I love the graphic above, and the accompanying article posted below:
It’s a Lifestyle Change Alright
by Ragen Chastain, danceswithfat
Harriet Brown wrote a fabulous piece for Slate called “The Weight of the Evidence: It’s time to stop telling fat people to be thin.” It is making the rounds on social media again, and I shared it on my Facebook wall. Immediately (and completely predictably) someone jumped in and attempted to win Diet Bingo all in one comment: She kept going back to the idea that weight loss doesn’t work if you go on a diet – it only works if you make a lifestyle change.
This is a line created by the diet industry to blame their clients when almost every single one of them fail at weight loss. It doesn’t matter whether you call it a diet, a lifestyle change, or a flummadiddle, the evidence still says that by far and away the most likely outcome is weight regain, with a net gain coming in a close second and long term weight loss a very, very distant third.
The diet industry manages to grow every year (now making over $60 Billion a year) despite the fact that their product is so terrible and ineffective that they are required to have a disclaimer that it doesn’t work every time they advertise it.
I think that one of the main reasons for this is that they know that most people will lose weight short term and gain it back long term. They’ve managed to take credit for the first part of this process, and blame their clients for the second part. Even though it happens to nearly every client they still manage to say, with a straight face, that it’s just that nobody does it right. Dude.
Even those outlying anomalies who do manage
to achieve sustained weight loss often do it by making
maintaining weight loss into a full time job.
From Harriet’s piece:
Debra Sapp-Yarwood, a fiftysomething from Kansas City, Missouri, who’s studying to be a hospital chaplain, is one of the three percenters, the select few who have lost a chunk of weight and kept it off. She dropped 55 pounds 11 years ago, and maintains her new weight with a diet and exercise routine most people would find unsustainable:
She eats 1,800 calories a day—no more than 200 in carbs—and has learned to put up with what she describes as “intrusive thoughts and food preoccupations.” She used to run for an hour a day, but after foot surgery she switched to her current routine: a 50-minute exercise video performed at twice the speed of the instructor, while wearing ankle weights and a weighted vest that add between 25 or 30 pounds to her small frame.
“Maintaining weight loss is not a lifestyle,” she says. “It’s a job.”
It’s a job that requires not just time, self-discipline, and energy—it also takes up a lot of mental real estate. People who maintain weight loss over the long term typically make it their top priority in life. Which is not always possible. Or desirable.
And it’s important to note that people dedicate this kind of time and energy to maintaining weight loss AND still regain the weight. So when people say “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change” what I hear is “It’s a lifestyle where you diet all the time” and it still probably won’t result in a thinner or healthier body.
Harriet Brown is the author of Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight—and What We Can Do About It (2015) Body of Truth is an inspired and inspiring, well-researched book about our cultural obsession with weight, our fetishization of thinness, and our demonization of fat. It is a compelling read which will make us think more deeply about the attitudes we have about our bodies and our health. Here's a link to DietHobby's Book Review.
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