Doing The Work

I’ve been getting into running lately. I signed up to run in the Run for Your Life Zombie 5k on a lark and over the course of training for it, I discovered that I really enjoy running. When I started talking to my brother – who races in triathalons for fun – about this, he started telling me that I needed to just keep with it and start aiming for running marathons.

I tried my best not to laugh in his face. I mean, I went from barely being able to run a mile without sucking wind and praying for the sweet release of death to running 5k like it weren’t no thing and he’s talking about my running 26 goddamn miles? Dude I only signed up for the zombie run because I wanted to prove a point about nerds and surviving the zombie apocalypse!

“DON’T THINK I DON’T APPRECIATE THE IRONY HERE…”

The problem was that I was looking at the end goal – 26 fucking miles! – and letting it psyche me out. All I could see is where I was – able to run 3 miles maybe 4; I couldn’t picture running the whole length.

I’m sure you can see where I’m about to go with this.

The hardest part of any long project is often just getting started. This is true whether you’re trying to run a marathon write a novel, lose 30 pounds or trying to improve your dating life and learning how to find and build the relationships you want. You feel the thunder in your heart and the electricity in your soul getting you jazzed up like a kid unable to sleep on Christmas Eve right until you take a good look at exactly what it is you’re trying to do and just how far you have to go.

Suddenly that thunder may seem more like a fart in an empty opera hall and your nervous energy has turned into frustration and confusion. You know where you want to be but it’s just so intimidatingly far from where you’re starting that it almost seems impossible.

When you focus exclusively on the end-goal, you risk psyching yourself out before you’ve even begun. You don’t need to do it all at once… you just need to do the work that makes getting there inevitable.

It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

When it comes to wanting to improve, we all want it done yesterday. It’s part of human nature; we don’t want the struggle, we want the rewards. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. When we’re not getting the results we want fast enough – regardless of whether it’s in weight loss, writing, running or dating – it’s very easy to get frustrated. So much effort and the end result still seems so out of reach. We have to remind ourselves that this is a long-term project; if it was fast and easy, we would all have done it by now (and by extension, I would be out of a job).

But it’s a laser-like focus on the end goal that trips people up. Rather than spending all of your attention on the most distant goal, you need to set milestones. Just as people training for marathons don’t start out trying to run 26 miles immediately, you shouldn’t be trying to be a full-on player right away. The first setback – and there will be setbacks – will rob you of your momentum and your drive and leave you where you were before, convinced that it’s impossible and you’re doomed to die alone and unloved.

“Here Lies… Actually, Anybody Know Who The Hell This Guy Is?”

Dividing your journey into smaller sections – milestones, effectively – works not only to make the end goal not seem so impossibly far, but it gives you a way of measuring your progress. You may feel like you have miles to go before you reach bona fide player status, but you can look back and see just how far you’ve come from who you used to be. You may feel bad because you’re only getting first dates… but when you can look back and realize how hard it was for you just to talk to women in the first place, you can better appreciate that you’ve improved so much more than you ever realized.

Nerds have an added benefit when it comes to measuring progress – we’ve got a pre-built mental model: the RPG. If you’ve spent hours collecting six-legged pigs asses in World of Warcraft for crafting recipes or running the same dungeons and instances over and over again in order to build up you character to take on the next boss, you already understand that sometimes you need to grind in order to get better.

It can sound silly or immature, but the idea of the gamification of real life has been something that social scientists have been exploring in depth lately. Treating practicing banter like putting points into Charisma is just one more way of breaking down what seems like an impossible goal – becoming good with women – into something attainable and keeping yourself motivated.

Cultivate The Habits You Need

A lot of guys when they get into pickup artistry set arbitrary goals – “I want to sleep with three new girls a month” or “I want to be having threesomes regularly within three months” – and start pursuing whatever path seems the fastest way to getting what they want. They’ll spend time learning pre-scripted routines and social gimmicks adapted from high-pressure sales tactics and go out three, four, fives times a night… and usually burn out early. They’re looking for the quick fix without stopping to think about how they’ll be able to maintain that goal nevermind things like the sheer logistics. They’re pushing themselves too far, too fast, treating dating like a crash-diet; if they get to their goal at all, they’ll never be able to maintain it. They rush in head first and burn out before they even know what happened, leaving them even worse off than they were before.

Being successful in dating isn’t about short-term success or get-laid-fast tricks. It’s about making changes to your lifestyle that enables you to meet and attract the relationships you want… and the skills to maintain them. You need to build the habits that will naturally lead you to the life you want.

Just as successful long-term weight-loss is a collection of positive habits – avoiding processed foods and simple carbohydrates, eating more green leafy vegetables, learning to love some form of cardiovascular exercise – that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle, success in dating is a collection of positive habits that become so ingrained that you no longer have to think about them. As a result, you aren’t forcing yourself into doing something and exhausting yourself trying to make things happen. Instead, it becomes part of who you are; you just fall into the rhythm naturally instead of having to think about it.

Take being social. Meeting and talking to people – a necessary part of getting better at dating – is a habit. If you’re not in the habit of approaching people and starting conversations, you’re going to have a much harder time when you see the cutie you’ve been looking for all of your life. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with meeting new people – if you’re used to talking to new people – you’ll find it much easier, natural even, to go up to her and tell her that she seems cool and you really wanted to meet her. You won’t be thinking “I need to mingle with people at this party so I don’t feel alone and awkward,” you’ll already be doing it.

It takes conscious effort at first; you’ll have to tell yourself over and over again “just go say ‘hi’ to the hot brunette at the counter” at Starbucks, just as I have to keep telling myself to stop hunching my shoulders while I run. But over time – and according to some studies, it takes anywhere from 18 to 66 days to successfully form a new habit – you will quit having to say it… because it will have become just another thing you do.

Banish Negativity

Just as being social is a habit, so too is positivity. The way we choose to think about ourselves and the world around us – either positively or negatively – carves a groove into our brain that colors every aspect of our lives. Seeing the world with a negative filter over it helps ensure that you’re going to get negative results; a positive outlook – towards yourself, towards others and towards the world in general – rewards us with greater levels of success.

This isn’t some woo-woo “Read The Secret and you’ll get rich” send-out-positive-vibes New Age hookum – it’s about how we perceive the world around us and how we respond to it. Being negative means that you end up short-changing yourself – you may take all the blame for your failures, but it leaves you unable to take credit for your successes. You miss out on opportunities because you won’t acknowledge how they could happen in the first place; you’re essentially failing in advance.

Because we’re social creatures, humans take their cues from the behavior of others and often end up subtly mimicing it. When you’re uncomfortable or feeling awkward about talking to somebody, they’ll not only pick up on the cues you’re giving off but start to feel that same awkwardness. When you assume that the woman you like is going to reject you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it comes across in your closed-off and defensive body language, in the way you have a hard time meeting her eyes when you talk to her and the attitude in your voice. As a result, she’s going to start feeling negative as well… leading you to get rejected, thus confirming your initial belief. When you believe that all women are only interested in material success or want alpha-males, you’re going to be consciously screening for confirmation of your belief… and you’ll find it. You’ll be casting everything they do in the most negative possible light.

Being positive on the other hand, makes life easierBelieving that you can do something makes it easier to find the ways to make it happen; instead of letting confirmation bias shut down opportunities, you’re finding new and alternate paths. To quote Thomas Edison: “I didn’t fail… I just found 1000 ways that didn’t work.” When you believe that you have something to offer women and that they would love to get to know you, you’ll once again find yourself screening for behaviors and clues that yes, women are interested in you.

“Always look on the briiiiight side of…” “OH SHUT UP!”

You need to make a conscious effort to be positive; you need to be willing to interrupt your usual negative thoughts and reframe the situation in such a way that allows you to see the positive possibilities. Yes, you may have just been rejected by someone you like… but this just means that you’re going to be free to find someone even better. You may have had a bad interaction with someone at a party… so now you know what you need to avoid for the next time you talk to people.

This isn’t just about the power of positive thinking; you need to turn a positive outlook into positive action. Getting shot down for a date isn’t a cause to go home and sulk, it’s cause to analyze what happend, to learn from it and try again with someone new. If you’re having problems meeting people, you need to try a different method, one that may work better for you.

This includes removing the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. Can’t implies a loss of control – that you are helplessly affected by forces beyond your influence and you have no way of overcoming them. It’s a negative outlook and one that cuts off avenues of opportunity by robbing yourself of your own agency. By saying you “can’t” or something is “impossible”, you are cutting yourself off from control. When you reframe a “can’t”  to “I could, but I won’t”, you start to recognize those moments of negativity – cutting yourself off – and open yourself up to being able to turn things around should you so choose.

Keep Records

One of the best things you can do when you’re working towards any goal, whether it’s success in dating or not, is to keep records. I’m a huge believer in the value of maintaining a journal and recording everything that has to do with your goal. Dieters who track their weight, list the food they eat and the exercise they do lose more weight and keep it off longer than people who try to freestyle their diets. Similarly, when I started documenting my approaches with women, my growth took off like a goddamn rocket. I was recording everything; time of day, where I was, what I said, how I felt before and after the approach, whether I got her number or not, how long I stayed in talking to her… everything. If I was feeling especially ambitious, I would write it out as a narrative.

Why? Because keeping records let me chart my progress in a concrete and tangible way. It meant my progress was measurable; I may have felt like I was getting nowhere, but I could see that I was staying in a conversation for longer and longer before either getting shut down or ejecting. I could see that I was getting phone-numbers – and more importantly getting numbers that would would answer when I called – at a level I never had before. Being able to see my improvement kept me excited; I had proof I was getting better and my end goal wasn’t nearly as far away as I thought.

Keeping a journal also provided me with a sense of accountability. Every entry was on a dated page and long stretches between entries meant that I was slacking off. It was easy enough to get lazy and come up with plenty of perfectly reasonable excuses why I couldn’t go out last night or last week…let enough reasonable excuses pile up and suddenly you realize that you haven’t been out in weeks or even months. Those gaps were just one more reminder that I was backsliding. They helped motivate me to keep at it to keep improving.1.

I won’t lie and say it didn’t make me feel a little Dougie Howser-ish… (and that helped.)

The biggest help though, was that keeping records helped me find my sticking points. Keeping rigorous track of everything I did meant that when I started to plateau or just kept hitting the same wall over and over again, I had the means to look for what it was I was doing wrong. Finding patterns in my behavior – whether I was standing too close and creeping women out by accident, projecting neediness instead of confidence or even just giving the impression that I was putting on a performance rather than actually engaging with people – was key to recognizing and breaking bad habits in my dating life.

You’re Going To Get Worse Before You Get Better

One of the harder parts of starting out is realizing that you’re actually doing worse than you were at first. You may have been able to hold a conversation – assuming someone else started it – with a cute girl but now that you’re making a conscious effort to learn how to pick up women, you’re a stammering nervous mess… what the hell? It’s enough to make you throw your hands up and adopt a life of monastic celibacy instead.

“Sure, I’m not going to ever date… but at least I’m gonna learn some bad-ass kung-fu, right?”

The problem is that – even if you were decent at one aspect of dating – you’re being forced to pay conscious attention to what you’re doing for the first time, and that’s going to throw you off. It’s known as the centipede’s dilemma: the centipede was walking just fine until someone asked him how he managed all of those legs. Ever want to screw up somebody’s golf-swing? Ask them if they breathe in or out on the backswing.

The same issue applies here. You may have never thought about exactly what it is you’re doing and now that you’re paying attention, you’re tripping all over your own metaphorical feet. However, once you understand what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it, you have the opportunity to turn it into another positive habit – and by putting in all the effort now, you’ll be reaping the rewards of your dating success before you know it.

 

 

  1. For me, keeping the journal was enough; other people may find value in enlisting a friend to help keep them accountable. There are also a number of crowd-source websites that help you track you progress towards a goal. Having other people able to see your progress – or lack thereof – may help spur you on []

Comments

  1. Alot of good advice, but the comparison with weight loss was unnecessary and fat shaming. I would recommend reading up on fat acceptance and health at every size movements to make this blog more inclusive of all people

    • Paul Rivers says:

      Unless I missed something, or the article was changed, your comment seems absurd and ridiculous.

      Here's every mention of the word "weight" that I could find in the article –

      When we’re not getting the results we want fast enough – regardless of whether it’s in **weight** loss, writing, running or dating – it’s very easy to get frustrated.

      Just as successful long-term **weight**-loss is a collection of positive habits – avoiding processed foods and simple carbohydrates, eating more green leafy vegetables, learning to love some form of cardiovascular exercise – that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle, success in dating is a collection of positive habits that become so ingrained that you no longer have to think about them. As a result, you aren’t forcing yourself into doing something and exhausting yourself trying to make things happen. Instead, it becomes part of who you are; you just fall into the rhythm naturally instead of having to think about it.

      One of the best things you can do when you’re working towards any goal, whether it’s success in dating or not, is to keep records. I’m a huge believer in the value of maintaining a journal and recording everything that has to do with your goal. Dieters who track their weight, list the food they eat and the exercise they do lose more **weight** and keep it off longer than people who try to freestyle their diets. Similarly, when I started documenting my approaches with women, my growth took off like a goddamn rocket. I was recording everything…

      I think this might be the most obvious "completely derail the conversation in a way that both isn't about the article, and isn't even real' comment yet.

      • Juuuuuulia says:

        Basically, the problem is that there's a lot of medical evidence that dieting is not a healthy thing to be doing and actually scars a lot of people physically and psychologically. So the fact that the blog uses dieting as a handy example reinforces the idea that dieting is a normal thing to do. Everyone will understand this concept if I frame it in terms of dieting! Everyone diets! But the people who have dieted and been messed up by it might read it and feel like it's their fault that they failed at something everyone should be doing and succeeding at, when really dieting is just … not healthy.

        http://www.haescommunity.org/

        I preferred the fitness goals metaphor because all the things he lists happen in sports as well, like plateauing and setting your goals too high and how keeping a journal helps keep you realistic. But it's inclusive because everyone has different preferred sports and fitness goals.

        • Dr_NerdLove says:

          At the risk of derailing the conversation, I specifically compared pick-up techniques designed to be a “silver bullet” to a crash-diet: something profoundly unhealthy and causes more harm in the long-run.

          • http://lovelivegrow.com/2012/10/21-things-to-stop

            If I reader is offended/triggered by your content that means something.

            Just think about it…

          • So, the blog post above didn't do any of these 21 things.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            It's not doing anything from the examples, but it's doing #9 — conflating fitness and skinniness and #21 — implying that weight loss is a necessary thing to be doing via — #6 dieting and exercising (obviously).

          • #6 is in the context of a discussion about fat. I'd say this counts as the 99% of the rest of the spaces in the world, as this is not a blog about being fat-positive. And I don't see that it's conflating fitness and skinniness — it's saying if you want to lose weight, do it in a way that also makes you more fit.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            And actually, even the article linked to states –

            "You have the whole rest of the world to talk about dieting. 99% of the spaces in the world are perfectly welcoming to all kinds of speech about dieting and exercising".

            This is part of that 99% of the rest of the world.

          • It could mean two things:

            1. The content was offensive.
            2. The content was not offensive, and the reader misinterpreted it.

      • Somehow I find myself agreeing with Paul Rivers. (Finally!) The doctor didn't mention weight-loss except as a common thing that people try to do that was easy to fit into the "long-term goals" examples.

        • Juuuuuulia says:

          I know it sounds nitpicky, but that's the whole problem. Using weight loss as being a common "goal" that people try to achieve through dieting normalizes it, which is a bad thing to do because it's damaging.

          I think it's very good that the Doctor distinguished the crash-diets from the long-term ones, and I agree completely that things like avoiding processed foods being generally a good habit — but it's good even if it doesn't result in weight loss!

          • Except he's quite specifically NOT talking about dieting. He even mentions why dieting is BAD. As several people have already pointed out. Discussing weight loss as a *goal* isn't fat shaming any more than talking about safe sex is slut shaming.

          • SarahGryph says:

            "Discussing weight loss as a *goal* isn't fat shaming any more than talking about safe sex is slut shaming. " That's how I read it, tbh; and I'm at a place in my life where I think if there was fat shaming I'd be fairly sensitive to it. I read the article as a comparison between crash diets and crash dating as both BAD ideas; whereas learning and applying healthy life habits both in eating and socializing are long term, healthy plans. "Diet" has a lot of connotations to it, but to me the context of the "healthy dieting style" is effectively something I actually am working on – stop drinking so much darn soda and get back to eating healthier foods. It's not that I'm fat shamed or the culture is horrible…just I eat too much junk and I'm working on changing that. In the same sense being bad at dating doesn't mean you're a horrible person, but hey you may have to make some choices and follow through to get to where *you* want to be.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            If you stop drinking soda and eat better food and that causes you to lose weight and also makes you feel healthier and have more energy, then that's awesome and great! And I hope that's what happens and ultimately makes you happier! :)

            If you are trying to get better at dating and you do all the stuff in this article but still don't get a date, the thing to do is to keep trying. However, if you stop drinking soda and eat better food and that doesn't make you lose weight (and maybe also makes you physically sick), then how are you going to … keep trying?

          • Anonymoose says:

            Body may need time to adjust to eating healthier food and needs to clean out the junk it's used to. As long as the person is somewhat mobile or exercises even a bit to kick up a sweat, weight should come off. That's definitely a "keep trying" thing, though a doctor or nutrionist or something similar may be needed to make sure it's going smoothly.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Right, and Dr. Nerdlove is fond of reminding us that he is, in fact, not a real doctor.

          • SarahGryph says:

            The way I see the comparison is that even the Doctor has said some of his advice will not work for everyone. An example would be the antagonistic flirting he prefers – he's copped to the fact that that specific technique may not work for everyone. So the the idea is give it a real chance until there's a real reason to stop. With changing my diet to become healthier, that's also just one technique to reach the goal. Now if I only do a half-assed job at changing my diet, it's not helping for me to just say "that didn't work." If I sincerely tried and nothing happened, I feel it would be up to me to talk to my (real^^) doctor etc for other techniques to acheive my goal. So it could be that in this one case I am in fact a person who needs different techniques in order to reach my goal; in that case "keep trying" would include finding alternate techniques that did help me reach my personal goals. And then putting full effort into those before announcing they don't work.

          • SarahGryph says:

            It's also relative though. Not everyone wants to lose weight/be fit/etc; and not everyone wants a bf/gf/partner/etc. I thought it was made clear enough that this article was talking about a goal you personally *want* to acheive which is a bit different than telling anyone they *have* to do such and such. I think that's been touched on in other posts already though. I do see where you're coming from on this, I'm just sharing how my own brain processed the article and comparison; which is that many people have goals they want to reach, goals they have not met yet, here are some suggestions to help you acheive goals even though it may be hard and take longer than you'd like.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          "Somehow I find myself agreeing with Paul Rivers. (Finally!)"

          LOL…I can't believe *I'm* the guy defending the article…what crazy world do we live in…

    • Juuuuuulia says:

      Seconded! Maybe re-frame it as fitness goals? The running a marathon metaphor was good; just stick with that.

    • I don't think that saying eating healthily and exercising is a good idea if you want to lose weight is the same as fat-shaming. He was saying, "if you want to lose weight, crash diets aren't going to work." Whether healthy foods and regular exercise work for everyone, or whether everyone should want to lose weight, isn't something he touched on. He just made the point that if you do succeed in long-term weight loss, it will be through regular practices, not through some magic bullet.

      Fat-shaming, to me, is saying, "If you're fat, it's because you lack self-discipline," or "hey, you need to lose weight." I didn't see that anywhere in the blog entry — just the idea that if you *want* to lose weight, you need to be self-disciplined, because if you're not, it won't work or won't stick.

      Surely acknowledging that there are people out there who want to lose weight is not the same as fat-shaming?

      • Juuuuuulia says:

        It's hard for me to tell exactly what the first commenter had a problem with, but I think it's not the discussion of weight loss but the way it's framed in a normative way? The problem is that in our current culture, everything is screaming at you that you need to lose weight and eat this but not that, blah blah fatness is bad. And some people are subjected to this reality every day and taught constantly to stop eating certain things, etc. In order to not do that, you'd need to specifically say "Suppose you want to lose weight and you choose to do it using a diet that restricts food intake. In that case, you will lose more weight if you write down what you eat than if you don't." Otherwise, the stuff you're not saying is coming from a culture where "fatness is bad" is understood to fill in the gaps.

        For example, in the first paragraph that Paul Rivers quoted, it seems like the goal starts out being weight loss and then turns into fitness, as if the two things are equivalent. Like, you can't be "overweight" and also be in great physical shape where you can run forever and lift ALL the things! Or not eating processed foods and eating leafy greens and exercising regularly is guaranteed to result in weight loss. Similarly, in the second paragraph, it assumes that all dieters are trying to lose weight, even though diets to gain weight exist, either for sports or eating disorder recovery.

        And the entire metaphor is used here because, presumably, it's something a lot of people can relate to. The problem is that some people just stopped eating X and started eating more Y and did Z activity and magically lost weight, and a lot of people that tried all those things didn't magically lose weight and actually had a lot of problems from it … and yet are still being told that same thing on well-meaning articles like this. :(

        • 2/3 of the country are overweight. I feel like that's a large enough group of people were the desire to lose weight is a fairly common thing.

          (also weight loss and fitness, while not always directly related, have a lot of overlap)

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            But if 2/3 of the country is "overweight", can't we all just look around and accept each other and stop forcing each other to lose weight?

          • Thank you Juuuulia. I really didn't think the nerd love community was this bigoted *sigh*

          • FiendishDrWu says:

            Not to sound like a colossal dick, but instead of sighing and complaining about how the world be hatin' you could get out and do something about it if its bothering you that much? That seems to be the takeaway message in 90% of the posts on this website, albeit for dating.

          • politely pointing out to the doctor that he was unintentionally contributing to our culture of fat shaming *was* doing something about it. what else would you suggest? Then the comments were so depressing I didn't have the energy to respond to them.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Yep, that's what she's doing. She's speaking up. ^_^

            Also, if you ever catch yourself starting a comment with "not to sound like a colossal dick", you should probably reconsider posting it. :(

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think the Doctor didn't mean anything bad by it! I think he was just one of those people that started exercising regularly and it made him lose weight. And then he needed a quick metaphor for a "setting a goal and sticking to it" type of issue and he happened to be a person for whom getting fit and losing weight were correlated, so he just kinda threw it together in a jumble. He doesn't know what it's like to be you! :(

            I AM pretty surprised that people are getting so defensive; especially when there are only like four half-sentences to fix. It's overall a good article! Fitness goals were a great start and a much better overall metaphor! Nyarbs. =/

          • Well, I don't feel defensive, but I do feel a bit weirded out.

            Fat-shaming is about telling other people what they should look like. Sometimes that may be disguised as concern over their health, but the defining characteristic is that it's other people telling you (directly or through implication) what you're supposed to be.

            As I understand it (from Shakesville), the whole point of speaking up against fat-shaming is to get people to acknowledge these truths: that you can't tell how healthy someone is, or how much they eat or exercise, by how they look, and even if they could, it's none of your business.

            Great! I totally agree! I have no desire to tell anyone what they should look like or how much they should exercise or whatever! Be whomever you want to be, at whatever size and shape you want to be. None of my business.

            But frankly, it's also none of anyone else's business if someone wants to lose weight.

            (I'm reminded here of feminists who jump on women who want to quit work when they have a child. I thought the whole point of the exercise was freedom. I thought it was about having choices and not being judged for one choice over the other. I personally think I'd be losing out if I chose to leave my career behind when I have kids, but that's *my* choice, which may not be right for someone else.)

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Like I said, it's not a difficult fix. In some cases, he just needs to replace "weight loss" with fitness, because he completely conflates the two. They are not the same thing! In another place, saying "suppose you wanted to lose weight and you decide to try a food-restrictive diet" would also fix the issue — it would be a hypothetical you's choice. But as it stands, he's implying that a restrictive diet is the way to lose weight, which is something you obviously want to do.

            People who have been damaged by food restriction and haven't lost weight probably feel like crap reading that.

          • Why does he have to hide the fact that some people want to lose weight? Getting fit isn't really a measurable goal. "Fit" is a moving target. Losing weight, however, is a measurable goal, which is germane to the conversation.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            "Fit" is a moving target I usually get to set for myself. Losing weight, however, is a measurable goal I see the media trying to set for me every day. ^_^

          • And yet this particular piece of media isn't trying to set that goal for you. It's simply acknowledging the existence of people with that goal.

            That's the difference between "You should do this to lose weight" (which the blog is not doing) and "If you want to lose weight, you should do this" (which the blog is doing). That "if" isn't meaningless.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Can you find me that "if" in the text? =/

            I'm seeing "weight-loss is a collection of positive habits [...] that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle".

          • You missed out the word "successful".

            Not all weight loss can be successful.

            Therefore, not all weight loss has to be successful.

            Therefore, successful weight loss is not compulsory.

            Also I'm fairly certain that it's the positive habits that lead to a healthier, fitter lifestyle, not the weight loss itself. Why it's "leads" instead of "lead", I suspect is a typo.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Okay. "successful weight-loss is a collection of positive habits [...] that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle."

            So if I am able to successfully lose the weight, then I am *inevitably* healthier and fitter. So if I cannot successfully lose the weight even though I do all the things it tells me … I'm unhealthy and unfit?

            It's not a typo! The noun is "a collection". =)

          • The sentence says that the collection of positive habits leads to a healthier (not necessarily totally healthy, just more healthy than if not!) fitter (same) lifestyle, not the weight loss. He also doesn't say you can't be healthy and fit already, without losing weight.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think you have successfully convinced me that the sentence in question actually makes no sense at all. What is "successful weight-loss" doing in there at all? O.o? As opposed to like "the following"?

          • While weight-loss is not successful for most people (largely because of a phenomenon known as "compensation" in which more exercise -> more hunger -> more calorie consumption), for those who are successful, the greatest success comes from a lifestyle change (more exercise, more healthy foods, less unhealthy ones). Hence, if you're doing the things that lead to successful weight loss (when it works), you will also be healthier.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            But what if I'm losing weight because I'm allergic to a certain leafy green I keep eating and it's making me not digest things properly? That's successful weight loss but not healthiness. :(

          • Then you're unusual. I have a blood disorder, which means that some of the medical advice which is true for 99% of the population is not true for me. That doesn't mean that it's bad advice. That means that I have to double-check the advice which applies to 99% of the population to make sure it also applies to me.

          • Like I said, I'm fairly certain that it's the positive habits that cause the healthier, fitter lifestyle, not the weight loss itself. So if you cannot successfully lose the weight even though you do all the things it tells you, that does not automatically mean you are unhealthy and unfit. "If A then B" and "If not A then not B" are not logically equivalent.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I thought it was "if habits then (health, fitness) = weight-loss." Therefore, "if habits and not weight loss" then I did the habits wrong?

            I TOTALLY USED MODUS TOLLENS IN A COMMENT THREAD.

          • I read it as "successful weight loss plan will include A, B, and C. A, B, and C lead to being healthier and fitter." Implied: Being healthier and fitter means you're more likely to lose weight than if you're not doing things that make you healthier and fitter.

            As I said in another comment, I do agree that it's an error to make it sound as if healthier and fitter automatically = weight loss.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Okay, I think I'm misunderstanding "successful weight-loss plan". I took it to mean "a plan that results in loss of weight".

          • Nah it's more like "if habits then (health, fitness)". The weight loss is nothing more than syntactic sugar.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Roffle, sir!

          • No, it was "if habits then (health, fitness) = healthier self."

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            I used modus tollens once.The woman wouldn't look me in the eye afterwards.

          • I don't see where that's stated or implied.

          • Sure, but that's talking about what *other* people are putting on you. If I notice that I've gained 10 lbs since I stopped walking to work, and decide that I want to lose them, what's wrong with saying, hey, you'll do better at that if you are disciplined about exercise and what you eat rather than doing some crazy diet? The desire to lose weight is *my* goal, not something that's being pressed upon me by someone else. That's why I'm confused as to how you can read this as fat shaming. Is acknowledging that some people want to lose weight shaming?

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            But the Doctor didn't write "suppose you decide you want to lose 10 pounds." Which suggests that, of course you want to lose 10 pounds. Everyone wants to lose 10 pounds! It's so obvious that he doesn't need to state it.

            Consider:

            Just as successful long-term beauty is a collection of positive habits – avoiding mainstream haircuts that aren't mohawks and bad tattoo ink, going to Hot Topic, learning to love some form of brightly colored hairdye and eyeshadow or black lipstick – that inevitably leads to a beautiful, more glamorous lifestyle, success in dating is a collection of positive habits that become so ingrained that you no longer have to think about them. As a result, you aren’t forcing yourself into doing something and exhausting yourself trying to make things happen. Instead, it becomes part of who you are; you just fall into the rhythm naturally instead of having to think about it.

            ^ The unstated assumption there is that beauty is looking like a goth/punk person. But it's written in such a way that that's implied. Of course you want to look goth! That's the only form of beauty. Doing up your mohawk every morning is objectively a positive habit (even if you are exhausting yourself)! So in a subtle way, that is *others* telling you what to do and how to look. And at least this isn't anything harmful. I could have thrown a "doing drugs" in there.

            I don't think that overall it's a bad article! But given that the Doctor has a website dedicated to dispensing advice, he should be careful and responsible about reinforcing harmful attitudes about health/weight/fitness, especially since his writing did offend someone. It's kinda like the way if someone feels creeped out, then it's creepy? So if someone feels fat-shamed then it's fat shaming. :(

          • You might as well say "One person thought that TV show was racist, so that TV show is racist."

            "One person felt fat-shamed" is correct. "This is fat-shaming" is not correct, because it implies that something is generally offensive to the community, which this article is not.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            If one person thinks a TV show is racist, they will probably not watch anymore. If you do something that creeps out a person, probably they will not talk to you anymore. That reader was really upset and couldn't respond to some of the comments; she will probably not read this blog anymore. She tried to speak up and stand up for her point of view. How many readers like her just said nothing and left for good?

            So it's up to the Doctor weigh the odds: he can either fix four sentences or alienate his nerdy readers that are also fat. Hmm, I wonder what percentage of nerds are fat?

          • At the end of the day, this reads to me like the guys that occasionally show up here and are offended by the advice assuming that they have trouble talking to women. Do you have trouble talking to women? No? Then it wasn't intended for you. Are you trying to lose weight? No? Then this metaphor wasn't intended for you.

          • I personally would think that "Just as successful long-term beauty/weight loss is a collection of positive habits" would imply "if you want to be successful at beauty/weight loss, this is the sort of thing you would do". After all, he isn't saying that you have to want to be beautiful or you have to want to lose weight, so I don't understand why you would say that that message is automatically implied until a different message is stated.

            And, oddly enough, this is why I agree that "suppose you want to lose weight" should have been explicitly stated. Because technically, no-one in your audience actually knows what is being implied, so whenever you imply something, you're guaranteeing that at least one person is not going to pick up on the implication, or is going to think you were implying something else entirely. And if your implication turns out to be critical to the understanding of your message, then you end up with someone misunderstanding the message purely because you couldn't be bothered to explicitly state something that was critical to the message's meaning.

            I've said this time and time again (elsewhere): when it comes to other people, there's no such thing as obvious.

          • That's fair — I used to write technical documentation and sometimes the user questions we'd get in were pretty astonishing in what wasn't obvious to the user. (Like, for example, plugging in your console.)

            But I dunno, you can only go so far with stating things explicitly in casual writing before the whole thing gets stilted. When DNL offers advice to girls who want to attract nerdy guys, I don't assume it applies to me because I'm not interested in attracting nerdy guys. I have a guy, and don't really want that sort of attention from others.

            I can read a fashion blog without assuming that it's criticizing me for not being all that interested in fashion.

            In this case, it seems pretty clear that if you're not trying to lose weight, the stuff about trying to lose weight doesn't apply to you.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Re: technical language, I actually get a little weirded out when DNL sometimes uses "getting laid", "getting a girlfriend" interchangeably. But I understand it's a dating blog and most people want both out of relationships, so I'm probably the only one with this issue.

            In this case, he was using a metaphor to try to explain something, and he tried to pick something commonplace that most people have done before. And I think most people have! But some people have done it with really damaging consequences. And some people will read blogs like this and go on to damage themselves. :(

          • Well, neither of those terms is particularly technical.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Yeah, I think sometimes by not being specific, you trigger other people's sore spots when you never meant to. :(

          • Poor analogy. The above article explicitly equates beauty with goth/punk markers. DNL's blog post doesn't equate being healthy with losing weight. It equates…losing weight with losing weight.

            "It's kinda like the way if someone feels creeped out, then it's creepy? So if someone feels fat-shamed then it's fat shaming. :("

            Except it's not. Creeping involves behavior directed at others. So does actual fat-shaming. Talking about losing weight *to people who want to lose weight* is involving only people who've opted in. Nowhere in this post does it say that you should want to lose weight. It says *if you do* there are things you should do.

            So I was recently talking to a friend of mine about how I've put on 5-10 pounds with my new job (which doesn't pay for my gym membership like my old job), and how my favorite top doesn't fit me as well as it used to and how my bad knee (legacy from 12 years of ballet) isn't liking the extra weight I'm carrying, so I've started running. (DNL's anecdote was amusing and familiar to me.) I was proud that I'm able to now run for a half-mile without wheezing, and was sharing my achievement with her. I don't consider her overweight, but she jumped on me about fat-shaming her.

            By your rubric, "If someone feels fat-shamed then it's fat shaming," my talking about what I'm doing for my own health and appearance and sharing my accomplishment was wrong. Which I find deeply offensive when I'm talking about myself and my choices, with no implications for anyone else. If I get promoted, and share my happiness in my promotion, and my friend gets angry because she feels low-income-shamed in her entry-level job, am I in the wrong? If I choose to speak at a luncheon for women in my industry who want career advice and tell them about things that will get them ahead, am I career-shaming people who haven't expressed interest in furthering their career and aren't attending said luncheon?

            The article makes no assumptions beyond acknowledging the existence of people who want to lose weight. I fail to see how acknowledging said existence is shaming anyone.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I don't think you were trying to fat-shame your friend. But she was probably upset because she hears those types of things in a way that is directed at her all the time? Maybe you don't know but her mother tells her she's fat and worthless all the time? The problem is, you can't *argue away* someone's upset-ness because it's an emotional thing and not a logical thing. And you don't know how what you said sounded like from her point of view. And it's also possible that your friend is just insecure in general, and interprets everything as an attack on her? I don't know this person, so it could be a number of things.

            I'm personally a believer in not doing things that upset people if they tell you that the things upset them (and probably you are too). For example, I'm not going to swear around people that are upset by it. I have some friends that are career or success-insecure, so I avoid talking about my career with them. And I believe that all of these "-shaming" concepts are the same. They are never really intentional things you're DOING because you're TRYING to do them because you're a meanie. I think they're all things you do accidentally because they sound different to you than they do to the other person. They're instances where you accidentally hurt someone by talking about something a person is sensitive about. The reason fat-shaming and slut-shaming and creep-shaming have special names is that they come up a lot in the media.

            The "-shaming" things never mean "therefore, you're bad, immoral person who's clearly trying to hurt me!" They're more like "please acknowledge that is painful to me."

          • Yeah, but you don't stop talking about your career with *every* person, right? Just the friends you know are sensitive.

            DNL can't decide not to talk about certain things to certain readers who are sensitive to those issues, because he's making posts that can be read by anyone on the internet. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to write anything that's going to be completely inoffensive to everyone, and if you do, it'll probably also be useless because you won't be able to say really anything at all. If he actually said something like, "You have to lose weight to be healthy" (he didn't, he said that a successful plan to lose weight usually includes habits that make you healthier, which is the other way around) or "you can't attractive women if you're overweight" (which he hasn't, and in fact he's said the exact opposite in other posts), or something that was actually suggesting fat = bad, I could see your point. But he didn't. He simply used weight loss plans as an example.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Ahh, no! He said that a successful plan to lose weight inevitably make you healthier and fitter! That's what I have a problem with! I can get behind "some good habit that might make you healthier, fitter and might make you lose weight."

            This reader is not the only one affected! Someone in the comments above said 2/3 of Americans are! So if a random sample of Americans read this blog, the Doctor should care about hurting them! Even if they're not sad or upset for the same reason, they might instead be sad and upset that somehow they're dieting wrong. :(

          • No, he said that the characteristics of a successful plan to lose weight made you healthier and fitter.

          • Hm, it seems you edited your comment and, in doing so, made my one redundant.

          • But that's true. Exercise and healthy eating make you healthier. If you are doing healthy things as part of a weight-loss plan, they will make you healthier as a side-effect, even if your intent was only to lose weight. Whether you lose weight or not, eating well and reasonable exercise *will* make you healthier.

          • He said a successful plan to lose weight that includes [healthy habits] will make you healthier and fitter, not just any successful plan to lose weight. (I mean, obviously at least a few people successfully lose weight through unhealthy crash diets etc., but he's not saying those plans make you healthier and fitter.)

            Also, just because 2/3 of Americans are classified as overweight (apparently–I'm using the statistic you're quoting, which wasn't mine), doesn't mean that all or even most of them are going to be offended by someone using weight loss plans at a metaphor. As I pointed out elsewhere, he says nothing, positive or negative, about actually being overweight.

          • I agree that if my friend had, for example, just lost her job, talking about my promotion would be unnecessarily cruel. And yes, knowing that my friend is sensitive, I won't talk to her again about my exercise routine. But let's say I want to start a blog about running and losing weight. Are you saying I shouldn't because my friend might read it? Because that seems analogous to what you're saying about DNL's metaphor.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think if your blog is about running and losing weight, then it'll be her responsibility to stay away from it. But if you start an advice blog about something else entirely, like career-related things and mention that [thing you did] will "inevitably" cause you to lose [weight you lost], then some people who are going to your blog to read about career-related stuff might be upset. :(

            And in that case, you get to decide if you want to lose those readers or reflect on your language and fix it up to not offend them? It sounds pretty simple to me.

          • Where did he say that these things will "inevitably" cause you to lose weight?

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I'm going to argue for fixing that sentence on the grounds that it needed *this* much clarification to be innocuous.

          • I don't think it needed clarification to be innocuous to most people. When you are writing for the public, unless you're writing to a niche audience, you write for the 99%, not the 1%. I think that (if you got a decent sample size) 99% of the people who read that metaphor aren't going to assume it's telling them that they *must* do anything.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            But when you have huge streams of damaging "lose ten pounds with this diet, it's for your health" messages in the media, and you have this particular poorly-worded sentence, it's very hard to tell whether this is the innocuous message that you say it is, or whether it is the damaging message that comes from everywhere in the media.

            There were definitely a few "Americans are too fat and unhealthy and need to diet more" messages on this thread. That one guy was trying to tell Amber to go lose more weight instead of whining. So yeah, there were people that interpreted it … wrong.

          • Well, there are always *ssholes on the internet. It's not like we don't get Men's Rights dudes here when we talk about gender. I thought he was saying "if you don't like it when people tell you you have to lose weight, address those people instead of us."

            I'm sorry, but I don't see using weight loss as a metaphor (as it's something that, when it works, requires discipline to succeed) here as equivalent to plastering weight-loss ads all over the place.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think the Doctor comes out pretty hard on MRA's in his blogs, telling people not to whine or blame women and be creepy in pretty explicit terms. I don't understand what the difficulty is in fixing up the article to be explicit on this issue as well?

          • You know what? You win.

          • I think where people are getting confused is that what the article said isn't like your changed example. "Beauty" is a qualitative term–everyone knows that it's a good thing to be beautiful. And it's also a subjective term–what's beautiful to one person isn't beautiful to others, as in your goth/punk example.

            "Weight loss" isn't a qualitative term. I think just about everyone knows that not everyone needs to lose weight. For some people, losing weight would be harmful. But we do know that a fair number of people in our culture do try to lose weight on occasion, of their own accord, and that's why it's a metaphor people understand. And the positive habits that the article describes are not subjective–they're habits that would lead to a "healthier, fitter" lifestyle for just about anyone. I suppose there might be people for whom eating unprocessed food and green vegetables, and getting cardio exercise, would lead somehow to them being less fit and less healthy, but I have trouble imagining how.

            You keep suggesting that the metaphor would be less offensive if it had said "fitness" instead of "weight loss", but I don't really see the difference. If he'd used "fitness", wouldn't he by your standards be assuming that of course, everyone wants to be fit, when that isn't the case? And "shaming" the people who don't have time to exercise regularly, or have injuries that prevent them from getting enough exercise to be considered fit, or simply don't care that much about having muscle definition or whatever? I mean, the way you're approaching it, pretty much all of DNL's articles are "shaming" people who aren't currently choosing to date by giving advice on how to get dates as if that's something people want to do, and his articles about sex are "shaming" asexuals for not prefacing every mention of sex with "if you happen to want to have sex" and so on.

            The only part that looks problematic to me is the sentence "Just as successful long-term **weight**-loss is a collection of positive habits", because I agree that implies that anyone who has those positive habits will be successful at losing weight, which isn't necessarily the case. So maybe it should say "is much more likely to happen if you cultivate a collection of positive habits" or some such. But it sounds like you're saying that *any* mention of weight loss habits in any context, unless stated by a medical professional, is reinforcing harmful attitudes and just shouldn't be allowed, and I have to agree with the other commenters who object to that.

            "It's kinda like the way if someone feels creeped out, then it's creepy? So if someone feels fat-shamed then it's fat shaming."

            It doesn't actually work that way. There have been guys here who've mentioned women calling them creepy for doing nothing more than say "Hi" to them, because the guy reminded them of an ex-boyfriend or other person they didn't like. Does that mean saying "Hi" to people is creepy? No. This isn't like racism or sexist or heterosexism where people are being systematically oppressed and the people with privilege have to listen when the people who don't have it speak up because they can't see their own mistakes. People who are not currently dieting are not underprivileged or being systematically oppressed, and talking about weight loss metaphors as if they're on par with racist/sexist/heterosexist talk is honestly kind of offensive to people who *are* being systematically oppressed.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            It means that guy saying "Hi" to that particular girl was creepy, and he shouldn't talk to that particular girl anymore. But when a guy talks to a girl, the only person he's talking to is that girl. So it's easy not to hurt anyone else.

            If you're a guy writing advice articles, you have the potential to accidentally hurt/trigger large bits of your entire audience. And because you've got a blog and fb-page and whatnot, you ARE THE MEDIA. You are part of the system of oppressing people because large numbers of people read what you write and agree with you. And argue for paragraphs and paragraphs about why you shouldn't have to change three sentences.

            Also, to address the last bit, there are a LOT of cases of doctors telling overweight patients to just go lose some weight whenever they complain of a medical problem — and then missing life-threatening diseases they just didn't bother to test for.

          • Change those three sentences to what? What analogy for self improvement could he use that wouldn't theoretically imply that people "should" do whatever he uses as an example?

            I totally agree that the problem of doctors failing to address the health problems of overweight patients with proper thoroughness is awful, but this article doesn't say *one thing* about being "overweight". "Weight loss" and "dieting" can refer to a person who's already considered "normal" weight wanting to take off ten or fifteen pounds (which is possible without them then being "underweight"), which happens all the time. If it is "shaming" or "oppressing" anyone, hypothetically, it's shaming non-dieters, regardless of their current weight, and non-dieters as a whole are not systematically treated differently than dieters by health professionals or any other authority figures, as far as I know.

          • So no one should blog about exercising or weight loss?

          • "The only part that looks problematic to me is the sentence "Just as successful long-term **weight**-loss is a collection of positive habits", because I agree that implies that anyone who has those positive habits will be successful at losing weight, which isn't necessarily the case. So maybe it should say "is much more likely to happen if you cultivate a collection of positive habits" or some such."

            But he wasn't saying "if you practice these healthy habits you will lose weight" (which I agree would be problematic). He's saying if you practice the habits that are the most successful in weight loss (eating healthy foods and exercising regularly), you will also be healthy. He's not saying that everyone will be successful doing these things — he's saying that people who *are* successful do these things. It wasn't absolutist.

          • "But he wasn't saying "if you practice these healthy habits you will lose weight" (which I agree would be problematic)."

            I agree with your points in general, and we've been arguing on the same side, but I think there is a misstep there. If you say that X is Y (successful weight loss is this collection of habits), that's an absolute statement. A passing grade is a C. That means if the person gets a C, they will pass, not that people who pass have gotten at least a C (but some people who got Cs didn't pass). So I can understand why people would take issue with that phrasing, even though I don't think there was anything awful about using a weight loss metaphor in general.

          • Agree with your logic but not how you're applying it. I think the statement "successful weight loss" means "if you were successful at weight loss, you will have done these things, not "if you do these things, you will be successful." All whales are mammals, but not all mammals are whales.

          • Oh, I can see what you're saying. I just can see how it could be read the other way too. :) But really, this discussion has gotten so far away from the actual topic of the article, it's kind of ridiculous. I think we're just going in circles now.

          • Yeah, I think we all must be fairly bored. *wry* But I still have 10 minutes until my bf is ready to watch a movie, and I've already gone to the gym, eaten dinner, and cleaned my apartment, so I may as well argue with people on the internet. ;-)

          • The rise in overweight people is directly tied to a rise in unhealthy behaviors, such as being less active and eating cheap, quick unhealthy food instead of healthy food.

            Nobody's forcing anybody to lose weight, it's more of a general "Americans as a whole need to work on changing their lifestyles, and all the overweight people are a symptom of that. Thus, people healthily losing weight would be a sign of a positive change."

          • Even overweight people can become fit. I have a friend who is overweight due to medical reasons beyond her control (more about hypothyroidism than diet) and working to lose that weight, and aside from managing to lose a good deal of weight through a lot of careful work, despite still being overweight, she's also extremely fit. She carries her extra weight well. You can be overweight and still be fit– so eating healthy, exercising, etc. is a good goal for anyone. Not everyone has to be, or can be, or SHOULD be that "perfect" skinny model, but being active and fit is something most people can and should try to incorporate into their lives.

    • Ok y'all are getting hung up that I called it fat shaming. I guess the doc isn't fat shaming exactly. Rather his words are contributing to a culture of fat hatred, where we conflate thin with fitness. Julia hits it spot on in her comments – listen to her! Fitness could have been used as a goal that wouldn't be offensive because its a goal that anyone can have, like learning a language. Weight-loss is *not* the same because there is a great deal of stigma attached to being larger and not everyone can lose weight by doing the things listed in this article.

      Two examples and then I'm out:

      "Just as successful long-term weight-loss is a collection of positive habits – avoiding processed foods and simple carbohydrates, eating more green leafy vegetables, learning to love some form of cardiovascular exercise – that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle, success in dating is a collection of positive habits that become so ingrained that you no longer have to think about them."

      There are just so many wrong assumptions in this statement that can be really harmful to a fat person. The idea that if you do these things -exercise and eat "healthily" – that you will lose weight is just not supported by science, even though we all accept it as common wisdom.

      "Dieters who track their weight, list the food they eat and the exercise they do lose more weight and keep it off longer than people who try to freestyle their diets. "

      To me this sounds really like disordered eating that I think a ton (maybe most?) of people in this country have experienced and were affected negatively by. As someone who was surrounded by eating disordered in college and barely avoided one, I just think this is a harmful thing to say. Not that eating healthily and exercising are bad things but its tieing it to weight-loss that's the problem. It was only by letting go of the obsession with being a certain way that I could enjoy food and activity again – before they were trails I needed to do because of the way I looked and I deserved it. THIS IS NOT UNUSUAL and many many people feel the way I did. I get that the readers of this blog have accepted the culture narrative that fat=unhealthy but seriously – no, you're being hateful.

      I'm not going to stop reading the blog, because it really is one of my most favorite! It's just disappointing when I've occasionally heard uncritical stuff about race or fat, because you're so good at thinking critically about gender.

      • Juuuuuulia says:

        Right! Normative language! State standards go around proclaiming that all the childrens must have this BMI. Magazine headlines tell me how to "lose 10 pounds fast!"

        I have never seen the headline: "How I learned to do a handstand (and got my life back)." It's a fitness goal!

        • x_Sanguine_8 says:

          Juuuulia, chill – I think you are making this out to be a bigger deal than it really is. Changing perceptions takes time, and there are probably bigger issues and places to focus on. Learn to pick your battles wisely, and learn to fight them wisely too.

          As an obese person who has had to put up with a lot of unsolicited advice, abuse from family members concerning my weight and countless pejorative comments and remarks from random people on the street, I can sympathise with being nettled by yet another comment on losing weight. It never ceases to amaze me how many virtues can be negated by being fat, or how many vices can be excused by being thin. It's tougher still that thin people think that losing weight is somehow "easy", and that fat people are "just lazy" if they don't measure up to a given person's standards.

          I think the analogy DNL brings up about running a marathon is highly applicable to losing a large amount of weight – it's going to take time, and there will be setbacks. It takes a great deal of dedication to lose weight – more than even learning to run a marathon – because people will actively discourage you from being outside or going to the gym (by making fun of you or making you uncomfortable).

          I think a better goal is to get regular people to stop seeing fatness as a supreme vice, rather than attacking "normative language" – we're always going to have some form of arbitrary standard. If fatness wasn't so stigmatized, then it wouldn't be a big deal for us to be out on the streets walking or in a gym, and we'd feel less discouraged by the abuse and therefore be less likely to reach for comfort foods. Because we know it's not good to be so fat, but it's hard enough to work towards a long term goal, and having to swim against the tide of people who'd rather you hide yourself away with a pint of Haagen-Dazs makes it incredibly difficult.

          Thin people: if you want to see fewer fat people around, encourage your fatter friends to get active, even if it means just going for a walk with them. But don't be pushy or harass them about it – it's gotta be their decision. And for pity's sake, keep the rude comments to yourself – there's a reason so many fat people are easily discouraged and thin-skinned.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "Ok y'all are getting hung up that I called it fat shaming. I guess the doc isn't fat shaming exactly. Rather his words are contributing to a culture of fat hatred, where we conflate thin with fitness."

        Except that he isn't. He *could* have written an article about weight loss improving your odds in dating, and it would be a totally legitimate article, because getting in shape and losing weight *does* improve your odds in dating. (Regardless of whether you consider it fair or not). Had you commented on an article like that, I would still have disagreed with you, but not called your comments absurd and rediculous.

        But that wasn't this article. This article used weight loss as an analogy to describe something else entirely. You tried to shame the author for "fat shaming" in an article that doesn't even mention the word fat – and doesn't even mention the topic of whether one should lose weight or not! As someone else said, by your standard one would not be able to write a blog on weight loss, because you're trying to recast even the mention of the topic as "fat shaming". Which is utterly rediculous – as a certain number of people actually *need* to lose weight for medical reasons. People starting to suffer from diabetes do *need* to lose weight for risk of having of have extremities amputated.

        For this reason alone, your tactic of trying to shame anyone who even mentions weight loss is…awful. I have a friend who's trying to lose weight because of diabetes, and if you were successful he wouldn't even be able to get info on it. I don't disagree that there are plenty of ways that weight loss is overdone – I think what doctors seem to think a "healthy" weight is seems rather absurd, I think that the entire modelling industry is obsessed with a body image that is sickly and unhealthily skinny (and frankly as a guy I find being that skinny genuinely unnattractive), and having tried to lose some weight myself (my sedentary job started causing my body to gain weight) I agree with the other posters that there's an innacurate attitude that losing weight is relatively easy – it's incredibly difficult, people don't realize how much trying to turn down your appetite affects your mood and emotions all day for months on end before you see any noticeable results. I can see why you think this tactic of shaming anyone who mentions a topic you don't want anyone to talk about would work – it's the basis for many comments and a few articles on this site (*cough* – but that's another topic) – but saying that it's overblown does not invalidate the people who *need* to lose weight for specific medical reasons (like diabetes). And that would be *if* the above article was actually advocating weight loss – which it is not.

        Even your comments suggest that you're promoting an ideology unrelated to the actual article.

        You wrote that –
        "Fitness could have been used as a goal that wouldn't be offensive"

        Then you quote the article –
        "Just as successful long-term weight-loss is a collection of positive habits – avoiding processed foods and simple carbohydrates, eating more green leafy vegetables, learning to love some form of cardiovascular exercise – that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle"

        Then you say –
        "There are just so many wrong assumptions in this statement that can be really harmful to a fat person. The idea that if you do these things -exercise and eat "healthily" – that you will lose weight is just not supported by science, even though we all accept it as common wisdom."

        You didn't even bother to notice that the original sentence – the one you quoted – doesn't *say* anything about losing weight. It's right there – it finishes with "healthier, fitter". You *just* claimed that talking about fitness wouldn't be offensive – then you quote something that mentioned that doing things would make you "fitter" – and claimed it was offensive.

        Your second sentence less obvious tactic of taking something someone said, twisting it to claim it said something differnent, then labelling that new thing as "hateful". Saying that one approach to weight loss is more successful than a different approach is not, in fact, saying that everyone who takes the first approach will always be successful, even if that is the way you interpreted it when you were younger.

        The only thing I agree with you on is that the tactics you're using are exactly the same tactics that are often used on this site and other sites for any topics on gender. Entire comment threads are often 90% filled with the "reframe, misinterpret, and shame anyone who discusses the topic in a way that doesn't favor our viewpoint" all the time.

    • I haven't posted here before, but I wanted to add that as a new reader, the repeated references to weight loss as a goal throughout the site has been the one things that's made me uneasy about this site, and I appreciate that you said something here. It's possible to semantically argue that the doctor isn't actually saying that anyone can lose weight if they follow his advice here, but I agree that the implication is fairly strong, and a week ago, in the article on why we fail, there was even stronger language stating that the reason people don't lose weight is because they're not trying hard enough.

      There is no diet or lifestyle change or anything that's been proven to produce more weight loss than weight gain over a 5-year period, and the definition of "success" even in the short-term in weight loss programs is still not enough to make a fat person thin, since it tends to mean on average that someone who is 250 lbs can drop to 225 or so.

      It's great that the doctor lost weight and feels better about himself as a result, but as he himself points out, anecdotes are not data, and the fact that some people are successful in weight loss doesn't mean it's possible for everyone.

    • Like I mentioned in the past, I'm on the short side. One thing that being short means is that a few extra pounds start showing there effect on your body a lot sooner than they would in a tall person. A little over two and half years ago, I was about ten pounds over weight and it looked a lot worse than it sounds. The fact that I hated exercise didn't make it easier. Than I started dancing and quickly lost the weight, I cut the portions of what I ate and kept it off. Dancing made it easier to exercise because I see the results of hard work. It takes effort but weight loss is possible.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      A comparison of some sort was necessary. I agree that, technically, the relation to fitness/weight loss was not necessary in that some other example could have been used. However, there are now more words written about this single aspect of the article than there are in the article itself. The discussion has reached the point of both the pro and con side trying to interpret individual words to uncover some sort of deeper meaning. This is not holy scripture. Its dating advice, written by an imperfect non-physician human being.

      Interestingly, both being overweight and being bad with the opposite sex are shamed behaviors. No one has to work on changing these things about themselves, nor have I ever read such an implication in the Doc's columns. Many people opt to. That does not read to me as fat/awkward shaming any more than the introduction is slow people shaming. I'm a slow person and I didn't take the Doc's advice on running as shaming. Mind you (and unrelated to the weight issue) I'll be dead if the zombies that come for us all are those fast, 28 Days Later models. I accept that.

      All that said, you are certainly entitled to feel however you want about such comments. You are welcome to point out how it makes you feel, why and what alternative language might be used. I just wonder if, after all of the commentary here, the original issue hasn't been lost in a debate over exactly which words to change to render the article perfectly inoffensive.

  2. Doc, thanks for the article – you're right that it's hard, if not impossible, to accomplish a goal if all you're thinking of is the finish line. Just to keep things relevant to your opener, I *am* getting ready to run a marathon, and when people ask me how I can run for so long I point out that I'm not doing it cold; it'll be the culmination of over six months of training runs, and of me signing up to run my first 10k three years ago. Maybe the reason it's difficult for me to look at dating the same way is that I haven't started training, so to speak – all I can think of is the goal and how far away it looks.

    In any case, I like the idea of working on my Charisma attitude. Thanks again!

  3. Charisma *attribute*. Sorry, I'm distracted by Star Trek – nerd indeed.

  4. GernBlanston says:

    "A lot of guys when they get into pickup artistry set arbitrary goals – “I want to sleep with three new girls a month” or “I want to be having threesomes regularly within three months” – and start pursuing whatever path seems the fastest way to getting what they want."

    As far as I know, a lot of guys "get into pickup artistry" not for these reasons, but because they feel a lack of sex and romance in their lives. Many simply would like to get a girlfriend. Those goals DNL indicates are only introduced by the pickup guru snake oil salesmen. Their customers buy into it initially because they're desperate and then because the gurus sell them on the fantasy.

    It's clear that DNL adapts a lot of his material from the pickup artist community. This is especially evident in some of his buzzwords and turns-of-phrase as well as his focus on cold-approaching. That's a shame. I suppose you can't necessarily throw the baby out with the bathwater, though. At least he hasn't stooped to the kinds of marketing tactics the pickup gurus employ.

    • SarahGryph says:

      Y'know though, even "I want a girlfriend by x amount of time" is still focusing on end goal. And I know plenty of people don't seem to set a goal for time……but I see an awful lot of "why not yet?" posts. The "why not yet" implies that there was an expectation of a time limit, and that time limit has passed. So while his specific examples may not resonate with everyone, it seems like the idea of focusing on "end goal" for dating rather than the steps to get there is still valid. The difference between "yay I talked to someone attactive today, points for me!" vs "omg I talked to this person and I didn't get a phone number or date so I fail."

  5. Another Well written post, doc. As someone who is currently in the process of improving, this post reminded me of the progress I made so far. Even though I have went to a single date ever since I began roughly three months ago, I can safely say that I am MUCH happier with myself and who I am becoming ever since. To me, it was going into salsa dancing that broke me free from my own negativity circle and my reluctance to become a more social and interesting person.

    Just yesterday, I had several girls from my salsa dance group telling me how they are impressed with how I dance, considering the relatively short amount of time I am dancing since I begun. To me, if someone told me three months back before I started dancing, that girls will be complementing me about HOW GOOD I DANCE – I would probably would have told him he is insane and tell him to go see a psychologist!
    Besides, I met some really cool nerds/geeks in this group and today we're friends that meetup every now and then for some LAN gaming action!

    Plus, this weekend there is this free hiking trip not far away from where I live – that is organized by a group that is dedicated on connecting foreign young people who are studying/living in my city with local young people who regularly live/study in the city, like myself. I decided to attend this trip – because I realize that it is a great, fun way meeting new, interesting people. The old me would have probably done everything in his power to avoid going to places where I don't really know anyone.

    So in general, I am quite pleased with my progress. Even though there is much more work to be done, it's good to look back and see just exactly what has been accomplished so far.

  6. Forgive me for sounding insensitive, but I thin getting this worked up over Dr. Nerdlove's mention of losing weight is a tad over-reactive.

    "When we’re not getting the results we want fast enough – regardless of whether it’s in weight loss, writing, running or dating – it’s very easy to get frustrated. "

    "Just as successful long-term weight-loss is a collection of positive habits – avoiding processed foods and simple carbohydrates, eating more green leafy vegetables, learning to love some form of cardiovascular exercise – that inevitably leads to a healthier, fitter lifestyle…"

    Dr. N is not saying, "losing weight makes you healthier". He said that successful (and healthy, not crash-diet) weight loss requires integrating positive habits into your lifestyle long-term– AND that those positive habits will make you healthier and fitter.

    From reading Dr. N's past articles, it's pretty clear to me that he's against fat-shaming, and that he's probably one of the last bloggers who would engage in it. I would also argue that his word usage in this post doesn't even begin to touch fat-shaming. I've read it over again and again, and all he's doing is using it as an example (that many people can surely relate to, fat or not) of trying to accomplish something and running into obstacles and using strategies to overcome them.

  7. I thought it was "alone, unmourned and unloved" — Cerebus

  8. You know, this is a good one for me too, even though I'm not really going affter the guy-oriented approach model of dating. There are a bunch of things I sporadically try to do to improve my social and dating life (going to more community events, eating lunch outside rather than in my office, responding to online messages and texts from guys I've met online more promptly – especially if I'm feeling iffy about things). I'm guessing writing things down will keep me honest about how often I'm actually doing those things and encouragte me to make more progress toward them. A date journal probably wouldn't hurt either.

  9. I think that one of the hardest parts of improvement is how life can interfere with your plans. For the past couple of years, I've worked very hard to improve myself. On a personal and social level its been success. Its also been a qualified success for dating, in that I've been going on more dates even if the results aren't exactly what I wanted. When summer ended, I really planned to focus on dating during the fall. So far, events beyond my control have not allowed me to give dating the focus I want. Hurricane Sandy topped all the craziness. Then comes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years and most people aren't going to putting much effort in dating. Basically, I'm going to have to wait to winter to really start and I was kind of hoping to have somebody to spend the end of the year with.

    In the past this would frustrate me, I'd think that some malevolent power was making a hash out of my life so he or she could have a laugh. Right now, I'm calm. I just know that I'm going to wait a bit. Its not a good thing but it happens.