicine research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Okay, this is good advice (but whoever wrote the title of this one should be banned from using a computer keyboard).  Smaller glasses, smaller plates, smaller spoons, smaller bowls.  It REALLY helps.  It is easy and it works.  If you are watching TV and you have to fill up your wine glass, you probably won’t.  Certainly not every day, but you are definitely going to down whatever is in your glass.  Drinking will also limit your inhibitions which will likely get you eating more food by the end of the night.  Try to stick to a glass of wine and no more on days you are just hanging out.  You could skip the wine and have water too…  I know it doesn’t sound exciting and it isn’t, it totally sucks, but water is good.

As for the drop 20 pounds this year…  please stop throwing around fake numbers.  The fallacy of ‘You Could drop X pounds’ is covered off in this clip from ‘How To Get Ahead In Advertising’.  Understanding how often the COULD is used in media and how pervasive it is in distorting truth is the first lesson in Critical Thinking and the Media.  Learn it well if you aren’t already aware of it:

#10 Play Hard

“Slip exercise into everyday life, and make it fun. Head outside and go ice skating with friends or shape a snowman with your kids. You can even stage a pillow fight in your living room. That burns 82 calories in 20 minutes, plus you’ll laugh the entire time!” —Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Speedy Sneaky Chef

Again… how far wrong can you go with a good premise.  Playing hard is EXACTLY right.  Not light workouts, not small or even long walks (although you can start with these and should, depending on your current fitness level- see You Are Not A Fit Person Page 67 for starting level), but HARD, sweat inducing, near vomit workouts (although, again, you don’t want to start with these).  So, what should I be doing everyday??  Ice skating with friends… okay, that is a great activity but it really isn’t exercise, unless you are training for ice hockey.  Building a snowman is fun.  What else?  A pillow fight in your living room!?!?  Okay, I can’t take it!! That is the stupidest advice I have ever seen.  A pillow fight…  That isn’t exercise!  It isn’t, there is no world in which it meets the requirements.  This is the condescending advice we get from people who honestly think that we DO NOT GET UP DURING THE DAY.  Seriously, they think, ‘Well, hell anything is better than sitting on the couch all day, and that is all those fat and lazy people do.’  The thing is, if your idea of exercise is the odd skating session and pillow fight, you are quite likely going to be overweight, even if you eat reasonably well…  It is hard to be fit in our society, and advice like this doesn’t help.  I think of my trainer Dan at Crossfit.  The guy put on some weight last year… he works out like a madman and he is so fit, but he was a good 20 pounds overweight…  If I had suggested he pillow fight to lose the weight… he would have cleaned and jerked me…  He actually increased his intensity of workouts and went a fair bit more Palio in his diet.

#11 Try Upside-Down

“Season and butter the bottom of foods. For example, butter the bottom of toast, and salt the bottom of potato rounds. This sounds weird, but it really helps with weight loss. When you eat foods this way, the flavor hits your tongue right away, and you actually taste more of it. Ultimately, that means you can cut out at least half the belly-bloating salt or butter.” —Devin Alexander, chef and host of FitTV’s Healthy Decadence and author of The Biggest Loser Quick & Easy Cookbook

I think the best thing I can say about this one is nothing…  Okay, maybe not nothing.  My brother and I read this one… we were trying to guess why upside down toast was a good idea… Jeff suggested that because when he butters toast it is like a butter lake on one side and if he had to tip it over he wouldn’t be able to pile as much butter on…  I thought that made some sense.  Then I read the ‘taste more of it’ part and I thought, ‘What ridiculous advice’.  We have been laughing about this one ever since…  My advice… why are you eating toast?  You really should avoid it.  Avoid potato rounds too…

#12 Dine in slow-mo

“Make sure you’re the last one to start eating and also the last person to finish. I do this, and it helps me slow down and chew my food properly instead of inhaling what’s on my plate—and more. Eat this way and you’ll take in fewer calories at your meals.” —JJ Virgin, PhD, author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy: The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong, and Sculpted Arms

Good advice…  Really, slow down your eating.   It has a huge impact on how much you shovel in.  I know, I am as surprised as you to find a great tip that could work, go figure….  Think of waiting between the time you swallow and the time you take another bite or choose to chew more and savour what you are eating.  You can also cut your food smaller and take smaller bites.  Whatever works for you, this is a great tip.

#13 Dress the Part

“Make a few changes to your party outfit, and you’ll beat the temptation to overindulge. At a cocktail party, carry a clutch instead of a purse. With a cocktail in one hand and your handbag in the other, you won’t be able to reach for too many hors d’oeuvres. And wear a form-fitting dress—it’ll be your biggest reminder to not revisit the food table for seconds.” —Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You

You know, this one may work too.  I know that when I went out to parties and my belly was showing I ate less and drank less.  I also know that I felt miserable and was full of self loathing, so if you are going to a party and want to feel so bad about yourself and the evening that you are too depressed to eat and drink, wear something tight that makes you look fat!!  Tight clothes will remind you that you are an overweight pig and don’t deserve happiness….  As for the clutch…  again, if you want to be uncomfortable, go for it.  Me, I kind of like going to parties and having fun.  I think my party tip would be to avoid the truly egregious foods.  Deep fried egg roles and taquitos are bad.  Nachos and crab and artichoke dip are bad.  Chips are bad.  Look for skewers of meat, or chicken.  Eat a bunch of these before you eat any snacks.  As well, if there is a vegetable plate, make yourself a deal that you will eat a couple of carrots before any bite of a less healthy food.

#14 Go by the Numbers

“Stop eating when you’re at a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is famished and 10 is Thanksgiving full). When you stop at 5 or 6, chances are 20 minutes later, you’ll feel like a 7 or 8. This tactic is great for parties and vacations—and could save you lots of calories per meal.” —Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Cooking Channel’s Healthy Appetite and author of Comfort Food Fix

This piece of advice bothers me the most.  It isn’t that this isn’t good advice.  It is.  you should never eat until you are full.  That full feeling means you have gone too far.  Way too far.  The problem with this advice is the scale.  I talk about this with respect to exercise in You Are Not A Fit Person.  The same advice is given for running…  run to a 7 or 8 in intensity or pain.  These people think I have 10 levels of running…  I am not an olympic athlete!  When I started running I had 2 levels.  Running (which was painful) and not running.  There was no 10 levels.  There is some system with 14 levels too.  I have been exercising hard for 5 years and I maybe have 5 levels now.  Still not 10.  So, when I read this advice I was dumbfounded by how stupid that is.  Do you have 10 levels of hungry to full???  I don’t.  I have starving, hungry, not currently thinking about food and too full.  I have been eating hard for over 40 years and I still only have 4 levels.  There is no level 7 or 8.  That is the problem with all of us.  We don’t have that point where we can say, perfect, I have reached it, now I will stop eating.  THAT IS THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM!  It is true, if you stop eating before you are full you will not be hungry in about 10 to 15 minutes (that is why eating slow works).  It will take a long time to learn to stop eating before you are full, but you can do that.  You need to consciously remember to stop.  You need to insist on not going back for seconds.  You need to fill your plate with much less food and accept that you are done when your plate is empty.  Whatever you do, do not wait for a feeling of 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10…


Again, remember, don’t blame the authors (of the books) for the tips.  You have no idea what the context was.  I know some of these people and they are excellent writers and great helpers.  I would be shocked to see most of the authors give out this advice as being really helpful.

So, thankfully that is it for  the condescending, ridiculous and downright insulting tips (and one good one).  I was tempted to make this a three part series because I was getting so exasperated pointing out why bad advice is bad.  One last thought though.  The photos on these tips bothered me as much as the tips.  They had that slapped in place quality that reeks of not caring.  The almost mechanical content generation feeling.  A quick search on my favorite stock photo site and yep…  That is exactly what is going on… I was wondering how long it was going to take for computers to replace humans as magazine editors and internet content generators… maybe they already have….

Tip number 5, Nix Night Time Eating and below that, found under ‘Young woman looking in refrigerator, night, side view’ we have

Young woman looking in refrigerator, night, side view Royalty Free Stock Photo
One Comment leave one →
  1. Nicole Ferreira permalink
    December 15, 2011 5:12 pm

    Great post!! Love your comments about the pillow fights and snowmen building … sigh – here I thought that was all that I needed to do. lol

    I heard the “upside down” rule on the radio the other day. I laughed at it then too!

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