It’s a Law Firm, Not a Fat Farm


While I probably should begin this rant with a thoughtful caveat about how I mean no offense to anyone who “battles obesity,” I refuse.  Even though I’m indifferent about people who choose to be overweight (or, in whatever rare instances, are genetically or medically dispositioned to bulking up), I need to express my feelings here. And in order for me to best express my feelings—you hear that? MY overlooked, size-proportionate feelings- I can’t commit to being inoffensive right now.

My bottled-up opinion is thus: If you work at a law firm, that’s what it is. A law firm. Not a Jenny Craig. It’s not a professional support group for those who eat their feelings. It’s not a place where you should be “held accountable” by your peers for what you put in your mouth or an inspirational forum for you to be celebrated if you power-walked in the mall the night before. It’s a law firm. You got that?  A. Goddamn.  Law. Firm.

Since January 2, a sizable (no pun intended) group people at my firm have been participating in a “Biggest Loser”-style competition, which is nothing more than a group diet. It’s organized each week by one the paralegals and was put together at the insistence of a group of women attorneys who, at some point last December, detached from blaming themselves for their own holiday weight gain and vowed to band together. In the new year, in the office.

It finally ends in 20 days. On June 1—after six months of incessant codependency—the final weigh in will take place. Though I’ve witnessed minimal results thus far, everyone insists they’re “in it to win it.”

To win what, you ask? Well, the “winner” of the eat-or-be-eaten challenge will take home $350 and an overhyped, non-cash prize they abusively call “bragging rights.” What a bunch of winners.

Since we’re now less than a month away, people are getting a little desperate, making it even worse around here. Last-minute diet fads. Juice cleanses. Jillian Michaels workout routines. And nonstop talk about The Biggest Loser.

A few weeks ago, I asked a group outside my office door to shut the hell up about it. Their response was indignant.

“What about Lost or 24? You always talk about those shows.”

Indeed I do. For about five minutes. Because those shows are amazing. But at no point do I ever suggest to the office that for the next 180 days we should all create parallel lives where we attempt to simultaneously exist in a universe where we never became lawyers. Or ask if anyone wants to join the firm chapter of the Jack Bauer fan club. No matter how much either of those things should exist.

The competition is comprised of 22 people, not including the receptionist who got fired for giving out client information over the phone and the secretary who moved back east last month. There’s a scale in one woman’s office where they all go on Monday mornings to “weigh in” and waste at least an hour of the workday. Then they spend the rest of the week making jokes about how nervous they are for next Monday’s weigh in. They insincerely cheer each other on, exchange recipes with various permutations of yogurt sauce, celebrate each other’s minimal progress and tell guilty eaters “It’s okay!” a lot.

The way they enable and justify each other’s excuses maddens me.

I have two kids and a mother with Alzheimer’s. I work 60 hours a week. I have a family to support. I have the same managing partner as the rest of you. I have real-life pressures and stressors. I love beer. I have a house filled with kids’ food. I have an unforgiving metabolism. I go to parties with end-to-end trays of artisan cheeses and gourmet cupcakes…

But guess what? I’m also over six feet tall, weigh 174 pounds and have a 34” waistline. Why? Because I watch what I eat, mind what time I eat it and get my tired ass up four days a week to go to the gym. I make time. And I do it all, mainly, so I never have to degrade myself by joining a Biggest Loser office pool.

Want to change your life and get on a healthy track? Wonderful. But do it on your own damn time. And guess what? Our insurance provider offers Weight Watchers and gym discounts. Read your plan! Then you can confess in those meetings about how hard it was to decline the homemade carrot cake brought in by Ruth from accounting, and you can bullshit in a locker room instead of a conference room about how sore you feel after spin class.

Finally, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this guy going to feel like an asshole when other people in his firm read this and figure out he wrote it? And the answer is no. In fact, I hope they do. I haven’t said anything here that I haven’t said to their faces, one way or another.

I’ve politely told all of them that I’m annoyed with their office challenge. And I’ve been called a bad sport and a “Debbie Downer” as a result. I’ve been looked at disapprovingly in the halls, and two women told me separately that I hurt their feelings.

Which only better proves my argument. If you’re dealing with a personal issue that you’re that sensitive and emotional about, don’t deal with it at the office!

What about my feelings, huh? My feelings of annoyance and intolerability. Anyone care about those? They’re just as real. Where’s the support group for those feelings?

Maybe if other people comment here and have the guts to admit that they too can no longer handle working in the middle of an over-obsessed weight loss contest, then they’ll finally get the hint. Help me out here. Who’s with me?

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24 Comments

  1. Bitterest Lawyer of 2008

    May 11, 2010 at 5:07 am

    Good rant. Four women in my office (out of a total of six attorneys) are doing the same sort of thing. Their constant talk about what foods they are permitted to eat and their incessant chatter about what they’d love to be eating is slowly driving me crazy.

  2. Frat Guy Law Type

    May 11, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Yeah, people told me before I went to law school that I would never have time to workout again.  Bullshit.  I just don’t do mornings.  I work out at night, when I would otherwise be fattening myself in front of the tv, like everyone else.  These people don’t need Biggest Loser, they need self control.

  3. Juris Depravis

    May 11, 2010 at 6:17 am

    You can also counteract this apologist Fatso culture by going the other way. Keep tons of supplements and nutrition products in your office (such as whey protein powder).  Offer the healthier alternative to those behemoths when you catch them cheating with donuts, cake and the like. Also, point out to them how you get up at oh-dark-thirty to work out. Further, be sure to break down all the bad shit in the cattle feed on which they are always grazing. Oh how I long for those Mad Men days when you could fire any staffers who were not young, attractive and flexible (physically and morally).

  4. BL1Y

    May 11, 2010 at 6:21 am

    These sort of office weight loss things are surprisingly common.  They did it on The Office.  They do it where my mom works (won’t say the name, but they build space ships there).  I think this is largely a result of people not having social connections outside of the office, so they turn to the work place for everything, form parties to emotional support.

  5. Schadenfreude

    May 11, 2010 at 6:28 am

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Awsome. The only thing worse than sheer laziness is laziness masked in the facade of accomplishment. People too often blame culture or genetics for either making them fat or making them “feel fat.” Grow the f*ck up. Get a gym membership, stop eating horrible food on the regular, and take things into your own hands.

  6. Cheryl

    May 11, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Did bl1y just try to be sensitive to others?

  7. BL1Y

    May 11, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Cheryl: Ah…no.  Just didn’t convey my tone properly.  These Fatty McFatfats bring their fatty fat fat problems to work because their complete lack of personalities or any real societal value has left them with a completely empty social circle.

  8. You're the reason no one likes lawyers

    May 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Holy crap, I feel badly for your co-workers.
    Let them do their thing – what’s the big deal?

  9. Son of Guano

    May 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    But what does Alma eat?

  10. Prom Queen

    May 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Maybe they should start doing them in law school first… we’ve got a lot of fatties.

  11. Alma Federer

    May 12, 2010 at 3:48 am

    You people are being too cruel.  Not everyone can be as pretty as I am, but I take care of myself.  I am lucky that I am beautiful and thin, but do not eat any junk food.  Once in a while, I eat FRENCH fries, but I should not do that.

  12. KateLaw

    May 12, 2010 at 9:14 am

    This was good.  The whole diet thing among women at work has always been there and I suspect it always will be.  Women in general are very concerned about the way they look and weight seems to be a Constant issue.  What I can’t stand… being thin & called out by other women about “how nice it must be being skinny.” I completely agree w/what this guy said.. I work alot, have other responsibilities, but I also get my ass up & moving every evening and try to watch what I eat.  Seriously, that’s all it takes.  Self-control, people.  Oh, and shut up about your weight struggles at work or just don’t let it dominate the environment out of respect for the rest of us badasses.

  13. in the know

    May 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

    alma is definitely a fat bald guy who lives with his parents.

  14. Son of Guano

    May 12, 2010 at 10:52 am

    All it really takes to size down an office is one cute woman and one surfer dude. Everyone dresses better and eats less no matter how remote their chances at these people might be.

  15. NYCLawyerette

    May 12, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I’m with you.  These people suck.  I’m a healthy eating marathon runner who bills 180 hours a month.  It’s about priorities, people.  It’s not that hard.

  16. Sra

    May 13, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Ok, I can see how that kind of behavior could be annoying. I worked in an office that had a Biggest Loser competition, but everyone just weighed in once a week, and then went about their business. None of that annoying chatting about messing up on our diets and then trying to bolster each other with pep talk shit. Some people are annoying. But you, sir, sound like a very bitter, unpleasant person, and that’s kind of annoying too. Chill the fuck out.

  17. Magic Circle Jerk

    May 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

    It is only acceptable for two groups of people in the office to be fat:
    1) Obese black/brown secretaries (it’s “cultural”)

    2) Crass Jewish partners
    Some would say that never-married women who stay in biglaw after 5 years may qualify, but they are such a sad and pathetic group that I refuse to even consider them.
    Everyone else should be fired if they get fat. This is an elite office, not a midwestern walmart.

  18. Magic Circle Jerk

    May 13, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Katelaw-

    That’s because women are the utlimate example of “herd mentality.” The disgusting fats whom you work with want to bring you down to their level of lack of self-discipline.

  19. Anonymous in SF

    May 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Whoa.  I don’t even know where to start.  But must start with: Who really cares?  I mean really?  What is it to you? 
    Secondly, where people spend most of their waking hours, it is only normal for them to band together, to connect, to support one another.  Having a support group at the office may work for them.  Again, who cares?  Just because you have to listen to it, why be so harsh and judge them??  Why?
    Third, being over-weight is a huge issue with women, and some don’t have the discipline, the time, or whatever to be as disciplined as some of you.  Have you thought about there maybe some mental health issues going on (depression) (?), maybe some health problems, or a working single mom with no time after work to exercise?  These are some examples of perhaps why these LAZY women are not as disciplined as all of you.  Have a heart??  Have some compassion lurking somewhere inside you?  Geesh. 
    I could go on and on and on.  Bust lastly, weight is a huge issue, and it really should not even be commented on, especially when these women are trying to do good.  When you work in an office, you have to deal and put up with all sorts of annoying shit.  I bite my tongue 8 hours a day from all the annoying shit that I have to listen to.
    Obesity is an epidemic in this country, you should support these women and not judge them.  What is wrong with you people?  Oh, right, you are bitter lawyers.

  20. Sarcasmus

    May 14, 2010 at 11:07 am

    SF, you did go on and on.  Hamlet, Polonius, read, absorb, improve.

  21. SwedishblondeLLM

    May 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    It can be worse. You can share the office with a dieting and ever exercising co-worker. My coworker isn’t even fat, never was!
    I suggest you get toether with a group of really thin co-workers and then you try out all the carrot cakes or ccupcakes in the neighborhood. Next, you post your ratings, including pictures of the sweet delights, at the office for all to see. That would mak a sweet (!) revenge for them monopolising the office with their personal weight -loosing business.

  22. Anonymousse

    May 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    The same thing is going on in my office with about 10 people – 8 female, 2 male. The contest is almost over and no discernible differences are noted. They’re all very content with themselves, though, so who am I to piss on their mediocre accomplishments? I am just tired of being given the evil eye when my 31 inch waist inhales a double cheeseburger at lunch in front of them.

  23. Gunners = Glorified Law Dorks

    June 8, 2010 at 10:37 am

    OMG. We are all so much better than them.

  24. J

    June 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Funniest post that I’ve read in a long time.  I cannot stand the Biggest Loser competitions that are going on across the country at a law firm near you. 
    Sample day: 

    “I did 25 minutes on the stepper, which means I ran 12 miles.” “That cake is SO good, but too many calories/points/whatever method is in vogue.” “I used to be into power yoga, but P90X is the bomb!”
    Again, hilarious!  Please post more

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