Sally Squires describes weight loss bloggers as rank "amateurs"
The Health and Nutrition Writer at the Washington Post is a woman named Sally Squires who regularly writes on the topic of weight, health, fitness and nutrition in her weekly syndicated column called The Lean Plate Club, which seeks to help people incorporate healthy eating habits and exercise into their lives.
Squire's FREE Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter (sign up for it here) is mailed out to more than 200,000 subscribers every week. She has even written a book about some of the experiences of her fellow Lean Plate Clubbers set to release in 2006 from St. Martin's Press entitled "Secrets of the Lean Plate Club."
Looking at these fine credentials, one would think that Squires would be pleased by the seeming abundance and success of so many great weight loss blogs out there on the Internet today. But in her September 6th column entitled "Weighty Blogs Dish on Diets," Squires takes dead aim at blogs like "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" and simply blows them off as too obscure and run by "amateurs" to have any real impact on the health and well-being of people who are strugging with their weight.
I wonder what many of my readers who have told me how my 180-pound weight loss story has so greatly inspired them might have to say to Ms. Squires about her broad generalization of ALL weight loss blogs? Could it be that she really thinks the weight loss blogs that exist out there in cyberspace are all duds? Did she even TRY to find out if there were some actual good ones that are professional and current? It certainly doesn't appear this was the case based on her marks in this story.
Before I comment on her column, let me invite you to share your comments with Sally Squires about my blog or any other weight loss blog on the Internet that has helped you in your journey towards weight loss and making it a permanent lifestyle change. I'm sure she would love to receive an e-mail from you about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. Squires will undoubtedly be very surprised to learn that not all weight loss blogs are the same and that she should have dug a little deeper in her investigative reporting before publishing her incomplete story about weight loss blogs.
As for the article itself, the weight loss blogs she mentions in her story are not what I would consider the best of the best out there. In fact, can you believe there wasn't even ONE mention of a low-carb blog in the story at all. NONE!!! If you are going to write a column about weight loss blogs, then wouldn't you want to include a variety of the weight loss programs used to balance the story? One would think, but unfortunately that didn't happen.
She mentions the Hello, I Am Fat blog featuring a woman named Anne who lost 50 pounds, but then gained back 48 pounds. I don't know, but to me this is not my idea of a weight loss success story blog that people will be clamoring to read for advice about weight loss. While it may be interesting, it certainly is not helpful for people wanting to lose weight.
Squires says that so many of the weight loss bloggers "agonize over food cravings, struggle to find time to work out and often give themselves a public flogging" on their blogs.
Say what? While I have seen some people journal about their personal experiences trying to lose weight on their blog, the successful weight loss blogs that I have read incorporate positive encouragement and useful information for readers to absorb and learn about what they can do if they need to lose and/or maintain their weight. That is exactly what my mission at this blog is -- to educate and encourage people who are following a low-carb lifestyle. Every blog post I write about helps to fulfill that mission on a daily basis.
"By their very nature, weight-conscious bloggers are amateurs willing to share their own experiences and tips, which may -- or may not -- be smart, scientifically verified or even safe," Squires writes.
Why are weight loss bloggers considered "amateurs" in the eyes of Squires? Are we not qualified to share our opinions with the entire world about how our lives have been radically changed as a result of our weight loss experiences? I would agree that most weight loss bloggers are not journalists with a journalism degree (and neither am I), but we should not be automatically dismissed because of that.
I personally have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and have been an active writer in various forums on the Internet since the late-1990s. My writing skills have never been questioned by any of my readers throughout the years because I paid meticulous attention to what and how I write every single word that I type. Why does Squires seemingly look down upon and berate people like me just because we have a weight loss blog?
Do former fat people not have the ability to put together coherent sentences for people to read and understand? It is both condescending and arrogant of anyone to assume anyone who is writing on a weight loss blog is unqualified to be doing so. The point is that we are not all the same and should not be judged collectively as one stereotypical group.
Am I a professional expert in the field of health and nutrition? Absolutely not. I am just your average guy who used to weigh 410 pounds back in January 2004 and through the miraculous low-carb lifestyle change that I implemented into my life along with daily exercise, I was able to bring my weight under control down to a much healthier 230 pounds. Now that I am maintaining that weight loss, I feel my story of success and triumph can help motivate others to do the same for themselves. That is precisely why I started this blog and wrote my soon-to-be-released book about my weight loss experience called "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."
When she mentions the amount of traffic seen by most weight loss blogs, Squires again thumbs her nose at us by stating many "write in such obscurity that they are lucky to log even a couple hundred visitors" while other "popular blogs average 7,000 to 10,000 visits per month."
"Many blogs appear and disappear faster than a box of Junior Mints at the movies."
Clever writing, but that's not the whole truth. While it is certainly true that weight loss blogs come and go, that's just the nature of blogs in general. Many people who start a blog as a novelty thinking it will be fun to talk about their lives with the entire world soon find the time they invest in their blog is not worth the trouble. Still others like me take their blog a little more seriously and try to offer their readers a reason to keep coming back by investing time and research into the information that is posted at their blog.
My primary reason for starting this blog was to use it as a forum for challenging the negative perceptions that seem to come out on a daily basis from much of the media and so-called health "experts" about livin' la vida low-carb. Since I am an example of how this way of eating can change people's lives, I felt I had a certain obligation to share my experiences with others who may be struggling with what to do about their obesity problem.
Since launching in late April, I have been very blessed with traffic to my blog. In the first month alone, I had 5,000 pageviews. Not bad, but that number quickly doubled by June and has continued to grow every single month since. There were 13,000 pageviews in the month of August and I am expecting to surpass the 15,000-pageviews mark in September! Not bad for one of the "amateurs," eh?
I am both humbled and grateful for the tremendous readership this blog has garnered. I do not take it for granted and see it as an affirmation of my efforts with it. I have invested a lot of time to make "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" the very best that it can be. I am continually trying to improve it and make it even better.
As much as I am criticizing her for this column, I will credit Squires for mentioning several weight loss success story blogs. Unfortunately, though, many of them do not offer their readers information beyond their own anectodal experiences that sometimes have nothing to do with weight loss.
For example, EpiphanyinBaltimore lost over 100 pounds, but he talks about his failed love life, financial troubles, legal battles, and more personal issues at his blog. While those stories are all well and good, a successful weight loss blog is going to primarily provide insight and commentary about WEIGHT LOSS. If your blog is about what is going on in your life, then that's one thing. But if you are going to purport to be a resource for people desiring weight loss, then that should be your focus in your blog.
There were other weight loss blogs mentioned in Squire's column.
Drop the Fork highlights the 80-pound weight loss by Debbie through portion control. Skinny Kat follows Kathryn Porter as she lost 50 pounds, gained it back and is now starting a diet all over again. The Skinny Daily Post reveals the stories of "Juju," Jane and Jonathan who have lost a combined 425 pounds and kept the weight off. Finally, Tales of a Bathroom Scale highlights a 70-pound weight loss success named "Diet Chick" who is about to get married.
The co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry James O. Hill (of which I am now officially a part of and received my first questionairre in the mail today to fill out! WOO HOO!) said weight loss blogs can be "very powerful" influencers on people wanting to lose weight, but is concerned that people's weight loss stories will be viewed as one-size-fits-all.
"I worry that in reading a personal story people will think this strategy works for everyone, and that's rarely the case," Hill stated.
But Hill said there needs to be even more blogs that are focused on maintaining your weight.
I agree with that and I certainly include many blog posts at "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" to share with people who are maintaining their weight what I am doing to keep my weight steady nine months after losing 180 pounds. Yet I have found that more people are in the process of losing weight and have a while to go before they start maintaining.
There is an ever-evolving group of readers at my blog that includes long-time weight loss champions who have kept their weight off for years, recent weight loss successes like me, people who have lost most of their weight, others who have lost a little bit of weight, and individuals who either just started or are thinking about starting or starting over on a weight loss plan.
Whichever category you are in, the posts I write about in this blog can help you in your journey. I always open my e-mail to anyone who has a specific question or topic regarding their situation. I don't claim to have all the answers to every question about weight loss, but I respond to every inquiry I receive with any helpful hints to assist others who are in the same boat that I used to be in.
If Squires is interested in reading some REAL weight loss blogs, might I suggest she take a look at these:
Regina Wilshire's Weight of the Evidence
Julia Havey's Take It Off!
Connie Bennett's SUGAR SHOCK!
Jeremy Likness' Shocking Weight Loss Truths Revealed
Kalyn Denny's Kalyn's Kitchen
Beth Badore's Melting Mama and Deflat(ed) Daddy
Katherine Prouty's Low-Carb Freedom
Brian Edward's Doughy White Guy
Shall I go on? There are plenty of BETTER weight loss blogs that Squires COULD have mentioned in her column with just a little bit of digging. Maybe she'll do a follow-up article featuring these and other GENUINE weight loss blogs and the measurable impact those blogs are having on people's lives.
Again, feel free to share your comments about the weight loss blogs that have helped you by writing directly to Sally Squires at email@example.com. Be sure to let her know that "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man" sent you. ;-)
9-07-2005 UPDATE: The Washington Post put a link to my post at their web site today among the blogs who blogged about Squire's story on weight loss blogs.
I was also intrigued by this blog post from the blogger at EpiphanyInBaltimore who was offended by my description of her blog (which came from the Squires story, by the way). She was especially upset that her blog was being described as a "weight loss blog" (again, not my words, they were Squire's) and that I was only "mad (I) wasn't interviewed for the article for (my) blog."
Actually, I couldn't care less if Squires did call me to be a part of her column. The point of my blog posts was that there were so many more REAL weight loss blogs who claim to be such that she could have chosen. Where did she get the list of blogs that she noted in her story? If one of the primary blogs in the story doesn't even want the label "weight loss blog," then what was she thinking? That was my beef with her article in a nutshell.
Of course, this NON-"weight loss blogger" had to take a jab at livin' la vida low-carb while she was on the subject.
"By the way, low-carb diets are a fad and only make you lose weight because you're actually just eating less food overall."
Sigh. Must we go through this EVERY time another misinformed and ignorant person repeats this same claim over and over and over. I think most of my readers know my response to THAT claim. Oi!
An anonymous comment described me as a "jealous jacka**" who is mad because I haven't "had a bagel in years."
Yuck yuck yuck. Have your laugh at my expense now. We'll see who gets the last laugh when the low-carb lifestyle is vindicated someday. There will be a whole lot of people apologizing for making fun of it in 2005. Just you wait.
9-08-2005 UPDATE: I posted the following comment at EpiphanyInBaltimore's blog today to make amends for any misunderstanding about what I wrote of HIS (he kindly informed me in an e-mail that he is not a she) blog:
"I appreciate this discussion about weight loss blogs (of which EpiphanyInBaltimore has made it abundantly clear he is not one) because it shows people there are others out there who are struggling with their weight problem, too. That's why I created my blog and encourage people to do whatever they can to lose weight.
The Squires column listed this blog as among the weight loss blogs and that is why I referred to it as such. I apologize if you feel that was insulting to you. It was not meant to be interpreted in that manner.
As for me, I'm not bitter. I'm probably one of the most happy-go-lucky people you'd ever meet. I get passionate about low-carb because it helped me lose 180 pounds and keep it off. You'd be excited too if that happened to you.
By the way, cgg, I put a link to my blog in some of my columns because they are reprinted in various other places on the Internet, including CommonVoice.com, LowCarbNewsline.com, and others. I don't assume that people know how to get to my blog so I include a link to it for their convenience.
Again, thanks for your comments and I wish you and your readers the very best in your weight loss efforts. Take care and God bless you!
Jimmy Moore, "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man"
There is no sense in being disagreeable even when you disagree. THANKS for the lively debate and discussion. Come back and visit anytime.
9-9-05 UPDATE: My friend Connie Bennett at the SUGAR SHOCK! blog wrote this post about the Squires piece. As a journalist, Connie gives a fair evaluation of Squires' lack of indepth investigation into her story, but also acknowledges where she does have a case to make. Connie has some pretty blunt opinions about weight loss bloggers like me and I am grateful for her analysis. I am also appreciative that she would list this blog as one of the "better weight loss blogs" on the Internet. THANK YOU, Connie!
9-13-05 UPDATE: The "Hello I Am Fat" blogger named Anne chimed in on her blog being mentioned in Squires column today. It seems she too was a reluctant participant in this column about weight loss blogs written by Squires just as EpiphanyinBaltimore was. Anne mentions that the Squires column has been syndicated in several other newspapers since it first published last week in The Washington Post.
Mocking "professional blogs" and providing links to this blog as well as Connie Bennett's SUGAR SHOCK! Blog, Anne said she didn't mean to attract so much attention and only wanted a place to publish her own thoughts at her "personal site."
Here's my response to Anne that I posted at her blog today:
Hey there, this is Jimmy Moore from the Livin' La Vida Low-Carb blog that you mentioned in this post.
Let me clarify that my blog post about your blog was not intended to be a criticism of you or what you write about at "Hello, I Am Fat." My concern was more with the fact that Squires was attempting to display your site and the other mentioned in her column as the "typical" weight loss blogs out there. By your own admission as well as some of the others that were in the story, you are definitely NOT a weight loss blog and do not want to be put in a box like that. I can certainly respect that and appreciate that your posts are your "personal" thoughts and nothing more.
As for being called a "professional blog," I can't help but laugh at this description. Uh, thank you, I think. I started my blog in April 2005 after losing 180 pounds in 2004 doing low-carb and wanted an outlet for telling others about the success I had to help spur them on to their own triumph over their weight problem. I am not paid to write on my blog, but it is something that I do in my "spare" (LOL!) time because it is that important to me. While I try to make it as professional as possible, I certainly would not call myself an expert blogger. There are many others out there in blogdom that do a lot better job than I do.
I say all of that to say I'm sorry if I offended you in any way. That was certainly not my intention at all. I'm happy to hear all of this attention is creating traffic to your blog and that you are writing there again. Everyone who has a voice should make theirs be heard, right? Keep up the great work and let me know if I can ever assist you with anything. Take care!
Jimmy Moore, "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Man"