Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just Means Well or Well, Just Mean?

Like you, I follow a lot of weight loss blogs. Recently, I found myself in a position I hadn’t been in since I started this little blogging adventure. I was over at Who Ate My Blog?, a journal from a very big guy trying to get his act together. Anyway, I read a posting there and just about snapped…

Well, I had another bad food weekend. First, Friday's supper was a double cheeseburger and fries from Chris Z's by St. Vincent's Hospital. Saturday was good except for a 1/2 big bag of chex mix that I ate along with a small bag of trail mix. Then the biggie on Sunday: Lunch I had a double Milo burger, large fries, 2 honey mustard, large sweet tea, and a large snicker blast from Sonic. Then, to to finish the weekend, Sunday's supper was a double cheeseburger and a large loaded fries from Rally's.

It was a very high calorie weekend, but I will knock out a good week. My friend Kevin B sent some advice via email, and I agree with him. He said that I must drink water, and I am getting bored eating the same thing every day. I have got to change things up, but I don't know what to change up to.

My exercise is going well. I am swimming half a mile three days a week. It takes me about 30 - 40 minutes to complete, which is very slow, but I am able to continuously swim the entire time. It's funny that I feel fine after swimming, but once I get to my truck, I am completely exhausted. I am feeling stronger in my arms and legs. It feels good.

Hopefully I can do some walking this week. Last week I was pretty busy at work.

I am learning that this weight loss stuff is a constant battle. My biggest enemy is myself (no pun intended) My sense of humor is still intact.

Ultimately it's my decision what goes in my mouth, and how much I move my ass.

I'm optimistic about next week. I plan on posting everyday, drinking a lot of water, and moving my ass.

I actually ran the numbers on these foods and couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought back on my own weekend, where I had struggled to make good choices and had battled my inner demons at least to a draw.

Usually when I post comments, I try to stay positive and upbeat, but what can you honestly say when you read something like that?

“Don’t worry about it, dude?

“Better luck next week?”

“Would you like fries with that?”

I wrote a couple of comments, erased them, and finally went with this response:

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Stephen, I'm just sitting here at my desk shaking my head in disbelief. I just looked up the calories and the fat content of your weekend binge and it just about made me physically ill. I lost count, but I think on Saturday, you consumed over 500% of your daily requirement in saturated fat (and keep in mind, those requirements are really kind of inflated). Dude, I'm channeling my inner Oprah here, but you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

You can swim like Flipper, but meals like that will undo all that work in a heartbeat.

Here's the good news: you're being honest here about what you're consuming. If you're serious about this, I mean really, really serious, you've got to find a way to get weekends under control. Lock your keys up, hide your wallet, something.

BTW, be careful with the chex mix and trail mix. They're not terrible snacks, in small portions. The nutritional info is based on a single ounce. Big guys (like us) seldom stop at one ounce. Also, the sodium will keep you retaining water, again not a recipe for weight loss.

I'm rooting for you, Stephen. I really am.

I knew that even my more toned down response might be crossing the line. After all, I don’t really know this guy. Who is it for me to get all up in his face? Anyway, I got a reaction from him…

Jack Shit:

I don't know what to think or feel about your comment.

On one hand, I agree with you. On the other hand I feel you could have been more tactful in your comment.

If what I say or do makes you physically ill, you might need to read another blog. There are millions of weight loss blogs out there.

I understand what you're trying to say, and I'm working on things. It's not easy nor fun.
It downright fucking sucks, and I feel bad enough about myself without people telling me they got physically ill because they sat down and read about what I ate.

I know your heart's in the right place, and I don't take criticism very well (if you can't tell)

Please stick around and let's see how this thing ends.

In my own weight loss journey, I feel like time’s a-wasting. I want these pounds gone, like, el pronto. I just don’t have time for setbacks, bad days or, apparently, tact. Here’s my response:

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Firstly, I wasn't trying to offend you. You're absolutely correct that I could have, should have been more tactful, but here's the deal, bubba: I think you're in need of some tough love.

This journey you're on is about changing habits and accountability. If you're not ready in your own head to own up to your actions, then I honestly don't think you stand a chance at success.

Listen, Stephen: I'm not some featherweight that doesn't know what it's like to down a couple of double cheeseburgers and go back for more an hour later. I've never been where you are today, but I've been on the road heading that way.

I don't know you and you don't know me; all I can tell you is that I have nothing but the highest hopes that you achieve every goal you've set for youself. If you want me following your story, I'll celebrate with you at every milestone, encourage you through every misstep and when you tell me you plowed through 10,000 calories in a single day, I will jump on you from the top rope.

You're right, there are a million weight loss blogs out there. Say the word and I'll take my fat ass someplace else.

And lastly, it's Jack Sh*t, not Jack Shit.

Gave a good day.

We actually traded a couple more messages, but that’s the gist of the tale right there. My question: do we owe it each other to be honest with our comments? This is an extreme example, to be sure, but is there a place on these blogs for a little tough love? I don’t know about yours, but there certainly is room on mine.

Food for thought.


  1. We "fluffy" people are a sensitive bunch, I think. Because of all the jokes and insensitive comments we can get on a daily basis, when someone is truly trying to help, our defenses go up and we don't see what is really being said.
    It looks like you had a good dialogue, though, and hopefully he will truly see that you're trying to help by showing him just how bad that weekend binge was for him. But, also - he can't go back and change what he did. He can only move forward and try not to do it again. I think you gave him a good balance of "whoa, dude - that was a lot of meat!" and "you can do it, buddy!"

  2. Ok so...At first when I would see fellow bloggers binge, I cringed. I had that problem and I beat it. I stopped doing the drive by thing- sneek a few burgers/nuggets/fries down my throat thing. lol So I would sit there adn stare at the screen in amazement of how many calories (ww points ) they ate. I didn't comment....I didn't know what to say. I actually found myself not reading that blog after I saw that it was a weekly habit.
    I know no one is perfect but when its is a weekend long double cheese burger party I have a hard time with that. I applaud you for your comments that you left that fella. You were NOT at all mean, or over stepping your boundaries. I actually would of appreciated your support had that been me.
    Thanks for sharing this with us today. I think this post will make some people realize that its hard for some people to make the "right" comment in a bad situation.


  3. I know when I look back on what people have said to me if life, the tough love remarks are the ones that I remember the most, that caused the most pain, and eventually impacted my life in a positive way.

    Personally, I would appreciate those kind of honest comments because that is why I started blogging--to be accountable. Turns out, I have *met* some incredible people and learned a lot along the way. But feel free to throw the bull sh*t flag on my blog any day! :-)

    And for the record, I think you both handled the dialog very well. I think in many other groups, tempers would have flared and it would have ended in a very upsetting manner.

    Sorry, I just keep going here....but I see how much you genuinely want to help this guy, and your heart truly is in the right place. As we say in the south, "you're good people". :-)

  4. I think your comments were kind and with tact. Honesty stings, sometimes.

    When I come across blogs like that, I just quit reading them. Shame on me. It harms me to read it because it plants the seed in my mind that I can go back to sneaking Burger King, throwing the bag away before I get home so hubby doesn't know.

    I read a blog post last week that was honest and nailed me to the wall. (It was Lyn at Escape from Obesity) I'm still feeling the pain from what I read, trying to make sense of it, and apply it to my life in a positive way. It wasn't directed to me at all, just a general post, but it was as if she was in my mind and knew all my secrets.

    Sometimes I think that direct honesty like that goes a long way. While it stings at first, it plants seeds that will grow. We're never going to get better if everyone and everything is sugar-coated.

    I want honesty. I try to be very open and honest--almost too much, but that's who I am. I don't share how I don't always get all my veggies in or how I'm not very balanced in my eating. I need someone to give me a kick for that.

    Some people are ready, some aren't.

    A very wise man once told me that even if someone isn't ready to hear something, at least you are planting seeds in their brain. Hopefully someday they'l sprout.

  5. I like your blog, exactly because you don't pull the punches. On the other hand you certainly didn't set out to be offensive to that guy, and if he thinks that was a little untactful, I call it not sugar-coating the truth. Either he posted his binge on his blog because he's ready to own up to his mistakes instead of hiding them, and he's started the long road to improving himself, so he knows it was bad and shouldn't mind others thinking the same and agreeing with him, or he just doesn't think that what he ate was that bad and there's not a lot of hope for him - either way, your comments were truthful.

    I sometimes get annoyed with how often I see mention of "drawing the line, forget it and move on" on the WW's forums. Why? Don't bloody forget it - remember it, learn from it, and use it.

    You keep doing what you're doing, oh wise Mr Sh*t - it's working for you, and I for one don't want to see it change.

  6. Being overweight for a while has made me uber sensitive to any comments about it. But that being said, when I make the decision to BLOG about my life I'm putting it out there for the world. If I can't handle the criticism I would block comments and/or not blog about the bad stuff. If you *know* you binged then you have already some idea in your head that you have done wrong. When someone else confirms that you have it shouldn't be a big deal. Tough love is needed sometimes. And sometimes we have to put on our big boy pants (size 4x) and deal with reality and those who hold a mirror in front of our faces.
    Hey, I've been told where I need to improve in the comments on my blog. I take the advice and consider it. Swish it around for a while like a wine. If I like it I swallow it and take the advice. If I don't like it I spit it out and move on.

    No, I don't think it was mean. But we also don't know or understand all that is going on in someone's life to make him react. Every one is fighting some kind of battle no matter who they are.

  7. I think we owe it to the poster to be honest. yes I do try to be upbeat and find the positive things in the post to talk about..But I find myself at times, coming back to what i was taught if you can't say something nice then don't say anything at all.

    I've posted my food journal and I can see gee I haven't had enough fruit or veggies today wonder if anyone else will notice. No one comments. Which suprises me as there are some readers out there who are really on plan.

    While it's nice to get the kudos for the little things as I slipped into old eating patterns after Grandpa's death it took a phone call from my friends Laura, Vennie, Claudia and Beth (Conference call intervention) and email from Richard Simmons to tell me to get real and get focused. No one else would address it with me. afraid to hurt me more. saying well she was grieving and dealing with more issues.

    If we are not in the right mindset we need soemtimes that push, that shove, that slap in the face (pun intended) to wake up and get real.

    I applaud you for reaching out to the fellow blogger and I hope his heart changes to be more receptive to constructive critism that will help him for the better.

  8. i don't know i say let 'er rip... you weren't mean just blunt.

  9. First of all, Jack, thanks very much for the wonderful, positive comment you left on my post yesterday. I truly appreciate your kind words. :-)

    As for what transpired between you and the bingeing blogger, I can understand both sides all too well. I remember being in that same very bad, very out-of-control place where I would binge on incredible amounts of foods and somehow find a way to justify my behavior, or even deny it.

    One thing I never had the guts to do was to tell anyone about it, much less put it out there for the entire cyberworld to see. I wholeheartedly applaud the other blogger for doing that. And my heart breaks for him and what he’s putting himself through now. I can glibly talk about my own past binges now, even laugh about them, but at the time I was caught in the claws of binge eating, it was the least funny thing imaginable.

    From his response, Jack, I think the other blogger realizes your response was an honest gut-reaction and that you meant it to be helpful rather than hurtful. After all, if he’s blogging about volume eating, he must be expecting, perhaps even hoping for, some conflicting comments.

    We long-term compulsive overeaters can indeed be ultra-sensitive, partly because we know damn well what harm we’re doing to ourselves and we don’t want to admit it. I believe we can sometimes benefit from a good dose of tough love to help shake us up and make us realize how abnormal our eating has become. I believe that the “Who Ate My Blog?” author may discover he’s found someone who’s not afraid to speak his mind and let him get away with what he already knows is wrong and unhealthy.

    Perhaps, Jack, you’ll be instrumental in changing this man’s life—just because you spoke from your heart.

    Good job. :-)


  10. When I first started out as a college instructor, one of the most interesting things I learned during the first year is that students can sometimes learn more out of discomfort. But, your post today really gets to more than the example you provided, i.e., what is expected of commenters on WL blogs? Support only? Teaching - informing? Both? Neither? Seems reality checks or tough love messages are more acceptable if you have already established a relationship of some sort with the blogger. If you're new to a blog, it might be best to wait until you both know each other better before offering up advice.

    In a way, there's nothing more personal than what we share on our weight loss blogs and it results in a lot of sensitivity & vulnerability.

  11. This was a great post! I know I blog for accountability which is working for me more than anything else has. This guy does need some tough love and I hope it was the wake up call he needed.

  12. Thanks one and all for the kind comments and unique perspectives. Not the first time that the comments were more interesting and insightful that the original post.

    I know many of us are just feeling our way along with this blog business, and that, oftentimes, there really aren't any right or wrong answers.

  13. Although sometimes it hurts to hear the truth, i'd much rather someone be truthful with me that lie.

  14. I like his honesty in his original post and your honesty in your comment. If it were me, I would prefer to hear the plain truth. It may hurt, but heck, we are all grown ups here and if we don't listen to good advice, we are never going to change.

    I've seen the comments you leave others (and mine) and enjoy reading them - keep on being honest, it works!

  15. Just found your blog. Oh my God! You're too funny!

    Every time I try tough love on someone, I usually get my hands slapped, by the blogger as well as others that leave comments. Usually makes me feel like cr*p. I've found most people don't take tough love well.

    These days, unless I know a blogger, I just leave "way to go, nice job" comments. Meaningless, but at least people are't getting all bent out of shape on me.

    I think your comments were well-stated and meant to shake up things a bit, in a positive direction. Perhaps it did, perhaps he's rethinking about what he puts in his mouth. I think you did a good thing.

  16. Thoughtful post and thoughtful commentary.

    I think it is much harder to give an honest response when a lot of commenters are just saying, "me too." When you state the truth, you get a bad reaction from the town.

    I think sometimes I post things just HOPING someone will call me on it--like why the hell does my food menu still say Feb. 18? But no one ever does. These are the same people who would let me walk around with my dress stuck in my underwear, I guess.

    It's frustrating because alot of us are in the same place and don't feel confident that we have the answers. . .still some things are obvious. . .like binging on burgers=a no,no.

    I think you had a great back and forth. Keep being honest and pushing that tough love. . . just pull back a bit on the stabs (like you made me feel sick). Ouch.

    I love your blog. That's from the heart. :)

  17. Man, did I came to this post late. Everything that I wanted to say has been said at least twice.

    but I think you did the right thing. You have to call that sh*t. Some times the tough love is needed. I hope that people would be as honest to me as you were to him. I started my blog for support but I like the accountability that comes with it. thats my two pennies.

  18. Honesty stings sometimes, but I would rather have that pain than the pain of knowing someone lied to me by encouraging me when I need to be scolded. Or by telling me everything is ok when I know darn well it is not...and so do they. I personally don't want pat answers or nice platitudes given to me on my blog. I notice, many people comment on my blog when there is something to cheer for but when I am struggling and posting about it, few comment. It is like they are afraid to speak truth. Sigh....why are we that way? Give me the truth...I want the truth...I can handle the truth...

  19. Dude, I HOPE you'd say something like that to me if I just casually mentioned eating that much! Please, anyone and everyone, feel free!



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