A few weeks ago, a prominent newspaper ran an article with the headline: “Women Who Drink Gain Less Weight.” I suspect I was not the only woman who resolved to hit the bottle at once, inspired by promises of alcohol-assisted svelteness. I would be buzzed and beautiful. Liquored up and lithe. Snockered and skinny. I would lose my unloved love handles. The close relationship my thighs had with one another would yield to a passing acquaintanceship. I resolved to buy the big bottle of Maker’s at Costco asap.

Beneath the encouraging declaration was a picture of icy cocktails in slim wineglasses. My girlfriends and I would order extra rounds, tightening our belts as our evenings progressed. We would not be those girls. The ones who drink for the wrong reasons. Men would love us – yes – but they would love us for our steadfast resolve. The investment would be sort of like paying for a gym membership.

I envisioned the Holy Grail: Smaller jeans. I would look great sipping scotch in smaller jeans.

I had not read the article. The (dormant) attorney in me kicked in. The headline did not promise weight loss. It did, however, quite clearly declare that drinkers would gain less weight. I adjusted my enthusiasm accordingly. My jeans size was ok. I would save money on new clothes, both smaller and bigger.

Still, I did not read. I considered less attractive reasons for drunken weight stability. Do women who drink more gain less weight because they pass out before making late-night runs through the Jack in the Box drive-thru for curly fries? Does the cost of alcohol deplete their food budgets?

I’m not a big drinker. Two drinks over the course of an evening does me fine. Maybe three if it’s a very long evening. How much more would I need to drink? Would I need to invest in a flask from which to nip throughout the day? Where does one buy a flask? Are they expensive? Because I would want a really nice one.

I read. The dormant attorney in me was pissed. And not in the way she planned to be.

The article describes a study that does not endorse the promising declaration of the headline.  It ends with the caveat that the study’s findings do not mean that women should drink to lose weight; rather they suggest that women with weight problems are probably not getting their extra calories through alcohol consumption.

It seems I was not the only one peeved with the writer. I did not read all 356 comments, but a number of physicians dismissed the writer’s reasoning as simplistic and chastised her for giving women false hope and potentially harmful advice. Quite a few “fattie” and “drunkard” bashers chimed in. Some provided thoughtful commentary about whether the results of the study were meaningful, in that they did not take into account lifestyle choices, such as drinking sugary sodas or smoking.

A particularly sage commenter agreed that the study was missing an essential component: Wealthy men. By marrying one, she has been able to maintain her petite bottom by going to the gym before hitting the expensive wine with her rich girlfriends or personal trainer.

Her observation is compelling in its simplicity. Though anecdotal, it is difficult to argue with her logic. Longitudinal studies are unnecessary. I am disappointed in myself for not having pursued this avenue.

Upcoming headline: The Sugar Daddy Diet: The Bigger His Wallet, the Smaller Your Jeans.


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LAUREN BECKER is founder and editor of Corium Magazine. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Tin House, The Los Angeles Review, Wigleaf, and The Rumpus. Her collection of short fiction, If I Would Leave Myself Behind, was published by Curbside Splendor in June of 2014.

41 responses to “The Secret to Thinner Thighs”

  1. Ben Loory says:

    ha! i saw that story and immediately sent it to my alcoholic dieter friend, to let her know she was on the right track. she seemed to appreciate it. i myself have no ability to understand or see though studies like that so i couldn’t make head or tail of it really. i would assume though that anything that takes your attention away from the cheese is probably a good thing, dietetically. dietetically?? that couldn’t possibly be the way that is spelled.

    • as an aspiring alcoholic dieter, i was disappointed to learn that i could not drink my way to a smaller butt. i apologize for any confusion — probably should have included more about the study, which applied to a very limited group of women and was cautious (as academic studies tend to be) in making such claims as the headline …

      for now, i am forced to forego the cheese (and cookies) and step through the doors of the dreaded gym. i will, however, hold out hope for the possibility of weight loss and endless wine-consumption via an advantageous marriage. let me know if you know any such generous patrons … 🙂

    • Erika Rae says:

      Ben and Lauren – I’m so excited to lose weight with you both in Denver next month.

      (Lauren, I didn’t actually read your article…so if I’ve misinterpreted, just keep it to yourself. I don’t need to know. Teehee.)

      • erika: until you read my article, i have nothing to say to you. (hee.)

        looking forward to meeting you, too. careful of ben loory — he is a misanthrope. (hee again. you will adore ben loory, as i do. watch out. he likes to chat online at, like, 1am. until, like, 4am.)

        we’ll have to make some kind of plan for tnb peeps to meet … unless it has already happened and nobody has told me! (i can’t make the event, as i am reading at a different one. darn.)

        safe travels!

        lauren

  2. jmblaine says:

    Not to get all grad school statistics but
    they told us you can make statistics say
    whatever you want them to say
    so I would imagine if you were looking for a story
    hook to draw people in
    you could say something like
    “drink more, lose weight!
    I’m with you though
    I have a hard time figuring that one out.
    Beer and wine and certainly margaritas
    would be out due to the
    blood sugar effects and empty calories
    but I suppose on could theorize that
    skipping dinner and having a Scotch or two
    would lend to weight loss.
    Bourbon, gin, vodka and the like are low carb.

    Maybe its the throwing up later.

    • i can’t believe i overlooked the weight loss benefits of hurling due to excessive drinking. i’m certain there are some statistics out there advocating such “cleanses.” like those websites that teach you how to be bulimic …

      barf your way to thinner thighs?

      • Irene Zion says:

        11 has such great ideas, doesn’t he, lauren?

        “Barf your way to thinner thighs,” indeed. Back when I was a young person I used to think barfing would be the perfect balance between eating what you want and staying thin. Unfortunately for my brilliant plan, I could not make myself vomit. I used every technique I had ever heard of, except the one where you tie some thin string around a raw oyster, swallow it and then pull the string hard back up your gullet. Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to do that one. (It probably would have worked, too. I’ve go no guts at all to discount that one as being too gross, after all, I was trying to make myself vomit, how much grosser can you get?)

        I have no idea where I’m going with this because I’m too tired to make sense.

        I’d pick the marrying a sugar-daddy route, were I to go back in time and need to stay thin.
        (This was a multiple choice, right?)

        • ewwww. thinner thighs are not worth that gross oyster trick. i was thinking i’d go out and get me a sugar daddy today. no trainer quite yet. i expect the sugar daddy will let me get away with the not-thinner thighs for at least a week …

  3. Mary says:

    Haha! Yes, I saw this headline and went through the same thought process. I was like “Maybe women who drink don’t gain weight because they’re partying and dancing and stuff, so even though their drinks have extra calories, they work it all off on the dance floor…” Great piece. Lots of fun to read.

  4. Marni Grossman says:

    I, too, saw this headline and considered the wisdom of going out and hitting the bars.

    I don’t drink. Not really at all. I don’t like the taste. But the promise of a smaller waistline had me reconsidering. Which, when you think about it, is pretty sick.

    • don’t be so hard on yourself, marni. smaller waistlines are tempting … besides, if you hit the right bars, you might find catch yourself the ultimate sweetie who will pay for your preferred means of weight loss! (health spas? personal chefs? yes!!)

  5. Another factor to consider: Using a diet beverage as a mixer speeds alcohol absorption. Thanks, University of Adelaide, New York Times, and personal experience!

    • i love that you always do your research, erin (both personal and via google). we are forewarned that we should drink our liquor neat (or rock for wimps. hee.) so we do not lose consciousness and miss opportunities.

  6. margosita says:

    This was hilarious and fun. I think evidence supporting your theory of the rich husband diet is well documented on shows like “Real Housewives of Orange County.”

  7. i used to LIVE in orange county! the problem: you have to be a size zero blonde to even be in the game. very sad …

  8. Judy Prince says:

    You got me on the first paragraph, Lauren. HA and more HA! Nice work, this. Excellent sidekick character to play off: “the dormant attorney within me”. You might consider ad agency work with your wit-subtle descriptability; e.g., “drunken weight stability”. I’m now convinced that you are my daughter-in-law. You are both wise, witty, beautiful lawyers—and she, like you, would just have to have “a really nice flask”.

  9. omg, judy. that made me laugh my (larger than desired) butt off!!

    i think i’m going to go lift some things now. i’ve heard it can lead to the acquisition of a great job!!!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Good girl! Oh, and The Proper word for ahem “butt” is “arse”. Arse if you insist upon sounding USAmerican, you may continue saying “butt”. [If you get the really groany embedded joke therein, I’ll send you my version of what my neighbour calls her “Three Me’s” wardrobe: “Big, Bigger, and Now” sizes.

      • eek. the joke went over my head! something to do with the video?! please send your neighbor’s version … i think most women i know have some version of the “big, bigger, now” wardrobe.” wishful thinking?! (and i was trying to be good and not say the american version of arse — job hunt and all! i will use arse happily and often from now forward!)

        • Judy Prince says:

          Oh, Lauren, the embedded joke is too stoopid, and that’s prolly why you didn’t get it. [sighs]
          Here it is: I used “Arse” (1st word of 2nd sentence) as a substitute for “but(t)” (meaning “however”).

          And I was just pulling your leg in saying you should use “arse” instead of “butt”. Some part of me, I guess, must react against both “ass” and “butt”—-hence, “arse”, which is completely NOT American, feels to me more “fitting”, though not altogether satisfactory.

          Very thoughtful observation, Lauren, your response to Irene feeling “mean” that she had wished to awaken her husband. You said: ” . . . thoughts don’t count as mean, or we’d all be hell-destined”.

          Please keep the “dormant attorney within” alive and vigilant!

  10. Simon Smithson says:

    I’m trying to think of a good sugar daddy/sweet tooth joke, but I just can’t.

    Heh.

    Butt.

    I’m glad your dormant attorney represented. Perry Mason the shit out of ’em!

    • simon: i had the same issue with the “sweet” thing. i didn’t want to be cheesy. what’s with the “butt” thing with you non-USA residents?! does it just refer to laughter as a good weight loss technique?! or something about cigarettes? i feel so … american. and, yes, i’m glad that law degree i’ll be paying off for the rest of my life comes in handy on occasion. though can’t i be one of those hot girl attorneys (or dormant attorneys) on law and order or something?! (perry mason, my arse!!)

      • Judy Prince says:

        You’re making the “arse” word-monitors very happy, Lauren.

        • are there arse monitors?!!! where do i sign up? does it pay? can i monitor only cute arses?!

        • Judy Prince says:

          TNB’s creative resources are limitless, Lauren. If you wanna monitor cute arses, you just go ahead! I’m sure Burd (I mean BRAD!) Listi will find some backpocket change for your monitoring—assuming, natch, that you’ll be combining that with writing ad copy while displaying your model-perfect toes as you tend bar. Not to mention that whole lawyer thing. Reminds me that my lawyer son once told me about a lawyer who gave free legal advice as he handed out hot dogs at his hot dog stand. OK, now I’m hungry. Chili dog—YES!

  11. Irene Zion says:

    Lauren,

    I forgot to say that you actually made me laugh out loud in the middle of the night with my sleeping husband in the room when I read that you refer to yourself as a “(dormant) attorney.”
    (I really sort of wish I had awakened him, but that was mean of me.)

    • it was nice of you not to wake him while he was dormant! ha. and thoughts don’t count as mean, or we’d all be hell-destined (if one believes in such a destination. i think the damn lawyer is not so damned dormant … ugh.)

      • Irene Zion says:

        So the latent attorney thinks I was nice not to wake up my sleeping husband. Gotcha.
        My problem is that I have massive jealousy about his quiescence since I have just about every rare sleep disorder and then some. I am dealing with this envy and resentment, but sometimes I make just a little too much noise because there is a bit of the devil that sometimes takes me over.
        (But I have guilt about it, when that happens. Can I get off the hook for that?)

        • man, you and judy have a lot of jobs for me! as a fellow member of the tribe, i’ll just state the obvious: guilt comes with the territory. as your confessor, i grant you absolution. your penance: attend synagogue 3 times other than the high holidays (you WILL be the sole member of the congregation. talk about tsooris …) and absolution will be yours.

          (i’ve used every sleep aid possible. klonopin works for me. you’ve probably tried it. i empathize …)

        • Judy Prince says:

          Good suggestions for Irene, Lauren. (Well, I dunno about the “klonopin” but I’m a NO MEDS person; rather prefer suffering to going doololly)

          Irene, have you considered tickling your husband while he sleeps? Or, you know, that other thing that’s Way Awesome to do? (Reminds me that on the drive to LAX a coupla months ago, my son and I were rememberingly chatting about somebody’s reputed love life, and I spelled the word “S-E-X” automatically. He said: “What, you think I can’t spell, Ma?!”)

  12. Nina says:

    Cheers on a great read. The comments and your responses are very entertaining! I’ve tried the alcohol diet, AND the sobriety diet to lose weight, but as your research and readers point out, studies are often misleading, and there are so many variables anyway (dancing, hurling, smoking,etc.). It’s 5:15!! Time for a cocktail. Later.

  13. Tony DuShane says:

    with my novel out, moving, all the other shit going on in my life, i’ve gained about 12 pounds in the last two months.

    i’m drinking and eating and not exercising.

    the greatest weightloss program EVER is divorce.

    the problem for me is keeping it off two years later, with an upside-down life and my novel right-side up on the shelves of a major retailer near you.

    • i’m so glad you could get that plug in for your book, tony! you mean “confessions of a teenage jesus jerk?” now you totally owe me drinks. they cause weight loss, you know! i have to find my sugar daddy and get married before i can get divorced. stress is doing an ok job. i tried on some pants today that did not like my arse for quite awhile (and they’re really cute and i’ve never worn them!) and they fit!! they would still not mind if my arse and thighs got a bit smaller, but THEY FIT!!!!

  14. Brenda says:

    Drinkorexia just ain’t good for your skin, though. Can lead to early “Lizard Lady Look.” Very fun and funny!

  15. Joe Daly says:

    The funny part about the study is its inherent unpredictability. For many, the activity of drinking is simply a portal into other behaviors, which would have a wide range of effects on weight gain/loss.

    The only way I could see this study being true is if all the subjects were of the ilk who often buy cocaine when drinking, which would of course put a big steel-toed boot into the side of their appetites. Huge weight loss factor.

    Conversely, there are the late night foodies, who insist on drunk dialing Domino’s upon returning home, just to sneak in a couple thousand extra calories before passing out. Huge weight gain factor.

    Then again, there are those who get a little sassy after drinking, and often come home for protracted physical activity between the sheets. Pro weight loss.

    Finally, there are those otherwise active people so paralyzed from the consequences of their previous night’s binge, that they skip their workouts the next day because they can’t think without hurling. Pro weight gain.

    Love the way you cut right to the heart of the small print. Well done!

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