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?
By now, you have heard that Mattel has tried to diversify its long-time bestselling doll, Barbie, in response to criticism her impossible proportions negatively affect young girls’ body images.
If you read my blog at all, you know I have linked the plastic doll to the super thin plastic “ideal” body seen in every Hollywood film, on the fashion runways, and in advertising.
Almost sixty years ago, Barbie was modeled literally from the original dollmaker’s 12-year-old son’s body – wide shoulders, narrow hips, otherworldly long legs and neck – and then a pair of large fake breasts were appended.
Mattel didn’t cave in and change Barbie because of the collateral damage to females. Instead, they changed the 57-year-old doll due to lowered sales in a world where women have effectively (finally!) rejected the anorexic ideal in favor of reflecting realistic shapes and sizes of females.
It can’t be argued many women have measured themselves against this superthin image, with disastrous results like food addiction, anorexia, disordered eating, bulimia. A recent study published in Psychology Today showed 91% of women were dissatisfied with their bodies, with almost 80% saying they were too heavy, when only about 60% of all women are overweight.
The focus on thin in media has been changing. Who cares if Angelina Jolie can subsist on 600 calories a day? No one is watching her movies, because they are seriously awful, which is why she has to do such outrageous things to get publicity these days.
The public is much more engaged with Amy Schumer, who is seriously funny, and hasn’t abandoned her body to Hollywood’s makeover artists. And with Kim Kardashian’s curvy derriere. And they are fascinated with the sexy new Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Ashley Graham. (Photo by James Macari/from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on sale now.)
Much as been written about Oprah Winfrey buying Weight Watchers‘ stock for $40 million dollars and, in just a few days, tripling that investment, when stocks rose.
On the surface, like most media blitzes, the numbers look impressive.
And comics and cartoonists had fun with the idea that Oprah would make MORE money to add to her billions:
But beyond the media blitz and the jokes, there is something much more insidious and disappointing about this shoddy deal.
Non-Diet Weight Loss Tip #13
Quite often, clients tell me their bodies have gone beserk and are putting on fat at an alarming rate.
Well, yes and no. The body is NOT a fat-making machine.
When assaulted by poor eating habits, excessive dieting, fasts and cleanses, or any other fad… it seeks to regain balance.
As I celebrate my 15th anniversary of sustaining a 92-pound weight loss, I feel unimaginable sweetness in my life.
My journey to my own sweet spot began as a tiny girl when my grandmother and I would sneak candy as a secret.
I couldn’t admit to my mother I had developed a taste for candy, cookies, cake, pie, brownies – the list was endless – because my grandmother was diabetic and was not supposed to be eating sugary things!
Not only did I get the message that sweet things weren’t good for you, it had to be hidden. It was shameful!
As I developed a serious sugar addiction, I felt an outright fear around sweet foods – I craved them and I loathed them – quite a double message – and I hated myself for loving sweet things so much.
This Thanksgiving week, I feel especially grateful for my health and happiness.
Often, when I’m giving a speech or presenting a workshop, I make this statement:
“Today, I’m grateful I struggled with excess weight for thirty years.”
It seems I always have at least half an audience who become incredulous at that statement, but, now that I’m on the other side of struggle, it’s quite easy to see the life lessons I learned on my way to success:
You are actively pursuing weight loss. You feel great about your efforts, which have led to noticeable results. But, on the way to meet a friend for lunch, you begin to get a niggling feeling in your belly. Something’s bothering you, but you don’t know what. As soon as your friend settles in the car, the first words out of her mouth remind you why you were apprehensive.
“Please don’t tell me you want to go somewhere boring and diet-y again. Olive Vine has all-you-can-eat pasta bowl at lunch!”
This is a common situation for people making change. It can cause your mind to go into overdrive.
1. begin to make excuses for her
2. remind yourself she’s your best friend
3. pretend you didn’t notice the negativity and judgment dripping in her voice
4. go along to “Olive Vine” and valiently fight to order something that doesn’t lead directly to a nap
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