First there was Morgan Spurlock’s famously damaging documentary about McDonald’s in 2004, Supersize Me. Damaging to himself first, if perhaps only a little damaging to McDonald's.
Spurlock committed himself, (insanely, thought his wife), to a purely McDonald’s diet for a month while doctors monitored his flagging health and thickening arteries.
Now there’s Brad Moir, who lives just outside Portland, Oregon, home of the best farmer’s markets in the country and the funniest show making fun of that culture, Portlandia, – “an interesting atmosphere to say the least," he said –and is eating his way through the McD’s for a month. The month has included his participation in a triathlon and, this Saturday, a bodybuilding competition at the Tarrytown Music Hall.
On the heels of a study showing obesity growing nationally at "an alarming rate", National Cheeseburger Day, Patch’s favorite burger poem contest, and a local doctor’s efforts to combat obesity, it’s all very timely for our confusing times.
Unlike Spurlock, Moir is dabbling in the salads and smoothies on the McD’s menu as well as the chicken nuggets and Big Macs. His daily diet might consist of: a burrito wrap for breakfast, two chicken sandwiches for lunch, dinner of salad and nuggets or a sandwich.
Unlike Spurlock he is actually losing weight this month; he's gone from 211 pounds to about 197 by Saturday.
And unlike Spurlock he’s not about blaming the food.
Spurlock had a bit in his movie about the bad chicken. “Chicken is not evil. No, chicken is chicken,” said Moir. “Fast food is not evil in my opinion. “
Like Spurlock, he’s weighing in with experts along the way, and he’s faring well so far. Moir met with a physician once this month and he’ll go again next week. His body was tested by a physical therapist and he’ll also do that next Thursday.
For Saturday's Doc Brown East Coast Natural Bodybuilding, Figure & Bikini contest, Moir is realistic about his chances. At 6’4” and around 200 lbs he’s been an athlete his "whole life" from basketball to triathlons. He’s only done two bodybuilding competitions. “I’m never going to win one,” he said. “I’m in pretty good shape but I absolutely don’t expect to win anything. Just try. Don’t blame food, your family, just try.”
Moir knows his fast food story is unique because when you’re training for such events as a triathlon, “you can basically eat what you want because you burn so much.”
In bodybuilding however, “you’re actually in the worst shape when you’re on stage,” he said. His usual 11 percent body fat will be down by then to 5 percent, “not healthy for a human body.”
Moir spoke to me from the Lake Oswego, Oregon parking lot of a McD’s actually, on the way in to get his dinner. Though French fries in particular are notoriously short of shelf-life, Moir does stock up. He freezes nuggets, milkshakes. A surprise benefit of an all-McD diet: he has not consumed alcohol for a month.
Mind you, the movie is not all pro-McD's. “It’s not all hug and kiss to McDonald’s and their so spectacular,” Moir said, honestly noting that he can’t recommend this diet to those of limited financial means. “If you have a $100 to spend on food in a month please do not go to fast food, go to the grocery store.”
Moir said his monthly food bill for himself and his son, 7, whose custody he shares, has been $300-$350 thus far, verses a usual $180-$200. “Economically, you’ve got to be intelligent.”
The idea of doing this movie got spurned a few summers ago, Moir said, when a coworker who weighed about 450 pounds parked in the handicapped spot. Is she handicapped, he wondered? It got him wondering why obesity isn’t classified along with anorexia and bulimia as a mental health issue, an eating disorder, as well as a physical one.
Moir hates the show “The Biggest Loser” as he said they are "90 percent about the food and 10 percent about the mental health. It’s the most dysfunctional show because you lose the weight and then you return to the same life and behaviors.”
His movie will be about balance, but he opted not harp on that as much as our American habit of blame. Footage of his competition and his visit to the east coast, along with his interview with me, presumably, will all be game for inclusion in the documentary. Moir’s also working on a book. And he's looking forward to having a beer.