Math ≠ Weight


Trigger Warning:

The following may make your head burst into flames.

…And I probably say bad words.

An old friend of mine posted something completely harmless
on her Facebook status,
But naturally, someone *had* to come along and get all offensive:


conversations with an idiot

Ignorance is no excuse for assholery.

(Forgive me for posting the whole exchange–it’s just amazing how bad it gets…)


First off, you’re an asshole.

Let’s just get that out of the way.

A preachy, “this worked for me, so just try harder, fatties!” condescending, misogynistic asshole.
Don’t you love how the way he uses the word “girls” in order to place himself in a position of authority and completely demean the women who disagreed with him?

And I love the whole “nobody gets force-fed” thing—
because, actually?
There are people who do—
folks on the island of Mauritania have been force-feeding their daughters for centuries.

For someone who claims to like things that are precise, he sure ain’t in his “arguments”.

Here’s truth:
Many folks gain weight from eating too much and/or having a sedentary lifestyle.
Staying healthy is hard work.

He’s not wrong about that.

That said, the point that R misses entirely is that T wasn’t referring to this AT ALL.
She was referring to those who struggle with weight no matter what they do. She’s referring to the fact that the only acceptable form of prejudice in our current society is that against overweight people.

I wish I hadn’t read this whole thing because, my God, have I been struggling with the ED triggers this week—simply because of an arrogant prick who can’t get his head around the fact that calorie restriction + exercise ≠ weight loss.

It is NOT a Truth Universally Recognized that a Single Body in Possession of Fat Ass Cheeks Must be in Want of Portion Control.

If that were true, I would have been hospitalized years ago.
I’m not skinny. I don’t look “fit”—whateverthefuck that means.


I can kick almost anyone’s ass in dance endurance.

Want some more truth?

The way someone looks rarely has anything to do
with their actual health.

I’m a very, very good dancer.

But I don’t look like one.

Don’t you love the bit where he tells me that I don’t understand science or debate?
Because, clearly, I’m the one making circumstantial ad hominem attacks. Oh, and setting up Straw Man arguments…but that might be okay if the Straw Men in question are skinny.

So let’s actually get all accurate and scientific-y and run over a few diseases that can cause inexplicable weight gain, shall we?


Cushing’s Syndrome


Kidney, Heart, Liver Disease


Celiac Disease (not common)


Low Metabolism

could there be other instances of weight gain
that are not, in fact, caused by overeating?

Why yes, there are!

SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drugs–
Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft


Hormone Replacement Therapy

Allow me to quote:

by Gay Riley, MS, RD, CCN:

“Anticonvulsants/Mood Stabilizers

These drugs were initially used only for seizure disorders. The following anticonvulsants are now prescribed frequently in the treatment of bipolar disorder and other selected forms of depression:

* Carbamazepine (Tegretol®)
* Divalproex (Depakote®)
* Gabapentin (Neurontin®)
* Lamotrigine (Lamictal®)
* Topiramate (Topamax®)

Anticonvulsants tend to cause hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin in the blood) and increased appetite leading to weight gain. Hyperinsulinemia also results in increased testosterone, which causes a risk to women on these medications for development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS). Polycystic ovary syndrome can cause weight gain, male pattern baldness, increased facial hair, skin tags, acne, infertility, high blood pressure, abnormal lipid levels, and heart disease.

Seizure disorder studies showed that patients taking anticonvulsants who had either a normal or below normal body mass index had the most severe weight gain.”


In terms of arguing physics,
as R so flagrantly fails to do,
I’m going to refer to four arguments made by the wonderful Ragen of the Body Positive Dance Company:

“The first law [of Thermodynamics] states that in a thermodynamic process, the increment in the internal energy of a system is equal to the increment of heat supplied to the system, minus the increment of work done by the system on its surroundings. It is often simplified to “energy can neither be created nor destroyed”.

I do not disagree with the law. But, note the first four words “In a thermodynamic process..” What I disagree with is the gross misrepresentation of the human body as a perfect thermodynamic process.
I have four issues with this:

Issue 1: It assumes that there is no option for calories other than to be burned or stored

Issue 2: It asserts that Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is Easily Predictable and Stable

Issue 3: It requires that the body be a perfectly efficient calorie burning machine

Issue 4: If we wanted long term weight loss using this theory then we’d have to eventually turn to starvation

Bonus Issue: Your friend who eats everything in sight and never gains weight.

Everyone knows somebody like this. I have a number of friends who eat way more than I do, exercise less and stay rail thin. Why do these people get to credit their metabolism but I’m just fat lazy excuse-making slob if I suggest that my metabolism may be as slow as theirs is fast?

So next time somebody tells you that it’s just calories in/calories out, consider telling them that you’ll be happy to talk to them about it once they have recited the laws of thermodynamics, defined the Harris-Benedict Equation and discussed its specific limitations, and explained your friend who eats a ton and doesn’t gain weight.”

You should read the whole article
she makes all the points that I’ve been trying to make for years,
in a completely clear and scientific manner,
God bless her.


I don’t know if I can say it any more clearly than this:

Am I making myself clear?
Am I making any of the hundreds of reasons
why exercise and diet just don’t make a damn bit of a difference
for so many, many people any clearer?

Because I’m sick of this shit.
I’m sick of having my health,
and the health of thousands of people who literally
and truly cannot help what they weigh,
called into question by complete buffoons,
and by the Modern Health System.

From the earlier quoted article?
She’s an athlete who wins dance competitions.
She is hella more flexible than I am,
probably stronger,
and she eats a healthy, balanced diet.

She also weighs over 200 pounds.

She has been denied health insurance because of this.

Our country has a seriously fucked up notion of what healthy means,
and what it looks like.


No matter how easy it seems,

I would love to stick that man,
or anyone who gets uppity about the “simplicity” of weight loss,
in my body for one Goddamned day just so they could have a glimmer of understanding of what it’s like to deal with disordered eating.

Food is so much more than calories. It shouldn’t be, but it IS.

I’m TIRED of being preached at, even inadvertently, by people who have no comprehension about how difficult weight loss and weight gain can be. People who refuse to acknowledge the existence of diseases like PCOS and hypothyroidism; disorders like binge eating and compulsive overeating. People who want to simplify everything into binary code, into easily solvable, easily explainable, tidy MATH.

This man has no clue about what it’s like to fluctuate ten pounds every month because of estrogen. He has no clue what it’s like to work and work and work and eat/not eat/eat/not eat and still never see the weight come off like it’s
“supposed to”, if weight WERE just a math problem.

I pity his wife and daughters.

I just wish there was more compassion in the world for all of us who struggle with weight–in all of the forms that those struggles take.

That’s all.

If you’re ignorant,
wise up.
If you’re being told that you are wrong,
and that your arguments can be disproved,
be an adult,
do your homework,
admit that the Laws of Thermodynamics are meant for closed systems,
and that they were never intended to be applied to the human body.

Be compassionate.

That is simple.


(And? Using “LOL” in a serious discussion automatically makes you wrong.)


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brenda
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 23:42:15

    My Belly of Doom and I bestow blessings upon your head. It does not matter how much or how little I weigh – my tummy will never be flat, and I will still be a 36D. And that’s not even factoring in the whole eating-because-I’m-desperately-lonely thing. Yes, I could eat less. Yes, I could exercise more. I do these things and if I am very lucky and the tides are right and the planets align, I might lose three pounds. Sometimes I just get TIRED, and decide that if I can ride my bike and take long walks, I’ll just keep buying fancy big girl bras and say SCREW IT.

    Of course, most of the time I can hardly stand to look in the mirror, but I do love those little moments of clarity when they come.


  2. Brenda
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 23:43:00

    (And? YOU ROCK.)


    • cheekypinky
      Jun 10, 2011 @ 11:54:17

      I hear you on the tummy thing.

      I have a teeny-weeny waist,
      but that soft-belly pooch just below my belly button?

      Never ever goes away.

      Some days I’m okay with it.

      I like those days.


  3. Auntie Bev
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 00:26:41

    Hi Darlin…I sure don’t blame ya for the anger. Been there. For ten years I went to a “doctor” who basically called me a LIAR because I gave him a food diary (at his request ) that he thought was bogus. This genius had a similar mindset to the person you are ranting about..and guess what? He was wrong. I had Cancer. Of the thyroid. Prior to that, I likely had Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder that was slowly destroying my thyroid). I was overweight because a disease threw things out of balance in my body, and the weight gain was a SYMPTOM of an underlying disease. The doc that removed my thyroid said I likely had this slow growing cancer for nearly 10 years. 😦

    Weight gain and loss is not always simple matter of math. This I know for a fact. I do wish people would spend a bit of time educating themselves before spewing ignorance…but I know that is asking too much. To be honest, I am not worried about these folks. I really don’t care what they think anyway. 🙂

    Hugs to you as you endeavor to be healthy. I am also trying to do the same. It’s a tough battle for me, losing weight is difficult but it won’t be impossible. My goal is not to be skinny. It is to be comfortable in my own skin and healthy. That is good enough for me.


    • cheekypinky
      Jun 10, 2011 @ 11:52:17

      I was thinking about you as I wrote this, actually.

      I don’t understand why so many doctors presume that their patients
      are lying about what they eat or how they exercise–
      it’s like,
      “I am obviously sick and I’m coming to you for help because THIS MATH IS NOT WORKING.”

      Why would *anyone* lie about that?


      • Auntie Bev
        Jun 10, 2011 @ 12:56:40

        Yaaay on you, hon. I am sick of arrogant docs and the lack of ASSIMILATING information that is already available to us!! FACT: there are lots of really great medical weight loss clinics out there that know FULL WELL that nearly every single person who walks in the door at that clinic has a specific reason(s) for being overweight. Their job is to identify the problem areas, and eliminate the possibility of medical issues causing the problem. Great clinics take their time and do a full work up before giving a client a “diet/exercise” program. One local clinic will even go outside their own area of expertise to find answers for patients who do not respond to typical treatments. I personally know of a medical doctor who consults a natropathic doc when he finds traditional (caloric/and or fat restricted diets) do not work for a client. I love that approach. Yay for humble docs who are willing to learn something new!!

        Good for you for writing this Becca. I am tired of the stereotypes. If people knew how little and how well I ate they’d be very surprised. But, that is my own little secret. Shhhhh. 😉

  4. Ben
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 00:45:58

    Well said love!


  5. Somer
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 04:46:24

    Becca, you are both right and awesome. (and if I could reach through the computer screen and strangulate that ignorant asshole, I totally would.)


  6. Shawna
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 08:55:00

    I love you!


  7. Tatsumi
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 11:57:30

    *hugs* Well put, and thank you.
    Oh, and as an aside, you do too look like a very good dancer both on and off the floor, Miss “I stand on point while cooking.”


  8. charlotte
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 13:32:34

    I’ve had this argument many many many times – generally with men although I’m not trying to make this a gender issue – and I think it is the subtext to the cals in/out argument that is so offensive and erroneous. What they are in fact saying is that it’s just a matter of willpower and if you’re fat you’re lazy and if you’re skinny then you’re not. The problem with the “it’s just math” argument is that it makes willpower the x factor in the equation – the only variable we can alter – and yet study after study after study has shown that will power can be influenced by so many outside factors. While it might be easy for R to refuse the chocolate cake, a hormone issue or depression or a side effect of a medication may make it 100 times harder for someone else. Does it mean they have less willpower? No, it means they have a higher mountain to climb. It’s like telling an anorexic “I wish I had your willpower!” It’s not will power, it’s fear and OCD 100%. And the same applies to someone with binge eating disorder. So what if it is a mental illness that is leading to someone’s weight problem? It’s still a valid issue. Whether it’s a mental or physical issue just telling someone to suck it up and get some will power rarely ever works. People needs tools to lead healthier (NOT skinnier) lives. The bottom line is that people are PEOPLE first and everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. Good for you for taking up the fight.

    Man, MY blood is boiling now. Gah.


    • cheekypinky
      Jun 10, 2011 @ 13:45:20


      Another post on Ragen’s blog that smacked me upside the head with its logic
      was concerning different body types.

      She put up pictures of horses and trees,
      and asked why we’re okay with an Arabian horse being all skinny
      and a Clydesdale being all thick;
      a birch being tall and thin,
      and an oak being widespread,
      and we aren’t okay with different body types in PEOPLE–
      for the love of God,
      why can’t we be okay with that????

      It’s ASININE.


  9. Jenny, Bloggess
    Jun 11, 2011 @ 06:19:02

    I’m applauding you. I almost felt bad for the guy about halfway through his rant because it was embarrassingly obvious how many flaws were in his “math”.

    They’re called “variables”, asshole.


    • cheekypinky
      Jun 11, 2011 @ 22:35:04

      Thanks, lady!

      I was mostly leaning on the side of beating him over the head with a saucepan, myself.
      I just seriously hope he GETS IT before he seriously hurts someone he loves,
      you know?


  10. Eivind
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 04:55:47

    These discussions mostly consist of people talking past oneanother. You’re both right. He is, offcourse, right that everything that goes into a body, either remains inside, or comes back out. This is trivially true, it’s not as if there’s any magic third alternative.

    But it’s also true that bodies are very different, thus even if I’m fatter than my friend, it’s entirely possible that I eat healthier and exersize more than he does. Our bodies are different, thus the same behaviour can give different results.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: