Tis the season to talk about weight loss. *dum dum duuummmm!!*
Let me begin by reminding you that each person is autonomous, and that you are the only one who gets to decide what you do with (or even how to feel about!) your own body. If you’re trying to lose weight right now, that’s fine. If you love dieting, or have benefitted from dieting, that’s fine too. Ready? Let’s do this.
95% of diets fail.
Did you know that? I mean, that is just an absolute bat-shit crazy statistic, given the fact that “lose weight by dieting” is still prescribed by doctors, personal trainers, and “lifestyle” coaches, not to mention the fact that most people have dieted, are dieting, or will diet at some point in their lives.
Oh, plus there are the staggering statistics about how many people who begin casual diets will go on to become pathological dieters or develop eating disorders, and the fact that not only does nearly everyone who loses weight through dieting gain it back after, but they also gain some extra!
Meaning, not only does dieting fail to make people thinner or healthier. A lot of the time, it actually makes people fatter and less healthy.
That’s because dieting tanks your metabolism, stresses out your body, fucks with your psyche, distorts your natural hunger and fullness cues, and completely gets in the way of your body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight.
In short, the more you diet, the harder it is to lose weight, and the higher your “natural weight set point” becomes.
Having worked as a personal trainer with chronic dieters, I can assure you that their bodies make it much, MUCH more difficult to lose weight. I personally believe dieting (and the entire focus on losing weight) is one of the reasons obesity is such an epidemic in our culture.
So, ok. Diets don’t work, and they often have the exact opposite effect.
Imagine if you had a deadly disease, and everyone was like “ooohhh you should try this cure– it works 5% of the time, but a lot of the time it makes you die way faster!!”
That would be bananas. You would run screaming out of the doctor’s office. You would sue for negligence.
And yet, doctors continue to insist that being fat is the problem, and restricting calories is the solution. Without realizing it many health care providers work with fatphobic biases, falsely blaming a plethora of health issues on “being overweight” and urging their fat patients to diet, instead of giving them proper medical care.
If being fat was inherently unhealthy (it’s not) and even if people did need to lose weight, telling people to diet, or attempting to diet, would still be a batshit crazy thing to do, given the rates of success, yes? Are we all in agreement about this?
It’s beyond baffling.
Every January I see my friends, family, and people on the interwebz commit to weight loss.
But since the people in my life tend to be pretty savvy, a lot of them know diets don’t work, so they commit to weight loss plans that “aren’t diets” instead.
They try to lose weight through exercise (not a great way to go about things, since exercise tends to make you hungrier, and thus puts you back in a situation of needing to restrict food in order to get the desired effect), or “lifestyle changes” and implementing “healthy habits.”
But these lifestyle changes nearly always involve food– specifically, the cutting, monitoring, restricting, tracking, or resisting of food. They cut sugar. They decide not to eat after 8pm. They drink protein shakes for breakfast, or count their macros, or prep all their meals at home, or give up drinking.
These might all seem like healthy lifestyle choices, sure. But they’re also… wait for it… diets.
Any plan of action that includes restricting what you eat in order to lose weight is a diet.
There’s a tricky workaround to this though– many of these savvy people will say they’re not trying to lose weight.
They’ll say “I just want to feel better” or “I want my clothes to fit better ” or the ever-popular “I just want to be healthy.”
But the underlying assumption is that all of those things will come with, or from, weight loss.
We’ve been taught that healthiness both springs from weight loss, and creates weight loss. We’ve been taught that you can tell by looking at a person if they’re healthy or not, and that their weight is a huge indicator.
We’ve been taught lies.
If you’re feeling really uncomfortable as you read this, that’s ok.
Maybe reading this makes you mad, or feels like a personal attack, or you think I’m lying. We’ve all been deeply and effectively indoctrinated to believe that fat is bad and unhealthy, and thin is good and healthy.
If you’re interested in educating yourself further about this topic, I suggest reading
Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight–and What We Can Do about It, by Harriet Brown,
or Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight, by Linda Bacon
Then ask yourself what these facts mean for you and your life.
If weight loss isn’t important for health, and diets make it harder to lose weight anyway, what does that mean for the way you spend your time, attention, and energy?
What would be different in your life if the weight that you weigh right now was literally, truly, actually fine? What would you do if you knew deep down in your bones that attempting to reduce your weight was going to make you less healthy overall, while accepting your weight wherever it naturally wants to fall would make you more healthy?
Healthy habits are naturally a lot easier when you stop trying to lose weight. Exercise stops being punishment or a chore when you stop needing to “do it the right way” and can just do it however feels good. Eating becomes a lot more nourishing and enjoyable when you’re not tracking or stressing about the “right” way to eat, too.
Think about it: is it really “healthier” to hate yourself, feel afraid of messing up your diet, and eat a salad… than to love yourself, and eat a burger and fries without fear?
All of this is up to you of course– but I believe you deserve so much better than spending your whole life stressed and obsessed in the pursuit of weight loss.
You have way more important shit to do with your time and your attention than diet.
If you want more support (and tools) on your journey to body-acceptance and bucking the diet culture, I will be launching my 12 week online group coaching program Authentic Body Confidence in just a few weeks. (Squee!!!)
If you want to get on the pre-registration list, sign up here and I’ll send you all the details when they’re ready!!
Wishing you a beautiful Tuesday,
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