How Not To Be a Fat F****

Continuing her adventures in service journalism, Violent Acres has an acerbic roundup of 10 tips on how to poop the pounds, entitled, “How Not To Be a Fat Fuck.” A selection:

3. Cut the cable
Fact: TV makes you fat. It slows down your metabolism.
4. Put the entire family on the same program
You can’t rail celery powder if everyone is drinking ice cream.
5. Don’t join a gym more than 5 miles away or one who makes you sign a contract
We just joined a gym on a month to month contract. It’s two blocks away. We’ve gone every other day for the past week. We like the Cybex.
10. Brainwash yourself
Success in life depends on your ability to manufacture justifications that help trick yourself into doing what is right. See: 43 Folders.


How Not To Be a Fat Fuck [Violent Acres]
Bonus Link: What Does 200 Calories Look Like? [via Dethroner]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Kangarara says:

    How does TV slow your metabolism? I can believe that sitting on the couch not moving for hours at a time does, but TV itself? Seems a bit weak on “Fact:”

    It’s not in Violent’s post – do we have a reference for this?

  2. Ben Popken says:

    I remember a well-publicized study that found sitting and watching television slowed your metabolism more than sitting and staring at a blank wall. I assume this is because TV induces a mental state more like sleep than wakefulness. I don’t have a citation at hand at the moment, though.

  3. Kangarara says:

    fair enough.

  4. etinterrapax says:

    I also heard watching TV uses fewer calories than sleeping. Couldn’t prove it by me, though. I last lost a lot of weight when I didn’t stuff my face with sugar, and gained it when I went to graduate school and then got pregnant. TV consumption remained level. Decreased, actually, during the grad school years.

    I was thinking when I was shopping earlier, whether people’s sense of shame about wasting food played any part in the obesity crisis. If food came in smaller packages, would people eat less of it? Package size, aside from the categories in which it’s shrinking to offset price increases, seems to have ballooned in the last 20 years or so. Soft drinks going from 8-10-12-16-20 oz (remember those little 10 oz glass Coke bottles? We used to buy them in high school, early nineties) are the first to come to mind, although I was originally pondering the size of bagged snacks like corn chips. Of course, I’m sure it’s some kind of amalgam of guilt over leaving food, satisfaction at finishing the package, the perception of value from buying the big one at a lower unit price, and general gluttony. These things are rarely simple, though the diet mavens and the food industry would have us believe differently.

  5. acambras says:

    I have heard that thinking about food produces an insulin reaction that can affect metabolism. So there it is — just THINKING about chocolate can make you fat.

    So maybe if you watch The Food Network you’ll gain more weight than if you watch The Discovery Channel?

  6. 11. Stop driving a car everywhere and ride a bike to and from work.

  7. Dustbunny says:

    So if thinking about chocolate can make you fat, then thinking about broccoli and tofu should make you lose weight, no?

    …going off to think really hard about broccoli..

  8. mojohealy says:

    “11. Stop driving a car everywhere and ride a bike to and from work.”

    I second that. When I visited the States last year (I’m from New Zealand) I stayed with my girlfriend in Maryland and used Metrorail to go explore Washington DC each day. The metro station was about one mile from her house. Her housemates were astounded and shocked that I walked this staggering distance, twice each day.

    They also spent much of their time and mental energy whining about their fat asses.

  9. acambras says:

    Etinterrapax, you make some excellent points. I think there is definitely something to the thing about not wanting to waste food.

    Holden, I would love to ride my bike to work and would if it weren’t for three things – snow, distance, and the likelihood of getting hit by a car. When I was in grad school, snow and distance weren’t factors, but riding a bike on or near campus was very dangerous. :-(

    I thought the Violent Acres post had a lot of useful information. Although I’m not going to forward anything titled “How not to be a Fat Fuck” to family or friends.

  10. Citron says:

    Owning a car in downtown Philadelphia where I live is a major liability, and frustratingly slower than riding a bike. But it seems to be that way in most major cities I’ve been in.

    Dodging cars keeps you mentally sharp, too!

    But yeah. Back where my parents live, in Indiana, no one walks anywhere for any reason. It’s astonishing how lazy one can get. Convenience is so awesome and so detrimental at the same time.

  11. brilliantmistake says:

    I think etinterrapax has a good point about food guilt. I also think that the tendency to think that 1 package= 1 serving leads to eating more calories. I wish manufacturers would put the total number of calories in a package on the label in addition to the number of servings and calories per serving. When I get a package that has 1.5 servings of something, I’m far more likely to eat 1 package than 2/3 of a package. I know the math isn’t that complicated, and one big dieting trick I’ve learned is to always do the math, but it would be much easier to have the info already worked out.

    I also learned to divide things like cheese into servings when I open the package for the first time so I know, for example, that each cube of cheese is 2 ounces, and therefore I know how many calories I’m getting.

    Does anyone know how many you calories you burn while simultaneously surfing the web and watching TV? Cause that’s how I roll.

  12. Etendue says:

    So here’s the interesting thing: in a previous blog post, this same writer admits that many Americans are too broke to employ personal trainers or buy healthy, fresh food. Then she goes on to say that she admonished a friend to sell her car and move in with her parents in order to afford a good weight-loss program. Just a matter of getting one’s financial priorities in order, she says.

    Yeah, sure. By the way, the blog writer is married and (one would assume) her husband is employed. Also (so far as I can tell) the couple do not have children. It’s a little easier to change your priorities when you have two incomes and no kids. According to her blog, the woman spends $90 a day to maintain her shape. That’s more than $2700 a month. My house and car together don’t add up to that much.

    Ms. Violent Acres, come and live my life as a single working mom and see how easy it is to stay a size 4.

  13. The Real Quiz says:

    99% of the time joining a gym on a month to month basis will cost you much, much more money than signing a 1 year contract. A 2 or 3 year contract saves you even more, usually upwards to $500-$600 dollars. Plus, that contract will motivate your fat ass to get to the gym since you know you payed good money for the membership and you’ve committed yourself to that time period.
    I live in Utah and researched gym memberships extensively, and far and away the best deal (and definitely the best gym amenities & equipment) was Gold’s Gym. The Utah Gold’s is a franchise, so it may not be the same for every state.
    So skip the month-to-month membership, man up, and commit to a real time period so you not only get healthy but stay healthy.

  14. See, I would have thought that unhealthy food being cheaper than healthy food was common knowledge and the fact that losing weight is expensive is not news.

    Then I read the comments on Digg and remembered that people are stupid.

    I assume this is because TV induces a mental state more like sleep than wakefulness.
    I also heard watching TV uses fewer calories than sleeping.

    OK, what kind of TV are they making people watch for these studies? It sounds like they’re probably dramas and educational shows as oppposed to comedies and action shows because you can’t be in a sleep like state while screaming at the TV, “He’s got a bomb!” and I thought laughing burned more calories than sleeping.

  15. kimdog says:

    Why is this on Consumerist? What does is have to do with the nature of this blog? This is more irrelevent filler.

  16. Celeste says:

    I don’t see how eating unhealthy food instead of healthy food is necessarily cheaper, unless there aren’t any grocery stores where you live. I don’t buy heat-and-serve or ready-made items. I buy vegetables, staple baking goods, and meats. Then I go home and cook my food.

    Roughly 100 dollars a week will keep my family of 2 adults and 1 infant (I make all of his food too) in 3 meals a day, with a high variety of dishes. I live in a high-cost area as well, and have seen grocery prices in other locations significantly lower than what I’m paying. I could reduce that price considerably, if I’d cut the t-bones, duck, center-cut pork chops, whole roasts, etc, out of the menu, but I like variety. Breakfast takes maybe 15 minutes, lunch another 10, and dinner never takes me more than half an hour of actual work-time, unless I’m making something special on the weekends.

    I won’t even bother adding the baby into my calculations, and 100/wk for 3 meals a day for 2 people works out to an avg cost of $2.38 a meal. Unless you’re living exclusively off of the dollar menu at McDonald’s, I don’t see how you’re going to pay less to eat unhealthy. You’re going to pay more if you’re buying nothing but frozen heat-and-serve type meals from the grocery store, not to mention suffering from lack of variety (and taste!).

  17. “I thought the Violent Acres post had a lot of useful information. “

    The most useful information that you can glean from this is in her linked post where she says she spends $900/month on keeping herself thin, which, she says, is more than she spends on her mortgage.

  18. acambras says:

    $900 a month? Jeez, I didn’t catch that part.

    Yeah, I’m thinking that if Violent and I lived in the same town, we probably wouldn’t be good friends, but I thought her post was interesting — more interesting than the New Year’s Resolution schlock we’ve been seeing on shows like Today and Good Morning America.

  19. etinterrapax says:

    Celeste, I agree with you in terms of dollar amount. I have a friend who spends what I feel is an enormous amount of money on food for a household of 2 adults–$250-300 a week–and even if it’s all fresh food, as she insists, I don’t know why it has to cost that much. She can’t even shop at Whole Foods because there aren’t any in that area, so that isn’t the reason. I’m baffled. We spend less than half that for a family of three, and I do cook.

    Cooking, though, not that I think this is any excuse, but I think the problem is somewhere around the nexus of no one being home to cook, no one knowing how to cook, and no one thinking cooking is important, except when it is so huge it just about swallows the universe. Second-wave feminism somehow managed to both devalue cooking entirely and exalt it far above a level that most people can aspire to, like Martha Stewart, or even now, Rachael Ray. It’s no wonder most people don’t bother to cook, and why some women, especially, still say with pride that they don’t even know how. It strikes me as incredibly absurd that there is feminist power in being willfully stupid about something as fundamental as preparing food. I still think it’s been underrepresented in the press that while we’ve said that people have grown more obese as they eat out more, we haven’t come right out and said that we’ve grown more obese as fewer and fewer people have practiced everyday cooking.

  20. Chairman-Meow says:

    I used to ride my bike to work every day since I only live 1.5 miles away


    I stopped when I became tired of almost getting killed every day by people blowing through stop signs & red lights. In one week, I missed getting broadsided 4 times in 5 days by speeding cars. The only thing that saved me all four times was a few seconds of reaction time.

    That was enough to stop me from riding.

  21. Celeste says:

    Etinterrapax – yes! I don’t know enough other plain daily cooks. I either know women who proudly proclaim that they can’t cook, or women who think they can’t cook, because they pulled a recipe off Epicurious, spent 3 hours making it, and it wasn’t that good, so why bother making all that effort again? Why not try a middle road, and start by learning how to make basic meals? There’s 4 steps to roasting a whole chicken – it’s really easy.

    Getting consistently good results, and a meal on the table quickly takes a lot of practice, it’s true. When I ended my bachelorhood and started cooking every day again, it was a nightmare, and took me nearly a month to start getting consistently well-made meals on the table. Once I got into the habit though, I hardly even think about it, and I feel that the payoff far outweighs the benefits I’d reap from a comparable amount of time and money spent in the gym.

  22. Citron says:

    Eyebrows, she also says she weighed 88 pounds as an adult, which is not anywhere near a healthy weight for an average-height person.

    But I once had a gym teacher who told my class (this was in high school) the healthiest girl she ever taught would run for a mile after she ate an apple, and would eat nothing but baked potatoes and boiled, skinless chicken breasts.

    Some people have odd notions of fitness. Or eating disorders. I just thought it was odd my gym teacher was telling this to all us girls as if we should emulate that.

    But I do agree that buying fresh produce and cooking is much cheaper and healthier than getting frozen and pre-prepared foods. Not to mention, an excellent way to cut down on salt and unnatural additives like preservatives and trans fats and the like.

  23. acambras says:

    Celeste is right — once someone has a little experience, cooking isn’t so difficult. For those whose kitchen confidence isn’t really high — if you can read, you can cook.

    I do a little of both — intuitive, “throw in whatever” cooking and recipe cooking. I especially like Cooking Light magazine — lots of good recipes. And, unlike Epicurious or Martha Stewart, CL is good for people who have a life — no driving all over town looking for impossible-to-find ingredients or spending all day cooking one dish. They even have a SuperFast feature for SuperLazy people like me. And subscribers can access their online recipe search engine, which is great — complete recipes with reader ratings. At $18 a year, it’s worth it for me. My boyfriend sometimes flips through it and marks the recipes he’d like us to try (we both cook).

    I don’t work for or own stock in CL or anything — it’s just been helpful for me and maybe it’ll be helpful for others, too.

  24. acambras says:

    One more thing — I’ve heard this mentioned on tv shows and in articles a lot, but it bears repeating:

    Items around the perimeter of most grocery stores tend to be better for you — produce, seafood, meat, dairy. Apart from staples and condiments, the center of the store is where you’ll find a lot of junk food and over-processed items.

    And if it’s at all possible, shop alone. It is very hard to “be good” when kids (or in my case, the boyfriend) keep begging for Double-Stuff Oreos.

  25. As a bachelor, I often went out to eat, ordered out chinese or pizza, and had an awful diet, usually eating only once a day. I was also in the best shape of my life. Now married, forced to eat dinner every night, albeit healthy home-cooked meals, I’ve gained 15 pounds…

    I blame my wife’s insistence on 3 square meals, not wasting food, and different cuisine. I’m sure there are a multitude of other factors involved, but mostly, I think etinterrapax hit the nail on the head.

  26. methane says:

    that meatball has eyes… spooky. That’ll stop me from eating.

  27. Are you sure that’s a meatball?

  28. Samby says:

    As a mother of a family living at what is probably considered at or below the poverty line where we are (which is quite common, as it’s not a first-world country), I have to disagree with all of the people who think that it’s cheaper to buy healthy food.

    We don’t buy processed food, or junk (except for very special treats), but we can’t afford to buy the healthier basics. Processed white flour, processed white sugar, less nutritious vegetables like potatos and cucumbers; these are all cheaper than more nutritious fare. Pasta and ketchup are much cheaper than chicken, which is a once or twice a week treat. Hard cheese and beef are a complete luxury, and while I would love to cook *really* healthy meals for my family, sometimes it’s not possible on our budget. Prices in my country are similar to what they are in the US if you convert the currency, so I would imagine that there are many people in the US with the same dietary limitations as us.

  29. Celeste & others:

    I couldn’t cook at all until I was 24 and didn’t really start learning how to make “simple” meals until I was about 26. There’s a great book called “How to Cook without a Book” that sort-of works on the premise that women used to be able to throw things together based on what they had because they were working off an inherited regional cuisine that everyone knew, whereas today we don’t have that. So she sort-of explains the basics and THAT’S when I finally started getting how to make a nutritious meal that didn’t take three hours of work and require a recipe. THAT is the real hurdle, particularly if (like me) you don’t learn how to cook until way after moving out from mom’s.

    Acambras: I think she has an interesting point too, which is that many of us do prioritize other things in our lives over fitness. (I’m not giving up my sedentary hobby of sewing just to lose five pounds. That’s a priority choice.) But in context of $900/month to be thin and calling people “fat fucks” it mostly came across as shallow and vain and judgmental.

    crayonshinbi: Most people gain weight after marriage due to those 3 squares. :D

  30. acambras says:

    Yes, Eyebrows — I agree that Violent Acres has some screwy priorities. And she does not seem to be a very nice person. If she and I lived in the same town, I doubt we’d be friends, if for no other reason than that I would never be able to afford to keep up with her financially (and, because I weigh more than 120 pounds, I suppose I’m a fat fuck).

    I reread the post to see why I found it interesting in the first place (after wading through all the vitriol). If you stick to the 10 headlines, some of them constitute sound advice — the ones that stick out for me are ignore the magazine covers, get the whole family involved, and “mix up your workouts. But yeah, she does come off like a smug little bitch and to repeat, I would NEVER forward anything with the title “How Not to be a Fat Fuck” to family or friends.

  31. Unless you’re living exclusively off of the dollar menu at McDonald’s, I don’t see how you’re going to pay less to eat unhealthy.

    It’s called Ramen.

    Also, if you’re poor and working 2 or more jobs you probably don’t have time to cook much. So, yeah, alot of McDonalds.

    I could reduce that price considerably, if I’d cut the t-bones, duck, center-cut pork chops, whole roasts, etc, out of the menu, but I like variety.

    Wait, doesn’t that actually support the argument that unhealthy food is cheaper?

  32. Mr. Gunn says:

    If you’re doing something to make yourself healthier, whether you know what you’re doing or not, whether you’re spending $200 a week or not, god bless you. It’s a hard thing to do.

    The harder thing, however, is finding the needle of truth among the bullshit spewed by 10,000 self-appointed experts every day.

    I hate to sound abrasive, but neither this post, the post on that poorly-mannered woman’s site, nor the occasional stuff at lifehacker, nor the stuff at dethroner, nor even the stuff at Ask Metafilter has ever positively affected the signal-to-noise ratio in that regard. The only thing I can hope is that we all get better at finding those needles, because it’s just gonna get worse.

  33. OnoSideboard says:

    I totally agree with samby. Last time I checked, fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats cost a lot more than a huge bag of macaroni and a jar of Ragu. Or, for that matter, a pound of ground chuck and a box of Hamburger Helper, which I would argue is a far more common meal in lower income households than frozen dinners.

    Moreover, frequent grocery shopping and home-cooked meals are a luxury that not all families have. I was lucky to grow up in a two-parent household with a mom who only worked part-time and went to the grocery store several times a week for fresh food. Some of my friends, on the other hand, came from single-parent households where mom would work a 12 hour shift six days a week. It’s hard to imagine swinging by the grocery store afterwards and then getting home and standing in the kitchen for an hour, chopping slicing boiling washing dishes etc. A $5.99 bucket of dark meat fried chicken feeds a family of 4 and requires no clean up.

    Celeste, it’s actually amazing (and horrifying) to see the ratio of grocery stores to fast food restaurants in low-income areas. Often, there really won’t be a grocery store for miles, but burger joints on every corner. Here are a few articles on the subject (sorry, I don’t know how to make a short link):

    Anyway, I apologize for the rant, but the relationship between socio-economic status and healthy eating is a subject I’ve been interested in for a long time.

    One more thing–what’s with all the assumptions that it’s a woman’s responsibility to provide meals for the family? Hmmmm? Dad is just as capable of getting a cook book and tying on an apron!

  34. lessthanpants says:

    etinterrapax i read a report recently that studied reactions when portions were minimized in a university dining hall. essentially, it showed that individuals would consume less when portions were smaller up to a certain point. an example they used to demonstrate that breaking point was soda. if a soda was too small, individuals would take multiple ultimately resulting in them consuming more than s/he traditionally would.

  35. acambras says:

    Great point, OnoSideboard. And if you don’t have easy access to transportation (a big issue for those living in poverty), a few miles to the grocery store is a big deal.

    AND if you’re living at or below the poverty level, Violent Acres’ tip #7 (“Find a Personal Trainer You Can Trust”) is probably not at the top of your list of priorities.

    The more I think about it, the more I am put off by Violent Acres and her post. It’s easy to be smug when you can afford to spend more money per month on fitness than most people spend on housing.

    And when I read over her post again, I noticed that she referred to weighing a “svelte” 88 pounds. Svelte? Maybe if you’re a fourth grader.

  36. “Last time I checked, fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats cost a lot more than a huge bag of macaroni and a jar of Ragu.”

    One way to combat this is to see if you have a local farm CSA (community supported agriculture) you can subscribe to. For $250 we got a HUGE box of fresh organic veggies every other week from April through October. Prices obviously vary by location, but we saved tons on grocery bills that summer. And learned to like (or at least tolerate) veggies we wouldn’t have otherwise bought, because they come in the box and you feel obligated to use them.

    CSAs depend on local availability, but since they’re mostly run by leftie crunchy organic types, many of them have distribution points in low-income neighborhoods, or will work to put one there, so it may be easier than a grocery store.

    Some of it does require prep time — like eggplants — but a lot of it can just be tossed in a salad and eaten as is.

    OnoSideBoard: My husband did all the cooking early in our marriage. :) He still does about 2/3rds of it. He’s just better at it.

  37. OnoSideboard says:

    Eyebrows, is that $250 per box? Per month? Per year? If it’s per year that is a really fantastic deal. My # 1 desired luxury item (assuming I ever get those loans paid off) is a professional chef to come to my home once a week, cook delicious, nutritious meals for me and leave them in single portions in my freezer.

    And I must ask… you’re a female attorney married to a man who cooks… how did you do that?!? Help a single female attorney, resigned to a life of frozen dinners and cats, out? : )

  38. Celeste says:

    Rectilinear Propagation – I think most would consider duck and t-bone steaks an indulgence, rather than eating healthy. I could substitute lean ground beef, chicken breasts and fish, save a lot on the bill, and be eating ‘healthier’. And you’re right, I forgot about ramen. But when I was poor and that was one of my primary dietary staples, I would at least put an egg and some frozen vegetables in it.

    I don’t run to the grocery store several times a week. I sit down while I’m having my coffee on Saturday mornings, and I write up a menu of what I want to cook in the next week, then make my grocery list based off of that. Takes maybe 20 minutes to make the menu, during a time I would normally be doing nothing. It takes another half hour to 45 minutes to hit the grocery store and stock up if you don’t go during rush hour. My mom cooked with frozen veggies rather than fresh mostly, and she made us drink parmalat milk, which has a ridiculously long shelf life – as a result, when I was growing up we went to the grocery store once a month.

    I work full time from home in excess of 55 hours a week, and I’m also taking care of an infant less than a year old full-time. I realize my situation is 1) extremely lucky, and 2) requires extreme endurance. Yet somehow, I’ve managed to hold down what most would consider two full-time jobs at once, and still put a home-cooked meal on the table six nights out of the week. It can be done. I think there’s a perception that it takes a lot more time and effort to cook at home than it actually does – and a lot of it because so many women think they have to be Rachel Ray to cook.

    Eyebrows McGhee – I own “How To Cook Without a Book” and still throw together stir-fries and omelets out of it.

    I’m not trying to sound holier than thou to the poor; my comments were primarily directed at the hordes of middle-class families that eat take-out most nights because ‘it takes too much time to cook’ and are gaining a huge amount of weight as a result. I understand that there are a lot of urban areas that don’t have easy access to a grocery store. CSAs are an excellent alternative – there are a bunch of them in my area that have pickup points and delivery into DC. You have to be willing to take the time to actually cook it though – which isn’t as long as some people seem to think.

  39. etinterrapax says:

    What Celeste said. Cooking is incredibly laborious if you’re not used to it, but once you are, plain cooking is quick and easy, cheaper and healthier. I would never try to say that if you are truly poor, it is cheaper than buying processed foods, but I do believe that a healthy diet is something everyone is entitled to. It’s a horrible spiral, at least around here. Food assistance covers processed foods, not fresh organic produce. And even if it did, it’s not helpful to people who don’t know how to cook it. And we’re not teaching cooking any more because it’s not sufficiently academic. And that’s all right for kids who grow up to be wealthy enough not to have to worry about food budgets, but it’s crippling for the ones who will have to feed a family on a shoestring. Abandoning home economics in public education has been a horrible mistake.

    I too have a husband who cooks, but he also works 70-80 hours per week (also an attorney). So I have no complaint about the duties I assume, since I’m the one who’s home to do them. But after a lifetime with a dad who does everything, it was shocking to discover that there are still many men in their thirties now who essentially marry to replace a doting mom. My same friend who spends so much on food has a true second shift. She brings in half of the household income, and works longer hours outside of the home, but is expected to do all of the housework and the cooking, and one day, the child care. It is too much to expect of any one household member, especially when there is another able-bodied adult sitting on his duff and complaining that he wanted something else for dinner. Man, I hate that guy.

  40. Celeste says:

    LOL. I’d hate that guy too! My husband doesn’t touch the kitchen, but he makes up for it by doing the grocery shopping for me, taking care of most of the house-cleaning (other than kitchen), doing all of the yardwork and car maintenance, and also handling baby-duties for several hours each evening. It isn’t a gender thing, it’s an easiest distribution of work + talent thing. If he sat around and tried to get me to take care of all the ‘women’s work’ even though I work full-time too, I’d quickly turn into one of those cartoon housewives brandishing a rolling pin.

  41. acambras says:

    etinterrapax, it’s interesting that you brought up the fact that food assistance doesn’t cover fresh produce. I heard an interesting story on NPR about that a few weeks ago. It seems that since the food stamp program started, it’s all been about dairy — particularly eggs. The gist of the story was that nutritionists and fruit & veggie farmers would like to get fresh produce covered under public assistance, but that the dairy farmers have come to rely on that revenue and that they don’t want to lose any of it.

    I guess this has gotten off the subject of Violent Acres and her original post, but it seems that the comments are more valuable than the original post anyway.

  42. Vilgrom says:

    From all that I have read..

    You burn more calories sleeping than you do laying down and doing nothing. Your body processes are highly active when you’re sleeping, since you need to recharge for the next day.