2016 is finally dead. It took with it General Organa and her mom, Professor Snape and a great ape, two-thirds of a prog rock trio, an Eagle and a Mockingbird author, a spaceman and a space oddity, a crack-smoking mayor, a Prince, and the droid you were looking for. Plus, about 55 million other people.
Another year of me mashing fists into keyboard also comes to an end.
It’s interesting that I was publishing articles in major newspapers for years before I ever saw the value in blogging on my own site. I only started doing so at the beginning of 2015. In that first year, this site had just over a million visits. This year the number of visits more than doubled to over 2.2 million.
My columns for the Chicago Tribune (which runs in several dozen other papers), the Los Angeles Times, AskMen.com and several other publications reach many more readers than my lowly blog does, but I love writing for my own site for the personal connection it allows me to make with readers, as well as how I can write about whatever I feel like. It’s interesting that the top two spots for this year’s list have nothing to do with fitness. Neither does #7.
Here are my ten most popular blog posts of 2016. Everything opens in a new page, so feel free to go click happy.
1. She Doesn’t Owe You Shit
This is a hard read and was almost never published.
I wrote just the copy about how women were not created for men to enjoy and abuse, and I wasn’t happy with it. It didn’t seem like it was making the point I wanted. I threw it out to my writing group and one of them suggested I seek stories from women who had suffered at the hands of men, from catcalls to abuse to rape.
I put a call out on my Facebook page expecting that I might get a dozen women to reply, but over 400 did. It took several difficult days to read through them all. I’d like to note how proud I am of my teenage son as he felt honor-bound to read through every single post to better understand the problem. We spent a lot of time talking about them. Fewer than 20% of the stories shared are represented in this piece, and even then, they are short quotes from longer stories. It was these stories that made the piece what it is, getting it almost 200,000 Facebook likes and generating a quarter of my site’s traffic for the year.
I continued to have women share their stories with me for months after publication. It also got a lot of backlash that resulted in me writing a follow up piece, which also made this year’s top 10.
2. I Blinked, and My Kids Disappeared
I am saddened this piece had a short shelf life because I felt I spun a good yarn.
Everyone remembers the death of Harambe the gorilla this year, but it was only a big story for a few days. During that time, many read this piece where I shared the stories of when I blinked and my kids ghosted on me. I wanted to show how even the most diligent parent can have a moment when they lose track of their children.
The article created some interesting discussions on my Facebook page; the sanctimony ran thick.
3. The Secret of Weight Loss Wrap “It Works!” Is that it Fucking Doesn’t
Once again 2016 proves that profanity in title = clicks.
True story: I was giving a presentation in Banff about writing provocative titles that do well on Facebook to a group of writers and used this one as an example. One of the attendees piped up: “YOU were the one who wrote about It Works!? I have some friends who are very angry with you.”
Plenty of angry (and delusional) resellers of this miracle weight loss saran wrap crap made their presence known in the comments as well. Good times.
4. Selling Weight Loss Shakes Doesn’t Make You a “Coach”
This snippet from the article covers most of it:
I first discovered Shakeology years ago when I opened a Twitter account and all sorts of people began following me proclaiming themselves to be a “Beachbody coach” and using the hashtag #TeamBeachbody. Now I was under the mistaken impression that all you needed to have a beach body was to take your body to the beach, but according to these coaches that’s totally misguided, because #motivation #fitness #goals #support #cleaneats #21dayfix #StepfordWife.
I still chuckle at the Stepford Wife hashtag.
2016 was the year of me poking fun at multi-level marketing. And once again, those who attempt to profit from doing so were not amused. Includes quotes from former purchasers and resellers.
5. Anti-Sugar Cultists are Totally Fucking Batshit
It all started with a meme.
It contained 14 short sentences and it was seen by over three million people. One of those sentences proclaimed “Sugar is neither toxic nor addictive.”
People fucking lost it.
The meme got me a 10% increase in followers to my Facebook page in just a few days, but it also generated a massive misplacing of excrement among those who believe sugar to be expelled directly from Satan’s posterior orifice, so I interviewed Alan Levinotvitz, a professor of religion and author of The Gluten Lie, to examine why some people exhibit such cult-like behavior about food.
6. Natural Is a Bullshit Word Creating Mass Death
It is a tragedy when someone who could have been cured by modern medicine chooses the quacktacular “natural” route and it costs them their life.
However, it goes beyond that into the demonization of technology that can feed the starving. This piece exposes the lies of the anti-GMO, pro-organic crowd who want the entire world to pay a stupidity tax because they fear what they don’t understand.
7. Feminism and the Men Who Refuse to Understand
This is the follow up piece to She Doesn’t Owe You Shit.
The “she doesn’t owe you” piece generated a mass of comments, messages, emails and Reddit threads. Women were largely thankful for having the stories told, whereas men were split into one of two groups. Some men were aghast at the expanse of the problem, whereas others chose to live in denial and just be dicks.
There was much “What about the men?” commentary, so I used this article to address it.
8. Get Your Medical Degree from the University of Google in 7 Easy Steps
This is a fun and sarcastic piece examining the stupidity of people thinking a few hours of Google searching make them better informed than physicians on issues of vaccination, cancer, autism, and detoxing.
9. CrossFit Is Broken (and Can Break You)
Despite the title, I am not opposed to CrossFit and believe it has done some good in the world of fitness. However, the exercise methodology is flawed at a fundamental level that, unless it is fixed, is going to continue to create injuries where they not need happen.
And that’s my issue with CrossFit: It didn’t have to be this way. It could have been much safer if the creators wanted it to be.
10. “Eat Less Move More” Is Bullshit
For the second year in a row the Personal Trainer Development Center named one of my articles the “Top Fat Loss Article of the Year.” Last year I earned top fat loss article for my piece about how a life-changing moment can provide endless will to succeed at behavior modification. It was entitled “To Epiphany and Beyond: Finding Your ‘Why’ of Weight Loss.”
This piece looks at why the motivational quip of “eat less, move more” is not useful advice for those looking to lose weight. While it is technically true, it ignores the much larger issue of environmental, medical, psychological, genetic and behavioral issues that affect body weight.
In short, sustained weight loss can’t be boiled down to a sound bite.
Want more? Read my Top 10 Blog Posts for 2015.
James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for AskMen.com and a regular contributor to Men’s Health.