Don’t no one around here know how to play this game?”

Casey Stengel

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Came across an interesting post yesterday on Art Devany’s pay site.  The gist of the post (for those without access) is a testimonial from a 46 year-old man (known as JF) who has lost 70-ish pounds by following Art’s Evolutionary Fitness lifestyle.  Hell, the guy wasn’t even really faithful to the “lifestyle” since he didn’t workout while all this fat loss was occurring — he simply adhered to the proper diet.  Imagine what the weight loss — and, more importantly, the overall body fat loss and bodily re-composition (muscle retention) — would’ve been had he even undertaken a half-assed workout regimen.  70 pounds.  And the important fact to remember is that he’s made a change in eating habits that can be maintained for life.   

Compare this, then, to the supposed success of the Jenny Craig superstars. Now, obviously, calorie restriction “works” in the short term, vis-à-vis weight loss. The real question is – and this is a question left conspicuously unanswered by Jenny Craig and their ilk – is just how permanent this weight loss is in the long term. In other words, How long will the JC faithful be able to maintain this weight loss once forced to re-integrate into the real world? With calorie restriction as the mainstay? Prepared meals?  Are you kidding me?   Let’s not even get into the muscle wasting issues.

Full disclosure, here, before I continue: I’ve had a long-time boy-crush on Valerie Bertinelli since way back in the One Day at a Time era, so I’m going to go easy on her here (I even thought her weightier self was pretty hot), and concentrate my riff, instead, on the Jenny Craig phenomenon as a whole. 



Anyway, I wonder if ol’ Val will still be hucking the Jenny Craig “thing” 5 years from now — better yet, will she be able to maintain her poster-girl status 5 years out.  This, methinks, would make for an interesting case study.   I mean, really, how long can one wolf-down “prepared” meals or count calories, monkey with scales and food journals or screw around with “food exchanges” before the mind short-circuits? I think Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma — a fantastic book, by the way) has deftly encapsulated the only diet advice you’ll ever really need with this:

“Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much”.

Now, I might dicker with the “mostly plants” in want of “mostly protein”, but really, can you go wrong using Michael’s advice? Nope, I think not. And it costs not a damn thing to follow.


In Health,





  1. Great post. Isn’t a lot of the problem the headline in that picture with Valerie (who didn’t have a crush on her – girls and guys alike!): “Reduce calories – NOT YOUR ENJOYMENT OF LIFE.” We’ve been trained to think that eating cookies and drinking cosmos (or whatever she’s holding) is the ultimate enjoyment in life. What about feeling the satisfaction of climbing to the top of a mountain or seeing the world from 11,000 feet? (I was just in Colorado 🙂 Anyway, if media and government would get off the “eat all this low-fat crap and look great (maybe) regardless of how badly you are messing up all your systems!” kick, we would all be better off.

    I’ve started a post on a similar note – more geared toward whether the way some people get lean really is helping them out. An “is lean-ness the end all” type of question. Hopefully I’ll get it up by Sunday.

  2. I think it requires a certain innate mindset to see through the fog – I call it the “question authority” temperament. Curiously, most people I’ve run into who’ve given the Paleo/Evolutionary Fitness lifestyle serious consideration also have a strong Libertarian political leaning. To put a serious PoliSci geek-spin on it, Thomas Jefferson would’ve definitely gone Paleo, while Alexander Hamilton would’ve remained high-carb ‘til death.

  3. Jenny Craig isn’t just about reduced calories and prepared meals. By the time you reach your goal weight on the Jenny Craig program, you’ll have learned everything you need to know about how to make your own healthy, delicious meals – you’ll even have recipes to follow. You’ll already have developed a healthier relationship with food and turned into a more balanced eater. All you have to do is remember what you just learned! Once you drop the weight, you won’t be in a hurry to go back to your old habits.

  4. Hi Mary — and thanks for commenting in what must be “hostile” territory for you.

    I still stand firmly behind both the science and the empirical evidence supporting the Paleo/EvFit style diet. I think that what value there is — and what success there is — vis-a-vis a JC-like diet plan, resides solely in the support networks they provide. It’s more psychologically effective than “proper diet” effective, IMHO.

    And I still would like to see a “five year out” study done.

  5. Hey

    I just found your blog trough Free the Animla. I like your perspective and writing.

    I agree with you on the canned diet programs. They are about calories in – calories out. That works, but it won’t be sustainable unless you can change the hormonal environment. I wrote some about that over at my blog too.

    Keep fighting the good fight. Happy 2009.



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