My name is James Fell. I drink six packs of beer and have four-pack abs. Close enough.
Quick brag first: I’m an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune, I interview celebrities for the Los Angeles Times about their fitness stories, am head fitness writer for AskMen.com, did a four-year stint as head fitness writer for Chatelaine.com, recently started as a columnist for Men’s Health and have written for TIME Magazine and NPR. I had a book published by Random House Canada in 2014. I also do a lot of radio and a moderate amount of TV, speak in public often, consult with clients, and have some education and stuff.
Should You Be Here?
A lot of people read my work. When I think of how many, I get a warm feeling. Take that, junior high school bully.
Should you be reading my work? Good question. I’m not for everyone.
Despite the shirtless photo and all that implies there is a story beneath that has readers either loving or hating. If you decide to be a hater, send me an email and I’ll correct your grammar.
I do not shame anyone for his or her body shape. My Tribune column may be called “In-Your-Face Fitness,” but my ire is reserved for the charlatans rife in Weight Loss Inc. I was calling out Dr. Oz and Food Babe on their bullshit before it was cool.
I know that we live in an obesigenic environment, and that poor fitness levels and excess body fat are not personal failings, but the result of capitalism run amok that promotes and normalizes mindless eating of high-calorie treats while discouraging movement. On the other side of the equation we have soul-destroying fad diets and “insane” workout programs that with each passing day make you want to stab a badger in the kidney with a salad fork. And don’t forget the outrageous claims of efficacy. “Lose a pound a day” my ass.
I don’t work with bodybuilders or fitness models. I write for average people looking to feel better, improve their physical performance and wellbeing, lose weight and change the way they look. This is a tortoise approach, not a hare, because the hare dashes 50 yards then says, “Screw it. Too hard. I quit.”
Rapid transformation = crash and burn with more weight gained than lost in the long run. Slow and steady is the way to success and sustainability.
Oh, and sometimes, I swear a little.
A Call to Action
I had a woman contact me a while back. She’d been reading my columns for two years for no other reason than she found them entertaining, but she didn’t follow any of the advice. Then, one day, something clicked, and she started following that advice, finding her passion for exercise and healthy eating, and lost 80 pounds in the process and has kept it off.
If you are ready to go, you can hire me as your lifestyle consultant.
A Big Picture Approach
I have an MBA and worked in business for a dozen years, so I’m not known for focusing on micro details. Little of my work explores squat technique, race training programs, micronutrients, meal plans or how many reps of what set using which kettlebell.
I focus on lifestyle strategy, motivation, habit formation, positive reinforcement, self-efficacy, time management, body-acceptance, eating behavior, social support, goal setting and the like. This isn’t my way or the highway. It’s about your way, finding what works for you.
My Boring Story
I used to be borderline obese.
This was me back in 1993 at age 25. I was never an athlete growing up, and on the schoolyard field of battle known as gym class I made the geeks look good.
In university I gained the “freshman 15” factored by three. During that time I also met a beautiful and brilliant woman, and before proposing I decided to try getting in shape for the first time in my life – that’s where the “Body for Wife” thing came from.
It was during that process I learned the value of slow and steady, and that developing healthy habits that stick, as well as passion for physical activity, are primary. You can have great genetics and know all there is about diet and exercise, but if you can’t make yourself do the program it’s all for naught.
More than two decades later I still have my struggles, and this has given me perspective and understanding for why so many people try and fail to get in shape and stay there. I may be brutally honest, but I’m not a drill sergeant. If you’re looking for someone to scream at you and call you fat, there’s always Jillian Michaels.
Speaking of Jillian, she doesn’t like me, which is why she threatened to sue me once.
Mostly I run, lift weights and cycle. I qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2013 and it managed to be awesome while also being the worst pain ever. In the winter I like skiing and in summer I’ll do some sea kayaking and swimming.
I mentioned the MBA, but I also have a master’s in history, which means I became good at reading a lot of research and formulating what I’d learned into a cohesive argument. I am a certified strength and conditioning specialist via the NSCA, which means I memorized a big text book and wrote a multiple choice exam.
My real education in this field has come from speaking with smart people.
The benefit of being a columnist for major publications is that I get to talk to some of the most respected nutrition, exercise and obesity experts in the world. I’ve conducted hundreds of interviews with MDs, professors, registered dietitians, top-notch trainers and Olympic champions. Such people tell you things you can’t learn from a textbook or reading journal abstracts on PubMed.
If you actually read all that, you must have one boring job.
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