Super-downsize Me

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Man bites dog in the National Post:

An Edmonton man will end his month-long McDonald's-only diet tomorrow the same way it began: with a Big Mac.

Les Sayer has lost 17 pounds and lowered his blood pressure while trying to prove to his Grade 12 biology students that the Academy Award-nominated documentary Super Size Me is biased.

Unlike filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, whose film did not take home an Oscar on Sunday, Mr. Sayer added an hour of exercise per day to his daily regimen during the experiment.

Link via Colby Cosh.

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  1. If you exercise, you can mitiagate the harm of a bad diet.

    Therefore, it is biased to say a diet can be bad.

    Let’s just be glad the guy doesn’t teach Logic.

  2. I want to send that man a dozen roses.

  3. I want to buy him dinner.

  4. joe

    Perhaps a “bad’ diet is only bad in a certain context. A far cry from Spurlock’s absolutism.

    But then true believers are generally absolutists.

  5. Offhand, though, Spurlock’s diet and exercise regimine is a hell of a lot closer to “average American” than this guy’s.

    Most Americans don’t exercise an hour a week — much less an hour a day.

    Really, this boils down to the rather trite notion of “Hey, some things affect other things!”. Why not “disprove” scurvy by eating poorly but taking vitamins?

  6. If Supersize Me was purely objective, it would be the shortest movie ever made.

    Customer: I want a hamburger with just ketchup, small fries, and a diet coke.

    Clerk: Do you want to supersize that?

    Customer: No.

  7. the entire point of supersize me was “if you eat really badly, your health will suffer.”

    i can’t believe people have gone to see that and were impressed. next up he’ll be taking on splinters! the hidden truths the foresting industry doesn’t want you to know!

  8. dhex: Unfortunately some people need a smack upside the head before they realize what they’re doing is bad for them.

  9. “dhex: Unfortunately some people need a smack upside the head before they realize what they’re doing is bad for them.”

    Very true, JonBuck: I mean, just look at how people vote….

  10. Super Size Me basically says that McDonald’s is poisoning you for their own profit.

    This guy says that McDonalds isn’t the reason your fat ass is fat.

  11. Both Sayer’s and Spurlock’s cases are nothing more than anecdotal evidence meant to push a personal agenda, neither of which should be taken as the ultimate experiment that either proves or disproves the effects of fast food on the average person’s health.

    In this case, both sides are using their own bodies as propaganda and this could prove quite dangerous for anyone who chooses to believe either of them. People have wide varieties of body types and metabolisms that can react differently to mass-produced junk food, however they choose to supplement their intake.

    For Mr. Sayer or Mr. Spurlock to suggest that their own story is representative of the population at large, and thus disprove the other guy’s point, is a fallacy.

  12. This guy might be saying that “McDonalds isn’t the reason your fat ass is fat” but his methodology tacitly adds “… but it isn’t helping.”

  13. What’s truly unfortunate, JonBuck, is that some people think it’s their job to smack other people upside the head in order to tell them how to live.

  14. Spurlock vs. Sayer II: Bungee Jumping!

    Spurlock: I did nothing but leap off of a 70-foot bungee tower for 30 days, using a 70-foot cord. I smacked my head repeatedly. Bungee jumping is deadly for all!

    Sayer: I did nothing by leap off of a 70-foot bungee tower for 30 days, using a 10-foot cord. Not once did I smack my head. Bungee jumping is absolutely safe!

    Stay tuned for Spurlock vs. Sayer III: Screwing Haitian prostitutes… without condoms!

  15. If Supersize Me was purely objective, it would be the shortest movie ever made.

    Customer: I want a hamburger with just ketchup, small fries, and a diet coke.

    Clerk: Do you want to supersize that?

    Customer: No.

    ROTFL! So True! I lived on fast food for lunch for my entire senior year in college (last year), and I can still fit into most of my clothes. It may have had something to do with the fact that I didn’t order a Piggie fries and a Piggy drink with each meal.

    I agree with SPD; you can’t prove something for the masses that is anecdotal with two extreme cases; in other words, everyone’s different. But I really think that Sayer hit the nail on the head with the hour of exercise daily. You’d be amazed at what you can get away with eating (and still lose weight!) if you just exercise an hour a day. I know because I’ve been there, done that (and am currently doing that). An hour of exercise a day will work your body wonders. Even if you eat a healthy diet, the crucial point of living a healthy life for most people is still daily exercise, exercise, excercise.

    UFP, can you back me up on this? ^_^

  16. I thought Supersize Me was a hoot, gonzo, entertaining and vaguely thought-provoking, but the word “objective” never occurred to me in relation to it.

  17. smacky,

    Thank you for your support.

    I am trying to eat healthier, although with cigarettes, I don’t expect to knock fast food permanently out of my life. (Maybe one trip per week, which is actually more than what I average now!)

    What I would like to know about is what’s involved in your daily workout routine. What kind of exercises do you do during that hour? I would like to start doing the same and I would appreciate the advice. Thanks in advance!

  18. I think stretch had it right; he may be trying to prove that it is not McDonald’s fault that you’re a fat-ass.

    Sayer never mentioned that his was an objective scientific experiment, either. He was trying to counter the point made by the movie. If he were to execute this experiment and gain weight, etc BUT not as much as the first guy, what would that prove? He had to go to the other extreme.

  19. Don’t forget about Dan Gorske (?) from SSM, the skinny guy who eats (IIRC) nothing but two Big Macs per day. (BTW, was also nice to see Jacob Sullum , who looks like the love child of Matt Groening and Michael Moore and not at all how I pictured him.)

  20. I don’t think Sayer is in any way suggesting that McDonald’s is a healthy diet. Spurlock was clearly suggesting that it’s supremely awful for you, and this little experiment is pulls the reins in a bit. It’s not like this guy is making the rounds on the talk show circuit, drumming up PR and whatnot. He made a bet that McDonald’s isn’t nearly as bad for you as SSM implies with a bunch of school children.

    I think it’s freakin’ hilarious. That said, I’m going to Wendy’s…they give me a choice of side dish including a healthy salad, which I will reject for fries.

  21. SPD,

    Mostly just walking and jogging; as much jogging as I can handle at whatever fitness level I may currently be at, and then fast walking the rest of the time. Or sometimes, I alternate walking and jogging throughout that time period. (Stretching before and after, always!!!! Proper warm up and cool down is neccessary to avoid injuries). After an hour, even if you only walked, you could finish 3-5 miles.
    Another great thing is an elliptical machine, if you can find one (sort of like a combination between a stepper and a ski machine – easier on your knees).

    There. I solved the national healthcare crisis. Does anyone have a cookie for me?

    (P.S. SPD – moderation with smoking is cool…FYI, when I was at my fittest, I would preempt my workout with a cigarette on my way over to the gym! I quit eventually, though.)

  22. “For Mr. Sayer or Mr. Spurlock to suggest that their own story is representative of the population at large, and thus disprove the other guy’s point, is a fallacy.”

    Mr. Spurlock didn’t say that at all, at least in my interpretation of his movie. In fact, he explicitly said his was _not_ the typical diet of someone who patronized McDonalds.
    And he tried to make his level of exercise at least roughly what most Americans get (I don’t remember the precise details of this).
    He also interviewed a guy who had eaten very little but Big Macs for years (I don’t remember the details of this either) and who was quite thin and by various measures in reasonably good health, due to exercise, his own unique physiology, or whatever else.
    Finally, his “anti-corporate,” “anti-personal responsibility” movie included an interview with a lawyer suing the industry, in which the lawyer looked like a selfish, dishonest piece of shit (that probably wasn’t too hard); and it also included a scene with Jared of Subway fame telling an overweight girl that fundamentally her health was her responsibility.
    Certainly he had a point he wanted to make about health, diet, and the fast food industry, and he was obviously trying to sell a movie so he wasn’t shy about publicizing the more sensational aspects, but in the actual substance of the movie the “absolutism,” psychotic anti-corporate bias, etc. just weren’t there, or not nearly to the extent that some folks are claiming (in my opinion).

  23. joe’s bias prevents him from noticing that it isn’t the exercise, but matching the diet to bodily needs that preserves health. Sisyphus probably could have several Big Macs every day and stay healthy, provided he also had salads and fruit cups, too.

  24. SPD:

    I know you asked smacky, but I’ll offer my 2 cents. I think the best advice I’ve ever heard was from G. Gordon Liddy, of all people. He postulates that we, as humans, are migratory creatures. Therefor, whenever the body is in consistent motion, we convert more calories to muscle. At rest, calories convert more to fat. The trick is to do a little a lot, as opposed to the opposite.. People tend to go at a sudden tear at the gym, don’t warm up or stretch, and end up hurting themselves. I think the best thing to do is to walk whenever you can. If you take the bus or the subway, get off a stop before. Always take the stairs. Take a walk during your lunch break and check out the hotties at the Ellipse (if you happen to work downtown DC). Trick your body into thinking you’re in migration mode.

    Weight training.. freeweights, man. Only sissies use universal 🙂

  25. I’m sorry, but do half the people bashing Supersize Me even see it? I believe Spurlock made the end theme of the movie about personal responsibility. He was saying that McDonalds was disgusting food, that you would gain weight if you used ti imporperly, such as, oh say… eating only it for a month.

  26. DavePotts: Need I point out that Mr. Spurlock might be telling other people what to do, but he’s doing it with a film he feels will help people make informed decisions. He’s not using government to force people to stop going to fast food restaurants. Nor is he bringing lawsuits against fast food companies for “Making me sick”. It’s all about personal responsibility.

  27. If you exercise, you can mitiagate the harm of a bad diet.

    Therefore, it is biased to say a diet can be bad.

    Let’s just be glad the guy doesn’t teach Logic.

    Let’s be glad you don’t, either, joe. With a failure to exercise or otherwise take care of your body, every diet is in some way bad. I know people who’ve been strict vegetarians for more than a decade, haven’t touched junk food in even longer, and weigh 265 pounds.

    Pointing out that a McDonald’s-only diet combined with a complete lack of exercise is like pointing out that water is wet. It isn’t biased — it’s obvious.

  28. Eating a McDonald’s diet while exercising an hour a day is about as relevant to the average American as the effect of an all Cheetos diet in zero gravity.

    Frankly, I’m beginning to get more worried about the quality of 12th graders science educations than I am about their fat asses.

  29. Jared, I had a double quarter pounder with cheese yesterday. and hot, salty, fatty fries.
    “disgusting”? no way. deeeeeeeeeeelicious.

  30. But the point I take from this debate, after reading what I’ve read so far (and thank you VERY much for your advice, smacky and MNG… and, um, OK, G. Gordon Liddy), is that even when taking fats and carbs and whatnot into account, it’s less about the amount or type of calories you put into your system than what you do to work off those calories. It boils down to the libertarian core philosophy of embracing personal responsibility as the ultimate expression of freedom (re: Jared’s quote). I can definitely dig that.

    I live in a third-floor walkup, so perhaps my exercise regimen is already underway and I didn’t even realize it! Subconscious exercise, woo-hoo!

  31. Bot of these guys willingly ate nothing but McDonalds for a month. I don’t care how much he exercised, they’re both idiots.

  32. “Bot of these guys willingly ate nothing but McDonalds for a month. I don’t care how much he exercised, they’re both idiots.”

    Ha…truer words were never spoken Ed.

  33. Well, to be fair, Spurlock is a rich idiot. All this Sayer dude did was impress a bunch of teenaged knumbskulls. I think his admission of contacting the McDonald’s corporation and not hearing back is pretty sad, and his supposition why just makes it worst.

    I keep writing Dana Scully but haven’t gotten an acknowledgement.. but you know, she’s busy and all..

  34. lawyer looked like a selfish, dishonest piece of shit

    Banzhaf? Damn, he had a messy desk, didn’t he?

  35. Best way to exercise, bar none. Get yourself a stationary recumbant bicycle from Nordictrak, mount a Dell flat panel monitor on the front, with a wireless mouse by your side you can surf the net while the pounds fly off your bod. Honestly, I’ve lost 240 pounds over the last two years doing this. I now weigh negative 65 pounds.

  36. SPD, I lost 40 lbs in one year by walking 45 minutes to an hour a day, five days a week (most weeks). I walked like I was in a hurry to get somewhere. The first few weeks I only went about a half hour a day, but it got easier and I started walking longer.

    I didn’t change my eating habits, which I fondly call “constant fueling–small amounts of whatever I want, whenever I want it, pretty much never a meal. It’s just what I do, and it works for me. I’ve maintained the weight loss for five years, and the walks keep my mind clear.

  37. I agree, by far the best thing you can do for yourself is a cardio (even if its just walking) exercise for at least a half hour a day (being on a spread out, hilly campus has helped me lots). After a month you will be shocked at how much better you will feel and how clear your mind has become, especially right after youre done exercising. Another thing (not quite as important if youre consistant with exercising) is to buy something like apple slices at the store instead of chips. They fill you up but don’t make you wanna shit a bucket of bbq sauce when youre done. Even going out to dance for a few hours helps.

  38. I would agree as well, doing a small things a lot rather than trying to fit large things in a short period of time.

    IE Life style choices probably make the largest difference is most people’s lives as they will probably never exercise anyway, even assuming they have the Bailey’s membership. Small things to do: never park close to front door, go inside the bank (assuming they don’t charge), walk for lunch, etc.

    I would add though, if you’re trying to lose some weight quickly, you probably need both cardio and weight (resistance) training in the begining. Lean muscle burns more calories when sleeping than does fat. So adding lean muscle is a large factor in being able to lose weight effectively. Cardio of course will increase the metabolism, so in the begining of any weight loss program, I would use both.

  39. Almost forgot, when eating, same thing. Eat more meals, like 5-6 times a day, with smaller portions. This helps minmize you from getting into carb deficit which makes the hunger pains arrive.

    And of course, don’t eat McD’s, unless you intend on exercising 5 hours a week.

  40. I can’t believe nobody has commented on the most amusing quote from the article”

    “‘Just because he’s saying there’s weight loss, doesn’t mean it’s healthy weight loss. It may not be sustainable,’ said Megan McCrory, an associate professor at the School of Nutrition and Exercise Science in Kenmore, Wash. ‘He’s probably losing weight because he’s burning more calories than he’s eating.'”

    Only years of study and a degree in nutrition could lead to such a keen insight.

  41. ‘He’s probably losing weight because he’s burning more calories than he’s eating.’

    Is there any other kind of weight loss?

    I know, there’s unsustainable weight loss that results from a temporary adjustment of lifestyle that a person has no intention of maintaining over the long term. But 5 hours of exercise per week is hardly unsustainable, and it could easily be reduced if he no longer goes out of his way to eat fast food every day.

  42. Bubonic,

    Don’t give him too much credit for stating the obvious — he did after all qualify it with “probably”…

  43. Just a random thought.

    When I was in high school, I was able to eat whatever I wanted without getting fat. If I’d been going to the gym back then, I would have been in great shape.

    If young Mr. Sayer could duplicate his results at 30, I’d be really impressed.

  44. Not to rain on the outburst of pro-McDonald’s triumphalism here, but near the midpoint of the article, Mr. Sayer mentions that unlike Mr. Spurlock, who went from a healthy diet and frequent exercise to a McDonald’s diet and no exercise, he instead went from an already unhealthy junk-food diet and no exercise to an unhealthy junk-food diet and an hour of daily exercise. His switch to McDonald’s may even have been healthier than what he was eating before.

    In this sense, by only changing one variable — exercise — significantly, Mr. Sayer’s experiment may have been more meaningful as far as anecdotal sample-of-one experiments go in its demontsrtation of the benefits of exercise. But it didn’t show that an all-McDonald’s diet is harmless when compared to a more nutritionally sound one.

  45. “An hour of exercise a day will work your body wonders. ”

    Effective exercise, yes. And not nearly an hour is needed if the level of exertion is sufficient. I eat like a horse, chocolate, fatty foods (though not fast food almost ever), and maintain about 185 lbs at 5’11” and 15% bodyfat. I exercise about 7 minutes 5-6 nights a week, but let me tell you that those minutes are **intense**.

    More to the point, I’m a fidgeter.

    The big point is I think that different exercise routines work for different people. When I exercise more I can’t form muscle and catch colds all the time.

  46. What’s really disgusting about “Super Size Me” is neither McD’s offerings nor the film maker’s eating habits. It’s the fact that no one is questioning the notion that there’s an “obesity crisis”, with its implication that more nanny-statism is called for.

    The real lesson to be learned here is that anyone who expresses concern over obesity other than his own, needs to be told in no uncertain terms to mind his own business!!

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