Maybe I Can Publicly Shame Myself Into Losing Weight

My attempt to publicly shame myself into losing weight.


Like Dewey Oxburger there, I have a problem–a weight problem.

I’ve tried losing weight on my own, and it just doesn’t work. For a year I kept a spreadsheet with my weight on it, which I thought would prove the motivation and data I needed to drop some lbs. When I started tracking my weight on March 13, 2013, I weighed 194.8 pounds. On May 14, 2014 I weighed 196.6 pounds. The net effect of keeping a weight journal was that I gained more weight. Is it because I ate this weight journal? Possibly? I seemed to eat everything else in sight during the last year.

More likely, though, is the weight journal allowed me to labor under the illusion that I was doing something when I was not really doing much at all.

My new goal is to get down to 175, which is still overweight, but–and this is the key factor–it is less overweight.

186.4 (-4.6)
How did I do it? How am I keeping this crazy pace up? Shout-out to the stomach bug that’s had me running to and from my desk and bed for the last 24 hours. Couldn’t have done it without you. Forget Crossfit – not being able to control your bodily functions is where it’s at.

188.6 (-2.4) 
Progress! See. I knew your prying eyes could help. Have not done anything special other than eat less. I am also trying to cut down on processed foods. Switching from cereal to smoothies in the morning. I know. I know. This is all very exciting. But you can either read about it now or hear about it next time we’re at a party together and I run out of things to talk about.

Onward, downward…

OK, it looks like public shame is the only way I will be able to do this. Over the course of the last year my weight has gone up and down (mostly up), and in spite of my best intentions I can’t get down to my new goal weight of 175. I’m losing weight for my health and because I bought a bunch of clothes I can’t fit into now. So, yes, it’s also because I’m cheap and hate to shop. Being fat, I have learned, has kept me from buying really nice clothes, which I could use some of. In my head I am always like, “I’ll buy those nice pants and nice shirts and nice shoes that go with with AFTER I lose the weight.” Which means, if you look at a photo of me from the last few years, I am always wearing the same nice clothes on formal occasions. The madness must end. I work for Big Bunny now, damn it. Time to look the part and be the bald sex symbol that America – and more importantly, my wife – needs me to be. On to 175! I’ll be checking back in here on the regular.


185.0 (-11.6 pounds) 
Goal weight achieved! Do they make a lasagna-lovers pizza? Because that’s a thing I would like to eat right now to celebrate. (Just kidding. I ate half an almond to celebrate.)


186.8 (-9.8 pounds)
I haven’t been to a buffet in weeks. Worried about the crushing affect my decisions are having on LA’s buffet restaurant community. There is a dark side to weight loss.

7-11-14 (-8 pounds)
188.6 I think I’ll hit 185 (my goal weight) in a week or two. I’m not missing the extra food and booze anymore. My jeans are looser, and Jen says I look slimmer from behind. (Hey, eyes up here, wife. I have a face, you know.)

7-8-14 (-6.8 pounds)
189.8 Broke past 190! I can’t imagine what my weight would be if I hadn’t inhaled bacon-wrapped hot dogs, beers and potato salad over the 4th of July holiday weekend. 145? 112? 6? I don’t know. I ate a lot. But I also ate smart the rest of the weekend and stayed active. Anyways, can’t remember last time I was on the right side of 190. Probably my wedding. It feels good. I’m starting to focus more on how good it feels to lose weight as opposed to how good food shoved into my face tastes. It’s been a tough switch, and I have the old fatty mom jeans in my closet that prove it.

7-3-14 (-5 pounds)
190.6 Pretty proud of my weight, considering I sat in the Dodgers’ All You Can Eat Section this week and consumed Nachos Donatelli, which are nachos covered with the limited toppings available in the Dodgers’ All You Can Eat Section. It was not undelicious.

6-10-14 (-4.4)
191.2 Last night I met up with two old college friends and turned down beer. I’m sorry, beer, but this day was inevitable. I’ll still see you on special occasions. Promise.

6-8-14 (-3.8)
192.8 I have been receiving encouragement from friends, which really helps. My buddy Mike sent me a long email detailing his efforts to keep the weight off through diet and strength training. He pointed out a really obvious thing – peanuts. I snack on them all the time. So does he. (Or at least, he used to.) They’re loaded with calories. I ran out of peanuts this week, and the weight started coming off. I’m not going to lay all the blame on Big Monocled Peanut. Cutting back on portions and wine has no doubt helped as well. It’s the accumulated effort of a lot of little things, which is boring, which is probably why the boring approach doesn’t sell as many books, videos and seminars as more drastic measures. Anyways, I’ll see you in hell, Mr. Peanut.

6-4-13 (-2.2)
194.2 Nice. I am cutting back my portions even more. And laying off the evening wine/cocktail. And exercising. You know, all that boring stuff they say to do? It seems to work. There is no joy in it — happiness is but a fleeting memory — but I do like the idea that I might soon be able to fit into my goal jeans. (Yes, I own goal jeans. Those are the jeans I will be able to fit into when I hit my weight loss goal. I can’t decide if that’s charming or idiotic. I’m going to say charming because that makes me sound like less of a loser.)

5-30-14 (-.8)
195.8 Back to eating healthy again and walking. I am determined to make this work. I said for the millionth time.

5-29-14 (+1.2)
197.8 Went to Ohio for a few days for a funeral. Ate and ate and ate my way through the sadness. Sad funeral eating is the most easily justified eating. Lasagna cannot fill the hole in my heart, but that did not stop me from trying.

5-22-14 (-1.8 pounds)
194.8 Now that’s what I’m talking about. I’ve cut my portions and am exercising more. Drastic measures are sometimes called for. (Yes, I know this is what you’re supposed to do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.) Exercise: Jumped rope for 30 minutes and walked for 30 minutes.

5-21-14 (Same)
195.8 This is ridiculous. From here on I am cutting my portions by 1/3. Take that, happiness. Exercise: Walked 30 minutes.

5-20-14 (-.8)
195.8 Did everything right yesterday. Wife reminded me that sometimes changes are reflected later, which is true but does not alleviate my need for immediate gratification NOW THIS MINUTE, DAMN IT. Exercise: Walked 30 minutes.

5-19-14 (Same)
195.6 I went down the carb hole. First I ate a sandwich on healthy all-wheat bread for lunch – that’s a lot of bread for me. Then for dinner I had a dozen or so tortilla chips and guac … and a flauta filled with sweet potatoes … and a glass of lemonade. Dios mio! Exercise: Walked 30 minutes.

5-18-14 (Same)
195.6 Damn it. Ate a great breakfast and lunch. (Proteins and vegetables, mainly.) Was out all night last night and had some poutine (which is French-Canadian for “expensive fries and gravy”) and two glasses of red wine, which I’m thinking may have been a factor. Exercise: Cleaned the house for two hours.

5-16-14 (-1 pound)
195.6 Woo. Progress. I am now only 10.6 pounds from my goal. I give all the credit to self-control. Jen (my wife) and I went to an event at a nice restaurant last night with an open bar and all-you-can eat food. I had three sips of a margarita and two small plates of seafood. I avoided the booze and the breads. The restaurant, FYI, was Red O. The salmon ceviche is excellent. The desserts? I have no idea. I’m on a public shame diet. I avoided that table like it was covered in Denver Broncos Super Bowl memorabilia. Exercise: Jumped rope for 30 minutes.

5-15-14 (Same)
196.6 The same? Gah! I give up. I ate well for 24 WHOLE HOURS–only cheated with one glass of wine. I should have lost at least eight or nine pounds, by my reckoning. This is BS. I quit. I give up. I HATE THIS HOUSE. Exercise: 100 push-ups and 50 sit-ups.

196.6 Ate four slices of thin-crust pizza last night for dinner–but I did not eat the crusts. Because…why should anyone be happy? I also ate a baked dessert ravioli with Nutella stuffing. Worth noting: These decisions only seemed like bad ideas much LATER. Exercise: I jumped rope for 25 minutes.

This hasn’t been a simple journey. This effort marks the frustrated culmination of decades of shame and delusion. True story: I wore a sweater from first through seventh grade–every day, no matter how hot it was–to my Catholic grade school to hide my moobs. (Aaaaand that’s a column for another time.) My weight loss journey has been a carnival–nay, a buffet–or errors, a veritable lo mein bowl of regret topped with the orange chicken of sadness. That is why I am counting on you, the fortune cookie of public shame, to keep me in check.



Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.

  • hogsatemysister

    Good luck. And could you mail the pizza crusts to those of us who gave in to gravity and DNA long ago? Thanks.

  • Ha ha. I think you gave me a food truck idea: Just Crusts.

  • Cora Feorstner

    Good luck. Your diet efforts sound similar to mine, but I eat the crust! Because, well, if I’m already eating pizza, why not?

  • Oh, I know that temptation well. Thanks, Cora.

  • Jonathon Armstead

    I’ve been overweight for 10 years and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 19 pounds in one month without much exercise and it’s been a life changer. I’m a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I’ve been doing then I’d be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at and I’ll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I’ve tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day

  • Thanks for this offer, which I am just seeing now. It’s going … OK. Some weeks better than others. I am down. But not way down, in terms of weight. I don’t think I need to eat as much as I think I do. That’s been the real learning.