Aug 202012
 

I’m almost certainly going to upset someone with this, which isn’t my intention. I feel that it needs to be said anyway.

There are many quirks of language use that I find irritating. One among them, I find irritating for the implications it carries. That’s the phrase “that doesn’t work for me” or the variant “that might work for you, but…” Sometimes, these are valid things to say. When they are said in response to facts, they engender a great deal of rage.

I’ve encountered a pretty wide array of responses since embracing the information set forward in Taubes’s book. Most of the responses are appreciative of the obvious progress I’ve been making (now down eight pounds, even after two parties). Some folks have said variations on “I couldn’t do that,” which is fine. It takes a certain measure of willpower to just slice carbs out of your diet, cold-turkey and some just don’t have that, or don’t want to exercise it. There are also financial or dietary elements to it that can prove problematic–meat’s expensive, and not on the menu for vegetarians. Others have responded with skepticism, which is also fine. I point them at my blog post on the topic first, which in turn points them at the book if the blog post doesn’t convince them or if they want all of the supporting data. Skepticism is good and healthy and I encourage it.

But “that doesn’t work for me” is a turn of phrase that really bothers me. In general, what the person is saying–but doesn’t want to say–is that they don’t think they can do it. As I said above, that’s a perfectly fair position to take. What I don’t like is the implication that comes with this particular turn of phrase that the method is somehow flawed. It would absolutely work for you; you’re a human being and your biological functions are not wildly different from any other human’s. If you tried it, and couldn’t stick to it, that wasn’t a case of it “not working” for you, it was a failure on your part to adhere to the requirements. But “that doesn’t work for me” is a complete lie.

Let’s be clear: exercise is good for you, and has lots of benefits. It’s also going to do next to nothing to get you to lose weight/burn fat. It will help improve muscle tone and thereby contribute to making you look better overall when combined with weight loss, but a single meal is worth more in raw calories than a good two hours of strenuous exercise. I’m not encouraging people to avoid exercise; I’m discouraging people from thinking it’s going to do more than make a meager dent in any weight issues.

Counting calories–and remember, this was an approach I championed until just recently–only works indirectly. When you’re counting calories, you’re generally taking in less of everything, carbs included. But you’re still consuming carbs, which are still prioritized over the foodmass that you actually want to burn off. You’re still stowing the rest of what you eat on your body, because the carbs must be the priority or your own blood sugar level will poison you. There is no concrete evidence anywhere that calorie restriction alone has any impact on weight loss.

If you want to count calories and exercise, be my guest. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that’s how you’re going to lose weight, and don’t tell me that adhering to a biochemical explanation and method for losing weight “doesn’t work for you.”


Radically changing gears, this weekend was awesome. Cody and I spent Friday afternoon through late Sunday with friends, engaged in various forms of entertainment. The apex of this weekend was a party for a rarely-seen-in-person friend of ours who was in town. However, at the urging of another friend, we decided to keep the guest list very short. In total, we had about ten people involved.

I had forgotten how much fun our small shindigs could be.

A large party takes on a life of its own, which is a great deal of fun. But it also comes with a certain dilution of focus. There are so many people present that it’s difficult to spend any meaningful time with anyone, and depending on the composition it’s difficult to make everyone feel comfortable. Not so with a smaller party. When everyone knows and is comfortable with everyone else, there’s a sort of social magic that happens that I had all but forgotten.

I think most of our parties going forward will be of the smaller variety, with apologies to those this excludes. That’s not to say we won’t have big shindigs in the future; we almost certainly will. They’ll just be rarer than the smaller gatherings wherein everyone can let their hair down.

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