YouTube Channel

Celebreight Yourself now has a Youtube channel!

You can also find more of my writing at three great websites: Large in Charge magazine, Fierce, Freethinking Fatties, and More of Me to Love. Links are below.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy 20,000!

Celebreight Yourself has now exceeded 20,000 hits and it is time for a celebration! If I could, I would reach through the computer and pass you all a cupcake, but since that isn't possible, I would simply like to extend a big, warm Thank You to all my wonderful readers.

It took me a little under a year to reach 10,000 hits, as I recall, and it has been a little under six months to reach 20,000, so it seems my readership is increasing at twice the rate. I like that.

I thought I would just have fun with this blog post, not even talk about anything fat-related ... instead I thought, Why not celebrate the number 20,000? So here we go ... here's some things that involve the number 20,000:

The number of women Wilt Chamberlain claimed to have slept with in his 1991 biography "A View From Above" (I bet they called him Wilt the Stilt for more than one reason)

Part of the science fiction classic title "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne.

Part of the 1953 monster movie title "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms".

The number of years it has taken for the volume of the male human brain to decrease from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cubic centimeters (about the size of a tennis ball). This is according to a University of Wisconsin anthropologist.

The risk of getting an egg with salmonella: 1 in 20,000.

"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" was one of the best Twilight Zone episodes ever ... the one with William Shatner seeing a frightening, freaky creature on the wing of a plane.

The number of commercials seen per year by the average child.

The average number of words a woman uses per day. A man uses approximately 7,000.
The cave painting above (from Lascaux cave in France) is approximately 20,000 years old.

The number of underage users Facebook bans per day.

The dollar amount of the fine for cruelty to animals (in California).

The supposed number of new words added to the English language every year.

The above picture is titled "20,000 Corgis Under the Sea".

The dollar amount required from any participant qualified enough to partake in a NASA launch, summer 2012.

The dollar amount offered to a blogger (from the National Enquirer) for "confessional" stuff on Tom Cruise -- plus, promotion of his book.

That's all for now, folks! Hope you enjoyed my celebration of the number 20,000 ... and thanks again for helping me get there!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reality Video and Happy Endings

There is no shortage of videos on YouTube about people chronicling their "weight loss journeys". Every once in awhile, though, there is one like this, which is undeniably compelling and inspirational:

This video moved me. I'm sure it will move most people who watch it. Seeing this man struggle, fall on his face and ass, and keep getting up and doing it again ... you can't help but respect and admire him. There is no denying that Arthur is an incredible person with an incredible drive, and what he has accomplished is amazing. I am very happy for him and I hope that his health and his life continue to flourish.

However, there is an unspoken but very palpable subtext in this video (and others like it) that disturbs me. The suggestion seems to be that unless you put yourself through the same kind of endless agony and torture, you are not worthy of respect. It seems to be saying that if you are overweight and not putting yourself through hell to rectify it, you are lazy. It also suggests that all it takes is hard work and determination.

If hard work and determination were the answer, I'm certain there would be very few people in this world with a "weight problem". We have all put more than our share of sweat, agony, torture, hard work, and determination into the weight loss bank, and for the vast majority of us, it hasn't paid off.

The inspirational intention of videos like Arthur's can backfire in the sense that they suggest to viewers that his "happy ending" is possible for everyone (and is it the end of his story? Ex-protege of Richard Simmons, Michael Hebranko's tumultuous story comes to mind). Nothing could be further from the truth. These kind of results are extremely rare, and they can be accomplished by very few people.

I also found this video (and the message it sends) a little ambiguous. At times it was difficult to determine which aspect of Arthur's transformation he was happier about: the weight loss or the fact that he is now able to walk again (not only walk, but run!) In the end, he stated that regaining his mobility was far more important than the weight loss, but the weight loss aspect of his story seemed to be stressed far more than his disability. It seemed to be suggesting that even if he never did regain his mobility ... at least he lost the weight.

I know that some people out there will read this blog, sneer at me, and call me an envious spoilsport for putting a negative spin on this video. Envy has nothing to do with it. The problem I have with it is this: I keep picturing people who are significantly overweight watching Arthur's video and saying, "I can do that too!" Then I picture them trying as hard as they can, and falling far short of their lofty goals when their bodies fail to have the same affinity for weight loss as their minds ... and getting horribly depressed, ashamed, and their spirits broken when the results just don't turn out the way they were told they would.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not anti-effort. I think that striving for something you want to achieve -- whatever it is -- is a wonderful and admirable goal. Our minds are extremely powerful and it is truly amazing what some people can accomplish by being staunchly fixated on one specific goal. If that kind of focus does flower and come to fruition, it's difficult to imagine anything more rewarding.

But why is that we never see the other side of the equation -- the reality, the far more common experience -- which is diet failure, weight regain, depression, shame, humiliation? Those results are experienced far more often (95% more often) than the almost-unprecedented, astronomical success like Arthur's. Stories like Arthur's are positive and inspirational, but they can also be dangerous and destructive. Most of us are not superheroes. Most of us are just normal, average people trying to do the best  we can.

There is no shortage of TV shows with this message as well: shows like The Biggest Loser, where people are segregated in a weight loss community where weight loss and exercise are lived, breathed, walked and talked 24/7. It's inevitable that in such an isolated, focused community, weight loss is bound to result. But situations like that are not reality. The average person can't take a hiatus from life, sequester themselves in a weight-loss-obsessed community for six months to a year, and singlemindedly focus on weight loss. Average people have to work, pay bills, raise kids, maintain their homes. Those everyday obligations don't leave much room for an intense focus on weight loss. Real life is just not as accommodating as so-called reality TV.

Yet videos like Arthur's and shows like The Biggest Loser keep trying to convince us that the results these people attain are just as possible for us ... and it is simply bogus.

Have you ever wondered why you never see videos about people chronicling their weight loss regain AFTER a massive weight loss? Have you ever wondered why there are no videos showing the fallout from diet failure -- the desperate attempts to maintain weight loss, and the inevitable binging and yo-yoing that occurs after dieting? YET IT IS THE NORM. 95% of dieters inevitably gain the weight back.

I wish I could go back in time and chronicle the suffering I went through when I regained the huge amount of weight I lost after a starvation diet. It would have been truly educational and inspirational as far as exposing the damage that dieting did to my body. You would have seen me struggling to get through each day without feeling like I was starving to death, panicking at every weigh-in when I saw the weight creeping back on, and frantically trying to control my rebelling body .. and having to deal with the feelings of failure, shame, and embarrassment on top of it all, when I found myself back at square one.

I wonder if anyone out there who has lost a huge amount of weight on a diet will be brave enough to make such a video. I suspect it will never happen, because it would simply be too depressing. Who'd want to chronicle their "failure" and put it on Youtube for everyone to see? But it happens to 95% of us ... and seeing what someone goes through when weight is regained would be tremendously helpful. It might make some young person considering a diet give it a second thought, and thus avoid the inevitable weight loss/gain rollercoaster her whole life.

I'm not saying it's wrong to try to lose weight. No one has the right to tell anyone what she should or shouldn't do with her own body. I'm not begrudging Arthur's success and trying to dissuade people from losing weight if that is their choice. But it's extremely important to remember that Arthur's results are rare. They are not the norm. It is counterproductive and potentially destructive to imply that his results are attainable by everyone.

Other inspirational videos could deliver a far more helpful message: Don't bother getting on the diet train ... concentrate on eating healthy and moving your body, but forego the boot camp mentality. You're 95% more likely to be much happier in the long run.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Belated Happy No Diet Day

Hello, dear readers. I hope you all had a very happy and enjoyable International No Diet Day this past May 6th.

For those of you who don't know, International No Diet Day was founded by a British woman named Mary Evans Young in 1992. Young created the day because she was frustrated by the dieting obsession of women around her. She realized that dieting had become a kind of mass neurosis among them, and knew that something had to be done to make our attitude towards food and body image healthier.

Mary Evans Young
I hope you've extended International No Diet Day into International No Diet Week. Come to think of it, why don't we make May International No Diet Month ... why don't we just declare every day International No Diet Day and make it a No Diet Day Eternity! It would be so much healthier for everyone.

A lot of people may be tempted to think of International No Diet Day as a ticket to gluttony -- as their excuse to eat every sugary, fatty food out there and just stuff their faces. While there's nothing wrong with indulging from time to time, going to the other extreme and gorging isn't the answer either. It's just as unhealthy as starving yourself. But due to dieting, many of us have engaged in binging or gorging behavior to compensate for the deprivation incurred by dieting, which makes us gain weight ... which leads us to the diet trough yet again.

We need to find a happy medium ... a comfortable balance. We need to stop being either at war with food or making food our everything.

Food, in its most basic form, is simply fuel. We all need food to ensure that our bodies flourish and have energy. Other than pleasure, that is food's only purpose. But food has come to represent so much more. Food is everywhere we look. It's on TV commercials, presented in the most tempting, decadent, mouth-watering ways ... it's on billboards, urging us to stop in at our local fast food restaurants and try their latest concoction ... it's depicted in pictorials and recipes in magazines, in the most appealing ways. At the same time, amid all this temptation and pleasure, we're told it's evil, we're told to beware ... that it can be our downfall.

Food is not our enemy ... and it's not our friend, either. It's simply food.

If you feel that your body is currently at a size where you would benefit from dieting, I urge you to think again. Nobody's body benefits from dieting. What does benefit us is ensuring that we eat healthy, nutritious foods, move our bodies regularly in whatever way feels comfortable and beneficial to us, and loving ourselves just the way we are.

Focus on that instead, and stop listening to the incessant campaigns that try to make us hate ourselves and embark on yet another diet.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nutty Ads and Just Plain Nuts

Do you remember the crazy lawsuit a few years ago when a woman sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee in her lap? After hearing about another crazy lawsuit recently (which I will get to momentarily), I looked it up to refresh my memory. The case was called Liebeck vs. McDonald's Restaurants.

Here's what happened: In 1992, Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of her local McDonald's. Liebeck was in the passenger seat of her grandson's vehicle, and he parked the car so she could add sugar and cream to her coffee. She placed the coffee cup between her knees, pulled back the lid, and proceeded to spill the entire cup in her lap. She was wearing sweatpants which quickly absorbed the hot coffee, no doubt causing a tremendous amount of pain and scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin. She was taken to the hospital where it was determined she had suffered third-degree burns. Lawsuit filed, case tried, and McDonald's lost the case. The jury awarded Liebeck $160,000 to cover her medical expenses, in addition to $2.7 million in punitive damages. (The trial judge ended up reducing the verdict, and the parties settled for a confidential amount.)

The case became notorious because of many people's opinions that it was simply ridiculous and a waste of court time. A woman suing McDonald's because she spilled hot coffee in her lap? Who the hell doesn't know that coffee is hot ... that if you put it between your knees to add cream and sugar, the possibility that it might spill is definitely there ... and if so ... doh! Serves you right, idiot!

I mention this case because it was the first thing I thought of when I heard this next ridiculous case, which resolved just this past week. Perhaps you have heard ... The company was Nutella this time. A San Diego mother filed her lawsuit against the deliciously decadent chocolate-hazelnut spread company after she claimed she was "shocked" to find out the spread wasn't as wholesomely healthy as it appeared in its commercials. Check this out:

Ummmmm .... seriously? Is this woman for real? She never read a label? She never tasted this stuff? How clueless would you have to be to think that this stuff is good for you? We have become mentally catatonic if we as a society are gullible enough to believe the sunshiny happy wholesomeness of TV commercials. Put a glass of milk beside it and it becomes good for you ... Are we really that dumb? Apparently some of us are, because this woman actually believed this stuff that she was feeding her kids was healthy. Because the commercial said so.

What's even more mind-boggling is that she won her case! Nutella settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $3 million in damages in this class action suit. The payout boils down to $4 per jar to each claimant. (Don't get me wrong ... I love it when I hear about big business actually having to pay up, because it happens so rarely. But seriously.)

What's next ... if a commercial says that adding ginseng to heroin makes it good for you ... and throws in some cute blonde kids, a dog, a clean kitchen, and sunshine ... would some people believe it?

Before I sign off, I'd like to share another extremely annoying, stupid commercial with you. It comes from the folks at Special K, who never fail to deliver the most moronic ads.

Yeah ... the skinny model in this ad really needs her confidence boosted by exchanging the size of her jeans with words like "radiant", "ooh la la", and "va va voom", huh? What makes me want to pull my hair out even more when I watch this is the suggestion that you STILL need to diet to get into those flatteringly-labelled jeans. The original implication .... that we are all different sizes and we shouldn't judge ourselves by numbers, but by our own individual attributes ... gets shat on mere seconds after this positive suggestion being introduced. They're not saying you can get into those jeans NOW ... but two weeks of Special K and THEN you can wear the jeans labelled "sassy"! 

Face palm.