Why I Wrote DEAR OPL

Who Writes a Prologue to a Blog Post? … Umm, Me.

A heads up to this beautiful community I have come to know and embrace. The next three posts are not ‘blog posts’—they are a polished rough draft of a speech.

I’m crowdsourcing and asking for your valuable input.

The speech isn’t about the book I’ve written for children, it’s about the messages within the book that I’m trying to highlight by spreading awareness. Years ago, these topics grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me until my teeth rattled and demanded I do something about them.

The book is a vehicle to address these topics with children. The speech is my outreach campaign to engage parents, educators, and activists who care about how food politics are aggressively influencing our health.

So, I’m asking you to read and comment. Help me make an impact. Tell me what works for you, what doesn’t, what you’d like to see more of, or what you feel detracts. Your opinions matter to me.

This is not a plea to purchase my book. This is an appeal to help me make a difference. If this isn’t your shtick, I promise your names will still be rattled off in my nightly prayers of Please let these folks win some lottery in life. The point is to take advantage of eager, willing voices and collective brain power.

Your thoughts mean a great deal to me. I want to carry them with me as I carry this message to others.

And now … Why I Wrote DEAR OPL.


I’m usually not one for eavesdropping—okay, who am I kidding? I’m a writer. I’m always listening in on conversations all around me. It’s a fountain-like source of creativity I regularly tap into. And it’s addictive. But it’s part of my job.

On this particular occasion—while I was working—I just happened to overhear a conversation that made me cringe. We were in Australia, and my then seven-year-old son was chatting with an Australian lad who was just a little bit older than him. The boy asked my son where he was from. I heard my son answer, “America.” The other boy’s response was, “Oh. Where the fat people live.”

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I sat back and thought about that unflattering national slogan. It did not have a sexy ring to it.

I thought about a few other places that had slogans to capture the essence and beauty of what they had to offer.

Egypt: Where it all began.

Bahli: The islands of gods.

Disneyland: The happiest place on Earth.

And now …

America: Where the fat people live.

The more I thought about it, the more a few other slogans repeatedly popped into my head. Like this one:

McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it.

It gave me a lot to chew on—excuse the pun—but it really had me thinking about how big ideas could be distilled down to a few simple words. And sometimes those words could leave a bad taste in your mouth.

But I like slogans. I am all about slogans—or catchphrases or mottos—whatever you want to call them. I surround myself with them because throughout my whole life I’ve found them to be effective.

In fact, here’s an example of just how powerful one became:

As I was growing up, studying classical music was a precise and strictly defined practice. There were rules and not much wiggle room for interpretation of any of them.

I remember as a teenager sitting at the piano with a friend of mine who had not studied classical, but was rather raised playing jazz and improv. We were very different musicians. One afternoon we tried to find a song that both of us could play together on the piano. It ended up being something I could read off sheet music and he improvised alongside.

When we’d finished the piece, he turned to me and said, “Okay, now don’t do it regular.” I didn’t know any other way but regular, and when I found out that’s what I was, I aimed to change it.

In fact, that became the slogan with which I raised my children. My children weren’t particularly thrilled with my ‘swim against the current’ motherly advice as it made them stick out in ways that would make most kids’ toes curl. Their complaining fell on deaf ears and was usually followed with that old parental pearl of It’ll build you some character!

When years ago I heard the highly acclaimed entrepreneur, Seth Godin, say, “Ordinary is boring,” I nearly leaped out of my skin. I wanted to rush to my children and point out that I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t trying to ruin their fun, I was simply trying to enrich their lives.

That phrase of Just Don’t Do It Regular became a theme song I was determined to sing when coaching my kids through countless situations as if I were some first draft version of Maria Von Trapp or a slightly more colorfully dressed adaptation of Mary Poppins. The last thing I wanted for them was a ‘go with the flow’ predictable experience. I wanted them to counteract the narrative of their generation. If they had something to say to the world, it would take words noteworthy and uncommon in order to be heard above the fray.

And people pay attention to noteworthy and uncommon. After that trip to Australia, it seemed like I repeatedly stumbled upon the same message directed at a growing swath of our planet’s population.

We are in trouble, people. We have a big fat problem on our hands … and hips and thighs and bellies.

I couldn’t ignore the message.

After slogging through a forest full of research articles and data authored and collected by the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and a compilation of all of Dave Letterman’s Top Ten lists, I realized that some of my sources were—although meticulously detailed and scientific—extremely dry and nearly impossible to swallow.

It’s as if the WHO and CDC embraced both Seth and McDonald’s mottos and made an unlikely lovechild tagline for themselves: We’re boring, and lovin’ it.

My guess is that neither of the big research and data collection agencies thought their articles could use any spicing up—with something like a massive neon lit memo—in order to hail the attention of the folks who were most desperately in need of reading it.

Extracting the main point message was easy though:

A shocking number of people are eating themselves to an early death. In particular, children.

I spent a lot of time looking around and asking the silent question, Does everyone know this? And then I spent a lot of time thinking it really shouldn’t be a silent question. And lastly I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I could take the message about our world’s growing epidemic of obesity and spread the word in a way that wouldn’t make people fall asleep with their eyes open.

To reach children, I wrote a book.

But for all of you, I’ve broken the message into three bite-sized portions of important information that I’ve gathered from myriad experts—aka folks far more clever than me—whom I’ve hunted down from all corners of this great round ball we live on. Those three points—the meat and marrow of this talk—are thus:


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*I hope you’ll come back next week for part 2 of 3. And I hope you may consider offering your thoughts thus far.

Cheers everyone!


Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

88 thoughts on “Why I Wrote DEAR OPL

  1. My thoughts are that this was very interesting so far and I’m looking forward to the next instalments! I am somewhat informed on the topic and you are feeding me bits I can easily consume. Well done. (All the food references were deeply unintentional, no really!)

    • I’m actually quite partial to all the food references, Ardys! You dish ’em out, I’ll eat ’em up. 😛

      But many thanks for taking the time thus far. And the fact that you are knowledgeable on the matter certainly has me looking forward to your thoughts with the rest of the speech.

  2. Hello Shelley. I love that you’ve made a mission of educating folks about this problem. Almost every woman I see, brings up the subject of weight, quickly followed by discussions of fatigue, poor sleep, and low self esteem. Often they don’t see the relationship between poor food choices and energy (or lack thereof). With 50% of meals being eaten out, Americans are eating too much fat, sugar, and salt, in portion sizes that are much too large.
    I definitely don’t have it all figured out and I’m carrying a little extra weight, too, but I work hard to keep things in check.
    Okay, now I’m just rambling … it’s 11:30p, and I’ve had a long day campaigning … but what I’m trying to say is that if you can educate folks about the relationship between what (and how much) they eat and how they feel, and do it in your incredible writing style, then you, my friend, will have succeeded!

    • Firstly, Laurie, a million thanks for taking the time out of your day when every minute has been assigned a task and you’ve got next to nothing to spare. It’s one of the things I really like about you–this unending energy.

      And yes, I think turning on a few lights to illuminate a problem so we can all get a better look at it is the least I can do. It may not be much, but it’s what I have to offer. Finding the right light bulb is key. This rough draft is a dry run at a where to place the dimmer switch. 🙂

      Lastly, thanks for the “vote” of confidence with my language skills. Fingers crossed I find the right words.

  3. Well, you had me at Australia. You are one motivating ‘sheila’ as we may say here. (To use a bit of an old fashioned colloquialism.) Sadly, even our country is now facing an obesity epidemic. Your underlying message of ‘go against the grain’, (particularly if it’s refined and full of sugar) is one that most first world countriues have to take on board. If I was in your audience, you would have my attention. Your use of humour (in the right places) would not send me to sleep but have me sitting to attention and actually wanting to hear what you have to say. The problem with ‘statistics’ and ‘research’ is that people often shut down the minute they hear those two words. It’s got to be told in a different way which is just what you are doing, and I aint ‘just blowing smoke up your behind.’ Looking forward to the next instalment.

    • Cheergerm, this was some brilliant feedback. I’m smitten with your phrase ‘go against the grain–particularly if it’s refined and full of sugar.’ It’s a snappy one. Can I use it?
      And yes, I’ve been gently and not so gently instructed thus far that inserting statistics had better be wholly necessary and have a jaw dropping effect. Leave out the pie charts and ditch the graph. I do have a couple–I think they come in parts two and three, but they need to really punch people in the gut. So placement and wording is key–you’re absolutely right.
      Thanks so much for this, Cheer. Wonderfully helpful1

      • Feel free to use it! I had some fine inspiration. 😁 I am sure you will use stats in the right places and for good reason. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Have a great rest of your weekend Mrs P!

  4. What was it I read somewhere…..women today weigh as much as a man did in 1950.
    Obesity will certainly kill more people than any addiction. You are what you eat is certainly true.
    I wish you well in your mission, Shelley!

    • Wow. That’s a statistic I haven’t heard before. It does make one sit up and think about what’s changed since that time period.
      And the more I speak with physicians and experts in the field, the more I read through the dry data, the more I find that there is a strong link and a growing consensus suggesting our sugar addiction is a major contributor to obesity, and many people still can’t quite see sugar as something we can be addicted to. But I can’t roll in the reams of brain stats to illuminate that fact. The general Joe would nod off.
      Many thanks for your words, Cindy.

  5. Meat and marrow? Oh yeah. Boil those bones. A dear friend and gastroenerologist is retiring before sixty. One of the reasons? Shoulder damage from having to hold enormous butt cheeks up during colonoscopies. Thirty years ago people who weighed over 300 had to — this is not a joke — go to the loading docks to be weighed because hospital scales couldn’t accommodate. Now there are double wide wheel chairs.

    See what you’ve inspired me to say? Great start PP. You will find a lot of people ready to read more.

    • You’ve brought up a blockbuster topic, JB–that of size. Hearing other folks lecture on the obesity epidemic, I’ve seen scores of pictures and videos of new apparatus, furniture and machinery that is being manufactured to accommodate the growing size of patients. Everything from hospital beds to–and this I find truly tragic–coffins are swelling. Mobility is a serious issue. If people can’t get medical care, it becomes a fateful downward spiral.
      Attention to this widespread condition is essential. People need help.

  6. Shelley I think your whole project is superb and incredibly important. Even here in France, land of fine dining, there is more and more of a problem as kids head to ‘MacDo’s’ and abandon traditional healthy eating habits. I think the biggest problem is separating weight issues from beauty issues, body size versus body health. The skinny brigade who starve themselves thin because of peer pressure to be a stick insect, ignore the vital health issues just as much as the fat brigade who eat for comfort or lack of guidance. Education and information have to battle against so much vested interest and media hype, it’s no wonder the dry statistics and dull lectures are ignored and trampled underfoot. I’m completely convinced that you are just what’s required! You may not be able to change the world but your witty and entertaining take on the serious stuff is just bound to draw people along and get that dialogue going. Hail Shelley!

    • I remember traveling about twenty or twenty-five years ago to countries outside of America with the shocking realization that I could not escape the culture. Fast food restaurants began popping up everywhere. It was a feeling that left a pit in my stomach. I didn’t want to see KFC or McDonald’s on the city streets of these beautiful countries. And the weight issues of America have become weight issues of a global concern. Recognizing how our diets have altered in such a drastic way during the last forty years has allowed researchers to connect the dots to the sources of our troubles. Now we simply need some loud-mouthed foot soldiers to get on out there and make some noise to make a change.
      A thousand thank yous, Jane, I aim to do my best. Cheers!

  7. Well said, Shelley. The premise of your book is both valid and worthwhile. Here in the UK obesity is a growing ( pun only a wee it intended) problem. I know from my own teaching career that we’re seeing more overweight children. And there is also a sizeable ( yes, pun) group of people who have eating disorders. So your book seems timely and aimed at exactly the right group of people.

    Speech 1 does a very good job of getting and keeping audience attention. The message is clear, but not overdone and not patronising.

    I look forward to reading 2 and 3.

    • Oh, Anne, some of the data I’m seeing about children during the last few years and the projected outcomes for those tiny souls is crushing. The trend toward further disease and increasing health complications are shocking to say the least. But the problem is getting more and more attention. Maybe not enough yet, but the spotlight is growing.
      I so appreciate hearing from other writers whose words I admire. Thank you for your input, Anne. It will be so helpful.

  8. Very positive Shelley. Obesity is a problem here in the UK too, and IMO a lot of it is down to ignorance about food. Parents are too tired to go for fresh wholesome basics and rely on ready-mades and takeouts (sugars, fats, salt and preservative dishes). They are too tired because they are working long hours to make ends meet and can’t afford (monetary or otherwise) to look after their own nutrition either.
    The diet experts attack our eating habits instead of trying to make us understand them. Diet is BIG business, be it books, Gym membership, or weight loss groups.
    Peer pressure and ill advice leads to eating disorders, depression and loss of self worth.
    Through my own weight problems, I have looked closer at the foods we eat and how we cook them. Aiming your book at children is excellent as they are Our Future and if a seed is planted young, who knows how big it will grow? Hell, I’m 59 and I’ve only just started experimenting with common herbs! I’ll be tuning in next time. 🙂

    • I think you hit on an extremely important point, P. Our food IQ is in need of serious upgrading. We have given an inordinate amount of trust to those who are in charge of regulating our foods. Whether it’s the restaurants we frequent, the manufacturers we support with our dollars, or the cafeterias we approve to nourish our children. Food is changing, and our food is making us sick.
      Education is key and regulations created, put in place and enforced to protect the consumer is crucial. Knowledge is power, right?
      Thanks so much for your feedback. And I can’t wait to hear more about all your heavenly herbs. 🙂

      • Food is indeed changing, not just by growing methods but fertilisers and insecticides that are being used. If it doesn’t come out in the crop, it certainly goes into the soil to affect the next one. Some carrots are unrecognisable as they have no tops or are a dazzling bright orange, and cucumbers are being grown straight! Some fruits are even being polished or waxed to look tempting on the shelves. Then we go and eat it!
        Baby steps with the herbs I’m afraid, but so far rosemary or thyme on potatoes is a definite go, ginger is becoming very versatile and garlic seems to go into everything except desserts!

        • Yes! I talk about how food itself has morphed over the years in part two, so I look forward to hearing what you have to say after next week. It is shocking to think about what we’re ingesting, but even more alarming is the fact that so many folks don’t know they’re consuming it. Awareness is key.

          And garlic in a dessert? I bet your bottom dollar there’s a handful of super creative (and somewhat wonky) chefs out there who have had some surprising success in teasing a head of garlic to sweeten a dessert plate or two. I say go for it! 😀

  9. Shelley, if this is any indicator of the next two installments, you’re on your way to a smashing success right along with all those people you’re set to influence! Well done highlighting such a dangerous and important issue!

    • Thank you, thank you, Torrie. It really isn’t a subject that will sell out a stadium, but it’s sadly becoming such an ‘in your face’ issue, we’ve got to find a way to communicate the valuable information that the medical world is trying to put out there.
      The trick is to make this a campaign of awareness and empowerment and not one of shame and blame.
      Cheers to you!

  10. Well Done Shelley. I think the tie-in between society’s version of beauty and what we eat is important. JaneMorely hit on that. The other issue is that food and dining is no longer a family/social event in our day. It’s all grab-and-go. Cooking and eating has lost its place as a time to come together and enjoy each other’s company. With the exception of holidays like Thanksgiving, where we go way overboard on the food factor, the whole idea of sitting down, stopping to just appreciate that break in the day, has been glossed over.

    • I’m so glad to hear you comment on the issue of family and food, Martha, as it’s a big component of the key factors I’m trying to highlight in my talk. I think that bit shows up in part two, so I’ll be curious to hear if you think it needs any adjustments. Don’t hesitate to chime in if so. It’s exactly what I’m hoping for.
      A million thanks, Martha. Cheers!

  11. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, Shelley. It makes me so sad that for the first time in history the next generation is fatter, sicker and will likely die younger than the previous generation. Why aren’t more people talking about this? Why aren’t we taking concrete steps to solve this national epidemic?

    Thank you for shining your light on a huge problem.

    • So good to read your words here, Nancy, as I know this topic has been paramount in your life. There’s a bumper sticker I’m thinking we need to make that powerfully addresses exactly what you’ve pointed out about the diagnosis for our children: LIVE SICKER, DIE QUICKER. It’s ‘obesity’s international slogan.’ I’m not sure how much more plain we can make it. Our kids are suffering and they’re putting their trust in us to make change.

      I’ll do what I can. Thanks for your support.

  12. Well as the guy said, as he started falling:” So far,so good.” I have a bit of a personal connection with this whole subject so I am looking forward to your next posts.

    • Yes, Benson, your culinary skills and food knowledge may add some invaluable feedback. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say–as is true for every week that I post.

  13. First of all, I LOVE your new picture! Looks much more like a “people person”, as beautiful as you really are!

    Now for an opinion, as requested. It’s hard not to notice how many people are in an unhealthy, overweight condition. It’s hard not to be judgmental about them, wondering how could they let themselves get like that. Then I try to see it from their perspective — that maybe from a lower socio economic level, they’ve never experienced what eating “real” (and usually more expensive) food feels like, so have no particular craving for it. They get whatever they can afford that will taste good and alleviate the craving inside, at least for the time being.

    I’ve had a close connection with a family over the last several decades who have had more than their fair share of bad luck and road blocks, not of their own doing, that have significantly and relentlessly limited their income. Sadly, they are bright and the adults are skilled and reliable at what they do. Not surprisingly, they’re overweight. When I gave them a copy of David Perlmutters’s book “Grain Brain” in hopes of helping their blood pressure and borderline diabetic issues, they very much “got on board” and have succeeded in becoming mostly gluten free. However, their first reaction on shopping for appropriate items was, to quote one of them, “sticker shock”.

    Maybe I’m just trying to make excuses for everyone like this, but as you’ve committed yourself to doing, maybe appropriate information and knowledge, especially from an early age. will help at least some of them get motivated to check out other options.

    • Rhea, you’re spot on in highlighting the fact that this is a multi-faceted issue where the problems stem from so many sources it nearly makes my head spin.

      The unfairness of how expensive it is to eat healthily has got to be a priority. And there are a good chunk of folks who are working to make some significant change here. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio has illustrated several ideas in his speeches and his book, The Real Food Revolution, to make fresh food an achievable reality for people who are on the lower side of the income scale, for those who are far from traditional farming land and to students who are fed from school and university cafeterias. It can be done. It won’t be overnight, but people have to buy into the idea to make it an actuality.

      There are so many reasons why this epidemic is widespread and unrelenting, and I firmly believe that if we can see to the core of the problem, that information will erase our natural reaction to judge people for the unfortunate state they find themselves in now–meaning obese, growing increasingly sicker and moving rapidly toward a life filled with progressing diseases and early death. It doesn’t have to be this way.

      From what I understand, early education is our best weapon, but certainly not the only one. But a little knowledge can go an awfully long way. And, hopefully, create a healthy long life.

      A million thanks for your thoughts and comments, Rhea. Obviously you know just how much weight I give to your words. They are part of my cellular structure. (Not to mention the cellulose structure of my book 🙂 )

      • I had no idea that our very own Tim Ryan was active on this issue! Thanks for that. Not only is he smart and progressive, he’s also very good-looking (sorry, I just can’t help meself). I found your speech very effective. As a college professor, I’ve noticed how the standard weight of young women and men has changed over the last two decades, so that overweight is the new normal. We had to change the furnishings in lecture halls because many students could not fit into the chairs.
        It is a major public health disaster, sadly most endemic among the poor–but I see it everywhere.

        • I nearly forgot you were from Ohio, Linnet, and yes, if you have a chance to hear Ryan speak on the subject, he is chock a block full of well-thought-out and achievable solutions to help address the many food issues our country faces–and many of those solutions are aimed at helping farmers and folks stuck in food deserts.
          And it’s interesting that you pointed out that overweight is the new normal because this is the feedback I’ve been getting from a lot of pediatricians who are stating that they don’t see their children as having weight issues because they’ve been comparing them to the rest of the children in their classes and grades. So much of it is perspective.
          Lots of work to be done in so many areas.

          • Yes, on the one hand, I am glad that the “chunky” young women in my classes do not seem ashamed of their bodies, as they were when I was in college. On the other hand, I don’t think that “fat acceptance” is the right path either, given the consequences for health.

            • I wrote out my response too quickly, Linnet. I didn’t mean that the pediatricians did not see their patients as healthy when they clearly were not, but rather the PARENTS of the children did.
              My error!

  14. Oh, this is going to put me back on the Michael Pollan bandwagon. I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of this speech goes, but I have an inkling given Opl’s personal transformation. Real food, made at home, without a lot of additives – I went through something of a food revolution myself a few years ago after reading one of Pollan’s books, and seeing Forks over Knives. But you’re right, it’s a multifaceted problem with no one easy solution. Access to fresh fruits and veggies seems to be a huge issue, as those in low-income neighborhoods or food deserts struggle to get to a grocery store, and instead are forced to turn to convenience and fast-food stores. But then there’s the way we’ve been conditioned as a society to want cheap, fast food…blergh. So glad you’re taking this on.

    • I always love hearing your perspective, Abby, seeing as though it is now running rife throughout two of my books.
      And I have grown so comfortable with my seat on Pollan’s bandwagon, I figure it’s probably about time I get out and start pushing so that it doesn’t get stuck.
      Forks over Knives was a terrific documentary. Have you seen Fed Up? That one will leave goosebumps on your goosebumps.
      All I can say is that this job will take a village–and extraordinarily large one with a massive source of inspiration, energy and income. Thank you for helping me become a part of it.

  15. Can’t help this, but it’s “bad” — could it be overweight words (giving weight to words) that make for heavy reading? Thank goodness your book, in spite of its “cellulose structure”, isn’t too heavy! 🙂

  16. Shelley, I think you’re definitely on the right path — balancing your message with both informed research but also humor. That you’re also pondering discussing how slogans can be powerful as either direct or indirect themes is to me quite important. There has always been effective “double-speak” prominently used in advertising, but I’m also conscious of how my twenty-something nieces and nephews are of a generation who in many ways have become immune to the more traditional marketing onslaught. They have been bombarded with corporate messaging in ways that I know my generation never was, and I’m impressed with how they’re able to both tune out and yet still get sucked in. I look forward to your next installments. – Marty

    • Thank you for the magnificent feedback, Marty. And you’ve brought up a noteworthy point about the barrage of advertisement. I know it doesn’t mean a lot to many folks when you bring up statistics, but in my recent research I was gobsmacked at not only the vast amount of money that is being invested targeting children for advertising (a massive portion of that going toward nutritionless food), but also the number of times these ads are placed in front of them. How can we expect them not to be moved to believe what they are being sold as the answer to happiness? The vigilance parents need to employ is exhausting. And this is another area that we really need to make some positive change in.
      Cheers, Marty!

  17. Seems good Shelley – although my first thought when I read your prologue was, ‘What? Shelley wants me to THINK?’ Whenever I’ve had to be ultra-persuasive on something a bit dry and boring (think local planning matter and representations to committee type stuff) I’ve kept a few things in mind;
    1) Keep the language as direct and uncomplicated as possible -check
    2) Try to link the issue to something personal, something other people can relate to – check
    3) Only use stats if you can deliver a real sucker-punch with them – check (I’m going by the fact you say you’re saving them for later!)
    4) Be funny – check.

    Yup, think you’ve got all the bases covered! 🙂

    • Ha!! Laura, I think by the end of the day I am in total agreement with you. Thinking is so much more than I can muster up on some days. I seem to be just constantly chugging out words. Sometimes it helps if I stop thinking and just open the gates. I can edit later.
      Your checklist is truly terrific and fits in exactly as all the experts have been advising.
      I knew this would be a great crowd to get some coaching from.
      Thank you, thank you. 😀

  18. Okay, Shelley, I like this. You’re steaming along nicely until you have a segue into ‘just don’t do it regular.’ This is a whole separate blog. After the sentence where you say ‘But I like slogans,’ I would cut all (for another blog) and start with the sentence ‘After the trip to Australia,…’ Then, where you talk about CDC’s articles (MMWR?), I’d like a smidgen more info on what prompted you to do research into this (or had you already?) and the connection you made to most people not reading this kind of thing or viewing it as alarmist BS, which then led to your endeavor. Does that help? If not ignore. I assume you’re time limited, and even though you are tremendously funny, you can’t have too many segues unless they really provide a eureka moment.

    • Before I dive into your comment, Lisa, I just want to check to make sure that you know this is not the entire speech, right?
      I’ve got about twenty minutes. This is the a bit less than the first third. I will print out your notes and keep a running tab as we go through week 2 and 3. And if you still feel that bit doesn’t serve the whole message, then do say so again.
      Such valuable feedback, Lisa. Wonderful stuff and a million thanks. Cheers!

      • Yup! and if the comment doesn’t make sense, ditch it. Sometimes for something like this people don’t know where you’re going. In any event, I’ll have a better idea after installments 2 and 3. I may have been trying to complete the story too fast!

        • Great, no worries. I’ll keep your comments on the back burner, and again, a million thanks for participating in shaping this, Lisa. I know your thoughts will help to make it stronger. Cheers!

  19. Shelley, bravo for pulling this speech together. I think you are off to a fantastic start, and I can’t wait to read the rest!

    Since you asked for constructive feedback, I deliberately put on my finicky editor’s hat (and my speaker hat – yes, I am a hydra) and focused closely on the flow of the speech. I found a couple of places where the transitions could be a little smoother, in case you are interested. When you say “it gave me a lot to chew on” it’s not immediately clear if the “it” is referring to the McDonald’s slogan or the Australian comment. I’d name it, which will also help reinforce the message. And the “but” in “but I like slogans” felt like it was coming too soon after another “but” – you might want to reword this a bit. Lastly, the part about “and people pay attention to the noteworthy and uncommon” sets me up to start hearing about something noteworthy and uncommon, and then I felt like it was moving elsewhere. I think I’d need to see these words together with Part 2 and 3 to make more helpful comments on that particular section. As it is, I hope my feedback is useful for you and not hair-pulling!

    The content itself is wonderful – I would expect no less from my favourite blog writer. I love, love, love the humour (as always), your family story, and your mixed-up slogan. Making it personal and funny is definitely the way to go. 🙂

    I know this speech is going to be amazingly successful. Knock ’em dead, Shelley!

    • Sue, you never fail to amaze. These are wonderful observations and I’ll create a list to add to once you’ve seen part 2 and 3.
      I’m thrilled that you popped on that editorial hat for me–especially since that bonnet is so polished and shiny having just returned home from the big symposium. Boy, did I catch you at the right time, eh?
      A million thank yous!
      Cheers 😀

  20. Lol! I’ve known lots of fat Australians – all that beer they drink!!! (of course the original white Australians were convicts!) Am enjoying Opl very much and really identify with the main character, having been a food obsessed teen myself.

    • I think the list of countries that are immune to the obesity epidemic is growing pretty short. Our American contribution of fast food and high fructose corn syrup has really done a number on the waistlines across the globe.
      And good news on Opl, Jan. 😀

  21. Hi Shelley,

    I’ve tried to read all the comments so far, so firstly, I apologise if I’m about to repeat something that’s already been said.

    Terrific job pulling everything together, but you asked for feedback on your speech and as a Toastmaster, this is something I’m familiar with, so here goes, but I’m only going to focus on one point: Your opening.

    “I’m usually not one for eavesdropping” left me feeling flat. I’d like to suggest something with a little more spark: – I was eavesdropping (slight pause) and I usually don’t do that. (slight pause cheeky smile) Okay, who am I kidding?

    Only a small play on words, but a positive opening statement has the potential to really grab the audiences attention much quicker. They immediately want to know ‘why’ you were listening and ‘what’ you heard.

    I also agree with Sue Archer. There are a few disconnects, but I’m sure you will iron these out following all the wonderful feedback you’ve received so far. Considering the topic, the humour is great and I look forward to Part 2 and Part 3.

    Keep up the great work 🙂


  22. well shelley i don’t have any criticism, constructive or not 😉 looking forward to the other two parts to see how everything connects.

    i read, “the blood sugar solution” and found the science easy to understand but i was very annoyed/irritated that there were no recipes that reflected different cultures or diverse communities.
    that’s usually a common theme i hope is redressed in the obesity discussion. fingers crossed opl feels similar 🙂

    • Mac, one of the things I find most disheartening about the growing obesity epidemic is the fact that our food climate has grown blandly homogeneous. Packaged foods, fast food restaurants, convenience store junk –it’s all ubiquitous and inescapable. It’s been a slow creep of pushing out our diverse food landscape for something that has unified us in one of the most uninteresting and unhealthful ways.

      I agree wholeheartedly that as people are working to raise our global ‘Food IQ’ we need to have folks create some inventive solutions and alternatives that bring back the uniqueness of each country and culture. It can easily be done. We just need a few more foot soldiers in the farming fields.

      PS. There is a section in the book where Opl’s grandfather cooks with her and introduces her to a recipe he learned while stationed in Japan and serving in the military. 🙂

      • well tell me where to sign up! as i said recently, i need to exercise more and food solider boot camp sounds as good a place as any to start sweating.

        and if the food soldiers need a slogan, or a tongue twister, how’s this grab you, “nature will nurture us, if we nurture nature.”

        thanks shelley – your posts and comments inspire the words inside.

        • Oh, Mac, that quote is going up on the fridge. Although I really think only a bit of skywriting can do it justice and reach the many eyes that would benefit from that beautiful tidbit.
          Cheers 🙂

  23. interesting/arresting — as yoozyoo=uhl. like every-1 else, eagerly aweight neckst installments.
    the thing with food.
    the thing with beer.
    adherence and occasional shaking-off, the daily routine.
    we’re on the road, we’re “ending up”, we’ve arrived? wha duzzit meen? the (mental) gears occasionally connect, seems mostly they spin freely. yoo doo get mee/us thinkkin-uh-bow-titt.

    • So glad to hear that thoughts are churning at this point, Jay, as I truly believe that action is the thing that follows enough reflection. Some of what I speak of in the speech makes action a ‘no brainer’ activity, as it really requires no thought at all. The facts are the facts. And they desperately need to be addressed for the health of ourselves and our children.

      Always so happy to see your werdz here. 😉

  24. Shelley, what a terrific idea soliciting feedback from your readers. I’m late reading this, but as is often the case, I’m enriched by all the fabulous comments. I think you are absolutely on the right track and I look forward to installments two and three.

    I can throw my own hand in the air and say “yes, yes, sugar is addicting and very hard to give up once hooked.” After a lifetime of being thin, I’ve found myself battling an extra unwanted twenty pounds for a decade. The sugar creeps back in and up I go.

    Go get em!

    • Having your support, Alys, makes me feel ten feet tall, and truly like I’ve got the strength to pitch this puppy until I’m blue in the face from loss of breath. One of the messages I really want to highlight is that the problems people are experiencing are not all “lifestyle choice” results. I believe that it will come as a monumental surprise to scores of people that sugar is an addiction. And as with any addiction, addressing it is crucial if we want to achieve better health.

      Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of debate as to whether or not addiction is considered a disease. The addiction to sugar certainly leads to disease. It’s a remarkable conversation to hear.

      A million thanks for your words, Alys. ❤

  25. Are Rob’s illustrations going to be part of your presentation? Because that would make for a fantastic addition. Loving that all your talking points come in bite-sized portions. You clearly know your audience. Your witty humor can slay any naysayers, so the more of it you can inject in-between those “boring” science facts, the better.

    • Those illustrations are quite brilliant, aren’t they? There are several more to come–I hope you’ll feel the same after seeing them.
      And as far as the audience goes? Well, it could be times where I’m preaching to the choir and others where they’d prefer I’d be strung up a tree by my wee tosies for suggesting we alter the Western disease creating diet. Time will tell.
      I’d love to know if after the next two installments you think I’ve got the right balance of “humor” and “how it really is.”

  26. I really enjoyed the post dear Shelleys 🌟★🌟… And that aussie boy was eloquent… USA, where fat people live! … You were very accurate to tie this to the I’m lovin’it motto… I am also thinking in the marketing strategy Super size me which was very criticized in a documentary called exactly like that. [Full movie https://youtu.be/7T3ZN02-26M ]
    As to the advice “Okay, now don’t do it regular” and the way you owned it and applied it afterwards with your kids., what can I say… I absolutely agree with your statements. Very thought provoking, indeed!.
    Thanks for sharing… All my best wishes and happy weekend ahead. Aquileana 😀

    • That was an eye-opening movie, wasn’t it, Aquileana? And coincidentally, I just finished watching Morgan’s next movie, Pom, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – which addresses advertisement and how it’s incredibly woven into the human psyche and reveals how easily its persuasive methods can get us to believe in empty promises. Dangerous territory for those trying to raise children to identify where actual value is located.
      A million thanks for all your lovely comments, Aquileana. I hope you have a restful, happy weekend too.

  27. A strong start, Shelley. I think you’ve got some good gems in here. If I were to put my constructive criticism hat on, I would suggest a firmer tie-in between your “job” and the incident where you eavesdropped on the boys, since the transition felt a little abrupt, and another tie-in for the anecdote about “not being regular” as it relates to food.

    I live in a country where I here “America is where the fat people live” (really!) and “America is freedom.” (obviously much more attractive), so I obviously connected with you there, it just felt like the middle-portion lost Opl (two times removed from the book, so to speak.)

    • Check and check–all noted, Alex. And I do feel so lucky to garner advice from another person who wears that festively colored and highly admired editorial hat. The next section reveals some personal anecdotes about my “not being regular” as it relates to food, and although I find it distinctive, it has turned one beta reader squeamish. That might not bode well. Let me know what you think.

      I’ll be so curious to hear what the Northern most Americans think of the clan beneath the border. That’s a transition I’m keen to learn about from you and NJ.
      A thousand thanks for your comments, Alex. Cheers!

  28. I am so glad you have decided to write this. I do have a suggestion though. Although, it’s obvious to me that most people, including children are eating completely wrong in this country, often it starts with the infant. The parent is stick a bottle in the kid’s mouth every time s/he begins to cry without even considering it isn’t nourishment s/he needs. And it’s all because the parent doesn’t care to know what the child needs. The parent just wants to keep the child quiet.

    • I truly appreciate your support on this venture of mine, Glynis. There are so many people here who have broad perspectives on these issues and are offering up their points of view. You bring up an important one that addresses those first months of nurture and nourishment. I’ve spoken to many physicians thus far who are reporting that they’re seeing overweight babies in their examining rooms with frightening frequency. So yes, I agree, we need to support new parents with further opportunities for education to identify what it is that their infant is truly hungry for. Knowledge is key here.
      Cheers, Glynis!

  29. Nicely Done!
    My mother swam against the current and I am better for it. My siblings and I were raised with a healthy dose of self-relience, work, play (outside), and a think for yourself after research way of living. I see a much different child in school today (23 years a college prof). Sleep deprivation (ties to overeating and eating the wrong things), senseless multi-tasking, digital addictions, and doing C quality work and expecting an A+ seem to be the norm. I look forward to your next two installments. Thanks!

    • Many thanks, Gary, and I think you’re coming from an incredibly interesting position sitting where you do as a university prof. Seeing the results of how the young live their lives and how it’s affecting their ability to function is eye-opening at best and worrisome indeed.
      I think there’s a serious disconnect for many of them–a deficit of some simple education. The void can be filled, but sadly false and misleading advertising is taking up the much-needed space.
      Truly appreciate your support, Gary. Cheers!

  30. There’s a movie I recently saw, I think it’s called That Sugar Movie, and the theme is that sugar is in pretty much everything these days, and it’s very bad for us – much worse than fat. Basically I think I’d like to go back to eating stuff out of the backyard, and maybe the occasional rabbit shot by my boyfriend (rabbits are de trop in Australia).

    • I cannot wait to see this film! I’ve heard such wonderful things about it (in a most horrifying type of way). And yes, watching these documentaries – Fed Up is another winner – cannot help but leave an indelible mark on people’s conscious decisions from then on forward. I hope it gets the worldwide attention it so deserves.
      And btw, you and your beau are wholly welcome to feast your way through my patch of land, as I’ve got more bunnies hopping about then I’ve had hot dinners in a lifetime. They are literally everywhere.
      Taste like chicken.

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