Jane Devin

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Susan Powter: The Truth is Smart, Sexy, and Fully Aware

April 8th, 2008 · 26 Comments

Without the reemergence of Dr. Atkins & Co., she may have stayed secluded on some farm, and her vibrant words might never again have reached the public masses. Yet, because of the well-marketed lies that left millions of unsuspecting people eating a pound of bacon for breakfast, she is back.

2ndpos.jpgSusan Powter has reemerged onto the wellness scene, not as some former icon scrambling for a comeback in a world with a ten minute memory, but as a fiercer than ever, fully awake, fully energized – and may I say – totally sexy one-woman powerhouse.

Her sword is still forged from the unyielding metal of common sense, and she is ready to do battle with those who have perverted the fundamental concepts of wellness in order to make a buck (or a few billion). Her newly updated and released book, The Politics of Stupid, is not just a wellness manifesto, but a scathing, all-out attack on the industrial titans who traffic in the duping and dumbing-down of an overweight, unfit, and convenience-minded America.

You may want to stop reading here if you’re one of those whose reaction to the word “wellness” is to beat your chest and declare yourself impervious to poison – or if you have a devil-may-care attitude when it comes to being lied to, used, and then abandoned. If you want to intentionally fill your body with growth hormones, chemical preservatives, pesticides, and other manufactured poisons – if you want to help contribute to the multi-billion dollar, revolving door industry of “miracle” diets and fat pharmaceuticals – you’re not ready for Powter’s message.

On the other hand, if you’ve done these things without really considering the consequences – if like millions of American women, you’ve trusted government and industry to keep you and your family safe from harm – then Powter wants to enlighten you.

The Politics of Stupid will not only tell you why 98% of dieters fail, but will let you in on the ugly truth behind the revolving door of the weight-loss industry, which means to keep revolving as long as there are people who are blind enough, naive enough, and desperate enough to take the ride.

sp1.jpg“The pillars of the past,” Powter states, “have crumbled under their own lies. Health statistics speak volumes about the experts who have been in charge of our health for years.” Facts, and an abundance of them, back Powter up. In the $276 billion dollar food industry, low-fat processed foods, which rely on chemicals to supplant natural ingredients in everything from dairy products to cookies made a nifty $35.6 billion dollars in 2005. In the last decade, more than 21,579 new foods have been manufactured and marketed as “low or no” fat or “low or no” saturated fat. Yet, according to recent statistics, Americans are now among the fattest people on earth. 64.5% of adults can be classified as overweight or obese – and the rate of childhood obesity is climbing at an alarming rate, increasing 54% in the last fifteen years.

In reading Powter’s message, it is (or should be) clear to any thinking, rational person, that it is not the health conscious who should be labeled “freaks”, but those who have consciously distorted and bastardized the concept of food. Food being the fuel the human body needs to operate at an optimum level. Powter makes the strong and convincing argument that when that necessary fuel comes packed with hormones, chemicals, and poisons – and is even brashly marketed in super-sized portions – it ceases to be be a source of health or energy. When 65% of an average American’s daily diet consists of processed food – and concurrently the rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases are rising – the link is obvious.

Food – which Powter obviously takes great delight in – should not be the enemy, and it doesn’t have to be. She advocates not dieting, but a “lifestyle exchange”. Trading in what doesn’t work for what does. Exchanging the chemical copycats of food for real foods. Whole and natural foods – the way they grow in nature, outside of the clutches of industrial farming and processing plants.

Powter brings a sense of intellectual, physical, and sensual bliss to organic, whole foods that may just be the inspiration millions of women need to step away from the over-industrialized, processed poisons that have left them struggling with self-image, obesity and chronic, life-threatening diseases.

Knowledge is power, and power is the crux of the message in The Politics of Stupid and Powter’s Eat, Breath, Move, and Think program for lifetime health. She envisions a world where people — particularly women, who have been the most victimized and “branded” by the corporate and political patriarchy of consumerism — hone their knowledge and take back their power of choice. Where they will take the reins and not just move away from their own exploitation as consumers, but where they will forge new trails in wellness, society, and the body politic.

spfamily.jpgPowter, the mother of three, exudes health and vitality at 50 years old. She is her own best advertising, having lived (and nurtured her family with) the Eat, Breath, Move, and Think lifestyle for over twenty years. Through the fire of personal and professional challenges, Powter has held fast to the rational, informed, no-nonsense health choices she discovered when she lost 133 pounds in the late 80’s, and went on to become a 90’s superstar in the world of fitness, who not only motivated millions of women through tapes and infomercials, but who wrote six books – three of which made the New York Times bestseller list.

*You can preorder The Politics of Stupid at Amazon.com.

Tags: Crime/Law · Health and Wellness · Human Interest · Medicine/Disease

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 LBJ // Apr 9, 2008 at 1:43 am

    What a beautiful woman and family. I will definitely check out her website and book.

    It’s funny you brought up the bacon thing. I went on a protein diet a few years ago, and remember the message “eat as much as you want”, including stuff that we know is not good, including bacon.

    Well, I ignored my intuition and followed the “expert advice”. I even did the whole ketone strips thing and got all excited when they turned purple. Withing two months, I lost six pounds……and was totally sick. I could barely move, I felt like death. My kidneys were shutting down.

    My nurse practicioner practically screamed at me for an hour. I have never and would never do something that foolish again.

    I lost what I had to lose (well, 20 of the 25 pounds) the healthy way, through eating healthy food and exercising everyday. It took eight months, but I’ve maintained my weight now for the last two years.

    Great article, Jane.

  • 2 Ruth // Apr 9, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I agree with LBJ, she is very beautiful, and her sons are gorgeous.

    I just watched a couple of her videos. She’s not the drill sargeant type I remember. I like this version better. She’s still strong minded, but seems more mellow too. Her website is a little hard to navigate though. I didn’t find the recipes, and the only workout was from your link. I’m sure they are their, there’s just alot to navigate.

    (Is all of her exercise yoga, I wonder? Yoga kind of scares me, but maybe I’ve seen to many pros do it. I couldn’t twist like that.) I have started backing off from processed junk though, I started that a couple of months ago and already feel better.

  • 3 Barbara // Apr 9, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Jane, so glad you wrote this article on Susan! I knew you’d like her!

    Ruth, have you lost weight taking that one step? I agree with you that the website can be clumsy f you don’t know where things are, but I just clicked on everything and wasn’t disappointed.

    I found Susan from Rosie’s link last month, and was really impressed. I didn’t pay attention to her in the 90’s, I wasn’t heavy and was busy chasing kids. Now, I need to change my lifestyle, which has gotten really bad since the boys left home. Now that it’s just DH & me, we’ve been living off of convenience foods. We’ve both packed on the pounds.

    We’ve started walking after dinner, and are working our way (slowly) towards better food, but it’s amazing how much more expensive real food is. Chemicals are cheaper? Weird.

  • 4 Jules // Apr 9, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Jane, have you read this?


    I was one of how many millions of people who believed yog-hurt was healthy? It’s been a staple in my house for years, I’ve been feeding my son yog-hurt since he could hold a spoon.

    It’s not hard to imagine how many other products we’ve been lied to about.

  • 5 Jane Devin // Apr 9, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    I did read that, Jules, and am happy I’ve never been a fan of yogurt. I figure if I’m going to get a dairy fix, I’ll just go ahead and buy a pint of Stonyfield ice cream. I haven’t done that in a while, because I’m really invested in getting healthy right now, but it brings up a point about portions, and how you really have to read those labels.

    Stonyfield lists one portion of ice cream as one-half of a cup. Seriously, have you ever known anyone to eat only half a cup of ice cream? (At that portion size, it’s 240 calories, and 25% of those are from fat).

    There’s a lot of products that use a minimal portion size for their calorie/fat count, and it’s usually about half of what the average person would eat.


    I’ve been there and done that! With pretty much the same results. Outside of free range chicken and turkey and the occasional fish, I don’t eat much meat anymore, and I don’t miss it at all!

  • 6 Lonnie // Apr 10, 2008 at 1:06 am

    I’ve missed this site!!! I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to go online. I just LOVE the last few articles, and Jane that music rocks!!! I have two tabs open, one for the music, which i’ve been playing all night while reading.

    I love the elephant girls! Wow! Seems a lot of people share my feelings about that one. At the same time, I think I’m more of a venus woman. :-) Loved that post too!

    I’m trying to catch up to this one, but I have to say I’m just not an SP fan. Beautiful, yes, but a little too off-kilter & fast talking for me. And really, like I did way back when, I just get the feeling that it’s all about the $$ to her.

    ::::shrug:::: It is what it is, huh? At least a woman is making the bucks talking about the health of woman. By the way, you should do an article on Suze Orman. I LOVE her!

    Back to reading. :-) :-) :-) GREAT work, Jane!

  • 7 Sandi // Apr 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I loved this article. It is true that the more we try to “diet”, the heavier we are becoming. And all this time, we thought it was us. We felt were failing and lacking and maybe a bit stupid.

    I dream of living an European lifestyle where everyday I walk in the marketplace and buy whatever is fresh and feed it to my family. No more of this boxed, processed lifestyle. Our culture does not support that lifestyle at all.

    The struggle continues…

  • 8 freida // Apr 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    But dear Sandi,
    What about the ‘Jobs!’

    Boxed and processed, and prescribed.

    The CEO’s are making a bundle, and that’s the saddest part.

    Like the Dubai guy, trying to build a future for his people, building artificial islands, and all those wealthy beings, not giving but receiving…

    We are all so selfish, and just think what ‘That Prince’ could have done, yet maybe still there is ‘Hope.’

    We have all the gizmo’s….and we’re still living on borrowed time, until our mother planet has given all she has to give.

    I have only bought one tank of gasoline in 7 months…

  • 9 Laura // Apr 10, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Wow, she looks fabulous! She should always take her own pictures………they are better than the ones the pros take for her book jackets!

    Since you give it such a high rating, I’ll definitely be interested in reading it, Jane. I’m always trying to make better health decisions, although I should do more doing than trying, especially with a six year old. I have done one thing right though. She’s never had soda and sweets are very limited in our house. I did it for dental reasons (I had hella cavities as a kid), but it’s turned out well in other ways, too. She doesn’t have that “sweet tooth” I had as a kid, and actually prefers fruit.

  • 10 Jill // Apr 11, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    You wrote this post at the perfect time for me! I was super-skinny for the first 30 years of my life — then I turned 30 — and gained a pound for every year leading up to that birthday. :(

    The main problem I find with eating healthy is the high-prices of GOOD FOOD. Vegetarian and organic food is so expensive in my ‘hood.

    I’m with Sandi: the best diet is the “I’m moving to Europe” diet. ;-)

  • 11 Jane Devin // Apr 11, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Barbara and Jill,

    I think the reason whole foods are expensive is because the demand for the product, hence the sales, are lower than that of manfactured foods.

    What would happen if we all actually started to buy organic, whole foods? The farmers would rush to produce them in droves, the marketers would buy them in bulk, there would be competition, and whole foods products would get to the grocery store at a lesser cost.

    If thousands — no, hundreds of thousands of women — were to all start demanding this, and shopping accordingly, the food market would change.

    If we want European-style markets, and whole, organic foods, then we have to stop buying the crap — en masse.

    It’s the rebellion that Powter is promoting, and I think she’s totally on the right track. I stopped shopping for food at the regular grocery store about a month ago, and I’ve probably only spent $50 or so more. . . that’s really not a lot in exchange for getting no chemicals or artificial anything in my food. And I’ve lost six pounds, and all these weird cravings I used to have.

    I think it’s worth it, I really do, not just for those who want to lose weight, but those who care about staying healthy.

    Good God, I sound like a convert! I suppose I am. :-) I think we all deserve to be as healthy as we can be, though, and I don’t think the conglomerates will ever care as much as the mothers and individual women do.

  • 12 Valkyrie // Apr 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    I couldn’t get into her site with the link? I found it after a while on google though. She looks alot diff. than she did, and even thinner. I used to hate those informercals she did, but there’s none of those I like.

    I saw a boy yesterday at my son’s school who was about 5 or 6, and he was just huge. Not funny, not cute. Why do parents do that to kids? They can only eat what you feed them.

    We aren’t an organic house, but we’ve pretty much stuck to the basics and eat a lot of vegies and fruit, but I read labels better now than I used to. Learned that Juicy Juice isn’t really juice, and that a ton of salt is in one can of chicken soup. I didn’t know about yogurt either., which we’ve always eaten.

    Thanks, V. The last link was the problem, and is now fixed. - Jane

  • 13 Valkyrie // Apr 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    oooopppss….pressed the done button before I said I’ll read the book when it comes out.

    Intresting article.

  • 14 CJ // Apr 13, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t know what to think about Susan Powter. She doesn’t seem to be very upfront about her own life, so do I trust her to tell the truth about anything else? I don’t know.

    In Ross’s vlog, she says her breasts fed five kids. But she has three, right? So who are the other two? Her ex-husbands?

    She calls herself a lesbian now, but is she?

    She talks about chemicals, but in one video she’s using Great Lash……….how many chems are in that? In another, she’s drinking Red Bull, and here are the ingredients of that: Carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, taurine, glucuronolactone, inositol, niacin, D-pantothenol, pyridoxine HCL, vitamin B12, natural and artificial flavors, colors, caffeine.

    So is she serious, or is she just trying to sell us a book and a website?

    Is she a hypocrite, or is she real? Am I just jealous because I haven’t been a size 2 since 4th grade and never could be? I don’t know. Maybe I am looking for excuses to not believe her, because I like my Oreos and steak BBQ’s.

    Jane, you’ve always dug deep and I think maybe you should have dug deeper with this article/review. It’s not just about what she’s writing but about who she is. You know, as a person, not just “a totally sexy powerhouse.” I know you love the Venus women and all their feminine mystique, and she’s certainly one of those, but that doesn’t mean all that glitters in their world is gold.

    Sorry if it sounds like I’m taking you to task. I’m sure you do feel strongly about health, nutrition, and all of that, but I really think you should have dug deeper for this article and talked about the person, not just the book. You obviously know some things since you wrote she’s been through “the fire” but what fire? And who’s writing this book other than the “former icon”? Who’s Susan Powter and what is she really about?

    Like I said though, my feelings may stem from my own issues, including that yes, I’m tired of being lied to and bamboozled by all those “powerhouses” who have something to promote.

  • 15 CJ // Apr 13, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    And in one magazine, her youngest son is adopted. In her TV interviews, she says she told people they don’t own her uterus. So? Did she adopt or what?

    Her lack of transparency bothers me.

  • 16 Jane Devin // Apr 13, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Well, in fairness to me, CJ, I set out to write a book review and that’s what I accomplished. Had I wanted to write an article on Powter’s personal life – which I would be ill-equipped to do without her participation since, as you know, I would never trust tabloid “research” – I would have attempted to get an interview. However, as much as I take pride in what I write here, janedevin.com isn’t exactly the Rolling Stone of blogs, and I would hope that Powter’s management holds her in higher esteem than to have her suffer an interview on the 288,411th most popular website in America (according to Technorati).

    That said, you bring up an interesting point. Is the truth of anything substantial dulled if the messenger is fully human, capable of being misunderstood, or even – gasp – shows a chink in their armor? When Al Gore was found to be burning too much energy in his Tennessee home, did that negate his entire message on global warming and the years of scientific research that led to his documentary? His detractors certainly thought it did, and they dragged Gore through the media muck in order to diminish both the man and his message. How unfortunate is it that people, motivated by greed and hatred, tried to sabotage Gore’s critically important message by pointing to his “hypocrisy” as a credibility-killer. As if the temperatures weren’t really rising, and the polar ice caps weren’t really melting because Gore, after all, used too many lightbulbs.

    Digging up dirt is easy. Inventing dirt is even easier. That’s why the tabloids can publish their craptastic magazines on a weekly basis. There is never a shortage of controversy that can be found or created. There’s always an “insider” like a disgruntled employee, rejected lover, or garbage man ready to sell their ragtag story to the highest bidder, regardless of the level of truth.

    That said, you want to know whether SP pushed her third son out or carried him out, and this somehow affects her credibility as a health advocate? I don’t get it. Her sexuality is important to you…why? I doubt very much that any reader here, of any persuasion, is on her short list. She chugged a Red Bull? Does this mean the statistics on obesity and disease are wrong? Does her use of mascara mean that there really aren’t growth hormones in dairy products?

    Personal issues, yes, we all have them. And while it’s true that I stand somewhat in awe my Venus sisters, I would never deign to subvert any woman’s critical message to the public in order to “dig up the dirt” for the sake of sport, gossip, or titillation. In other words, no, I don’t think Powter’s personal life is relevant to a review of her book, outside of the fact – undeniable – that she is quite healthy, vibrant, and fit after twenty some-odd years of living her advocated lifestyle, even if those who desire to find fault can spot a chink or two in her armor.

    I would suggest that if these issues are really preventing you from taking in Powter’s message, that you take your questions to her site, and let her decide if she feels they merit a response.

  • 17 SusanA // Apr 15, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    CJ, if you Google I think you’ll find all you want & more. There’s lots of info and interviews including one where Susan said she adopted two other boys that went back to their birth mothers, and several in which she states she’s a “radical feminist lesbian.”
    I agree with Jane that this stuff isn’t really pertinent to a review of her book, but I understand your curiousity!

  • 18 RebeccaF // Apr 21, 2008 at 4:46 am

    I’m sorry I didn’t read this with a more open mind, Jane. Good work as usual!

  • 19 rose // Apr 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    just curious Jane……since u think ppl should work out their demons from trauma & childhood & stuff, what do u think abt the fact that Susan thinks it’s not necessary??

    pls. don’t take it the wrong way. i’m just curious.

  • 20 Jane Devin // Apr 23, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Read the book, Rose, seriously.

    I think Susan, like every other author / thinker / speaker / human being will be misunderstood. It’s the downside of communicating with other people.

    It’s not my place or my wish to defend her against every single distraction, but I believe your understanding of her words is out of context. My reading of TPOS, (which I recommend people buy before criticizing), is that Susan is encouraging women to take immediate, tangible actions towards health rather than analyzing and over-analyzing the “why” questions that often hold them back.

    Yes, I believe people need to come to terms with whatever traumas and bad experiences they have had. That people, especially those who have been traumatized multiple times, need to understand their vulnerabilities so they don’t keep repeating the same tragic lessons. I also believe, though, that life shouldn’t have to stop in its tracks in order to accomplish this.

    The sun will still come up in the morning, there will still be pressures, frustrations, laughter and epiphanies, and whatever is past will still be past. Not unimportant, but to be used as a lesson, a reminder, or a teaching device — not as a crutch, or a reason to beat oneself up, or to feel >less than< .

    I hope I took it the right way. :-) Now, please, go order the book.

  • 21 Donna Barnett // Apr 26, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Jane - I love Susan Powter and all that she stands for. Am a proud online community member. Your article was wonderful and your defense of her and her life (and you made great points !!) was terrific!! Have a great weekend. (PS - my book has been preordered for weeks) I anxiously await !! Take care. DB

  • 22 Jake // Apr 27, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    i have loved susan powter for decades. she is truly a brilliant woman. thanks for this; for such a great homage to such a great person who needs to be immortalized in future history.

  • 23 Cynthia // May 20, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Jane, I adore Susan’s energy and think she’s wonderful. My problem with her “program” is that it’s just not cohesive. There’s no structure to it that I can see, and no plan. What am I missing? Help!

    I get that she think you should “move in oxygen” for thirty minutes a day and eat real foods. Other than that, I don’t really get her program. Is there one, or is it every dieter for themselves?

    I don’t want to put you on the spot, so if you don’t answer it’s okay, but if you could explain or summarize it for me, I’d be grateful!


  • 24 Jane Devin // May 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Okay, Barbara, here are the cliff notes, but keep in mind that they’re my take on SP’s program and may not wholly reflect her intentions. With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s what I see as SP’s program.

    First, you commit to a mindset that involves these four things:

    Consciousness - You decide to make conscious, rational choices, and to raise your awareness of environment, food, products, lifestyle, etc.

    Behavior - Now that you are committed to making conscious, rational choices, you decide to modify your behavior to support those choices, e.g., since you now know that processed foods are poison, you remove them from your shelves.

    Honesty - You take stock of all the habits you have acquired over the years, and being totally honest with yourself, decide which work for your health and sanity, and which don’t work. You examine the reasons and excuses you have used, and decide if they are truly valid or not.

    Responsibility - You decide that you are the one best suited to be responsible for your life. To that end, you no longer take certain things for granted, such as the advice and assumptions of food and diet corporations and government entities which claim to have your health interests in mind. You decide, instead, to take an active and proactive stance where it concerns your life, your health, and your body.

    Now that you have committed to creating a mindset where consciousness, behavior, honesty and responsibility are at the top of your agenda, you:

    Eat - whole, real foods, preferably organic. Avoid processed foods, unhealthy and excessive fats, refined white sugar and flour, hormone-laden dairy, and red meat. If you do this, with reasonable portions, you shouldn’t have to count calories. If you are not totally committed to an all-natural foods diet, then you should count calories, and strive for low-fat, healthy choices in order to lose weight.

    Breathe, Move - “Move in oxygen” e.g. aerobic exercise for 30 minutes each day. Find other ways to be active outside of this, including walking, biking, gardening — whatever gets you up and moving. Also make at least some time for yourself everyday to relax, meditate, and de-stress.

    Think - Examine your life and your choices daily. Avoid being on auto-pilot and choosing, over and over again, those things which do not work for you. Instead of caving into old habits, e.g., grabbing the bag of chips before settling down to watch TV, think about what you’re doing, and whether it’s in the best interests of your wellness.

    In the end, I don’t consider SP’s program a diet, but a wellness philosophy. It’s not a hard program to follow but yes, it is one with self-responsibility at its core. She can give you recipes, exercises, and motivational advice, and those are all part of her site, but it’s really up to the individual to commit to the mindset and practice of an encompassing wellness philosophy. There are no quick fixes in SP’s program, but there is a steadfast rationality that encourages people to be as wise, aware, strong, and as healthy as they can be.

  • 25 Cynthia // May 24, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    You got my name wrong, but I don’t mind! LOL. Thank you, Jane! You helped me make sense of this. I guess there are people more familiar with Susan than me, because I really wasn’t getting the picture in all those short video clips, and her Ask section really doesn’t make alot of sense to me. All of the above seems like sensible advice, and its what I’m striving for nowadays anyway.

    G. and me did something the other night we haven’t done for years. We played volleyball on the beach! It was so much fun, but neither of us lasted very long. Time to get in better shape!

    Sorry, Cynthia! I should think faster and type slower. :-) - Jane

  • 26 Barbara // May 31, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    ;-) Thanks for thinking of me, Jane! heehehhe.

    Reading through the archives waiting for Sunday. :-)

    By the way, Susan Powter has ignored every question I’ve asked her! What the heck is that about? She must be getting very popular (again!) Anyway, I still want a copy of Trailer Park Yoga, so if anyone has one, can you ask Jane for my email?


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