Joe Surkiewicz

The Shit to Lose Weight Diet: Its Decline and Fall

Every trend has a beginning, although it’s not always easy to trace. 

Take the Hula Hoop craze. 

Eleven-year-old Suzanne Miller of Alexandria, Virginia, blew off flute practice and was experimenting with an abandoned barrel stay in front of her house. She was spotted by Marvin J. Truland as he drove to his job at a plastics supply company, where he appropriated some decorative, half-inch plastic tubing, and made appropriate adjustments. 

The rest is history.

Yet the recent, nationwide obsession with defecation had its start in a less innocent way. 

The Maritime Journal, the premier magazine of the shipping trade, had commissioned an article on the dead weight tonnage reduction of a supertanker–and the subsequent efficiencies that resulted–after a makeover in a Dubai shipyard. 

Boring stuff, unless you’re in the business of transporting oil. But the editor, whose name is lost to history, made a fatal error when posting the article online. Instead of “Ship to Lose Weight,” the title came out (you can see this coming) “Shit to Lose Weight.” 

Like the Hula Hoop, the rest is history.

How could this happen? Wouldn’t a person reading the accompanying article about structural changes to a million-gallon oil tanker realize it was an innocent typo, rue the pathetic state of copyediting, laugh and move on? 

As any media expert will tell you, fewer than two percent of readers (“readers”) get beyond the headline, never venturing to the small squiggly marks neatly arranged in columns that fill the space between the pictures.

The article, or rather the headline, went viral. 

Within days, an entrepreneurial freelance writer, Udo Boltz of White Plains, New York, published an ebook on Amazon, “Shit to Lose Weight: The Eat-Whatever-and-How-Much-You-Want Diet That Really Works!”

Momentum started to build. Boltz, now fabulously rich from his instant bestseller, made appearances on the morning network news shows. Taking a crap was coming out of the closet as millions of viewers contemplated the new diet, all of them wondering why they hadn’t thought of it first.

“It’s really simple,” Boltz explained to Oprah. “It’s just a matter of speeding up the process between your lips and your anus, and really letting go.” On Joe Rogan’s podcast, he said asshole.

Soon, shit was on everyone’s lips. 

Major follow-up trends included a move to outhouses after indoor plumbing and the convenience of six bathrooms in your typical suburban McMansion was perceived as outré. Portland, Oregon, led the pack, as outhouses began popping up in leafy yards and along streets, especially those designated as bicycle routes.

The outhouse craze moved down the coast to San Francisco and L.A., then leapfrogged across the country to Atlanta, D.C., the Big Apple, and even Boston, where solar arrays dwarfed the crappers hidden under a frenzy of light-seeking panels. 

Like most trends, it skipped over the Midwest, leaving Chicagoans puzzling, as usual, as to why they were left out.

Outhouses evolved into status symbols, and ranged from the rustic (paneled in wood recovered from abandoned Vermont barns, but still with de rigueur features like heated seats, air conditioning, flat screen monitors and WiFi) to the ultramodern (clad in sleek, gunmetal gray titanium sheathing, solar-paneled and voice-activated).

As the country began to shit itself to svelteness, sub-trends proliferated. Toilet paper tanked as back-to-earthers embraced techniques and tools used by earlier generations—for example, damp forest floor fauna, except now it had to be imported from Ecuadorean rainforests. 

Sticks with charred ends made an unexpected comeback. Online debates raged over the advantages of oak versus maple, with softwoods like pine and cedar dismissed as only suitable for children and the elderly.

Competitive shitting wasn’t far behind, with elaborately wired outhouses utilizing integrated cameras, digital scales and space-age digital aroma analyzers to determine whether your morning effort could be a winning entry. 

Weight and length, for sure, could snag your turd’s immortality (and a first prize!). But other factors, like firmness, color, texture and funkiness were all included as competitors posted their results online. Points were accrued based on thumbs up/thumbs down votes from a nation of intrigued shitters. 

The culminating event was the annual finals held in (where else?) Baltimore, Maryland, where champion defecators gorged and produced results on live television (also available streaming).

With the growing realization that everyone shits (and it’s okay!), efforts to establish a top tier of human defecators reached fruition: an obsession with celebrity shit. 

A new wing to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, enshrined the preserved turds (the process a closely guarded secret) of the rich and famous. The honor roll included the discharges of Hilary Clinton, Paris Hilton, the aforementioned Oprah, and Jeff Bezos. 

The infamous weren’t forgotten, with their own wing offering the preserved eliminations of Jeffrey Epstein, Mark David Chapman and Vladimir Putin on loving display, like those of the famous, in tinted glass enclosures bathed in sodium vapor lighting.

Alas, like all trends eventually must, the shit-to-lose weight fad lost momentum. Then, the coup de grace came when a rival trend, the urination diet, gripped the nation. 

Its genesis? A bored Google censor bot, just for fun, pushed a literary website to the top of all its search results. 

Within days, everyone wanted to piss wine into an ocean of alcoholics.

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