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“Ugh, why don’t fat people just eat less?”

164 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

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If you’ve heard an ignorant comment like that, you’ve probably been to any of a thousand online forums.

overweight woman body in underwear

People love to demonize others for overspending and overeating, especially behind the anonymity of online commenting. Nothing drives me crazier than people who ignore decades of research to judge others for their supposed lack of willpower.

This is why you’ll see the personal-responsibility zealots who repeatedly chant, “Ugh, let’s talk about personal responsibility,” as if that simplistic argument explains why people who genuinely want to spend and eat less simply cannot.

This superb New York Times article offers more evidence of ancillary factors in behavioral change:

“I have grave concerns about how many of these television shows stigmatize overweight people by making them a spectacle,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. “They suggest that if you only try hard enough you can be thin. A far better message is that it’s hard to lose weight and that it’s not just willpower and personal responsibility, but that both biology and the environment are players.”

I’ve written about the similarities between food and personal finance before.

Former FDA commissioner David Kessler has written a terrific book describing how food companies systematically engineer foods to overeaten (including designing foods that can be swallowed quicker so we can consumer more and more in one sitting). These are tested, refined, and optimized processes, not mere accidents.

Most importantly, behavioral change is not simply about trying harder. Yes, effort is important, but whether it’s passive barriers or the variety of other reasons that illustrate how personal finance is not about more willpower, let’s be real: Behavioral change is incredibly complex and difficult.

Anyone who believes people overeat and overspend simply because of a lack of willpower is simplistically ignoring decades of research so they can ideologically mislead themselves.

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164 Comments on "“Ugh, why don’t fat people just eat less?”"

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Leif
6 years 11 months ago

First! (Thank you for making posts late at night, my RSS likes you.)

BTW: If you had more willpower you would blog more often! Thanks Ramit!

John Shirley
6 years 11 months ago
Ah, willpower. In one of my psych classes (way back when) there were a series of lectures on the psychology of marketing and the ways industry targets people. Weeks were spent on the topic. Most students were worried only about memorizing the details of each lecture long enough to take an exam, then forget them. I, however, came out of it with this: Large, successful businesses use well-trained psychologists (in marketing, engineering, where ever) to determine the best way to get money out of your pockets and into theirs. It’s easy, really. Just convince the customer that he needs whatever… Read more »
self
self
6 months 17 days ago
actually I buy more food because I think it looks good…and because I generally like to eat…. I find it funny that people think its eating less, or eating healthier that will make you skinnier…I mean ive been fat before…but lets be honest…I wasn’t very athletic during those days…I am now, I eat tons, and only eat what I want, or what looks good…I also don’t work out “how im supposed to”, but rather by what I genuinely enjoy doing. I’ve found I like pull-ups and squats…as weird as it is, I do them when I get the chance, such… Read more »
Baker
6 years 11 months ago

I think the willpower to WANT to change is essential before any system will stick. In other words, no matter how mind-blowing a system is, it won’t amount to long-term change without the desire to change.

However, people rarely point out the opposite (as you have). All the willpower in the world is utterly useless without a system that reinforces positive habits and makes it easy to maintain momentum.

Ultimately, I think people need a combination of both. I’m not sure what inspired this post, but it had to be good. 😉

Sachit Gupta
6 years 11 months ago

Seems like a rehashing of your old posts. Nonetheless, you make a great observation.

Claudio I.
Claudio I.
6 years 11 months ago

Willpower is also difficult to battle when it’s supported by conditioning. My uncle grew up in Polish ghettos of WWII and taught me to always finish my plate. “Taught” might not even be the right word… I couldn’t leave the table without finishing the plate. Now it’s hard to break that almost pavlovian habit.

Nate
Nate
6 years 11 months ago
Ramit, you’re not alone in the recent trend of cherry picking studies over the last thirty years to find the ones that forgive average people for being average. Nor are you alone in realizing that appealing to average folks is the straightest path to mass popularity/ sales. It still seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that “willpower” or “commitment” or “drive” or whatever is not a key part of the solution here. Willpower alone may be worthless without a good strategy, but no strategy is worth anything without the willpower to see it through. Assuming that someone has the wrong… Read more »
Josh
6 years 11 months ago

@Nate, re-read the second to last paragraph of his post…
“Yes, effort is important, but whether it’s passive barriers or the variety of other reasons that illustrate how personal finance is not about more willpower, let’s be real: Behavioral change is incredibly complex and difficult.”

Eddie
6 years 11 months ago

It all starts with the mind… That’s where the battle is fought. That’s where it begins, willpower, strength to overcome and keep going, everything. Once YOU see it in your mind and then get all the willpower books and great planning ideas. Then and maybe then it may stick (the over spending and over eating). The mind is the battlefield… Just my two bits.

Someones
Someones
6 years 11 months ago
It’s true enough that marketers have learned to take advantage of parts of human nature that are naturally unconscious processes. Still, we can gain awareness and learn to avoid some behaviors. One of the absolute scourges of American society is high fructose corn syrup soda. Just eliminating that one diabetes-promoting horror of tooth decay in a bottle can help people be healthier AND richer. Have your morning latte if you like, and quit feeding the soda machine instead. Ever notice how they push this garbage at fast food places? This is because “soft drinks” are the biggest profit center they… Read more »
cukamunger
cukamunger
6 years 11 months ago

I’m so glad that everyone here has the quick fix for this problem. Willpower can be fleeting. For fat people, the hard part is keeping that willpower. Advertising tailors to our desires, and food ties in with a basic need. Twinkies are a different matter, but it still ties in with food. It’s easier to hide financial bloating than physical, but they run along the same basic guidelines.

Mneiae
Mneiae
6 years 11 months ago

Thank you! I just read one article that vilifies fat people, and I was appalled by the attitude that the blogger has about them. Thank you for saying that it’s not about willpower.

http://www.punchdebtintheface.com/2009/09/pf-diet.html

Dr. Kathleen Young
6 years 11 months ago

Your article seems to be speaking out against making a spectacle of and the demonizing of people who are obese. Why then the typical headless, semi-nude fat body picture? Tactics like that are commonly used and serve to objectify and dehumanize people who are obese. I hope you will reconsider your use of this sensationalistic tactic.

Ophélie
6 years 11 months ago

I’m messy. I’m deeply uncomfortable with my messiness, and I want to change, but it isn’t as easy as just putting my mind to it, despite what un-messy people might think.
So when I have a friend who is overwhelmed by their spending habits, I resist the urge to tell them how easy it is. If it really were as simple as having more willpower, we’d all be superstars at everything.
I loved this post: http://www.fluentself.com/blog/stuff/its-not-freaking-easy/ because it highlighted some of the same things.

Nate
Nate
6 years 11 months ago
@Josh: If I change my “a key part” to “the key part”… Maybe he’s strictly attacking a strawman complainer who supposes that willpower is “easy”, but when he says behavioral change is “difficult” I read that as “requires effort/ willpower”. Here I’m just gonna be a ranting jerk, but this attitude that everyone should be forgiven for not trying and that there’s always an easier shortcut is toxic and ubiquitous in America. For all the complaints (“food companies make bad food” “it’s really hard not to run up a huge credit card debt” etc), there’s always a coddler there to… Read more »
Jim
Jim
6 years 11 months ago

Seriously? You’re arguing with comments on fat loss websites? Without showing any examples… Do you have a quota to fill in blogging? Why did you waste your time and ours writing nonsense in response to nothing? You’ll never find a credible source worth arguing with who says willpower alone is enough.

Daniel
6 months 16 days ago

I agree that will power alone is not enough. There are a lot of other factors to consider like health issues and money. I was a good observation though I was hoping you could have written more examples.

ggeezz
ggeezz
6 years 11 months ago
Ahh, nuance. Impossible != hard. Proving that 95% will fail at a task != proving that a task is impossible. In fact it proves that a task is possible and yet hard. A good definition of “hard” would be something where most people fail and a few with superior methods and/or abilities succeed. Decades of research have not proved that losing weight “by sheer willpower” is impossible. In fact, research has proven it is possible, but it’s also hard, meaning that most people will fail if they rely on sheer willpower. So the people bemoaning the lack of willpower of… Read more »
Darwin's Finance
6 years 11 months ago
I’ve read a lot of research on High Fructose Corn Syrup. The material is completely evil. It actually rewires the brain to crave more and the stomach doesn’t send any signals to the brain that it’s full after eating the substance. It’s tough to avoid, as it’s so pervasive in practically all pre-packaged foods. I go out of my way now to inspect ingredients and avoid eating it and more importantly, I try and minimize our childrens’ exposure to it. 1/3 of adults in the US are obese. Not just overweight, but obese. There is truly a crisis in our… Read more »
Tom
Tom
6 years 11 months ago
Ramit, I agree with this article completely, but would also like to add a simple argument to drive home the point that the view that “will power” can explain obesity makes little sense. Most of us have had poison ivy or insect bites which itch – producing the urge to scratch. We don’t look at people with poison ivy or insect bites and judge them for scratching. We simply can acknowledge that they have a condition which creates an urge that we ourselves do not possess, leading to a behavior in them that we have no urge to indulge ourselves.… Read more »
Scadman
Scadman
6 years 11 months ago
Thanks for touching on this point, however I would have to say that this article can only speak for people who are “genetically fat”, but can’t speak for all of those people who are just fat because they are lazy and have no will power. Taking a look at the obesity rates by country, is it REALLY the case that people in the Netherlands are so much more genetically superior that they can manage to be obese at 1/3 the rate of Americans? Highly doubtful. I’m assuming the majority of your readers are adults in the U.S. and thanks to… Read more »
secant
secant
6 years 11 months ago
Ramit, The only acceptable reason for people to be overweight is a medical condition. The rest of your post should be about choice, not willpower. If people make poor choices, they will have poor results. Including the choice to eat the engineered foods from the food companies. One does not have to eat such foods. You say that “Behavioral change is incredibly complex and difficult.” … that is a true statement. Here is another equally true statement … Behavioral change is incredibly easy. Ramit, your statement is a statement of belief not actually fact. Henry Ford put it this way… Read more »
Amber
6 years 11 months ago
I agree with Baker. Yes, the evil food corporations are out there trying desperately to make us fatter so we will consume more. But what we all put into our mouths can be totally separate from what those corporations are telling us to eat. Almost everyone in this country has access to fresh vegetables, fruits & meats. Those that don’t deserve to be treated in a completely separate post with a much longer, detailed explanation. I feel that letting fat people play victim just creates a cycle of poor nutrition and weight management. Just as boo-hooing everyone that spends away… Read more »
ggeezz
ggeezz
6 years 11 months ago
Tom, Here’s my main problem with your argument. Willpower is neither equally distributed nor static. There are some people who have both the biological propensity to be obese and the willpower to overcome that propensity and be thin. Behavior does not follow urge. Behavior tends to follow urge. It’s a subtle yet important different. Messages have an affect on willpower. If you encourage someone not to try harder, they will tend not to try harder. If you encourage someone to try harder, they will tend to try harder. Telling an obese person that they can’t help their condition is both… Read more »
Mark Wolfinger
6 years 11 months ago

Sometimes the people who overspend just do not understand and can be educated.

That’s not a matter of will power.

MarciaAnne
6 years 11 months ago
I agree that self control is a large part of losing weight, however there are major influences of the environment to consider. When I was younger I was quite thin, and happy about it. Then I was given medicine with weight gain side effects; 70 pounds in 2 months. It altered my chemistry. After a few years, my chemistry began to return to normal, and I found myself in serious need to re-find my old body. I began the process. (Spoiler alert) the basic truth to weight loss is to expend more calories than you in-take. I follow this for… Read more »
M.
M.
6 years 11 months ago
Behavioral change is hard not because it is hard, but because of the way people go about doing it. I’ve gone from 20% body fat to 12%, and still decreasing. Not sure where it will stop. I’ve gone from dating a new girl once a year to a new one every two weeks. I travel once every month to a new city, and spend a month twice a year to go back home. I went from speaking 2.5 languages (the third I could read well, but not really converse in) to around 4. I feel like adding Spanish now and… Read more »
Lance
Lance
6 years 11 months ago
I’m going to have to agree with Secant and ggeezz on this one. I refuse to believe that someone cannot maintain a healthy body weight if they truly have the willpower to do so. Ramit, I think you know as well as I that the things you listed in your comment are not the equal to watching what you eat and being active. I chose to watch what I eat, work out, and to keep my finances in order. If I lose sight of any of these things they start to fall out of place. It is not easy to… Read more »
Scadman
Scadman
6 years 11 months ago

@Ramit

That is unreasonable. Going from fat to thin is about movement within the normal range of body weight. Your list of items are all characteristics you would find in the top 1% or so. You don’t have to be an outlier to be in shape. Go visit a country where people can’t afford to be fat, see how many people are “suffering” from the “epidemic” that is obesity.

Genetics can surely make it so that you have to work harder than the next guy for the same results, but it’s not an excuse to stop working.

RStewie
RStewie
6 years 11 months ago
I’m very on the fence about this: I am overweight, but I don’t eat a lot. I also don’t work out (at all). I’m not gaining weight because I realized my intake was too much for my lack of exercise to handle…otherwise I’d be a big balloon. I also know that, if I just started working out, even if only for 20-30 min/day, I would start to lose weight. BUT! I also know that I am genetically pre-disposed to be heavier. I wear my weight well, and I’ve always been heavier than I look (yay for me), but I do… Read more »
heyitsmesj
heyitsmesj
6 years 11 months ago

Wow. Fat people suck. I’m glad the socialist grandmother-killing death panels are going to eliminate them.

I hate fat people. You know who else I hate? People who are nice to fat people! And you know who should go to jail? PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEX WITH FAT PEOPLE! They are contributing to the fatness by making more fat people, and telling those fatties it’s ok that they are fat. How criminal! How unconscionable!

Fat is failure, right? And we are Americans: failure is intolerable.

/sarcasm.

secant
secant
6 years 11 months ago
@ Ramit First of all, did you read the book ‘Excuse Begone’ or are you just flaming for the sake of flaming … if you are flaming, then I, and probably others, will not take your post too seriously. About your request … Your request is not unreasonable and is doable. Please remember though, it has to be my choice, not yours. Which is the point of my first post … it is about choice. What I want in my life will be different than someone else … just don’t tell someone that their choice will be difficult or a… Read more »
vanderlei
vanderlei
6 years 11 months ago

Rammit your post is fully out of proportion to the conversation.

The willpower and time required to avoid obesity are on quite a different level than making 350k a year or speaking 6 languages. These things of course could be done, but the work required would be immense. To compare something that would take a decade or more of work to put together and put it next to “skipping desert and walking a mile a day” is absurd.

Scadman
Scadman
6 years 11 months ago
I was referring to the fact that if you happen to weigh 235lbs you would be considered an otherwise average dude, who some might describe as overweight. If you lose 50 lbs you’ll still be seen as an average dude. BOTH of these weights can be found in the “normal” range of weight, thus you have moved within the normal range However, if you go from being average to having less than 5% body fat and a six pack, and you’re making $350,000 etc. You have moved from the normal range to the outlying range. We’re talking a 1 standard… Read more »
Johny H
6 years 11 months ago

Free will vs. determinism argument, and not a very good argument at that.

Environment plays a role, sure. No one is disputing that certain individuals are more prone to obesity, or that obesity causing foods aren’t scientifically tweaked.

But to suggest that weight loss is improbably, or impossible, is pathetically false on its face and an insult to the countless thousands that have won the battle.

Determinism fail.

April
April
6 years 11 months ago
In my experience, losing the 20 lbs I gained in college and getting my finances in order was mostly attributed to a mindshift. Just denying myself things I wanted and forcing myself to do things I did not want to do didn’t get me anywhere. The good behaviors never lasted for long until I became conscious about my actions–what interest was costing me, how debt was holding me back, where my food really came from, how much I truly needed to eat to be full, etc. NOW it’s easy…it’s second nature. There was a time when it definitely wasn’t, when… Read more »
Honey
Honey
6 years 11 months ago

Willpower may be genetic, too. Although I struggle with many things, once I set my mind to something it is easier for me than for others. It is how I have been vegetarian for 8+ years, got a PhD before I was 30, and weigh 132 lbs. It is easy for me, as someone with great willpower when I’m motivated (and there are definitely things I do not do because I am NOT motivated to do them) to judge others who do not possess that willpower.

But my judgment will certainly not grant them the willpower they lack.

Ryan
Ryan
6 years 11 months ago
Ramit, Loved this post, not because I need an excuse for my own shortcomings, but because of the truth that sheer willpower only goes so far, and the fact that we all have areas of our lives that we are weak at. I liken the willpower argument to telling an alcoholic to just stop drinking or telling someone with an phobia to just stop worrying so much! It is an oversimplification that is easy to make from the outside. I believe we would all do well to acknowledge that whether it is weight-loss, money management, intellect, or countless other fields… Read more »
Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts
6 years 11 months ago
The last thing that we need is an article telling people that it’s okay to be fat because it’s probably out of your control away. What exactly are fat people supposed to take away from this? Give up. The powerful corporations of the world are conspiring against you to make you a size 20. If only it weren’t for bad glands and a giant capitalistic conspiracy, you too could fit in to a normal-size car. How did those thin people do it? They must have a friend on the inside that told them how to break the hypnotic messages of… Read more »
thisisbeth
thisisbeth
6 years 11 months ago
I look to my two brothers for an example of genetics. They’re both close to the same height (Baby Brother is a little taller, but that’s neither here nor there). They both ate the same amount of food growing up (approximately). Older Brother liked to read books. Baby Brother could never sit still. Baby Brother stuggles with obesity. Older Brother is thin. The difference is that my father’s family has a high metabolism. My mom’s family has a low metabolism (she ended up on medication because it was so low). It really depended on what set of genes they inherited.… Read more »
Chad
Chad
6 years 11 months ago

@Lance who said Part of the problem with modern day Americans is that no one wants to take responsibility for what is truly their fault

Thank you, for laying the truth out bare and clear for all to read !

Yes, it is about time that we Americans take responsibility for what is truly our fault, starting with an apology from George Tenet for the death of 3000 plus residents in 2001.

Kevin@OutOfYourRut
6 years 11 months ago
Yesterday I was watching my kid play in a soccer game between local middle school teams. Here in the South the weather is still hot and humid and the kids are all running like madmen. Some of the kids were soaked in sweat, others were dry as a bone. Why the difference? Were the sweaty kids working harder? Do the dry kids take better care of their hygeine? Neither–it’s physiology! It’s the same reason some are tall and others short, why some have brown eyes and others blue. It’s different for all of us, and it also has something to… Read more »
Chad
Chad
6 years 11 months ago

@ heyitsmesj who says

Wow. Fat people suck.

Really ? If so, then do Skinny people Swallow ?

ggeezz
ggeezz
6 years 11 months ago
In part the dialogue here is an example of people talking around each other. I have seen people argue that obesity is 100% dependent on biology and environment and that no amount of willpower will help an obese person to become thin. These people are wrong, but I didn’t notice anyone here promoting that opinion. I have also seen people argue that obesity is 100% dependent on willpower, that biology is a negligible factor if a factor at all. These people are also wrong, but I didn’t notice anyone here promoting that opinion either. But people do think that one… Read more »
Chad
Chad
6 years 11 months ago

Question to all of you touting weight loss approaches that work (and that don’t work)

Why are most French people skinny ?. Are you telling me that they don’t have any of the physiology, willpower and food industry issues that America is allegedly having, which by implication exonerates us of all responsibilities for not getting obese ??? PLEASE.

Scadman
Scadman
6 years 11 months ago

Note: This is actually a financial issue, and last time I checked this was also a financial blog geared around saving money and being financially sound..etc. See: costs of healthcare for obese vs. fit person. I’d also like to point out that in an effort to save even more money in my own life I cut down dramatically on money spent dining out. this in turn, led to me losing 12lbs after 5 weeks….and counting.

“Government studies even show that every one point increase in body-mass-index or BMI can mean a $1,000 drop in net worth.”

*http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/healthscience/2008/July/The-High-Cost-of-Being-Obese-/

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years 11 months ago

Aren’t effort and choices and ignoring advertising all a DIRECT result of willpower?

You seem to be arguing that willpower means just wishing something to be true. Of course wishing that the weight will go away is not going to do anything.

Also, personal finance vs. losing weight is a faulty comparison. You don’t always have control over your expenses (emergencies, unforeseen costs) but you have control over what goes in your mouth.

Eric
Eric
6 years 11 months ago
“Anyone who believes people overeat and overspend simply because of a lack of willpower is simplistically ignoring decades of research so they can ideologically mislead themselves.” The funny thing about this quote is that it can work both ways. There are those who will read this article and this quote to validate their feelings that they can’t lose weight or they can’t spend less. Their ideology is one of victim hood and they will “ideologically mislead themselves” too. (“It’s not my fault I’m obese, look at my genes and look at how the food companies rig my food!!!!”) What people… Read more »
Ryan
Ryan
6 years 11 months ago

Question: Is the picture above a man or woman?

Kevin@OutOfYourRut
6 years 11 months ago

Chad (47)–Good catch on the French. They eat a lot of REAL butter and have a high consumption of wine–we’re told those are poison for the waistline on this side of the pond! And statistically the French also live longer than we do.

Obviously, there are some cultural issues involved. Being less car dependent, they do tend to walk a lot more.

I wouldn’t write off behavior as a cause of obesity, but it’s at least equally clear that biology and culture do play a huge part.

Ryan
Ryan
6 years 11 months ago

Also to be noted, there are MANY skinny people that are incredibly unhealthy.

Lisa
Lisa
6 years 11 months ago
Delurking to say this is an insightful, fair and compassionate post. I’ve been both overweight and thin (now in my 50’s and somewhere in between). I think there are people who have never struggled with weight or who were able to lose the weight somewhat easily (keeping it off long term is another matter) who make themselves feel better by reducing obesity to a matter of character and strength of will. We need to help Americans eat better, exercise and lose weight without vilifying anyone who doesn’t fit our narrow definition of thin. The country has gone haywire on its… Read more »
Honey
Honey
6 years 11 months ago

And once again, everyone immediately begins debating minutiae instead of mentally adapting this post to your specific situation and FOCUSING on the TAKEAWAY.

Chad
Chad
6 years 11 months ago

@Honey,

Perhaps everyone is “debating minutiae” in part (or in whole) due to the sensational title and the equally outrageous photo that goes with it ?

You’ve got to hand it to Ramit. He has ended up with the most comments per hour on this post, than on any of his other posts. Maybe the wedding post comes close, but not quite 😉

Nice one Ramit !

secant
secant
6 years 11 months ago
To everyone: Unless someone has a medical condition, or heredity, that supports being fat or skinny … then one’s condition has come about because of the choices that they have made. Even your heredity can be affected, to some degree, by your choices. Make different choices and have a different consequence. My assumption here is that we are all adults and as such have free will to choose. Please share, if you don’t think that you have a choice about what goes in your mouth and how much exercise that you do. The bigger question, and one that isn’t being… Read more »
Honey
Honey
6 years 11 months ago

@ Chad – well, obviously. 🙂 Which only proves Ramit’s point, IMO.

Which is why I think it’s AWESOME. Much like one of my highly commented posts on stay at home moms and prostitution:

http://honeyandlance.com/are-stay-at-home-moms-really-just-prostitutes

Kristen
Kristen
6 years 11 months ago

Why is it so difficult to believe that people’s bodies respond differently to the same foods and activities?

We all know about the poor poor thin person who keeps trying to gain weight but just can’t. That’s just their physiology. But let’s throw some smug judgment on the people who eat what you eat and exercise how your exercise but are still overweight anyway.

Fat != glutton without any willpower. Weight gain is far more nuanced and complex than that.

ggeezz
ggeezz
6 years 11 months ago

Kristen,

See my post at #46. No one here has said that people’s bodies don’t respond differently to the same foods and activities.

Chad
Chad
6 years 11 months ago

Hi Honey,

Read your post, LOVE it (and your name too… Honey 😉

Concojones
Concojones
6 years 11 months ago

Quote Ramit: “All right Secant, I want you to choose to be buff (6-pack, please, with less than 5% body fat), make $350k/year minimum, travel at least 3 months/year to exotic locations, date multiple women every week, and speak at least 6 languages. Excuses be gone! Lemme know if any of this is unreasonable.”

I am actually working on goals identical or similar to these. Despite my problems with self-discipline I believe Secant is right. I can be done.

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years 11 months ago

So smokers who continue to smoke despite all the health issues just need more willpower. Alcoholics and drug addicts who still use just need more willpower. The cat hoarder down the street just needs more willpower to say no to taking in more strays. The gambler just needs more willpower to quit playing those slot machines. And that guy who obsessively washes his hands? He’s got free will and choice. Why can’t they all just stop?

Honey
Honey
6 years 11 months ago

@ Chad, thanks, you should stop on by more often!

Yeah, I like my name too 😉 Ha! I am pretty sure my partner, Lance, is the same Lance that posted above, though I can’t be sure. His name’s also pretty awesome.

ggeezz
ggeezz
6 years 11 months ago

PawPrint,

There are different degrees of addiction. In each of those of cases you can find people who stopped using sheer willpower. They are more or less rare corresponding to how strong each addiction is.

But the point is not that addicted people “just need more willpower.” Yes, extraordinary willpower would do the trick, but extraordinary willpower is by definition uncommon, so most people aren’t going to stop by willpower alone.

Alex
6 years 11 months ago
@ramit: Anyone who’s studied behavioral change, social psych, or motivation, please go comment on my post. Or I’m gonna go NUTS. http://bit.ly/QpSN5 Okay, here we go 🙂 Dear Ramit, dear commenters Changing an excessive behavior can often be summerized as trying harder. But that’s not all! Typically, your behavior is the sum of your attitudes and your social inhibitions. Your attitudes being what you know, what you feel and what you want. There’s a lot of psychological studies that re-order those concepts in different patterns, but overall that’s the cocktail. I’m an ‘over’-weakling. I have a hard time to not… Read more »
Ricky
Ricky
6 years 11 months ago

98% Americans will rather try Hydroxycut type magic pills before they
eat less.

Alex
6 years 11 months ago
@Ricky That’s right. And that won’t work. That’s because it looks easy, and they are lazy. Being lazy is a normal in their case. They’ve tried to change their behaviors without changing their attitudes, and failed in the process. Psychology studies showed that if you trap a dog in a cage, with a switch that MIGHT open the door, the dogs who first tried to pull a fake switch won’t try anymore, even days later, in another cage in another experiment. When you fail at something, you tend to underestimate the chances of a possible success. That’s the part where… Read more »
PS
PS
6 years 11 months ago
I’m an HIV prevention researcher and we talk behavior change all the time. Getting people to use condoms has a lot in common with getting people to eat healthier. I’m pretty sure similar principles apply to saving money. It’s not just about deciding one day to be healthy/rich. You have to constantly choose it over and over and over again. You have to decide to use a condom or be careful about your partners, to choose veggies over fries, to save for later rather than spend now at absolutely every turn. Binging once on ding dongs one night in front… Read more »
T
T
6 years 11 months ago
As a social psychologist, I have to disagree with a claim made earlier that Ramit “cherry-picks” the research that fits his claim; the research really does show that willpower is not enough on its own to change behavior. Motivation may be necessary to change behavior, of course, but it in no way is all that you need, and more motivation does not necessarily equal more change. And I’ve yet to see any research at all which suggests that motivation is a sufficient condition for behavioral change. A necessary condition, perhaps, but sufficient, absolutely not. I also think that people are… Read more »
Nicolas
6 years 11 months ago

A spokeperson in the documentary Supersize me!!! told it was the fault of fat people.

secant
secant
6 years 11 months ago

Ramit,

Your last post was assumptive at best … you assume that all of these posters, myself included, have not studied, or been involved with, psychology or read the requisite 3 books. Who has made you judge and jury on this topic about what is right and wrong?

PS’s comments are good ones, so are many others.

My offer still stands to have a conversation about this topic.

Jenn
Jenn
6 years 11 months ago
Wow Darwin, What you wrote about HFCS is completely sick! I read it to my husband and from now on, we’re going to do our best to avoid it. We try to make most of our food from scratch because we’ve read some equally horrific things about MSG. Oh, look. Did I just form a habit? Seriously, all kidding aside. It’s easy to form healthy habits when they build upon pre-existing habits (as in my case), when they don’t threaten your self-esteem (my case again) and when they aren’t complicated by other people’s bad habits (hubby’s case too). It also… Read more »
JimE
JimE
6 years 11 months ago

For once I am actually mystified as to the purpose of the article. Did you just want to start a big discussion? I don’t get it. Was it really supposed to be a pschological scaregasm that the system is always stacked one way? Totally at a loss here.

Sarah
Sarah
6 years 11 months ago

Ramit,

There are also countless studies over the last few decades documenting the increased caloric intake and decreased activity of the average American. It is simple math. These surely are contributing factors.

I know that genetics play a part in many people’s struggles, but the fact is that many people do not actually “struggle” – because to struggle they would have to put forth some sort of effort – put down the pizza and get up off the couch.

Lifestyle is certainly the number one factor – genetics play a secondary role in being overweight or obese.

Satvik
Satvik
6 years 11 months ago
To carry your groceries, do you constantly train yourself so that you can hold all the items at once, or do you use a cart? A lot of research shows that humans have almost *no* ability to predict how they will react in highly emotional situations-see the chapter “Emotion in Decision Making” in Predictably irrational. It makes a lot more sense to try and make decisions that avoid having to use willpower, than to try to exercise willpower every time you are tempted. And people should be taught to make decisions based on their psychology, rather than to just try… Read more »
T
T
6 years 11 months ago

Oh, and as a sidenote, I just remembered something else: developmental psychologists have found that young children often believe that if they want something enough or think about it hard enough, it will happen. If I remember correctly, they call this phenomenon, “magical thinking.” I do believe willpower is necessary for financial success, but as stated above, it’s not enough, and I would hope that as adults we would be careful not to engage in magical thinking. 😉

P.S. Ramit, thanks, I’m so glad you liked the comment, but I’m already married. 🙂

Benjamin Bach
6 years 11 months ago
I posted this on your facebook, but thought I’d add it here for your commentor’s benefit “I actually do think its easy to lose weight. Step 1) realize you are the way you are because of years of choices. Step 2) realize better choices lead to better results. Step 3) keep at it That’s how I went from 305+lbs to 160lbs now, and also how I’ve succeeded in business & done well with investments. It also leads to successful relationships” asked Ramit: “On your 3-step process, where do you think most people are likely to fail? Why? I continue: “Step… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
6 years 11 months ago
As for willpower… In AA they say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. Here, “I am fat” is not the only problem. If a person realizes “I am influenced by advertising, I eat fastfood a few times a week and I realize that it is bad for me, I do not exercise on a regular basis, I hold on to misguided values instilled in me during my childhood…” the list could go on and on and on. A person who comes to these realizations has a responsibility to make changes in his/her own life and stop… Read more »
b
b
6 years 11 months ago
I was a research assistant on a personality psych project as an undergrad and I was surprised that the literature shows personality traits are mostly static throughout the adult years. The situation of over-spending and over-eating also seems like self abuse to me. Like any abusive relationship, there’s a phenomenon called Learned Helplessness. That is, when one suffers through abuse, the tendency is to stay in old patterns of behavior because the known pain is better than the unknown, and after awhile one’s self esteem is such that you think you’re not worthy of anything better. It’s a violent cycle,… Read more »
secant
secant
6 years 11 months ago

@ Benjamin Bach … agreed … thank you.

Most of all … Congratulations! Keep up the great work.

MrPackGoat
6 years 11 months ago
If willpower was the simple answer for losing weight, then so it’s true that willpower will solve most things. Poverty. Beauty. Happiness. Loneliness. Depression. Personality disorders. Athletic ability. Wealth. Marriage problems. Compassion. Learning a new language. Baldness. Smoking. We all wish for simple answers…. but rarely are they to be found. Another night at the gym listening to a “Power of Positive Thinking” tape won’t do much good for the 90% or so who seesaw back and forth with weight problems. I applaud those who can muscle through… but you’re the exception to the rule. And, yes, I’m a slightly… Read more »
Benjamin Bach
6 years 11 months ago

MrPackGoat – the key isn’t to be “thinking positively” that you will get different results, it’s to change your nutrition & fitness levels (if your goal is health), buy a book on learning italian (if you want to learn a new language) and so on.

Standing in your garden, thinking ‘there are no weeds, there are no weeds, there are no weeds’ will not ensure a clean garden. You have to do the work to get the result.

Corey
6 years 11 months ago

I can’t help myself from commenting on this. I think obese people should be in the same general category as smokers. It’s perfectly legal, but it’s unhealthy, and should be frowned upon. Obese people shouldn’t be treated as though they are handicapped any more than someone who gets lung cancer from smoking. [/end rant]

AntoineBugleboy
AntoineBugleboy
6 years 11 months ago

No matter what anyone says, no matter what you believe, no matter how much you’re accepted or rejected, at the end of the day, who’s putting the food in your mouth, and who has to live with the consequences? Unless you can answer that question, everything else is moot.

S
S
6 years 11 months ago

Running on “willpower” juice is an awful plan for accomplishing long term goals. One of the many lessons I learnt from Dan Ariely’s behavioral economics class at b-school: It is hard to change human behavior compared to changing the rules of the game (the environment) and/or the incentives we set for ourselves.

Mneiae
Mneiae
6 years 11 months ago
@vanderlei #34 I see no reason why it should take a decade to learn to speak 6 languages. I’m in the process of learning my 6th. Just like personal finance and weight loss, it depends on the person. @Kevin #52 Their habits are very, very different than ours. You are totally correct that their culture plays a huge role. I went over there this spring weighing 150 lbs. and was told on my first day of attending high school during an exchange program that I was a fat pig and that I shouldn’t ever eat. It was a big cultural… Read more »
JT
JT
6 years 11 months ago
Insinuating that individuals are powerless against the temptations put in front of them by the big, bad, capitalist corporations is dangerous. It leads down the path of … what? the government administering our daily food intake to exactly what we need, and no more, since we are “powerless” to do this for ourselves? The government doling out a spending allowance each month so we don’t overspend, since we’re powerless there too? Sounds Big Brother like to me. And PS, before you repeat your (rude & condescending reply to Mike, IMO) and tell me I missed the point of the post…I… Read more »
Oaktownolivia
Oaktownolivia
6 years 11 months ago
People who are very overweight have a complicated relationship with food, and understanding this relationship requires a much deeper, and more holistic explanation than “willpower” or even behavioral change, can provide. For most people who are severly obese (which medically, for example, I would guess the woman in this picture would fit this category), food isn’t just food, its not just lack of willpower, its a serious addiction. And not an addiction to the taste of food, but on a much deeper level. For example, let’s say a kid is neglected and abused early in life and is left with… Read more »
Credit Card Chaser
6 years 11 months ago
Although I tend to lean towards the gung ho “personal responsibility” camp I also strongly agree with you in that it is very difficult to try and measure someone else’s level of internal personal responsibility/motivation/willpower because as you have put so well in an earlier comment: ” But to say that behavioral change is “easy” or “you can just go to the gym 5x/week!” makes several crucial errors: It implies that people are like you (generic “you”), have the same access as you, have the same motivation (and motivation is a very, very complex topic that is not the same… Read more »
Sara
Sara
6 years 11 months ago
Has everyone here (secant, etc) read Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink? Because that book is full of excellent research on how overeating has much less to do with so-called “willpower” and much more to do with other factors you may not even think about — portion size you probably have thought of, but what about how loud the music is in the restaurant you’re in? Louder, faster music has been shown to cause people to eat faster, and in the end, consume more calories. The best example in his book is of a now-famous research study where two groups of… Read more »
iwillescapedotcom
6 years 11 months ago
I believe that environment is def a factor but I don’t believe that just because your parents are fat and poor you will get some sort of mythical fat and broke genes that will prohibit you from losing weight and making money. In the nature vs nurture argument I side with the people who feel that the nurturing you get at home / environment is what has the largest deciding factors on how you turn out. Of course if you grow up w/ people w/ poor spending habits and eating habits you’ll eat and spend poorly as well. I feel… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
6 years 11 months ago

These are some of the longest comments I’ve ever read on a blog. That’s all, I have nothing of value to add.

ggeezz
ggeezz
6 years 11 months ago
I’ve cherry-picked a comment, but it does illustrate my point. T said: the research really does show that willpower is not enough on its own to change behavior. I’m not sure if you’ve worded this wrong or not. Taken at face value, this sentence means it’s impossible to change behavior with willpower alone. In general research does not and cannot prove that something is impossible. If you want to prove that running a mile in 3:30 is impossible, finding more people that cannot do it does not bolster your case. And it only takes one person doing it to prove… Read more »
Derek Peruo
6 years 11 months ago
Are you familiar with the Transtheoretical Model? It states there are 5 steps a person must go through before a negative behavior becomes a positive behavior. These steps are cyclical, and relapse into a previous stage can happen at any time. The stages are: Precontemplation: I don’t know there is a problem; or I know there is a problem and I don’t want to change. Contemplation: I know there is a problem, I know it must be changed, but haven’t taken steps to change it. Preparation: I know there is a problem and have taken steps to change, but those… Read more »
Marc
Marc
6 years 11 months ago
So, over the last 15 years or so, I had put on about 70 pounds, from a starting point of pretty fit. I finally came to the realization that I was no longer stocky, or just a big guy, but quite fat heading for scary fat. Over the last 5 months, I’ve lost about 35 pounds, and expect that the next 35 shouldn’t be too difficult. How? By following the “No-S Diet” (really a sustainable eating plan, more than a diet). It is the invention of Reinhard Engels, a computer programmer, and it can be summed up in 14 words-… Read more »
Andrew
Andrew
6 years 11 months ago

Ugh! Why can’t BMW drivers just park normal !?!

(they must have some kind of predisposition…)

Sarah
Sarah
6 years 11 months ago

I must say that I am surprised that an article like this would even come from Ramit. Compassion? Understanding? Ramit is usually more of a put up or shut up, survival of the fittest (or smartest) type of guy. He seems to have little time for complainers or people who make excuses rather than take responsibility.

Seems like he read something and was influenced by it, similar to people taking statistics, articles, whatever mass-generated info is out there, and then running with it.

You can find “studies” to support whatever you want.

Bring back the old Ramit!

W
W
6 years 11 months ago
The point expressed in this blog post is tailored to a scant few of exceptional circumstances. That is, the exception rather than the rule. The perversion, or complete disregard for the line in between is a large contributing factor behind obesity culture in the US. You’re telling people it’s OK to be fat because it’s hard to not be fat because it’s difficult and complex. Perhaps not your intention, but that’s the result. Willpower can’t be emphasized enough in this struggle. You’re clouding the lines of good logic here. All of this crybaby nonsense blaming processed food giants’ business practices… Read more »
Chad
Chad
6 years 11 months ago
@Corey who said “…Obese people shouldn’t be treated as though they are handicapped…” RIGHT ON ! Remember the furore that was created in the media when some of the airlines started charging for 2 seats for fat people ?! I wondered at that time if any of those people who were “outraged” ever had the good fortune of an obese fat person seated next to them by the airhostess. Most uncomfortable experience, especially on a long flight coast to coast. I have had more than my share of experiences. But even in that situation, the air staff is very “kind”… Read more »
Marc
Marc
6 years 11 months ago
@W Congratulations on your weight loss. Remember though, that there is no zealot like the newly converted. Will you be able to maintain your loss indefinitely? Do you want to do so though “pure willpower,” which sounds quite taxing? Or, have you established strong habits and an intelligent strategy which will make it fairly easy, even automatic? The plan I mentioned above is explicitly modeled on traditional food culture. The common element of “fit populations” such as the Japanese, the French, or Americans forty years ago is a social norm of eating meals (not snacks) at set times, usually in… Read more »
AntoineBugleboy
AntoineBugleboy
6 years 11 months ago
You cannot lose weight, get rich, or do anything that requires sustained effort, without willpower. Fat people who wish they weren’t fat (no matter what they publicly say about it), but choose to continue the habits that cause their obesity, or more accurately, don’t choose to adopt habits that would make them lose weight, lack willpower. You can dress it up any way you like, but ultimately, they have simply given up. Unfortunately, the popular, exclusive conception of willpower is that of a stubborn, stupid, “run into the same brick wall again,but faster this time” mentality. Life isn’t Dragonball, where… Read more »
Praneeta
Praneeta
6 years 11 months ago

Zeeezaloo! I was thinking why did Ramit take 20 lines to explain “Behavioral change is incredibly complex and difficult”, but looking at the slew of comments, their depth & breadth – it makes sense!

One Q though – If we are likening personal finance to overeating with lack of will power, then if we garner enough Will Power for personal finance, would it translate towards your eating habits & vice versa! Yikes!

Sarah
Sarah
6 years 11 months ago

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/exhaustedhowtogetyourwillpowerback

New article on willpower – with scientific evidence to support it.

W
W
6 years 11 months ago
@Marc Thanks. I cited pure willpower, but let it be clear that I’m referring to the use of willpower as fuel for a lifestyle change. I simply stopped eating so much crap and got into an active routine. I was the cliche of the teenager who played sports year-round and ate whatever was unfortunate enough to cross my path. Then I began a career, traveled, got married, became sedentary, and learned to indulge indiscriminately. I still considered myself athletic, but all of that weight piled on in a matter of two or three years. Then I got sick of sucking… Read more »
John DeFlumeri Jr
6 years 11 months ago

That comparison of overeating to financial slobbery is fascinating. Thanks for the article.

Kat
6 years 11 months ago

Bigger question is why does it cost so much damn money to lose weight. Why the hell does it cost more to eat less? Even if you don’t change what you eat and just eat less… you’ll lose weight. Just as if you spend a little less on your current habits, you’ll save a little. Dieters often get trapped in the same kind of boat as people who use brokers… paying more whether you get results or not….

Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog
6 years 11 months ago

I think I defy this conventional wisdom… my finances keep getting in better shape while I keep gaining weight!

Nate
6 years 11 months ago

Interesting comparison. I’d say it has to do with anything that is deeply ingrained and emotionally reinforced. Overeating, gambling, money woes etc. they all have pleasure/pain centers and usually the thing that gives the most reward instantly…is the hardest to overcome.

trackback

[…] I Will Teach you to be Rich asks, Ugh, Why Don’t Fat People Just Eat Less? […]

Steve O
Steve O
6 years 11 months ago

@Sarah… Ramit has a degree in psychology, so yes he was influenced by something he read.

The whole point of this article is that the vast majority of the studies show that behavioral change is complicated. I think the reason why there are so many crazy comments on this post is because it sounds a little too one-sided, though. BUT Ramit’s object was not to describe the complex factors that lead to obesity, it was to give some of the angry people here a wake-up call. Looks like it didn’t work…

Bobby
6 years 11 months ago

I don’t know if it’s been mentioned but, in America at least, cheaper food is unhealthier food. Ironically enough, in these tough times it wouldn’t be surprising to see obesity rates go up. Also, folks eat more when they’re depressed.

billy-bob
billy-bob
6 years 11 months ago

I think others commenting are discounting the environmental factors that surround the financial and dietary questions.

The American people have been systematically tricked into believing they have more spending/earning power due to insanely cheap imported products from China, when in fact their earning and purchasing power has gone down significantly with regards to food, energy, housing, education, and healthcare. This is why people go into debt. It’s not a choice for many middle-class families these days.

In a similar vein, our food has been engineered to contain boat-loads of corn syrup, highly refined ingredients, etc.

Mneiae
Mneiae
6 years 10 months ago

@W

You’re amazing. That’s really all I have to say.

Kirk Kinder
6 years 10 months ago

I don’t buy this. The people that argue that the marketing companies force us to buy and overeat have flawed arguments as just as many people don’t give in to these pitches.

Second, most overweight or indebted folks make excuses for their woes. The overweight blame food companies, family, heredity, etc. while indebted blame the economy, boss or someone else for their problems. Once they realize they are where they are due to their choices then they can take action to rectify it.

Jenn
Jenn
6 years 10 months ago
Ramit, If you are going to talk about means and averages (as in “The average couple spends X on their wedding” or “For the average person, motivation has X effect size on nutritional habits”), please indicate standard deviation, median and mode of the populations of which you speak. Given the response to your claims of “people are destined to be average in this way” or “you, specifically, will do the average thing when it comes to this topic,” I’m led to believe that you may be talking about bimodal distributions, distributions skewed by outliers, or distributions with very large standard… Read more »
Anca
Anca
6 years 10 months ago
As a few people (W @107 for instance) have shown, it’s not about “willpower” at all. It’s about being fed up enough with the current state of affairs and really committing to a change. People may desire to not be fat or in debt, but until they commit to doing everything in their power to change, it’s probably not going to change. Being “lazy” is easier and less scary. I’m “lazy” in many areas of my own life. Changing behaviors may be hard, but I would argue that *deciding* to fully change behaviors is harder still for most people. (This… Read more »
Marc
Marc
6 years 10 months ago

@W
Amazing. Well done. Your initial comment re: willpower made me wonder whether you had gone off the deep end with some unhealthy/unsustainable diet or exercise routine. From your story, obviously not. It seems like the consensus developing in this thread is that willpower is important if it means: recognizing the problem, taking personal responsibility, finding a smart system, and most of all, following through! The payoff, though, is that once well launched, continuing progress doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

Mommy Reporter
6 years 10 months ago

This is just like asking, “why can’t a drug addict just stop?” Many overweight people are addicted to food, just like many people are addicted to spending. I used to be one of those judgmental types who believed it was only about self-control and will power. Now, as I am struggling to lose about 20 pounds, I see that change is difficult, especially when the human psyche and emotions are involved.

John DeFlumeri Jr
6 years 10 months ago

That woman looks familiar, and I’m not kidding!

Why can’t they eat less is the million dollar question!

Ryan
Ryan
6 years 10 months ago

@Bobby

A lot of crap food is cheap, yeh. But so is a lot of good food. Look again at your grocery store, there are plenty of great foods that are healthy and very affordable. Not to mention the long-term money you’ll save by eating better.

A lot of people try saying that eating healthy is too expensive and use it as an excuse. That’s exactly what it is… an excuse.

Peter
6 years 10 months ago
Ramit, I liked this post but thought it could have benefited from some minor tweaks. For me, the major points of your book and blog have been: 1. Start investing in yourself today, no matter the amount (i.e. save $50/month) 2. Focus on achievable but big win modifications to your behaviours to support personal growth (i.e. stop using credit cards while saving $50/month). 3. Create support systems to achieve your goals (i.e. automate your finances). Throughout the book and blog, I find these points are both explicitly and implicitly mentioned. However, I think this post could have benefited from making… Read more »
Chad
Chad
6 years 10 months ago

Am I the only one that interpreted “W”‘s comment as one gloating in self-love and pompous touting of alleged accomplishments ?

@W, glad you were able to share it with the rest of us and thanks for making us feel like under-achievers.

p.s. are you related to the original Dubya ??

Sarah
Sarah
6 years 10 months ago

Being influenced by advertising… Driving by Burger King and stopping when you can just keep driving… Waiting until next week to start that diet or exercise program… Buying sugary and fatty foods instead of fruit and veggies… These all may be instilled in us by commercials, our parents, whatever… but wouldn’t all of these things be the OPPOSITE of willpower? Or, to put it another way, A LACK OF WILLPOWER?

And Chad… give the guy a break!

Sarah
Sarah
6 years 10 months ago
Here is the link to a post more along the lines of what I have come to expect from Ramit: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/we-love-to-debate-minutiae/ Here are some quotes from it: “When it comes to weight loss, 99.99% of people only need to know 2 things: Eat healthier and exercise more. Only Olympic athletes need to know more.” “I prefer to do it another way. Let the fools debate the details. I’d rather get something done by keeping it simple and actually doing it.” “Who wins at the end of the day? The self-satisfied people who heatedly debate some obscure details? Or the people… Read more »
Kevin@OutOfYourRut
6 years 10 months ago
Kirk Kinder (117)–Have to disagree! Most people have some sort of addiction–a coping device if you prefer–to fight bordem, make them feel “good” (or dull pain), or fill the gap between who the want to be and who they are. It can take the form of over eating, over spending, using drugs or alcohol, watching sports 24/7, shopping, partying–you name it. There are consequences to all of these, and one problem with overeaters, is that they tend to carry the results of their coping device with them for all to see. Most other coping devices allow people to hide it,… Read more »
W
W
6 years 10 months ago
Yes, Chad. My divulging the fact that I was at times reluctant to get cozy with my wife is totally an example of gloating. My successes were based on digging deep to find the willpower to both accept the fact that things I don’t like about my life are my own fault and to also effect change. It’s easy as hell to say that, but I assure you it’s far more difficult in practice. I believe this is a major breaking point for most people, ultimately leading to relapse. Only after I learned to come 100% clean with myself was… Read more »
Becky
Becky
6 years 10 months ago

Will power IS tough… that’s why it’s called willpower. I still believe personal responsibility plays a role.

Sarah
Sarah
6 years 10 months ago

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

“Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results each time.” – Einstein, I think.

Tuan
Tuan
6 years 10 months ago
There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat. Eat less, or expend more, than 500 calories per day than your requirement and you will lose 1lb of fat per week, 52lbs per year! It’s that simple. Saying that the food industry fooled you into eating more is just insulting to fat people, and i’ve already insulted them enough. This is the worst blog i’ve read on this site. When I first found this site a few years back, it was a great source for personal finance. Now it’s just crap advice and “How to save money…IN MY BOOK” and… Read more »
imelda
imelda
6 years 10 months ago
Thank you, Ramit, for posting this entry and for calling people on their ignorance in the comments. I don’t know what’s wrong with people in this country–or maybe it’s people in general–that makes them so unable to empathize. Everyone has their own personal failures, but god forbid they extend that to understand the reasons behind others’ struggles. You people are all on this site because you feel you don’t have enough money. Why aren’t you making more of it? It is, after all, just a matter of willpower. You could take a night job. Start your own side business. Why… Read more »
AntoineBugleboy
AntoineBugleboy
6 years 10 months ago
@imelda Holier-than-thou much? If you bothered to read and think about what others have written, you might have noticed that there were thoughtful reasons to disagree with some of what Ramit wrote. You ask, “You could take a night job. Start your own side business. Why haven’t you done it? And if you have, why aren’t you richer? Come on, let’s hear your whiny excuses.” Did you think maybe some of the people here have, or are the process of doing so, and that they are taking steps to improve their lives rather than complaining about things beyond their control?… Read more »
Stephanie
6 years 10 months ago

hmmm i don’t know if I agree. I have studied kinesiology and psychology and I tend to think that, with the exception of extreme cases, people are just making the problem more complex, and adding excuses. It is quite simply, dedication, exercise and better nutrition habits. I understand it is an addiction, but that is in the extreme cases.

with proper budget planning one will realize how much money can be saved with a lifestyle change

Joshua
Joshua
6 years 10 months ago

Funny if you look at the very popular show biggest looser they show extremely over weight people who change there diet, exercise a ton and what do you know they all loose weight. Let me guess they don’t have that special overweight DNA do they. The simple fact is you can cherry pick all the studies you want but in the end. A diet that is healthy and life style that is full of exercise does not equal extreme weight. Get real people and stop making excuses your costing your country Billions!

imelda
imelda
6 years 10 months ago
@Antoine: “Did you think maybe some of the people here have, or are the process of doing so, and that they are taking steps to improve their lives rather than complaining about things beyond their control? ” Hmmm…. I wonder why the diet industry in this country is a billion-dollar business? I’ll tell you what’s “holier-than-thou”: all of these commenters who assume that they would do so much better than someone else in a bad situation, so anyone who is fat or poor is obviously lazy. That’s self-righteousness, the true laziness. Go talk to these people you bash. Work with… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
6 years 10 months ago
@imelda – Obviously the people coming to this site have realized their problem/problems and are DOING SOMETHING about it instead of sitting around making excuses. I am sure willpower helped them to get started. Your words did not reach the right people – those who are too lazy to make change, whether it be financial OR health – those types of people don’t even bother to seek advice in a place like this, I am sure. I have read comments from many, many people on Ramit’s posts and some other finance blogs about how horrible people’s financial habits were (could… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
6 years 10 months ago

@imelda – actually it was Ramit who said, to paraphrase, eat less and exercise more is all people need to know to lose weight, in another blog post, of course.

imelda
imelda
6 years 10 months ago

@ Sarah: Yes, he has said that this is the simple solution, which I’m not saying I disagree with (I don’t know all the science behind weight loss). He has also said that human nature is to debate the minutiae, experience barriers, and struggle to change, which is my whole point.

PS– Antoine, I’m really sorry about the “berk” comment above. I really didn’t mean it. Wish we could edit comments here…

Honey
Honey
6 years 10 months ago
@ Joshua, #138 – Most of what the Biggest Loser contestants lose is water weight, and they use a variety of very unhealthy methods, including “cleanses” that are not officially “drugs” in order to make weigh-in. The first winner, Ryan Benson, regained THIRTY POUNDS in FIVE DAYS after the show, simply by rehydrating himself: http://www.diet-blog.com/archives/2007/07/04/the_biggest_loser_where_are_they_now.php Also, there is no “willpower” involved in their weight loss. Their diets are created for them and they are then monitored 24 hours a day to make sure they don’t deviate. Their workouts are also created for them and they spend 4-5 hours per day… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
6 years 10 months ago
I think we need some clarification here. Many people here have said things along the lines of, “Well, if it is all willpower, then I can just think myself thin, sexy, and rich.” That is not what is meant by willpower. That is “positive thinking”. I am assuming many of the people here mean the willpower to do what needs to be done. You can’t “will” yourself healthy, and no one here has said you can. But, people have said a stronger willpower to fight impulses, fight the effects of advertising, eat healthier food, go to the gym, take a… Read more »
Jamie
6 years 10 months ago

I have been making the push to incorporate almost all natural foods into my diet with little to no processed foods. Along with other things that I have read, I have to doubt that processed foods are engineered to be addictive is the. You don’t overly crave natural food (anything that is not processed) like you do processed. Once you are full on natural foods you usually can stop. Willpower is a hard part of it, the food companies do a good job of making their food appealing.
Thanks for the great post.

http://www.jamisonstudio.com/2009/10/compulsive-overeating/

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imelda
imelda
6 years 10 months ago

There was a recent article in the NYTimes related to this discussion; folks might be interested in reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/health/22well.html?ref=nutrition

A notable quote that I’m sure most of you won’t believe but is backed by that wacky thing called science:
“Most obesity researchers now agree that metabolic differences, not willpower, are the driving forces behind weight and appetite control.”

scadman
scadman
6 years 10 months ago

Hey look it’s Noon, and that means the lady (the lady who looks gorgeous in her wedding photos she displays on her desk, but is now overweight and disgusting) in the cube across from me is ordering her favorite takeout for lunch again. Boy would I be ignorant if I made a statement like “she could just eat less and lose weight”.

Antoinebugleboy
Antoinebugleboy
6 years 10 months ago

@imelda Does that wacky thing called science say anything about how to lose the weight that wasn’t the fat person’s fault to gain? Who puts the food in a person’s mouth, and who benefits from losing weight or suffers from gaining it?

Antoinebugleboy
Antoinebugleboy
6 years 10 months ago
@imelda “Hmmm…. I wonder why the diet industry in this country is a billion-dollar business?” I’d say it’s because people are looking for easy solutions rather than doing what’s necessary. “Go talk to these people you bash. Work with them. You might learn something.” Find one instance where I bashed anyone in this discussion, and I’ll consider it. “Losing weight is not a matter of “eat less, exercise more.” It’s emotional, it’s visceral, it’s behavioral.” And at the end of all that emotional, visceral, behavioral [whatever], if we separate thsoe who lose weight from those who didn’t, guess what the… Read more »
Fatso
Fatso
6 months 15 days ago

Once at work we had a medium pizza delivered and some salad delivered. Everyone had two pieces–these were not very big–maybe three inches at the top and about four inches long. We also had some salad but there was not enough for seconds. After the meal I went downstairs to a small shop where I could buy some cheese and crackers because I was still hungry. A skinny person said to me, “Wow, that was a lot of food! I’m stuffed!” There’s something strange here.

Antoinebugleboy
Antoinebugleboy
6 years 10 months ago
@imelda “there’s no such person as an “enabler” of poverty” I suppose there’s no one with that title in the government, but I’d say that welfare and food stamps actually do enable poverty. Think of someone who earns just enough money to qualify for government handouts. What motivation does he have to work harder for a raise? Why would he try to save money, and earn more, when it’s going to cost him “free” money? There was an article in the newspaper last week about a family of six who gets $1200 a month in food stamps, and they were… Read more »
imelda
imelda
6 years 10 months ago
Argh. Antoine, the majority of my arguments were not in response to your comments. They were in response to the various other commenters. Before you accuse me of “making up straw men,” try actually reading the comments. See comment 40, for example, for one of the many instances of people dismissing the food industry’s culpability in the obesity epidemic. I actually laughed at your explanation of what an enabler of poverty is. Yes, I do in fact understand that people (like you) believe that social services are “enablers” of poverty. What I also understand is that to use the word… Read more »
AntoineBugleboy
AntoineBugleboy
6 years 10 months ago
@imelda “I find it hysterical that you call people who go on diets “ridiculous” and dismiss their efforts. They just can’t win, can they?” Taking the one word “ridiculous” from what I said out of the context of my response to your statement, in which I essentially agreed with your statement about the diet industry selling stupid shit to fat people? You’re just not even trying to discuss ideas, are you? “Finally, don’t tell me I am dismissing personal responsibility. If i say I’m not, then I’m inherently not.” If this is the kind of reasoning you’re bringing to the… Read more »
Avery
6 years 10 months ago

As a fat man,I must say everytime when I eat foods,I never feel that I am full,I just want to eat more.

imelda
imelda
6 years 10 months ago
@Antoine: Way to avoid responding to any of my points. Nice evasion! You ridiculed fat people by saying: “No, they aren’t. They’re wishing that they were thinner, but they aren’t *trying* anything, or trying things that are so ridiculous (See your comment about “billion-dollar business” above.) that they may as well not.” In no way does that comment acknowledge the tremendous efforts people take to lose weight. You dismiss their work, saying “they may as well not” even try, so that you can continue to insult them, saying that they “mire themselves in excuses, self-pity, and misdirected energy on things… Read more »
Abanoub Bahaa Marcus
6 years 10 months ago

Who Cares! So What! I am a fat man, myself. I personally think that food ( unhealthy food, in particular) is bliss and the source of all happiness and love!

Abanoub Bahaa Marcus
6 years 10 months ago

Plus, all excercise is torture and the source of all sadness and hate!

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Not fat person
Not fat person
7 months 9 days ago

This article was definitely written by a fat person.

True Plus
7 months 5 days ago

Good web site you have got here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing
like yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you!
Take care!!

Lisa
Lisa
6 months 20 days ago
NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE LAZY. … I don’t want to go into loads of detail, When I was in my teens until I fell preg at age 25 with twins, I’d offal eatting disorder so thin I was put in hospital I tried killing myself loads of times an I did work full time but hated life , falling preg with my babies gave me a reason to live, Then once u had them I choose to be fat so I would be unattractive an hoped my fat body would protect me, Long story short I was raped an… Read more »
Body fat analyzer
1 month 12 days ago

Nice post, Eat less wouldn’t work. For stay healthy and fit , people should eat balance diet.

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