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Weighty Matters: The Last Thing Plus-Size People Need is Celebrities Hawking Diet Plans

Sometimes it’s possible to see a commercial on television hundreds of times without listening to it. Then, all of a sudden, a phrase pops out and grabs my attention like it’s the first time the advertisement’s scrolled across the screen.
That happened to me this weekend.

I don’t know if I was in a grumpy mood with my air conditioning not working or what, but all of a sudden I heard Marie Osmond say, “Boy, that was a tough day!” She was talking about the “day,” yes, the single, solitary moment in time when daylight dawned “DAY” when she realized she was 50 pounds overweight!

I can’t explain it, but as my Kentucky relatives say – that just flew all over me.
For three reasons:
1) Did she suffer from amnesia or experience one of those moments like when the credit card bill arrives and you can’t remember what all you supposedly purchased or experienced in exchange for your increasingly over-extended credit? How does someone gain 50 pounds and not know it? That doesn’t happen to anyone I know.
I remember hearing my grandmother tell me once that she was six months pregnant with my uncle before she knew it. I’ve heard of such a thing happening to other people as well, like the teenage mother who gives birth to a full-term baby in a school restroom or the woman who’s so fat anyway that another person riding around inside seems negligible. But, truth be told, I’ve never really believed it.
The only possible explanation, in my opinion, is denial. Either my grandmother had serious ongoing issues with her reproductive system anyway, or she just presumed she was eating too much. Either way, she had to have “known” something even if the precise something she knew was still unclear and undefined.
So, when Marie Osmond claims to have awakened in an instant to her greater than 3.5-stone weight gain, I simply don’t buy it. That, then leads to my second objection.
2) Poor fat Marie is trying to sell us an eating plan for approximately $300 a month that doesn’t include fresh fruits or vegetables and is designed to feed only one person for 28 days.
The problem is that most people don’t eat alone and most adults, especially women, are responsible for feeding a family of 2.55 people, which is down an entire person from 1948 when the average American family was 3.67 persons. Family size may be down, but food inflation is up while wages are steady or declining. Surely, that reality offsets the benefit of one less mouth to feed.
If the family cook is spending $300 plus fruits and veggies plus two-three days of plan meals to round out the month, what’s going to be left to feed the additional 1.55 persons in her family?
This goes back to a column I wrote several weeks ago about the connection between obesity and poverty. Why is it that the only people who seem to be preaching against the obesity epidemic are rich enough to employ their own cooks? If you’re a woman feeding a family on $500 a month, the cheapest way to fill their stomachs is through foodstuffs full of sugar and carbohydrates.
You’re not going to pick up a hungry kid from school and tell him Michelle Obama won’t let him go to McDonald’s. If you tell her she has to wait another three hours before the family sits down altogether at a dinner table for a well-rounded meal of protein, vegetables, whole grains and fruit, she’ll know you’re lying or you’ve upped your prescription meds.
No one does that anymore.
They grab something on the way to and from dance practice or soccer or music lesson or shopping mall or combination of all of the above. If they eat at home, they eat in front of separate televisions or computer screens in separate rooms. They eat seated at the same table in a restaurant or on holidays, neither of which are particularly suited to portion control.
3) My third objection is that these easy solutions don’t solve anyone’s problems on a long-term basis.
Osmond claims she’s kept her weight off for seven years. That’s great, but I doubt she’s done that on a tight budget with the average mom’s schedule.
What we need are realistic, affordable and convenient ways to tackle this national epidemic.
I also heard on the radio this week a program interviewing Janet Jackson’s trainer about how she managed to get and keep six-pack abs. He was touting a machine he’s invented and I listened long enough to think … again … “You’re kidding me!”
In the first place, I don’t buy anything in six-pack format, so I’m not interested in nor jealous of Jackson’s stomach muscles.
In the second place, most people who buy gym memberships last a few months at best before letting schedules, bills and daily fatigue change their priorities.
There’s got to be a better way.
I pledge these next few weeks to finding it.


Lesley Cissell is the associate news editor of and the owner of Academy for the Creative Arts. She writes, teaches violin and piano lessons, and maintains a very rewarding existence as a fat person. However, in order to keep up that existence long enough to see her new grandchild have children of her own, she’s decided to take on her weight full throttle. Her goal is to become fit in her mid-50s and NOT post on a dating site just to spite those men online eligible for the senior discount at Denny’s who also think they’re qualified to young, sexy sticks.
To read more Weighty Matters, click here.


Above photo: This is a Nutrisystem flame broiled beef patty for a “great taste of a hot-off-the-grill hamburger without all the work.” Of course, the lettuce, red onion, tomato slices, pickle, condiments and whole grain bun are not included. What’s in it? Beef, seasoning like corn syrup solids and canola oil, salt and spice. When’s the last time you went to the supermarket, bought ground beef and one patty cost you $2.99? The last time you ordered Nutrisystem, that’s when. (Photo from Nutrisystem)