How to Get Ready for the Race Season With This One Weird Old Trick

03.30.2010 | 11:19 am

Winter is almost over, and I find myself surprised to note that the bike racing season is upon me. I need to lose some weight, and pronto.

Fortunately, I already know what to do: surf the web.

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, famous cyclists like myself — and, probably, ordinary people like yourself — can quickly and easily lose those extra pounds we picked up over the Winter (of 2004).

All you need to do is learn one (or it may be three) simple, ancient secret tips and a few surprising fat-burning foods, and your weight problems will disappear forever.

Luckily, while these secrets are in fact very very secret, you can unlock their mysteries if you are wise enough to click pretty much any ad on any site (including, to my joy, mine) on the web.

But there’s a problem: the holders of these secrets don’t want to open the doors of flat bellies and eliminating junk food cravings for nothing. No sir. They want money. Which just seems mean.

So, out of spite, I have never clicked on any of these ads. Or if I have, I’m going to pretend like I haven’t, because it seems like they mostly just want me to start buying pills from them, eat a lot of acai berries, and then never ever ever ever leave their website, to the point that they’ll use lots of extremely evil Javascript to keep me there.

Luckily for me, these ads are chock-full of information I can use even if I never click on the ads themselves. And it costs me nothing to investigate, speculate and prognosticate.

No charge. Because I love you.

How to Get a Tiny Belly

Every cyclist would like a tiny belly. And that’s why I was happy to see this ad:


This ad intrigued and excited me for a number of reasons:

  1. I’m excited by the fact that it only takes a single trick to get a tiny belly, though I confess concern at the potentially subjective word “tiny.” What I’d really like is to have no belly at all. Will that require a second trick?
  2. I’m intrigued by the fact that this tip is both old and weird. I like weird and old things. One may even suggest, should one be so inclined, that I am a weird and old thing. I worry, however, about how weird this tip is. For example, while it would be weird for me to have to eat less and exercise more, I think I could cope with that. On the other hand, if the weird old tip were that I have to begin eating a cubic foot of human hair each day, I think I would try to find a tip that is moderately less weird.
  3. I’m curious why this is sometimes referred to as a “trick,” and sometimes as a “tip.” Which is it? Or is it one of each? Because if it’s one of each, it just may be too much to soak in.
  4. The left breast of the woman in the illustration is defying gravity to an absurd, almost spiteful, degree. Do you suppose the weird old tip will help me defy gravity? Because that would help my climbing a lot.
  5. I’m skeptical of the word “bit.” Cut down a bit of my belly? Is that bit measured by weight, or by volume? I’m ok with either, but I’d just like to know. Also, which bit? And is the “cut” in “Cut down” literal? Because I’m just not ready for do-it-yourself liposuction.

Mom’s Secret Diet Exposed

Really, the picture in this ad says it all.


Or at least it says a lot of things. Specifically, it says that this diet is mostly about sucking in your gut for “after” pictures, a technique I wholeheartedly endorse.

But it tells us more. So much more.

  1. It tells us that Mom is going to be angry. Somewhere out there, there’s a person who found out about his Mom’s secret diet. And now he’s gone and exposed it. Well, mister, has it occurred to you that your Mom kept it a secret for a reason? And that maybe she doesn’t appreciate you spreading her secret all over the Internet? Jerk.
  2. It tells us that Mom is going to be really angry. Not only is this guy telling everyone his Mom’s secret, but he’s putting out before-and-after pictures of her stomach, complete with a white arrow in the second photograph that may as well be captioned, “Here’s where it’s obvious she’s sucking her gut in.”
  3. It tells us that Mom is going to be really outrageously angry. I know most mothers are sensitive about their age, so to call this rule she followed “ancient” seems just a bit callous. And also, getting all specific about how much she lost — 21% body fat — is going to make her ashamed to show up at the next meeting of her Bridge club. I can just imagine one of her friends saying, “Oh, Agnes, I didn’t know you had 21% body fat to lose! And you’re so good at sucking in your stomach!”

I guarantee you: someone’s going to be getting a talking to when his Mom sees this ad.

Almost Too Much Information

Really, I just want a single really old tip that will help me lose my belly fat. And so I very nearly panicked when I saw this ad:


Three tips to lose my stomach fat? (I’m just glad they’re all weird, otherwise I would have a hard time accepting them as legitimate.) Another trick (or is it a tip?) to eliminate my junk food cravings? And then FIVE surprising fat-burning foods?

TMI, guys. Tee. Em. Eye. I just can’t wrap my head around what appears to be a grand total of nine fat-reducing ideas in a single ad.

But I’m willing to take a shot.

  • Three weird tips to lose your stomach fat: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that these tips are:

    1. Never eat anything but rice cakes and styrofoam.
    2. Inject battery acid into any place where you suspect you might have stomach fat.
    3. Relocate to the moon.
  • One Trick to Eliminate Junk Food Cravings: This one’s really almost too easy. To eliminate junk food cravings, just keep eating junk food. All the time. Whenever you feel even a teensy urge to eat junk food, seek it out immediately. By never letting a mild interest in food escalate to actual hunger before you rush off to the nearest 7-11, you are guaranteed to never have junk food cravings.
  • Five Surprising Fat-Burning Foods: Here are five foods that you would be surprised to find are fat-burning. I know I’d certainly be surprised.

    1. Giant Toblerone Bars
    2. Cheese Fondue
    3. Double-Stuf Oreos
    4. Cheesecake
    5. Fiberglass

PS: I have one additional weird tip you might want to try out, just in case these ones don’t work out: Ride your bike a lot, and stop eating before you’re full.

PPS: I know, that was two tips. That’s what made it so weird.


  1. Comment by DanZ | 03.30.2010 | 11:50 am

    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Informative and essentially life-changing.

  2. Comment by Haven (KT) | 03.30.2010 | 11:58 am

    I think that last ad screwed up by showing pictures of yummy food. Now I’m hungry. And that’s not going to help me in any way to lose the winter weight!

    Anyway– loved the post, I was wondering about those ancient secret tips or tricks or whatever they want to call them. You always take one for the team with these little public services you do.

  3. Comment by josh | 03.30.2010 | 12:06 pm

    I like the junk food idea, I think I’ll try that.

  4. Comment by KeepYerBag | 03.30.2010 | 12:07 pm

    Life changing information, Elden. Thank you. Now if I can just figure out how to whiten my teeth…

  5. Comment by MattC | 03.30.2010 | 12:14 pm

    Actually, there’s only one tip (trick, secret) that you need to know to lose weight. Get MY metabolism. End of story. Done. Finito. Honestly, if I were taken prisoner and held in a room chock full of whatever tasty food you can think of, and then told that I had to gain FIVE measly pounds in the next year or I’d be put to death, well…go ahead and kill me now. It AIN’T gonna happen! I’m a freak of nature it seems. If only I could somehow bottle my metabolism, I’d be rich beyond my wildest dreams. Seriously. (I keep a ginormous bottle of Cytogainer around and make myself tasty little high calorie shakes all the time just to stay EVEN when I’m riding more than 50 miles a week). Yeah yeah yeah…most everybody hates me…I’m used to it I can assure you. And look at it from my perspective…it costs a LOT to feed me. It ain’t ALL roses.

  6. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 03.30.2010 | 12:19 pm

    My husband does his best infomercial host impersonation about this all the time. “With this AMAZING new weight loss system, there are just two simple steps: Eat less, exercise more! It’s REVOLUTIONARY! And it really works!”

  7. Comment by justrun | 03.30.2010 | 12:20 pm

    I knew when I saw the title of this post that you had to be talking about these amazing internet bits of genius! It’s strange to me that a tip can be old and yet, not one of them says “MOVE YOUR ASS!” Isn’t that what they did in the olden days? Or maybe the ad just means old as in the 90’s, when super sizing became an option!

  8. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.30.2010 | 12:36 pm

    MattC: hush.

  9. Comment by Road Divit | 03.30.2010 | 12:39 pm

    I ride with, fish with, surf with, and generally hangout with guys who are bigger than I.

  10. Comment by jen | 03.30.2010 | 12:44 pm

    mmm tobleron – one of the best foods that sticks in your teeth pits

  11. Comment by hubcityrob | 03.30.2010 | 12:50 pm

    OK, is it just me, or does it look like Mom had some back-hair issues prior to her ancient secret being exposed, along with too much of the rest of her, to all of the internet?

  12. Comment by NYCCarlos | 03.30.2010 | 12:59 pm

    I was 6′1″ and 130lbs freshman year of college… biking makes me GAIN weight because I put on muscle mass. Now I weigh a more healthy 155ish in the off season and 165ish when I’m biking. I eat my weight in junk food every day. I’ve developed a reputation at the office as the “garbage disposal”… people pack up their leftovers at lunch so I can have a mid-afternoon snack. It’s my cross to bear.

  13. Comment by Rachel | 03.30.2010 | 1:33 pm

    I thought maybe you’d actually paid for the ancient tip and were going to finally spoil the secret for the rest of us. How disappointing.

    Your 3 tips to losing your stomach fat don’t qualify as ancient, since rice cakes, styrofoam, and battery acid haven’t been around long enough to be ancient, and only recently can we relocate to the moon, though it is very expensive, and very temporary.

    However, that last one, about riding and eating less may be worth looking into. Of course, I’d have to buy a bike. What about running?

  14. Comment by rokrider | 03.30.2010 | 2:46 pm

    Gee, I’ve been eliminating junk food cravings for YEARS now, and just never knew it. Go figure.

  15. Comment by Greg @ Greg Rides Trails | 03.30.2010 | 2:49 pm

    MMM Lays chips and Dean’s French Onion Dip…. heading to the store NOW!

  16. Comment by Dr. Brett | 03.30.2010 | 3:19 pm

    To quote Michael Pollan from “In Defense of Food”:

    1) Eat food (not edibile foodlike substances)
    2) Mostly plants
    3) Not too much


  17. Comment by Sansauto | 03.30.2010 | 5:12 pm

    Find “The Hollywood Diet” at the store and read they instructions. it says, “For best results, don’t eat”

    I’ll give my professional advice here at no cost: It doesn’t take a special drink, if you don’t eat, you’ll lose weight. has the best ways to lose weight.

  18. Comment by Ron | 03.30.2010 | 6:01 pm

    “…lose those extra pounds we picked up over the Winter (of 2004).”


  19. Comment by Dr. Lammler | 03.30.2010 | 6:03 pm

    Eating styrofoam works well but I have found the diet benefits are offset by the ketchup.

  20. Comment by Charisa | 03.30.2010 | 6:21 pm

    What is making me laugh is that all the ads on your blog today are the same as those in your blog post – CLASSIC!

  21. Comment by Bee | 03.30.2010 | 8:44 pm

    Mmmmm… fried eggs. Those are my kryptonite after night shifts. I’m usually a nice healthy vegetarian, but after a night on call, nothing says “Good morning” like fried eggs and the steak fries the hospital makes. Oh, boy, I’m hungry already.

    It’ll be good when the weather gets nice enough and I find a good bike route so I can start commuting!

  22. Comment by Brian | 03.30.2010 | 8:48 pm

    It twould appear that we visit the same websites..

    or Google Ads thinks we are the same person….

    Are you stalking me? Am I stalking you?

  23. Comment by Born 4Lycra | 03.30.2010 | 8:50 pm

    With your help I now understand one of the ads better. I look at the Moms secret ad and thought the secret was you suck in your bum and that helps flatten her gut. But no I now realise she is facing herself not looking at her back – so to speak.
    Thanks. – very funny post.

  24. Comment by Frank | 03.30.2010 | 9:00 pm

    Michael Pollan’s advice (eat food, mostly plants and not too much) is the whole of what is known about nutrition science. The rest, as he points out, is all “nutritionism” or a distinctive practice, system or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement that deals with nutrition.

  25. Comment by Nogocyclist | 03.30.2010 | 10:02 pm

    Just blame it on those nodules on your glands. The ones on the Thyroid make you skinny and the ones on the adrenal glands make you fat and give you a tan at times, even in areas the sun never shines.

    I have both. At times I have lost weight no matter what I eat, then months later gained weight when I ate one third as much as when I was losing weight.

    Those ads never mention all this glandular influence or genetic variations. Some folks can not gain weight no matter what they do. Others eat 1200 calories a day and balloon up to 300 pounds. My body cannot make up its mind. Some times I wonder why try when your weight is going to do whatever it wants to anyway.

  26. Comment by Richard | 03.30.2010 | 11:45 pm

    No fat bastards came out of Changi.

  27. Comment by Jenn | 03.31.2010 | 1:07 am

    @MattC and Carlos…hush yo lips. ;)

    And Fatty, way to help me kill like 45 minutes – link to your old post, which links to a bike snob post, which links to, which links to…etc.

    Finally, word of the day, “ameliorate” (that’s me, making sure somebody else kills the same time I just did. You’re welcome!)

  28. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.31.2010 | 4:19 am

    Oh the pressure, the pressure!

    Just give me the tacos and candy bars…….

  29. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 03.31.2010 | 5:31 am

    You had me at “left breast that defies gravity”

  30. Comment by Angela | 03.31.2010 | 6:51 am

    You truly have a gift of gab. I think you could write abut anything! Very entertaining

  31. Comment by drKim | 03.31.2010 | 8:36 am

    Ok ok…I did not need to read the comment from MattC! And nogocyclist, you got it! Although I have a bad thyroid, and it makes me GAIN weight, not lose, even when on huge caloric restriction. I have become almost immune to talk about anorexic cyclists, because it just doesn’t affect me. The folks with glandular issues know that it is a hard game.

    The other thing, I second the guy that said cycling makes him gain weight. Over my last 3 years of racing, I gained 12 pounds, and lost 10% body fat….go figure! I feel great, though.

  32. Comment by SuomiTri | 03.31.2010 | 9:49 am

    muscle is denser than fat, so weight isn’t necessarily the best indicator of health/fitness.

  33. Comment by Abbie | 03.31.2010 | 10:50 am

    It’s funny to me…or “weird”, maybe…that you have that first ad for the “tiny belly”. I was just doing a little reading on my local news site and saw (AND was intrigued) by the exact same ad.

    Mostly because it was in motion…going from fat to “tiny”.


  34. Comment by Anna | 03.31.2010 | 11:16 am

    Love the post! You are hilarious and I can’t wait to get my Fat Cyclist Jersey in the mail!

  35. Comment by Chris | 03.31.2010 | 11:47 am

    In the random ad set that comes up, I received an ad for 1 tip to lose weight by eating 3 foods. An amusing coincidence? Maybe, maybe not…

    And, oh wise guru of the gut, does that constitute 1 tip or 3 tips? Perhaps I’m being tricked? I await your keen insight!

  36. Comment by Susie | 03.31.2010 | 12:22 pm

    Loved this one, Elden…I’ve always wondered about those adds, and now you have completely satiated my curiosity!

  37. Comment by Fish | 03.31.2010 | 1:23 pm

    Yeah, I can tell you from personal experience that you can probably cross cheesecake off that list.

    However, I’m still holding out hope for double stuffed Oreos.

  38. Comment by MattC | 03.31.2010 | 1:50 pm

    What/Hey??? Did someone mention CHEESECAKE???? MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

  39. Comment by lh | 03.31.2010 | 3:11 pm

    I may lose weight just by reading your blog, because I’m laughing so much.

  40. Comment by Triflefat | 03.31.2010 | 7:02 pm

    Biting the hand that feeds you. That’s one way to lose weight.

  41. Comment by Mikey likes it | 04.6.2010 | 3:36 pm

    I have got stop reading this while in meetings. Everyone is wondering why I am laughing out loud and tears coming to my eyes.

  42. Comment by V | 05.12.2010 | 3:31 am

    Great post! Hilarious writing! I hate getting these ads and I know they’re just a scam, but I am just sooooo curious.

    Actually I lost a bit of weight recently in a very unexpected way (you could call it weird :). I received a ton of chocolate for Easter (2009) and being stressed out with my dissertation, etc. ate a ton of it in no time (i have always been a fan of eliminating the craving by eating it :P, so I did not want to taste any chocolate or sweet stuff ever again (it has been a month and a half already). i don’t recommend overeating with chocolate, but my point is that i guess you could sacrifice (or limit) just one thing from your diet you might see results in a month – not too much – but just enough to give you the feeling of being in better shape!

    And yes, biking does make you gain some weight (I bike every day), but so does exercise in general – once you stop all that good muscle becomes fat which is why you see former athletes who look like pilates balls. But biking is better than driving, for sure. And walking is simply the best.

  43. Comment by V | 05.12.2010 | 3:32 am

    Did I say Easter 2009? Not eating chocolate has apparently messed up my brain – 2010 is what I meant :)

  44. Comment by L | 08.17.2010 | 7:50 pm

    Hilarious. Laughed out loud.


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