Does the World Want You to be Thin? Probably Not. Do it Anyway

So I get Matt Hsu’s newsletter. You can find him over at, lot’s of good stuff, go on, check it out. But y’all come back now, ya hear?

Anyway, I was clearing some old emails found one from Matt with the subject line, “How do you stay so thin?” in which he gave the secrets of his lean physique. A couple of things about this email that tickled me.

First, I get the same question. I’ve been wearing 32” x 34” pants since high school and it doesn’t much look like that’s going to change any time soon. Heck, I had a pair of pants tailored in China 14 years and 25 pounds ago, and they still fit. (Hint the 25 lbs wasn’t fat)

Considering the that my diet was for many years rather poor, and considering that I still eat rather a lot more than most men my age, this may be somewhat surprising. As it happens, I have always had people telling me:

Just wait until you’re XXX, you keep eating like you do, then you’ll get fat.

Thing is, that “XXX” has changed much down the years. At various times it’s been:

  • 21
  • Get a desk job
  • 30
  • Married
  • Have children
  • 40
  • 50

But so far it’s never come true.

So what’s the secret? Well, secret number one is…I hit the genetic lottery. As a teenager my mother was so thin (88 lbs, 5′ 2″) her mother feared she’d be to skinny to attract a husband. I was lucky enough to inherit her metabolism. Unfortunately, most people don’t hit the genetic lottery and need a back up plan.

Which leads me to secret number two, the other thing about Matt’s email that tickled me. Our diets are underpinned by one basic rule. Ready for it?

Cook your own damned dinner.

That’s it. That’s the big secret. Now, as with everything, the devil is in the details, and in the details we naturally, inevitably, differ. But the details are just that, details, i.e. small stuff. The big stuff? Buy your own ingredients, cook them, and eat that. Don’t buy boxo meals, nuke them and call that cooking, m’kay?

What’s the big advantage? Sometime take a gander at the ingredients of your premade meal-in-a-box. What is all that crap? And do you really want to put it in your body? If you cook your own meals you know exactly what is in them, and how much.

Which circles me around to a couple of thoughts I’ve had over the years.

  • Stop eating crap
  • If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it
  • The experts have been so wrong, for so long, about so many things related to nutrition you should pretty much just ignore them

To which I’ll add, in honour of the ingredients list of your average premade, boxo meal,

  • If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it

I will grant, there are other keys to my staying thin, and I promise to write about them soon. But for now? Genetic lottery winner or not, start simple, and cook your own damned dinner.