If your morale hit the floor when you read the New York Times’ article about the massive Biggest Loser weight regain experienced by participants, you are not alone.
My phone has been ringing with some mighty disheartened folks, asking for my opinion.
First of all, the regain is real. I won’t tell you it’s not. Over the past 15 years, I’ve coached many clients who lost weight in an all-out, highly restrictive, biggest loser fashion – weight loss surgery, fad diets, fasting, liquid protein diets – and ALL of them regained ALL the weight.
The problem with highly restrictive diets is we must leave the body out of the weight loss effort, literally wreaking violence internally.
This wave of reaction I’m feeling about the Biggest Loser article reminds me of one of my most vivid memories, which occurred right before I decided to lose weight permanently.
I was in the medical school library, and I had just found several studies showing how weight is regained rapidly after highly restrictive diets. I admit to being just as stunned as many of you are right now. The numbers I found on the National Weight Control Registry (which follows real life losers) were:
Thanks for all your emails and FB messages, but nothing in the new article in The New York Times, “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight” is news to me.
The article details research showing how the Biggest Loser participants (and anyone rapidly losing weight) regains at an astonishing rate, destroys their metabolism, experiences great shame, and crushes their esteem.
Not only did I discover those truths in my own diet-and-regain merry-go-round of a life, I turned that vital information to my advantage in losing 92 lbs and sustaining the weight loss long-term. (74 lbs sustained since 2000 + another 18 lbs sustained since 2011).
Before that, shame was my middle name as I spent over 20 years losing and regaining.
What burns my butt is the disingenuous nature of the doctors and researchers in this article. You can’t tell me they didn’t understand these concepts, which I was able to learn as a layman in the medical school library. If it is news to them, we need to take a serious look at medical school training today.
Of course, I admit I had to explain it to my brother-in-law, a doctor, who claimed to have heard nothing of it in medical school.
Fat people, he claimed, were weak willed. Oh, brother(in-law)!
Why should I, simply a fairly intelligent woman who conquered a food addiction, be telling the supposed professionals about permanent weight loss?
We often have a picture in our heads of what successful weight loss looks like.
It might go like this:
New Diet + Short Period of Time = Skinny Me
We convince ourselves this is how it works and, when it doesn’t work, we blame ourselves. Or the diet. But usually ourselves – as if any diet EVER worked!
With a 99% fail rate and a 108% regain rate, diets are so not the way to go.
Once we realize this, some really big opportunities open up! As one of my clients recently said, “There really are 50 ways to leave your lover!”
It’s the start of another year. That means lots of new faces at the gym!
Why this is good: It’s boring to see the same people all the time. It’s great to have new energy infusing the place.
Why this is bad: Sometimes, those new faces behave badly!
Case in point: I was working out on New Year’s when I approached a pull-down cable machine. Yes, you can do numerous exercises on this piece of equipment. But not if other people are waiting!
Dude #1, using the equipment, must have noticed the seven exercises pictured on the front of the machine and decided to do them all, one after the other.
RULE #1 – No one has exclusive rights to any piece of equipment. Think “COOPERATION”!
So, after a couple of sets, it was obvious I was standing nearby, in the middle of the room because I was WAITING! He glanced at me and ignored me.
So, as he puffed through a set of (very poor form) overhead tricep extensions, I said: “Excuse me, I’m waiting to use that too. Is it OK if I work in?” Continue reading »
Continue reading »
The weight loss industry loves to make us feel bad about ourselves.
Born with a wide-hipped bone structure? Bad girl!
Did you diet so much in your teens that, even though you feel healthy and can maintain your weight easily, you still weigh 30 lbs more than those “magic” weight charts in the doctor’s office? Terrible you!
Despite constant dieting, is your waist roughly the same size as your hips so the latest fashion hip-rider jeans just don’t work for you? Shame on you!
I know I never would have lost over 70 lbs., or maintained that weight loss for over 10 years, if I stayed hooked into the diet biz OR bad feelings about myself. It took me a long time to disengage from commercials and advertising that shows EVERYONE with long legs, taut arms, tiny waist, and big boobs. In real life, every body is unique and very few meet the advertising world’s criteria for beauty.
Instead of feeling bad about ourselves, we should feel bad for them. What a boring, pathetic, lying world they depict!
Take note of this new commercial for Jenny Craig where the absolutely beautiful actress Sara Rue talks about not being able to leave the house (oh, the shame!!) when overweight:
The reason this lovely woman is in for a rude awakening (and I hate to see that) is the route she’s taken in order to lose that weight and fit into those “skinny” jeans. My research taught me that dieting is the key to regain. The body is programmed to regain after sudden loss. (If you don’t understand this, see this audio class.)
The very first Principal in the Catalyst Weight Loss System is “Don’t do anything to lose weight that you can’t do forever” because otherwise you are just setting yourself up for regain.
Do you want it now or do you want it forever?
The approach is different.
Here’s what I also learned losing all that weight. Women (some men, but especially women) buy the skinny=happy equation and waste precious TIME, ENERGY and PASSION worrying about it, pursuing it, failing at it, running their lives by it (staying home!) and making u-turns in life.
WE ARE GIVING AWAY OUR POWER BY BUYING INTO THIS MYTH!
Just think what we could do collectively if we harnessed all that energy and passion and used it to care (really care) for ourselves!
Thanks for all the comments to the “Sick & Tired of ‘Food Decisions?’” post! Emails and tweets abounded. It was great to hear from you!
The quest for permanent weight loss MUST eventually become non-diet weight loss. Our willpower sooner or later deserts us. In fact, willpower was not equipped for long-range quests. In other words, diets have to morph into intelligent, sustainable lifestyles in order for the change to last. Diet mentality, on the other hand, has us yo-yo-ing our weight and repeatedly coming back for more dieting.
Many of the themes I heard from reader responses were from diet mentality and clearly centered on controlling food or controlling behavior with food, rather than focused on real needs. Let’s have a look: Continue reading »
Continue reading »
I just had my heart ripped out by a new client. Janet* came to me because she is tired of losing and gaining weight. Her latest experience was with a diet doctor who was fixated on dietary fat. He gave her a very low fat diet and, feeling desperate, she began to eradicate fat from her diet. Janet is an all-or-nothing kind of gal. She made every attempt to be “perfect” on the diet. When her weight loss slowed, she’d cut fat further. Most reasonable, healthy diets suggest approximately 30% of our daily food intake should be fat. Janet wound up making 10% of her weekly diet fat.
She lost weight. She was elated. She lost 80 lbs in 6 months. When I heard her say this, I held my breath. I knew what was coming. Continue reading »
Continue reading »
Last week, I posted a notice about this story to twitter and facebook. V Magazine had had the audacity to use plus sized models (size 12, not very plus to the average size 14 American woman) in a sexy fashion story! Whoa! Stop the presses! What are they doing?
Well, most people responded favorably. Not surprisingly, women were thrilled.
Today, I was at the gym and, when I looked up from the treadmill, one of the entertainment shows featured a string of commentators who had negative reactions to the magazine layout.
Why? Continue reading »
Continue reading »
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