The Real Reason Everyone's Fat

And the First Step to Getting Lean

Are soft drinks, fast food, or aggressive diet plans making us fatter? Nope, it’s something totally different. And the good news is, you have power over it.

The Blame Game

The world is getting fatter and everybody’s an expert on why. Here’s a list of what people blame:

  • Diets: Too restrictive, conflicting information
  • The fitness industry: Conflicting info, intimidating, too much overt sexiness
  • Sugar: Addictive
  • McDonald’s: Makes us fat
  • Gyms: Intimidating
  • Spouses: Tempt us with junk food
  • Children: Make us buy junk food
  • Parents: Allowed us to overeat junk food as kids
  • Jobs: Cause stress, make us sit
  • Magazines: Use Photoshop and good-looking people

Do these things play a role in obesity? Indirectly, maybe. But the buck stops with you and your response to them.

The Ability to Take Responsibility

Is it really any wonder the world is becoming fatter? We’re also becoming less capable of taking responsibility. It’s a virtue that’s going out of style. This sucks because the better you get at taking responsibility, the more likely you are to look for opportunity to fix your circumstances instead of becoming a victim of them. And if you haven’t noticed, cry-baby victimhood is today’s hottest trend.

This is how mental weakness turns into physical weakness. Weak people are quick to point the finger at outside sources instead of finding opportunities to overcome their personal challenges.

Granted, the things they blame can be legitimate challenges. There are physiological and psychological factors that make fat loss and muscle gain seem impossible. But NOBODY gets a free pass. That means fit people often have just as many (or more) personal disadvantages to fight against as fat people.

The Truth About Fit People

Everybody who’s in shape fights for it in some way. It’s not given to us. We all have personal disadvantages and challenges to overcome. So unless you’re among the very few genetically gifted and environmentally blessed, you can’t get lean without a struggle. You can’t build muscle without a struggle. And you certainly won’t maintain either without struggling in some way.

On top of that, your struggles will change yearly, monthly, sometimes even daily. So once you overcome your initial challenges, you’ll be faced with more. And they happen everywhere: under the barbell, at school, in the doctor’s office, in the kitchen or the car, anywhere! Getting in shape isn’t a thing that happens exclusively at the gym. It’s what you do constantly with every choice you make.

The Fitness Fight

I wasn’t a natural born athlete and don’t have the genetics to be naturally or easily lean. As a kid I medicated stress and sadness with food. My role model was my big sister, who was bulimic when she ate but eventually died from anorexia. As a teen, I attended Overeater’s Anonymous and ended up fighting my challenges with weight training, competitive bodybuilding, cross country, self-help books, and the grace of God.

It was hard. And I still had to overcome some crazy eating patterns in my twenties. But I fought back then and, with a different set of challenges, I fight now. Emotional eating and overeating no longer burden me, but that doesn’t mean leanness and muscularity are just handed to me. Nor are they handed to anyone else who chooses to train regularly and eat wisely.

My challenges today? Injuries that I work around in the gym, painful food sensitivities, and chronically low iron. And once these are fixed a brand new set of challenges will come along later. That’s life. But it’s not a good enough reason to let myself go and blame the world for my missteps.

Your Body, Your Business

Most people haven’t been bitten by the fitness bug. They’re not into lifting, nor do they go to the store thinking about macronutrients, ingredients, or overall nutritional value. That’s fine.

They’re into what they’re into. And they’re often extremely smart people, which means that if they want to get stronger and leaner, they’ll find ways. They can hire trainers, read books, do a bit of research, cook for themselves instead of eating out, imbibe a little less, sleep a little more, and plug into groups of people with similar challenges.

Same with you. If you’re overweight, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have a choice, or that you got this way and it was totally out of your control. Why? Because if you think like that, then you probably won’t ever feel competent enough to take control, at least not long-term.

If you don’t care about strengthening your body or improving your health, that’s your business. You will prioritize what’s important to you. Just don’t say the fitness industry failed you, or that diet books, food manufacturers, or your family is to blame for the repercussions you’re facing now. It’s your body and YOUR business, remember?

Sycophants Aren’t Helping

A sycophant is someone who tells people exactly what they want to hear. Ass-kisser is a synonym.

So let’s say YOU are fit. Maybe you’re even in the business as a personal trainer, expert, or a variation of inspirational-millennial-life-coach. Yet you tell fat people it’s not their fault, they have no choice, and they should embrace the bodies they have now – no matter how unhealthy or out of shape they are. That’s bullshit and you know it.

You know that people who are out of shape could be making the best choices within their circumstances, no matter how unfortunate those circumstances are. And you know that “body acceptance” is a sham because their lives would be much easier if their frail frames and feeble joints weren’t hauling around extra weight.

You know they’d feel better about themselves, have more energy, move more freely, take fewer meds, sleep better, get out more, have fewer doctors’ appointments, deal with less pain, have better sex, and (ironically) enjoy their food a lot more than they do now.

There’s a way to be both compassionate and honest. But by playing the sycophant you’re encouraging people to be the victims rather than the masters of their circumstances. And I hope that people who are out of shape make the choices that prove you wrong. Because you see, if they can CHOOSE to get in better shape today, then they could’ve CHOSEN better behaviors in the first place that would have kept them from getting where they are now. There is a choice.

Your patronizing pity is more insulting than the brutal honesty of someone who says, “You’re fat and here’s what you can do about it.”

I hope your clients flip the mental switch and take responsibility. I hope they embrace the struggle because that’s how you overcome challenges. This requisite struggle is what most people avoid, but it means something new is happening. It means they’re now fighting personal disadvantages, the way we all do when we make the choice to get in shape.

The First Step In Change

The longer you’ve let yourself go, the harder it’ll be to create habits that’ll make you leaner and stronger. And you won’t ever change unless you see challenges as what they are: beatable. The good news is, the more punches you throw, the better you get at it.

Accusing other people for causing your circumstances only postpones the good stuff you could be enjoying. So personal responsibility is nonnegotiable. It’s the first step.

Then expect temptation and plan how you’re going to beat it. Temptation is inescapable and everyone faces it. If you’re still blaming your spouse for sabotaging you with tempting food, don’t count on changing. We’re all tempted by about the same shit; your challenges aren’t special. And even if you’re injured or ill, there’s still a way to choose the best options within your given set of circumstances.

Can’t get support at home? Find it elsewhere, then be a role model for your family. It’ll be a struggle, but it’s supposed to be. Everyone experiences that. If you’re not struggling, then you’re probably not making progress. The struggle is what keeps you from getting weaker, fatter, less mobile, and more incompetent as the owner of your body.

The blame-game won’t make you any fitter or healthier. It’s not working for the rest of the world, so don’t expect it to work for you. The question is, are you going to fight your challenges or let them own you? The choice is yours. It always has been. It always will be.



How bad do some want.


Fantastic advice. Taking Personal responsibility for your thoughts and behaviours is the only way to have peace of mind and actually move forward in any aspect of your life.


Have to agree. Too often people like to use external influences to justify their condition (whether it’s fatness, being financially weak, not having a perfect relationship etc. etc. etc.), when in reality it lies with the individual and how the perceived problems are approached. If you put in the work you will improve. Put in the work.

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Great article !

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I’ll be 68 in June, 2024; beginning at age fifteen in 1971, I’ve been non-competitive, no-drugs bodybuilding for over 52 years. Since about age 48, so for about the past twenty years, I’ve continuously used an annual bodyweight cycle which has me at 10-12% bodyfat percentage for 8 of every 12 months, deliberately gaining about 10 lbs then reducing calories and losing those 10 lbs again during the other 4 months.

Consequently, after all the decades, family and friends (my younger brother calls me the Anomaly) take for granted my self-control regarding workouts and calories; my wife of 44 years long ago accustomed to my weaving scheduled workouts into every week, and, my kids, their spouses, my siblings, and friends know me as the one who sips black coffee while quietly refraining from the birthday cake.

When most adults ask me, “How do you do it!?” I recognize that they don’t mean, “what’s your diet program or exercise routine?” Most actually mean, “HOW do you manage to consistently discipline yourself for months, because, I want to but fail to do it.”

I conclude that self-control is another of those genetic traits on the normal distribution curve: most have an average ability, a few have below-average, and some, probabaly including those successful at controlling bodyfat like me, have above-average. Those of us who are successful also seem to be those who self-motivate; unlike most people, who need being accountable to a training partner or personal trainer or some other person, we have the ability to “do it regularly and religiously, no matter what, regardless of who is or isn’t watching”. We each keep ourself accountable to ourself.

How to teach others that “able-to-consistently-and-longterm-pursue-what-we-want” has been the question I wish I had the solution to, for decades. I’ve told people who ask how to be like me, “I don’t know. If I knew, I’d have marketed the answer and be a billionaire by now.”

It’s ultimately not only wanting to lose bodyfat badly enough, but also, as the article indicates, exerting the willpower and self-control to achieve that.

I do believe everyone can optimize the amount of willpower they have to exert; I definitely also believe that some fail to optimize what they do have.

However, I’m not sure that everyone is born with the level of willpower and self-discipline necessary to not only practicably and healthfully lose bodyfat but then also keep from regaining it. I certainly didn’t work on attaining my level of self-discipline; it’s been present in and available to me since I was about ten years old.

But genuinely lacking the willpower isn’t an excuse to blame something external, somebody else or some other thing, for being fat. It means, admittedly self-image-woundingly, “I lack the ability to do it.” (Similar to my lifelong failure to below-parallel barbell squat 450 pounds meaning, not that something external is to blame, but that I lack the ability to do it.)

Genetics, nature can be blamed. But finally there’s a need to accept that “it’s my inability causing the failure,” to quit perceiving the wrong reasons for failure being the cause, then to accept living within one’s limitations.

The fat people I’ve met whom I respect all state this: “I’m fat because I lack the willpower to lose it.” They’re not usually happy with their self-assessments. But at least they’re being honest with themselves and facing reality, instead of wallowing in victimhood and justifying themselves on the false hopes sold by marketeers and the ego-salvaging pity sold by coddling therapists.


What a fantastic post. Thanks.

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BOOM! Dani preaching the gospel truth. I don’t think we have ever seen a time like this where personal accountability takes a back seat to blaming someone or something else. We have institutionalized it. It’s as if we are so fragile we can’t handle normal, everyday life challenges.

IMO, gym rats are (generally) better at accepting the concept of sacrifice and hardship in the name of improving. Even though that effort may take a long time to yield results. Just showing up is the first step: you acknowledge status quo is not acceptable so you take ownership in changing it.

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Y’all, thank you so much for the love! I wrote this article several years ago, and didn’t expect it to blow up like this in 2024, but wow! I’m stoked that it still resonates. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments.

To be honest, my communication style and values have changed so much since writing this, that I’m not sure I’d be as blunt if I wrote about this topic again today.

Yes, obesity is a problem. And yes, holding yourself accountable is important.

But I’m not sure that my former version of tough love ever motivated people to seriously examine their habits and seek ways to change them over the long haul.

I’m also quite sure that physique change isn’t as important as spiritual change. I’d rather be obese and confident in my relationship with Christ than ripped and spiritually lost.

But the cool thing is God built these amazing bodies of ours, and we can use them to honor Him while getting healthier at the same time. Hopefully in the future I learn how to get THAT message across better.


I hope lots of folks take to heart the spiritual side of your message, Dani - nothing else matters so much in the long run.

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I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for the kind words.