Frequently Asked Questions
Why is your website URL BodyForWife.com?
I began my writing career focused on health and fitness, and once your website achieves a certain amount of popularity it’s a pain to change to a new URL so I’m keeping it even though I’ve evolved to focus on a broader approach to motivational psychology for helping people change a variety of aspects of their lives and incorporating issues of social justice to help create a better world for us all.
But yes, long ago, I decided to get in shape prior to proposing to my wife. Years later, the book Body for Life became popular and a bunch of my friends did that program. I made a joke about being “on the body for wife program” and they laughed and here we are.
Why is a former fitness guy writing and speaking about social justice?
Generally speaking, there are two types of people who work in the fitness industry: those who got into it because they care about and want to help others, and the troglodytes. That’s a broad generalization, but being one of the top writers in the fitness industry exposed me to both the best and the worst it had to offer. While there are many fine and caring people in fitness, there is a side where fat shaming, misogyny, racism, and full-on white supremacy run rampant. It’s bigots on steroids, which is both a metaphor and sometimes literal.
I was an early voice calling out fat shaming in fitness, helping to move the needle toward compassion and inclusivity. I also tackled the “alpha male” bullshit and toxic misogyny, and it snowballed to where social justice is now my main focus. These days, my primary involvement in fitness is through volunteer personal training for people with disabilities.
What are your most popular social justice pieces?
Actually, no one asks this question, but I want to highlight them anyway, so let’s pretend someone did. Most of these come with a content warning.
- “The Toxic Appeal of the Men’s Rights Movement” – My first social justice piece, published in 2014 by TIME Magazine. It blew up and was discussed on CNN Television that day.
- “She Doesn’t Owe You Shit” – My most popular blog post about how men feel entitled to women’s bodies.
- “What Happened After She Said No” – A sequel to the above.
- “Sex Abuse Victims Struggle to Lose Pounds Put On as Protective Measure” – for the Chicago Tribune.
- “Be a Hero” – Stepping up when others choose to sit to make the world a better place.
- “Put Yourself in Harm’s Way” – A sequel to Be a Hero.
- “The Biggest Loser Returns, Despite Warnings” – for the Guardian.
- “So You’ve Decided to Hate Greta Thunberg” – The manbabies came out in force to comment on this one.
- “Shamed for Being Fat. Shamed for Being Fit. Women Can’t Win.” – for the Chicago Tribune.
- “There Is No War On Men” – Feminism did not “swing the pendulum too far the other way.”
- “The Before and After Photo that Changed Everything for this Woman” – for the Los Angeles Times.
- “The Difference Between a Nice Guy and a Good Man”
- “#metoo Only Makes Dating More Difficult if You’re a Rapist”
- “Interview with Kathrine Switzer about Her World-Changing Boston Marathon Run” – for Women’s Health.
- “Suicide Isn’t Selfish, It’s Desperation”
- “Incels are a Hate Group Promoting Rape and Murder”
- “Breaking the Silence on Male Eating Disorders” – for AskMen
- “Interview with Alicia Machado about Body Positivity and Being Shamed by Donald Trump” – for Women’s Health.
- “Make Racists Afraid Again”
- “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Jordan Peterson”
- “How You Know You’re Dating a Mansplainer”
- “I’m White. I’m Male. I’m Privileged as Fuck”
- “Shut the Fuck Up about Your Bullshit Cancer Cure” – Advocacy for those with cancer.
- “Beware the Fake Male Feminist”
- “A Letter to Bill’s Children about their Father’s Homophobia”
- “The Peril of Being an Opinionated Woman on the Internet”
- “I Am Not the Keeper of my Teenage Daughter’s Virtue”
That’s probably more links than you wanted, and yet it’s only a sample.
So, how does the life-changing moment work in terms of motivation?
It took me an entire book to properly address that question. But … have you seen Shrek? Ogres are like onions and all that? Social Psychologist Milton Rokeach’s Model of Personality asserts there are “layers” to who we are, with superficial actions and thoughts at the surface, followed by beliefs at the next layer in, then attitudes, followed by values. Finally, the most interior layer is the “self”—that person who you really are, deep down. Couple this information with new research into the “identity-value model of self-control.”
That probably tells you a whole lot of nothing thus far. But most of us have external, surface-level behaviors that are not in line with our true selves—that most interior layer. We behave in ways that are reactionary to the environment and social pressures. Focusing on changing these external behaviors (quitting an addiction, exercising, eating better, being happier / kinder / more passionate and driven etc.) is extraordinarily difficult because we’re not addressing root causes. A life-changing moment is one of massive realization regarding what our true self and values are, and permitting them to reign supreme, letting them drive behavior. There’s no struggle to alter problematic behaviors or need to suffer through tasks we don’t like. Rather, we begin to act in ways that are in sync with who we really are because we’ve suddenly found our True North. Such change isn’t something that happens gradually, but is a hard pivot that unleashes a new understanding of what you’re meant to do and be.
So, Who is your agent?
Foundry Literary + Media
33 West 17th Street, PH
New York, NY 10011
psteinberg [at] foundrymedia.com
Can I hire you to coach me?
Sorry, but due to time constraints I am not taking new clients at this time.
Have you ever written about … ?
Quite possibly. Your best bet is to Google “James Fell” + [thing you’re wondering about] and if I wrote about it, chances are it will be the first search result.
Will you read this thing I wrote?
I’m sure it’s wonderful, but no.
Don’t feel bad. My wife reads very little of what I write.
I wanted to send you this bit of fan mail because I like your writing and you helped me.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I appreciate these messages and they make me feel great. Keep on rocking.
I hate everything you write. Your such a piece of shit.
Can I do a guest post on your blog?
I’ve allowed guest posts a grand total of three times, and they are all close friends. And if you’re a close friend, you aren’t reading this. Sorry.
I love you.
I love you too. As a friend.