Steve Siebold Wants Your $16, Even If It Kills You

Remember how I always say that if someone is trying to convince you to feel guilt, fear, or shame, you should immediately ask yourself “What are they trying to sell me?”

Well, meet Steve Siebold.

This morning I got an e-mail from Virginia who writes Beauty Schooled – one of my favorite blogs.  If you’re not aware, we are in the midst of Fat Talk Free Week, a project started by Delta Delta Delta and now on at least 35 college campuses to just say no or ‘no comment’ to any mention of weight, size, shape, or any other kind of Fat Talk.

Virginia received a press release from Bruce Serbin about Steve Siebold’s personal mission AGAINST fat talk free week.  I am not kidding.  Because “he’s out to save as many people as he can from an early grave, but not talking about the problem is not the solution.”

Who the hell is Steve Siebold you ask?  He is a self-proclaimed “Mental Toughness Expert”.  His website lists him as a  “CSP” but never explains what that means.  I found 55 meanings for those initials, none of which pertain to health.  But Steve lost some weight himself and then wrote a book called “Die Fat or Get Tough”.  (I’m still not sure if he is saying that mental toughness will make me immortal or just that I should prefer to have a thin corpse, but the fact that Steve has apparently never heard of a false dichotomy is the least of my problems with this.).

I don’t care whether or not Steve lost weight, I respect whatever anyone decides to do with their body.  I have many problems with the campaign.

On the web page he says “If you’re FAT [Steve likes to put FAT in all caps], this book is going to rattle your cage and make your blood boil.  And it should. Get ready for a 2,000 volt cattle prod to your consciousness.”  Steve seriously thinks that large people have some how missed the scientifically unproven opinion that they are unhealthy and, further,  that metaphorically electrocuting them is the answer.   He apparently believes that large people just need to feel horribly enough about themselves, and then they’ll be able to beat science – right after paying him $16 for his book.

He doesn’t claim to have any health or fitness credentials, and he is pushing a method that has been proven scientifically invalid in study after study, with an extra dose of abuse and shame which has been proven psychologically detrimental. Just another example of someone’s ego and greed running amok all over  big people – ‘It’s ok that I’m abusing you because I’m ‘saving your life’.  Now, please ignore the fact that I can’t prove any of this and fork over your $16.”   I just went over this!

My main  issue with Steve’s Anti-Fat-Talk-Free-Week  marketing campaign is that he’s on a mission to make sure that college students receive dangerous and harmful messages about body hatred unabated, and that people of size  are constantly reminded about the opinion (which has never been proven scientifically, and is beginning to be DISPROVEN scientifically) that fat causes health problems; and that they are bad, lazy, lack mental toughness etc.

I get about 386,170 negative messages about my body a year but Heaven Forbid that I have one week where I can actually appreciate my body or have a break from the incessant messages about body hate because then I would miss 7,406 of those messages –  and then I might not hate myself enough to buy Steve’s book despite the fact that it’s not based on a shred of science and he is totally unqualified to write it.  He has to convince me to let my “mental toughness” supersede my mental reasoning enough to not think this decision through, or Steve won’t get my $16.00.

I think that this campaign is a huge problem for people who have or could develop eating disorders – which his publicist has admitted.  If you scroll down through four pages of crap on his website, you’ll find a PS .  No, literally, after his signature it says “PS:  This book is NOT for people with eating disorders or any other physical or psychological disorder. If you think you may fall into this category, DO NOT buy this book. Instead, contact your physician and get help.”   Because people with eating disorders are always able to discern that they have a problem and jump on the phone to call for help, and people whose weight is affected by a physical or psychological problem are always treated really well by doctors.  How irresponsible can you be? Could you have at least have opened the website with that instead of “Do you think like a fat person?  If so there’s a good chance you’ll DIE FAT”.  Clearly he is aware of the issues that his work might cause for people dealing with Eating Disorders, he just doesn’t care enough to allow it to interrupt the flow of his marketing message, because Steve really needs your $16.

To prove that he doesn’t care, he is spreading this hateful, dangerous, scientifically erroneous message on college campuses.  College campuses where 35% of female chronic dieters will progress to eating disorders or pathological dieting and which will afford those who develop anorexia or bulimia a mortality rate that is 12 times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death.  I hope that Steve is comfortable with being part of this deadly crisis when he cashes all of those $16 checks.

Let’s get real.  Most of Steve’s work is as a marketing and sales coach.  So I think that Steve saw that the diet industry makes $60 BILLION dollars a year and wanted a piece of that, so he wrote a book and started his sales and marketing machine.  I don’t think Steve knows what he’s talking about and I think he knows that.  I don’t think Steve gives a crap about our health – I think he wants our $16 and figures we can clean up the mess later.

But let’s pretend that he really does sincerely believe what he preaches.  Well, in that case Steve has missed the point of Fat Talk Free Week by ab0ut 60 billion miles.  That’s probably because Fat Talk Free Week is based on actual science, and Steve doesn’t seem to be a big fan of that.  The program’s philosophy is based on research conducted by Eric Stice, a clinical psychologist at the Oregon Research Institute. Stice applied the principals of cognitive dissonance to young people. He hypothesized  that over time, a young woman who speaks and acts in a way that  is contrary to the thin ideal of popular culture will eventually stop believing in it–and thus have less likelihood of developing an eating disorder. Stice reported a 60 percent reduction in eating disorders for high school and college students who were part of  a program that critiqued the thin ideal and encouraged positive self-images. His study is not statistically significant, but it is statistically interesting and much more proof than Steve has that shaming people will make them lose weight.

We KNOW that shaming people about their bodies and telling them to diet is NOT WORKING.  I don’t care if it helps Steve get rich $16 at a time.  It. Does. Not. Work.  Steve is right about one thing – personal responsibility.  We  are responsible for verifying what people say and making choices about our bodies and our health.  I did the research and it will be a cold, cold day in hell before Steve gets my $16.  I will continue to espouse the theory that healthy behaviors have a much higher likelihood of leading to a healthy body than emotional abuse, physical abuse, or some crazy diet.  Health at Every Size is working for me- I’m happy and healthy, just like I like it.   I will exercise mental toughness in concert with mental acuity and tell Steve that he can keep his emotional abuse and I’ll keep my $16.

Check out Virginia’s blog about this here!

Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm  Comments (17)  

17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow, Regan, I think you’re rubbing off on me. All I could think of while I was reading the press release were snarky comebacks to each bullet point. I guess it’s true, spare the snark, spoil the “research.”

    • Oh and apparently I can’t spell your name to save my life in the middle of the night. Sorry Ragen!

      • Totally fine – it’s a weird spelling (my parents are phonetic spellers)! I fully support you in your snark of this idiotic press release. You go with your funky bad self :)

  2. I actually got into a “discussion” with someone on Twitter about how bad Fat Free Week really is. I think maybe she is a fan of Steve’s…

    Excellent post!

    xo Susie

    • I can see some legitimate issues with fat talk free week (it makes fat seem like a bad thing etc) but these are all semantic issues. I wish I found it harder to believe that there are people running around who are against the actual sentiment of Fat Talk Free Week. What the hell is wrong with people?

      • Agreed. I would have loved it if they called it “Body Talk Free Week,” or maybe “Size Talk Free Week” or something else that conveys more clearly that they’re not saying fat is bad, they’re saying talking about how fat you are or aren’t is unhealthy and promotes the misguided notion that there’s only one “ideal body type.”

        But mostly, yeah, I just can’t believe there are people like Steve saying “keep on being negative about your body! it’s good for you to hate yourself!” W. T. F.

        Great post, Ragen!

  3. WARNING!!!! – I HAVE A POLICY OF APPROVING ALL COMMENTS THAT ARE NOT OVERT SPAM. THIS COMMENT CONTAINS MYTHS AND CONJECTURE THAT ARE CONTRARY TO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE, PATERNALISTIC, AND MAY BE TRIGGERING FOR SOME.

    Here is a critical thinking question for you…. did you read the book better yet study to form an opinion or are you letting other people do your thinking for you? I studied the book in question and it is excellent. The first step in being a healthy person both in mind and in body is to think like a healthy person. The majority of this country is FAT… it is the truth. Go overseas to other countries and you will soon realize how unhealthy the average American is.

    Why is this – really it comes down to the food Americans Eat and Their Level of Exercise.

    It is not that complicated… Higher levels of thinking about healthy living leads to better actions which leads to better results.

    Calories in …Calories Out. The average person understands this but is not willing to pay the price and hence they stay FAT and OBESE.

    Being called Fat or Obese is not an insult as such as it is a fact/observation. Just like being skinny and athletic is an observation.
    We attribute meaning to these words. In fact new words like “Big Boned” have surfaced to make people who are fat feel better so they can buy some more “Plus” sized clothing. Think about it why would a clothing manufacture call their stuff “Plus sized” sure sounds better then saying fat people clothes… doesn’t?

    The first step to change is to acknowledge the truth and if someone is over weight and looks like a tire is strapped to their mid section and struggles to climb stairs… that is a loud cry from our body to tell us to change.

    This book is not about making you feel bad.. it is about increasing your level of consciousness so that you can be aware of the choices you make and the consequences.

    While the tone of this post may seem abrupt it was actually written to help you see a different perspective.
    One that may help people gain 10-20 years of productive life.

    Ray Stendall

  4. I always get a giggle out of the assumption that fat people are somehow weak, wibbly lumps of spinelessness that has no strength or “toughness” either physically, mentally or emotionally.

    I’d like to take Steve whatsisface and put him to a strength and endurance challenge up against a bunch of body positive, fat accepting fatties and see who comes out on top in physical, mental and emotional strength. Some marketing dude trying to make money off a junk science book, or a group of people who have been bullied, suppressed, demonised every moment of their fat lives and yet STILL manage to have a positive view of t heir bodies and selves.

  5. I know I will take a lot of heat for this, but I believe Steve is right about one thing. I used to have a problem with food and was ashamed of my weight. I blamed every think under the sun. One day I had enough and decided to change. Until I made the choice and decided this and stopped blamming others, that’s when it all began to change for the better. This mans message is a bit strong for people in this situation, but i do see his point.

    • Hi Laura, Thanks for taking the time to comment. The issue here is that Steve was right – in your experience. It’s fine for you to have whatever experience you have. The problem happens when someone assumes that their experience must be everyone’s experience- in this case, the idea that every fat person has a problem with food, is ashamed of their weight, is “blaming it” on things, and should change. That’s just not true. Further I’m concerned he is spouting a message that is not supported by the current science and that he has no qualifications in health and fitness, and is irresponsibly doing anything he can to deliver a potentially harmful message to college students (who are at the highest risk from developing eating disorders, and who can be triggered by exactly this type of thing).

  6. Boy, the author sure ruffled your feathers! Why? I think you might consider getting a copy of “Die Fat or Get Tough” from your library, which would be at no cost to you. And then take the time to read it from cover to cover. It’s shocking that such a diatribe would come from a woman who has not even read the book. Shame on you! I am eating disordered, and I remained unharmed and unscathed after reading it. In fact, it helped me immensely. I wish you all the best luck and blessings in your search for a better world.

    • Yes, when someone who has no qualifications in health and fitness writes a book about dieting based a sample size of one (himself) that goes against scientific evidence, using a method by which 95% of people are likely to fail and end up less healthy than when they started, and then markets that book to a population who is at a scientifically proven high risk for developing eating disorders, it does ruffle my feathers.

      Shame on you for risking the mental and physical health of others because you feel that your experience negates scientific study of the experiences of many.

      That’s why I don’t pretend that something works for everyone simply because it worked for me. I spend hours of my time doing extensive research and base my recommendations on statistically significant sample sizes and properly collected and controlled data. I don’t debate these matters with people who have not invested similar time and who cannot produce valid evidence.

      For more information on this policy please see:

      http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/side-effects-may-include-weight-loss/

      • Guess I really didn’t make my point clear. There’s no way one can make a wise informed intelligent opinion or judgement on a book without even reading it!
        That’s why I suggested to you that you read it. And that you do not have to lay out any money to do so. If your library doesn’t have it, they can get it.

  7. As a librarian, I would like to vehemently dispute that you cannot make a valid assessment of a book without having read it. I do it every day of my working life. It’s about doing one’s research, getting background on the author, reading excerpts and reading other people’s reviews. All of which danceswithfat has done.

    Nobody is under any obligation to subject themselves to any media (book, internet, television, movie, whatever) that they have an objection to the methods and attitude of the author/creator.

  8. I’m shocked at these comments. And the lack of responsibility your readers “against” Steve are making. READ THE BOOK!! He never claims to be a health and fitness expert nor does he say anything about anyone dieting. The book is about Mental Toughness and critical thinking. It’s clear you are still seriously angry about being fat – stop making all of us that struggle with weight also look stupid by not doing your homework before throwing stones.

  9. I wonder how many ‘fat’ people will be getting this book from concerned family and friends.

    I’ve had some pressure from my family to lose weight, but in my father’s case it’s ’cause there is a history of weight related disorders that he’d prefer me not to develop. He doesn’t want me thin, just thinner and healthier. He helps out with costs for gym and swimming access so I can get fitter and tries not to nag as long as I am healthy and fairly active.

    However I’ve had total strangers comment about me in the street, apparently amazed that I have any pride in myself or I can move faster than a tortoise shuffle. The seem to think I must be really unhealthy because I’m over weight, but they are shovelling large cheeseburgers into their face and smoking whereas I try to eat a reasonably healthy choice of foods and I don’t smoke. Gotta wonder how they can feel they have the right to comment…

    Nice to see people learning that health is more important than size.


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