If They Can Do It, Good for Them

If I hear one more weight-loss company ad, newly svelte celebrity making the talk show circuit, or any other humanoid within earshot of me utter the ridiculous phrase, “If I can do it, you can do it!” I swear I’ll scream, yell, throw a tantrum, have a hissy fit, or maybe even do something more drastic. Perhaps even violent—like rip the skinny wrench’s picture out of the magazine ad and, I don’t know, maybe black out her teeth before placing her in the shredder. I cannot stand that phrase; I simply can’t bear it. What does it really mean? If some other person, be it a celebrity or a random person posing for a weight-loss ad, lost a bunch of weight, why does that mean that I can do it? What does that person have in common with me? Are our lives identical? Does she have the same unquencable sweet tooth I have? Does she hate to exercise as much as I do? Does she loathe vegetables with the same fervor that I do? Do we share any traits at all that would leave anyone to believe that she and I can succeed in the same way on the same weight loss plan? I mean, it’s just a stupid thought.
I suppose that, originally, the statement was intended to make the speaker appear humble. Like, if even a pathetic loser like me can manage to dump these pounds then all of you out there within the sound of my voice can most certainly make it happen! But to me, it comes off sounding smug. I did it, and if you can’t, then you really must be a moron. And a pathetic loser.
Beyond lifestyle and personality, I also think the statement if ridiculous because of any one person’s particular skill set. Just because Dr. Oz can perform heart surgery doesn’t mean I can. My brother can treat patients but I can’t, not because I don’t have the training but because I never would have made it through the training. I don’t understand the fundamentals of medicine because my mind simply doesn’t work that way. But my brother can’t write a sonnet. Should I tell him, “If I can do it, you can do it?” And really, should he even try? I don’t think anyone would appreciate his diagnostic and healing skills any more if he wrote all of his charts in iambic pentameter.
Or imagine Einstein saying, “This relativity thing? No big deal! If I can do it, you can do it!” Or how about a successful athlete or an amazing singer or a talented artist? Should all of us be able to do what they do? I think not.
What seeing others who have lost tremendous amounts of weight does do, I think, is speak to the possibility. Maybe what they mean to say is, “If I can do it, then it really is possible.” I see all the commercials and hear the testimonials of people losing 50, 75, or 100 pounds and, after screaming at them to stop using that idiotic phrase, I am left with this: the possibility that one can change one’s weight. I’ve done it before, so I am certain it can be done. It can happen, it does happen, and perhaps I, too, can make it happen again. Here’s hoping.

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