Who’s laughing now?

As an American who never got into reality shows, I don’t know much about Britain’s Got Talent. I know people show off their talents in a number of different categories (when I’ve seen references or clips they’ve mainly been dancers, but there are singers too), and that Simon Cowell is on the board of judges because he’s made it his mission to tongue-lash every aspiring performer on two continents.

I also know that this clip made me blub like a maniac. (They’ve disabled embedding but you MUST click that link.)

In a culture that values youth, wealth, and carefully-maintained femininity, this woman is like a cheat sheet for “don’t take me seriously” signifiers. She’s over 40, she’s ungroomed, she’s on the fat side, and her accent denotes low class [1]. As it turns out, she also has learning disabilities and has never been on a date. She flies in the face of what we expect out of a performer and what we, as a culture, esteem in a woman. The judges respond accordingly: they snigger and mock, and her confident posturing just makes her (in their eyes) more ridiculous, more dissonant. Dissonant because confidence and sass don’t compute from a woman who falls so short of the ideal.

And then she KICKS THEIR FUCKING FACES IN.

Check out the look on Simon Cowell’s face when she sings. He looks positively transported. They’re all so overwhelmed they don’t even taste the crow. Because as it turns out, being low-class, being older, being unfeminine, being any number of culturally downgraded things don’t actually keep you from being fucking extraordinary.

Folks, we are all Susan Boyle. Fat or thin, pretty or plain, butch or femme, old or young, abled or not: people will judge us and find us wanting. You can posture all you want, out of genuine confidence or bravado; you can insist that the ideals are wrong, that the goalposts need to be moved, that rational humans can shake off the shackles of cultural expectation. You can talk big and wiggle your hips — for some people, that’ll just make you more of a joke.

What makes people stop laughing — or at least, what makes you stop caring if they do? The discovery that something about you is utterly remarkable. Because it is. It might not be an angelic voice or some other showy talent. It might be humble, even difficult for others to notice. You might not know what it is yet (lord knows I don’t). You don’t even have to realize, right off the bat, how your remarkable qualities elevate you past any backwards beliefs about who you should be or what you should look like — apparently Boyle herself saw that clip and what she saw was “I looked like a garage” (which at least gets points for being an awfully humorous self-putdown). It’s an arduous process and goodness knows we’ve never said otherwise. But whatever it is, once you really know it’s there, once you know how much that means, a smirk from Simon won’t change a damn thing — and you’ll slap that smile off his face when you bust it out.

[1] Possibly. See comments.

Friday Fluff: Skivvies Smackdown

Everyone is equal when it comes to underwear,
Because beneath your underwear it’s just yourself that’s there.
Everyone wears underwear — or at least they should.
Underwear is lots of things, but mostly it is good.

Some like the feel of cotton. I share this belief.
Likewise I don’t like boxer shorts, give me a pair of briefs.
Some don’t like to talk about it, that’s because they’re shy.
People laugh at underwear, but I do not know why.

- Barry Louis Polisar

I am well aware that I do not share fashion sense with the women at Manolo for the Big Girl. I read it because they post sale codes and because I’m a little in love with Twistie’s contributions over here, not because I will ever wear the things they feature. That’s fine; there’s room for everyone under the voluminous muumuu that is fatshion. If we all dressed the same, there’d be way too much competition for Fatshionista sales posts.

But recently they calumniated boxer briefs, and this simply will not stand. Boxer briefs are not only acceptable, they are literally the only men’s underwear that looks even a little bit hot. I have seen a LOT of banana hammocks in my day, disquieting as that is to say, and truly they demean us all. Boxers can be charming in a virginal sort of way, but I don’t find them remotely sexy. And the less said about tightie whities, the better. Boxer briefs, by contrast, are the black-tee-and-jeans of men’s unmentionables: no matter your size or shape, they will make you look just a little bit hotter, and just a little bit cooler. Even if you’re a girl.

Do you have opinions on men’s personal pants? What about other strong feelings on intimate items? For instance, is a girl in a sports bra ferociously hot or does she just make you wince in sympathy squishing? How come women tend to look good, or at least not laughable, in pants but no top or a top but no pants, but men in a top but no pants are impossibly comic? Would you wear a thong, and would you then make your booty go da na na? Do your bras match your knickers, or do you go without either or both? Fellas, if you’re out there, what do you wear and why?

How do you like THESE apples?

Why haven’t I been blogging lately? Because I am ashamed that I can’t write anything as funny, sharp, and all-around perfect as this Jezebel piece on the offensive notion of “dressing for your shape.” It even name-checks Moomins! I’m in love.

(P.S. no, that article didn’t actually give me a complex, but yes, having a complex currently is the reason I haven’t been writing. Please don’t try to talk me out of it; it is a complex, and therefore fundamentally not susceptible to rational argument.)

Friday Fluff: I see you’ve got braces. I have braces too.

I’m meeting a woman for lunch today because we both have bags from the same company. I saw her bag, said “nice bag,” and it turned out we worked in the same building and had some other stuff in common. This in itself is amusing, but it’s not even the first time I’ve made friends with someone because we had the same bag! “Nice bag” was the first conversation I had with Cacie, too. (And don’t even get me started on all the friends I’ve brought into the fold. If you also want to make friends, this is the company and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Please don’t buy all the Sprout bags before I convince myself that yes, I do need to have another one even though my one is holding up beautifully.) I’ve also struck up conversations or cemented friendships over having the same combat boots. When I see that someone else with Corcoran field boots on, I feel a sense of kinship — and when I feel a sense of kinship with someone I try to get them to buy Corcs.

What do you own or wear that, expectedly or unexpectedly, turned out to make you a member of a community? What item of clothing or accessory always gets comments? And what’s the weirdest way you’ve made a friend?

Try this on for size

At a recent meeting I sat behind a woman who I thought might be my former dance TA. They had the same hair and were both extremely thin, the kind of thin that I’ve seen many people confidently ascribe to an eating disorder right before they come smack up against our “no assumptions about others’ bodies, ever” policy. Of course I realized immediately that it probably wasn’t her (it was a health policy-related meeting and she’s in human rights law, for starters), but the fact that I thought it was just based on hair and frame, when I would not think that about anyone with a less end-of-the-bell-curve body type, got me thinking. This is what I thought:

  • Half of all people are thinner than average, by definition. (ETA: As volcanista pointed out, ROUGHLY half. I forgot my seventh-grade math — average is not median.) Of those, many are what you’d describe as “thin,” “quite thin,” etc.
  • Some of these people eat less than average, for various reasons. Many eat an average or more than an average amount. Some eat a lot.
  • Some of these people are healthy. Some are ill or disabled or have weak constitutions or fall at any other spot on the continuum of human health.
  • Of these thin people, only a tiny number are what you might describe as “skinny” (or some more judgmental term), falling in the “underweight” category which is also associated with higher mortality rates (at least in part because some illnesses cause drastic weight loss, not the other way around).
  • Some of these people are, in fact, in ill health. Some are just small. They, too, exist at all points on the spectrum of human health.
  • Of these, a tiny tiny number have eating disorders. (Incidence of officially diagnosed anorexia nervosa, which includes very low body weight, is only a fraction of a percent.) But certainly not all. Many eat an average or larger amount just like less-thin thin people. And not everyone with eating disorders falls into this category.

All copacetic so far, right? Of course I know perfectly well from comment-wrangling that there are plenty of people who see a thin woman and immediately sneer that she must be anorexic. But I can’t imagine a reasonable person seriously disagreeing with the thought process above. It might not mesh with their snap judgments, but once it’s laid out it starts looking like common sense. (Especially since the knee-jerk anorexia assumption is often less about truly believing someone is sick, and more about backlashy defensiveness.) I certainly can’t imagine someone claiming that this line of thinking was delusional, or that anyone espousing it must be making excuses for the thin or eating disordered or promoting anorexic behaviors. I can’t imagine anyone reading those bullet points and wishing the person who wrote them would experience violence or death.

But how many people do you know who would be nodding through all of the above, but then balk or even become enraged at the idea that natural human variation might continue on up the scale? Some people are fatter than average, some are quite fat, and a very tiny number are what people think of as “morbidly obese” (which is significantly fatter than what actually qualifies). Some of these people eat a lot, some have problems with binge eating, some are in ill health, but many are not — the variations in food intake and health and disordered eating are mainly due to the fact that different people are different people (not to mention the fact that some illnesses cause or have common cause with fat). And not everyone ill is fat, nor is every big eater or even every binge eater.

Why can the general public accept (and even argue strenuously) that a very thin woman might not be anorexic, but the idea that a fat person might not be a binge eater is considered not only absurd but offensive?

I’m a chocoholic, I’m addicted to chocahol

So this idea is so dumb that I don’t want to give it too much ink — certainly not as much as the BBC did, christ — but I got a laugh out of this article.

[Dr. David Walker] said chocolate used to be seen as a “treat” but had now become a harmful addiction for some.

GPs at a BMA conference in Clydebank have voted against his proposal.

Dr Walker, who is also a trained food scientist and nutritionist, told the BBC news website: “Obesity is a mushrooming problem. We are heading the same way as the United States.”

“Told the BBC News website,” huh? I guess he posted it on their comments section, because this certainly sounds familiar. Some people eat too much chocolate! Some people are fat! Therefore fat people eat too much chocolate!

And, of course, the reason they eat too much chocolate is that they’re too stupid to realize it’s bad for you and you shouldn’t snarf massive amounts of it at all times. Dr. Walker spit-froths to the BBC about the Dangerous Factoid that “a 225g bag of chocolate sweets contained almost 1,200 calories — almost half the recommended daily calorie intake for a man — and could be eaten incredibly quickly.” (ETA: As The Bald Soprano points out in comments, that’s about half a pound of chocolate!) This is technically true, I suppose. The same is also true of, say, a cup and a half of spray cheez, and that could be eaten incredibly quickly too. But it turns out that shockingly, “can be eaten” and “must therefore be eaten routinely by fatties” are not actually the same thing.

A pack of M&Ms, for comparison, is about 48 grams. If you’re fat and you’ve ever spent the day beating yourself up for “ruining” your diet by getting a pack of M&Ms from the vending machine, rest assured that this guilt and shame never happened. Nutrition expert David Walker says that you routinely inhale five times that amount of chocolate without even noticing.

This, he says, is probably because you’re such a dumb cow that you think chocolate is good for you:

He said: “There is lots of negative publicity about other fast food and junk food but chocolate is sneaking under the radar.

“People have been lulled into a false sense of security about chocolate.

“I had one patient recently who said to me she thought chocolate was good for you. People are being brainwashed into believing this.”

God, I know. What kind of unscrupulous organization could justify peddling such falsehoods to impressionable people? For shame.

Spare the shame, spoil the child

A reader alerted us to a Daily Beast opinion piece in which writer Lee Aitken argues that the best way to keep your kids healthy is to tell them they’re fat.

My friend was distraught when we met for lunch. The night before she had involuntarily, noticeably winced as her teenage daughter ordered a big slice of chocolate mousse cake. The girl was battling extra pounds—there for all to see—yet for her mother to publicly register disapproval, in front of friends, left her humiliated and furious. And now her mother was wracked with guilt because she’d broken a cardinal rule of last-century parenting.

This rule was summed up in the phrase “fat is a feminist issue.” That could actually mean any number of things, but it became codified as a prohibition against implying, in any way, that weight matters to a girl’s worth or self-esteem. To do so was to promote oppressive, media-driven ideas about body image that would warp your daughter’s sense of self, derail her career ambitions and likely drive her to eating disorders.

Seriously, god forbid we should tell girls that their weight doesn’t matter to their worth or self-esteem. Isn’t it terrible how feminism has bullied mothers into being too terrified to tell their fat or average-sized or insufficiently-willowy daughters how worthless they are? I know that practically no adult woman I’ve ever met has stories about being made to feel hatred and shame for their bodies as a young person! It’s a shanda, really.

Aitken does acknowledge that even when mothers were silent (oh, so silent!), “girls absorbed extreme weight-consciousness anyway, from peers and popular culture, and developed eating disorders after all.” I know, right? Fucking peers and popular culture, telling girls that their worth depends on their weight! That message should be coming from their mothers.

Ever sensitive to the latest data on kids’ relationship with food, Aitken also mentions the recent New York Times article showing a pronounced trend towards orthorexia nervosa among children whose parents are restrictive about what they can eat. Whether or not you think orthorexia is a valid diagnosis (it’s not yet in the DSM, but these things can lag), the article’s stories of children paralyzed by fear of food will affect you. Not so much Aitken, who shrugs, “The hysteria those parents telegraph to their children stems from the realization that they are badly outmatched.” It’s fine if your child is wracked with anxiety about what she eats, as long as there’s really genuinely a lot of junk food out there. (I wonder if Aitken noticed the part of the article where Dr. James Greenblatt is quoted as saying “A lot of the patients we have seen over the last six years limited refined sugar and high fat foods because of concerns about gaining weight.” You mean, even after we discovered that fat is a feminist issue?)

The real fuck of it is, Aitken has a point, in a certain sense. The central thesis of her article — and trust me, I am sensitive to the fact that she probably had to lead with exaggeratedly controversial statements in order to get the piece published — is simply that there’s a huge industry devoted to getting children to consume. It’s the job of the parent to be the thin red line between kids and indiscriminate wanting. Aitken writes, “Children’s brains are undeveloped in the area of ‘executive function’—where one weighs immediate impulses against future consequences.” If kids were left alone with a television and a credit card, it’s entirely possible that most of them would devour the world, toys and video games and candy and Lunchables and all. Hell, I was probably the most socially and culturally backward kid this side of neurotypical, and I still had occasional fits of absolutely needing to have the latest He-Man figure. I primarily played with crayons and buttons and I still tried to make my mom buy me some fucking doll that roller-skates. And she didn’t, and good on her. It’s fine for parents to give in to kids’ demands, to a reasonable degree, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with firm, calm, and rational refusal. I’m not a parent, but I do know it’s hard; still, in theory I agree with Aitken that kids aren’t good at evaluating outcomes or seeing beyond their present desires, and parents have a responsibility to help them, even require them, to make sound decisions.

But nobody seems to know how to be firm, calm, and rational about food, especially when their kids are fat. Here’s a bit of evidence: Aitken wrote a fucking opinion piece  saying that being publicly disgusted when your fat child eats cake is actually the mark of a loving parent. When a mother can’t lecture her chubby kid in the grocery store about all the calories in a Lunchable, apparently the femiterrorists have won! The fact that Aitken could theoretically have a good point about parents, marketing, and peer pressure in there just makes me angrier. Why does that point need to be bracketed on one end by a mother humiliating her teenage daughter for eating, and at the other end with a call to “ask Starbucks to post the calorie count for every mocha cinnamon white chocolate caramel concoction it comes up with”?

Put it this way: Can you imagine someone writing this article about kids’ overwhelming desire — certainly equivalent in power to their desire for Lunchables — to get an Xbox, or a doll that roller skates, or a space hopper, or whatever the hell kids are playing with these days? “Roller skate dolls are so popular and widespread, kids have a meltdown if they can’t get them, so you should NOT balk at humiliating your daughter if she wants one!” No, in that case it’s just about marketing, not morality. Teaching kids to question advertising, to resist peer pressure, to avoid hanging their self-worth on what they get to own or use or consume — no time to wring your hands about that, there’s a fat girl ordering a piece of cake!

Let me say, because naturally it will need to be said again: I would love it if all kids could have nutritious, healthy food lovingly bestowed on them by Mom AND/OR DAD (love how the article’s directed at mothers, by the way — sure, they’ve long cornered the market on body shame, but they actually don’t have to be the ones doing the shopping or the negotiating with school lunch programs, you know). Really. LOVE. IT. I am no huge fan of the “junk food” industry — I don’t think all food needs to be unflaggingly nutritious, but I do think there’s a preponderance of cheap, convenient, non-nourishing, and potentially harmful food that is MARKETED TO HELL AND BACK. (I’m always reminded of MEALSTM in Good Omens — food that is carefully designed to be utterly unrecognizable by your body as nutrition, but with added sugar and fat.) I would like it if every kid had reliable access to other options. I support parents promoting other options. I’m even in favor of just keeping the “junk” out of the house — I won’t say I didn’t die a little inside when my mom wouldn’t buy me Cookie Crisp, but I was like seven. It didn’t traumatize me, and as an adult there is genuinely not a single part of my mind that cries out against the injustice of never having eaten a Twinkie (seriously), or for that matter a Lunchable. But being in favor of healthy food for all doesn’t mean that I support shaming children! For fuck’s sake! Believe it or not, there are ways to promote healthy attitudes towards food and activity that don’t involve humiliation, lecturing, school crusading, or instilling food anxiety. It’s just impossible for some parents to notice that over the deafening sound of their own neuroses.

To all the mythical mothers who are unwilling to upbraid their fat kids in the grocery store about how they Shouldn’t Be Eating That: good for you, wherever you are. Your kids need a gentle hand guiding them away from the manic acquisitiveness that marketers try to instill and exploit — but they also need to be guided away from the opposite gulf, the abyss of self-hatred and self-doubt that’s equally alluring to kids of a certain age.

On squeaky wheels

I’ve been having some problems with belly dance costumes. It can be hard to find plus-size costuming, but that’s not really been the issue — the issue is that costuming is handled by the director of the studio and the wardrobe mistress, with no input from students or teachers (we don’t even know what they’ll look like until a few weeks before the performance). This alone wouldn’t be a huge deal, though as a friend pointed out, it’s a little bit children’s tap performance. But on top of that, costume elements are frequently “one size fits all” (which, as usual, is a crock) or come in limited sizes or (according to another Shapeling who used to dance there) come with a “fat tax” because plus sizes require special ordering. It’s hard to find plus size costume stuff, but not THAT fucking hard — with a modicum of self-determination we could all, for instance, find pants that come in six sizes and three lengths. But we don’t get that.

Last semester, for various reasons, I got my top only a few days before the performance, and it didn’t fit. As a person who’s passed FA 101, I buy great clothes in my size instead of trying to squeeze into tiny pants. If a piece of clothing doesn’t fit me, I return it or get rid of it, because the piece of clothing — not my body — is wrong. I’ve never been a bridesmaid for someone who doesn’t recognize that people come in sizes, and my current social group is such that I never will, so I also haven’t been subjected to having my hard-won body truce endangered by cheap satin and ill-fitting strapless bodices. So this was genuinely the first time in memory that I’d put on something that didn’t fit and felt something more serious than “bummer, that’d be cute on someone else.” It was not only upsetting but sort of disorienting from an identity standpoint — this is not something I let myself do to my body or brain.

But I was already signed up for this semester’s performance, so I thought I’d see if it would happen again. It almost did. Unexpectedly (because we’d originally been told we could wear pants we already owned), the decision came from on high that we would wear one-size harem pants for the show. Now, this is a class with at least three people over 200 pounds (including me, of course) and three over 5’10” (no overlap). We are clearly not one-size-fits-all dancers, so how are we going to wear one-size-fits-all pants without some serious tsuris?

One of the tall girls had also felt really burned by costume inanity before, so we both expressed consternation. And we must not have been the only ones, or we reached some kind of boundary condition, because somehow this time it made a difference. The studio director stopped by class last night to talk about it, and since I wasn’t there (snow) she called me tonight at home. They’re changing to pants that come in several sizes and she wanted to apologize.

After being sort of polite but reserved for a while, I finally took a deep breath and told her everything I’ve said here. I also told her that I was part of the size acceptance movement (“stock answer for anyone who might not be prepared to hear the words ‘fat’ and ‘acceptance’ right next to each other”), that a lot of readers here are belly dancers because it’s usually a great gateway to self-love, and furthermore that I’d usually experienced a lot of body positivity in my classes — making it extra disorienting when I came up against a wall of one-size-ism at the end of each semester. She’d never heard of size acceptance but said that body positivity was a conscious goal of the studio, that she was happy to hear I’d encountered it in classes and sorry that the costume-ordering process tended to feel like the opposite. I told her I appreciated that and was glad to hear that body positivity was one of the studio’s explicit objectives. It was, in short, pretty damn productive.

We may disagree on what activism means — both what it should mean for the community, and what it means for us personally. Some people are awesome in-your-face street activists who never pass up a teachable moment. Some people write — for blogs and newspapers, for experienced activists and brand-new 101ers. Some people organize; others are activist through art [potentially NSFW] or radical visibility. Some people will drink a bowl of gravy for fat acceptance. Not everyone wants to speak up every time — and even when we’re speaking up, we may disagree on tone and approach, honey versus vinegar. Personally, I have a tough-to-shake tendency to go pretty limp in face-to-face situations — my FA tendencies, so pronounced in print, go head to head with my dislike of making myself disliked. But it’s worth remembering that some people who appear to be acting thoughtless just genuinely aren’t thinking, and a gentle or even not-so-gentle reminder of your existence as a person who doesn’t want to be marginalized can have real effects. You don’t have to be all super-activist all the time — I’m not. But if someone is mistreating you and you don’t think they mean to (because they mean well, because they probably want your money, or whatever), try letting them know, with whatever level of gravity or breeziness you think it requires.

Kate recently defined privilege as “the luxury of not thinking about it much,” which I think is perfect. One of the consequences of privilege, then, is that if you want people to be inclusive of you, you often have to remind them that you exist. It sucks to have to do this all the time, which is part of why so many people — particularly those struggling to understand their own privilege — confuse privilege with prejudice or ignorance. Even if you’re not actively oppressing those who lack the privileges you have, you are oppressing them by failing to consider them part of the status quo, by requiring them to make explicit requests for basic representation or consideration. We need to be aware of that when it comes to the privileges we have — do you, by default, consider everybody or only the people whose experiences you find familiar? But when it comes to privileges we lack, it’s worth remembering that as much as it may suck to have to ask explicitly for consideration, you get to ask for it. Even if you’re not a born activist, you can still be an advocate — for others, and just as importantly for yourself.

All diets work the same: poorly

If you read the paper in the mornings, you may already have seen the news — the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine includes a study showing that all diets work the same, it’s only calorie intake that matters.

Some previous studies have found that low carbohydrate diets like Atkins work better than a traditional low-fat diet. But the new research found that the key to losing weight boiled down to a basic rule – calories in, calories out.

“The hidden secret is it doesn’t matter if you focus on low-fat or low-carb,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the research.

Limiting the calories you consume and burning off more calories with exercise is key, she said.

In between quotes like this and “success stories” from two program participants, this particular article does get around to mentioning that all participants started regaining weight after a year. Some articles don’t. The version I saw in the commuter paper coughed and whispered it at the end, but headlined with “All diets the same!” and touted the supremacy of calorie counting. Most people who read coverage of this study could be forgiven for coming away thinking that no matter how many carbs you eat, what really matters is staying below a set number of calories — just another version of “well, FAD diets don’t work, but I’m just on a regular calorie-counting diet so it’ll work for me.” Because for the most part, that’s what the articles say.

Well, I read the study. And here’s the rest of the story:

  • The study only followed people for two years, not five, but already saw weight regain in almost all participants. Nor were they surprised. The researchers said that they chose a two-year period because “weight loss typically is greatest 6 to 12 months after initiation of the diet, with steady regain of weight subsequently.”
  • Participants in every group were on average eating FEWER calories at the two-year mark, when they were regaining, than they were at the six-month mark, when they were still losing weight. (ETA: Almost every group. Kate double-checked me and one group was eating about 22 calories more on average at two years than at six months.) (ETA: No, I was right the first time.)
  • One of the researchers reports the following conflicts of interest: “Dr. Greenway reports receiving consulting fees from or serving on a paid advisory board for Anian, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Clarus Health, Encore Pharmaceutical, Leptos Biomedical, MDRNA, Novo Nordisk, General Nutrition Corporation, Catalyst, Jenny Craig, Orexigen, Lithera, and Basic Research, receiving lecture fees from BAROnova, Lazard, and Biologene, and owning equity in Lithera.”
  • ETA: From MissPrism: “They also wouldn’t let ‘insufficiently motivated’ people on the study to begin with, and haven’t published the questionnaire or criteria that they used to determine level of motivation.” Depending on the definition of “motivated,” this could easily disqualify anyone who practices HAES.

The Globe and Mail coverage reported this as “all diets work.” It looks to me more like “no diets work.” And hey, that’s how it was reported last time someone did this study, less than two years ago, when researchers analyzed the results of 46 different weight-loss studies and found that there wasn’t much difference between various diets because they all sucked. It’s interesting how “there’s no material difference between diets” is now being reported now as “all diets work as long as you cut calories,” even though the primary desired effect of diets — weight loss — isn’t being observed on even fairly short time scales. How, pray tell, does that mean diets “work”? A broken Ford and a broken Honda both “work the same” too, but since neither of them does what they’re designed for, we call them both lemons.

Now granted, they did find that the participants’ diet and exercise changes resulted in lower triglycerides, higher HDL, better metabolic function, etc. And what else besides diets could possibly have this effect? Gosh, I thought you’d never ask.