This installment of my ongoing series – where I publish the conversations I have with people who cask me to write about their diet products – ends with one of the most epically would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-horrible emails I have ever received.
Today’s conversation is with with the creator of “A deck of cards with one goal, to help you lose weight. ”
In his original e-mail he wrote:
My name is Mike, I’m launching [my weightloss product] on [fundraising site] next week, a truly unique (seriously!) way to lose weight without dieting or pills. It would be great for your audience to have another helpful article on the topic of weight loss (and casually mention the product). Of course, I could write it for you (if you like). I’m thinking something like:
-What if everything you knew about weight loss was wrong?
-Hey fatty, always hungry? Here’s why…
-How to eat more calories and weigh less
Let me know what you think!
p.s. I’d be happy to send you a freebie sample, just let me know your address and I’ll shoot one your way!
I checked out his fundraising website. It started with the usual call a body size an epidemic obesipanic, then admitted that 90% of all dies fail. In the product description:
- It’s a great way to lose weight, anytime and anywhere.
- The durable 100% PVC plastic cards will ensure your cards will last as long as your weight loss does.
- It’s for any age group
- You won’t be starving yourself
- It’s a fun way to lose weight by yourself or with others
- Absolutely nothing extra is needed for you to lose weight. No meal plans, no pills, nothing.
- Shoot, they’re less than $20, when was the last time a weight loss program was less than $20!?
- NO hype, just an honest, easy and fun approach to weight loss
After I got control of my eye-roll reflex I replied:
I’m interested in publishing this, but since, as you also mentioned, 90% of diets fail, I’ll just need to see the evidence that your product has a better success rate.
Mike sent back:
Thanks for writing back, and your interest. I have 4 people undergoing an 8 week test. The 8 weeks will be completed tomorrow at midnight. Even though every participant lost weight, it’s impossible to compare this to the millions of people every year that try diets and fail. Would you like me to do a writ-up of the study that was done with the 4 participants?
Knowing, as I do, that almost everyone loses weight on almost every diet short term and almost everyone gains the weight back long term, I remained skeptical. I replied:
I apologize, I’m a bit confused. On your [fundraising page] it sounded to me that you are saying that your program will succeed where 90% of diets fail (the research showing that most people experience weight loss in the short term and gain it back between years 2-5) Am I misunderstanding your claim or is there another differentiator that I’m missing? Sorry for my confusion.
Mike sent back:
You are misunderstanding the claim, I’m not associating my product with diets at all
At this point I began to suspect that Mike subscribes to the MST (Magical Semantics Theory) The idea that if you call a diet something else (“fun way to lose weight”, “approach to weight loss”, “lifestyle change” etc.) then it will work better.
Gotcha, so then what differentiates this from a diet, and what makes it more likely to be successful?
Mike tries to help me understand:
On this page [that I will not be linking to] there is a video that will explain the cards a bit, but to answer your question, the intent of diets is to change your eating habits with the goal of losing weight. The intent of [my ridiculous weight loss product] is to change the behaviors that cause someone to make better weight loss decisions. So there are no calorie restricting diets. With [my ridiculous weight loss product] you get points for making good decisions that that contribute to weight loss, and you subtract points for making bad decisions. So the goal is to get more points this week than the prior week. If you consistently get more points week after week, you are changing those influential behaviors that cause weight gain.
I hope this answers your question.
Wow, that’s crystal clear in the way that is the exact opposite of crystal clear. Let’s try this s different way:
I understand, but I’m still coming back to my question about the evidence that this will actually lead to weight loss. How did you choose the behaviors to encourage that will lead to weight loss – is there some research on successful weight loss that you are basing this on that is different than what the diets and so-called lifestyle interventions that fail so often aren’t using? I’m trying to understand your angle.
And then there was this:
Well if you want evidence, I am concluding the small study which I told you about earlier. Where’s the evidence that Jesus turned water into wine? Where is the evidence that global warming exists? This is theory, & I never said in any of my writings that this is proof of weight loss. The premise is these cards teach you how to eat and behave better regarding weight loss decisions. The cards came from a lifetime of knowledge, consulting with a couple dietitian and nutritionist, and online research and reading scientific studies.
Mike, a self-described “health and fitness expert” describes his product:
“It’s a great way to lose weight, anytime and anywhere.”
“Absolutely nothing extra is needed for you to lose weight.”
“It’s a fun way to lose weight by yourself or with others”
“NO hype, just an honest, easy and fun approach to weight loss”
Then, when asked to provide evidence for the weight loss he is promising, he says “I never said in any of my writings that this is proof of weight loss” and besides I don’t need evidence because Jesus, Global Warming, and four of my friends.
That actually happened, and people (to whom he only spouted his MST-based marketing and who never got to hear about how his project is related to Jesus and Global Warming) funded his project. This is where we’re at in our discourse around weight and health. Actual researchers are being honest that intentional weight loss almost never works, but Mike with his GlobalWarmingJesus It’sNotADietIt’sADiet hypothesis of weight loss can convince people that they should give him money. And that’s why the “Diet Companies Say the Darndest Things” feature exists on this blog – because it’s time to start telling the truth – when it comes to weight loss cards, you might as well be playing roulette.
Don’t forget, there’s still time to be in on the inaugural Flying Rhino order:
I am so very, very excited about this! The Flying Rhinos are a way for people of all sizes who want to carve out space and obtain visibility and respect for fat people in the fitness world to be public about our involvement, show our pride and solidarity, and recognize each other when we’re out and about.
What Do the Rhinos do?
We live our mission out loud, wearing our official Flying Rhinos shirts in everything from our own movement activities and classes, to organized races, sports, and events. We have our own group on the Fit Fatties Forum to discuss our training, get support, swap stories and race reports, talk about events we’re in and plan meet-ups offline to do events together and/or just hang out.
Our shirts help us show our pride and recognize each other. If you want to order a shirt either for you individually, or for your team (whether it’s for an organized sport, a 5k, a charity event or whatever) just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org with the size(s) and I’ll get you the details. We are taking requests for the current order until Wednesday, June 11th, then we’ll get the best deal we can for the number of shirts we have and split the cost evenly among the people making the order (no upcharges for larger shirts and nobody is making any money off the deal except whoever we hire to make the shirts!)
Who Can be a Rhino?
Everyone, of every size, who participates in movement at any level and is committed to body positivity is welcome to become a member of the group, and wear the official shirt. Wear it to yoga, wear it to roll your wheelchair in a 5k, wear it at the pool, wear it to your Krav Maga class, wear it to Zumba, wear it going around your block or in a marathon, put together a softball team or a team for a charity race and we’ll get you some shirts. Roll with the Rhinos for a fun, supportive, body positive, rocking good time.
How did this come about?
It started as a discussion on Ragen’s Facebook page about ridiculous names that haters call us – landwhale, hamplanet, and that day’s offering – land blimp. Seriously, land blimp. People started coming up with their own ideas and Nora suggested “Flying Rhinos”. We had been thinking about starting a group like this and the name struck us as perfect. Nora agreed to let us use the name, Sara H. designed the amazing logo and The Flying Rhinos said “Hello World!” on May 30, 2014.
Of course this is totally optional – while fat people absolutely deserve to be able to participate in whatever movement we want without shame, stigma, bullying, oppression, or unwanted laying of hands- and deserve to have spaces to talk about that – participating in fitness doesn’t make a fat person better or worse than anyone else – it’s not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or a reason to treat someone differently. The good fatty bad fatty dichotomy needs to die.
Like the blog? Consider becoming a member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you. I get paid for some of my speaking and writing (and do both on a sliding scale to keep it affordable), but a lot of the work I do (like answering hundreds of request for help and support every day) isn’t paid so member support makes it possible ( THANK YOU to my members, I couldn’t do this without you and I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!) Click here for details
Here’s more cool stuff:
Are you looking for a way to do some fun movement this summer (and get prizes for it?) Consider a Fit Fatty Virtual Summer Vacation!
My Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for detail
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details