Fitness Advice Follies: Go Easy on the Cake, Fattie!


Have you ever felt like women’s health and fitness magazines seem to be addressing an audience that consists of unfrozen cavewomen from another planet who don’t know anything of the ways of the earth-people? You’re not alone. Today’s inaugural entry in Fitness Advice Follies— the dumping ground for obvious, confusing, or terrible diet and exercise advice— addresses a topic near and dear to all of our hearts: cake. Specifically, is cake delicious?

Before we go on a merry frosting excursion, let’s talk a bit about “health” and “fitness,” not to be conflated with “thinness” and “hotness” (even people who are strong are usually firmly in the “hot” category). Like many humans who care about health, I too am concerned with maintaining my body in such a way that does not lead me to keel over at age 30 of something called Vascular Frostingitis. I eat healthy foods. I exercise regularly. I avoid raising my blood pressure from listening to too much talk radio. But that only takes me so far. In order to be truly healthy, it’s very important to me to consult the advice of women’s health and fitness magazines, and laugh my ass off at it.

I don’t turn to the likes of Shape, Women’s Health, Self, and Fitness because of the fantastic and positive idea of health they promote; if anything, while they pay lip service to the idea of strength and vitality being a good thing, they sell themselves to readers with the implicit promise that doing all of the dumb crap they suggest in their pages will lead to losing 15 pounds in the next week or something comparably improbable or unhealthy. Some of their advice isn’t so dumb— like the suggestion that taking the stairs rather than the escalator in the train station is good for you, or that olive oil is more healthy than vegetable oil. But some of it is so dumb that it causes me to laugh and laugh and laugh, and since dozens of studies have linked laughter to health, reading hilariously dumb diet advice can only serve to increase health and zeal.

And that brings us back to the question of cake. According to Fitness magazine, it’s okay to eat cake sometimes, because cake is good and tasting good things makes people feel great. Warning times seven though, guys: cake contains many calories, sort of like an opposite-carrot.

But, warning: the pleasure derived from eating cake won’t continue indefinitely. So, eating one piece of cake feels good, eating twenty pieces of cake won’t feel like 20 units of good. Utility diminishes, you see. In this month’s issue of Fitness, a highly trained experts explains,

Don’t think that two pieces of cake will make you feel twice as good. Savor that one slice.

I hope she wagged her finger when she said that. A basic lesson on how food works and how utility works wouldn’t be complete without a finger wag.

Anyway, any illusions you had about eating 15 pounds of cake being an awesome idea, banish them. One slice only, ladies. Otherwise you’ll be fat, and no one will love you.

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