This post is a part of July’s Healthy Living Tuesdays series, focused on what you struggle with most in your healthy living goals and how do you overcome the challenges. We’re still taking submissions, so email your 3-4 sentence proposal to healthylivingblogs at gmail dot com, and we’ll select 4-6 to feature on Tuesdays in July!
This post comes from Rebecca of Weight Wars.
Ask yourself a little question, how long would you happily work for someone, put all your effort, change your life to fit around, be consistently 100% productive for a boss who took all the credit when things went right but when things didn’t go that amazingly, it was all your fault?
How long could you really give over yourself and your life to a boss like that?
Didn’t think so. You’d quit and I’d guess you’d probably say that the boss pushed you out of the business. I mean they were selfish, a glory hog and made you look bad when ever something went slightly wrong and no matter how hard you worked and how dedicated you were you they were the ones that took all the credit, they made you do that so it’s their success. They were a terrible manager. Diets are a terrible manager.
This is pretty much what a friend of mine told me one day when I was seriously stressed out. I was despondent, upset and ready to eat whatever I had in the cupboards because I’d gone to my slimming group and only lost 0.5lbs despite working hard in the gym and staying 100% “on plan”. I felt a failure. I was super defensive, only I control what goes in my mouth, only I know what I have done during the week, I could have been stricter, worked harder it wasn’t the diets fault. She pointed out that when I was losing weight consistantly week on week it was the diet that was amazing, the diet that was working, so why isn’t the diet at fault when you don’t lose as much as you hoped? I mean for goodness sake you still LOST WEIGHT. I got pretty cross that she was criticizing my weight loss solution, very defensive, but it stuck with me. Then the next week when, again after being perfectly on plan and working out, I put on 0.5lbs it started to really niggle at me. People at group were asking me “what went wrong?” and I couldn’t explain it because I’d done what I’d always done.
What I learnt through reading other blogs and fitness communities is that weight loss plateau is super super common. This was something I had known nothing about, I just thought it was my fault. That for a time I should concentrate on the non scale victories that I was having instead.
Which brought me to her next point. Could I lose weight exactly like her? If we did the same thing week on week would she lose the same amount of pounds as me? Well of course not I baulked. We are different weights to start with, our intensity in the gym will be different, we can’t eat identical food (she’s a vegetarian for a start!). Exactly she said, so why are diets one size fits all? She also pointed out that a healthy meal of lean proteins, complex carbs and vegetables would fit in to any diet plan and you didn’t pay £5 to follow some secret plan that’s only available to members like it’s some kind of secret wonder drug.
I followed one particular slimming group to start with, it’s massively popular and it does help many people to lose weight. It also has lots and lots of repeat customers who lose weight, gain it back, and come back for more, never assessing why they regain the weight just returning, tail between legs as failures starting again.
I’m going to make a big statement, but I’m pretty sure it’s true when we look at it objectively. Diets and slimming groups are there not to make you feel good about yourself, not to make you lose weight, those are just nice side effects of the “making money”, the aim that every business in the diet world, well in any world has. Lets be grown ups for a minute. Every business that exists in the world is there to make money. If it’s not it’s either a) not a very effective “business” or b) a not for profit charity. Diets are there to make money. They are full of very committed people who are there because they care about people, but they too are making a little income on the side dependant on how often people sign up and keep coming. They aren’t psychologists, they aren’t trained to coach people through often complicated and deep seated reasons for their obesity but as far as the company is concerned they are there to sell the diet. Every year they celebrate their top performer. The current “man of the year” of the group I was attending (going by the loss / the weeks they said he was a member) lost around 5 lbs a week, last years woman of the year lost 7lbs a week on average. Wow. How aspirational is that to overweight people? It screams do this diet and look what you could achieve! It’s just a more subtle way of showing their product as a wonder diet without making outlandish and unbelievable claims outright, they let a very small minority hit the press to promote them. Is 7lbs a week healthy? maybe depending on where you start off, but is it attainable by most people? I don’t believe so. It certainly isn’t for me but the fact that he is lorded as “look what she achieved by being strict with herself” makes anyone below that achievement feel a little bit of a failure, because if he can do it we all can right? It’s just willpower that lets us down.
Diets take the credit for our hard work and rarely take the blame. And we PAY them to do it.
So despite the diet industry booming, making millions and millions, yet the world is getting fatter and fatter. How does that work? One study of 19,000 dieters and non dieters concluded:
“You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back,” said Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people…What happens to people on diets in the long run?” Mann asked. “Would they have been better off to not go on a diet at all? We decided to dig up and analyze every study that followed people on diets for two to five years. We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all. Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.”
Another study, which examined a variety of lifestyle factors and their relationship to changes in weight in more than 19,000 healthy older men over a four-year period, found that “one of the best predictors of weight gain over the four years was having lost weight on a diet at some point during the years before the study started,” Tomiyama said. In several studies, people in control groups who did not diet were not that much worse off — and in many cases were better off — than those who did diet, she said.
So all this in mind I left behind my dieting days, I watch what I eat but I’m not mega strict, I log what I eat to keep me healthy and clean and I make sure I’m moving more than I’m eating. I worked on my mind for a long time, it took a lot of unravelling and is an ongoing project too. Weight loss is a side effect to my healthy life. It’s a great one. I’m 38lbs down now and with a lot to go I’m concentrating on staying healthy. And just to add, 0.5 lbs looks like this
Yup. Pretty gross and completely worth losing right? Be kind to yourself and start to realise that you can do this. You can do it without gimmicks and without groups making you “accountable”. You can do this because you want to and because you are strong.