I got asked this question by one of my wonderful clients and my response to her was a little bit of an essay and so I thought I’d turn the answer into an episode!
Diets don’t work long-term
Let’s say you came to me with a “problem” and the “problem” in this scenario is that you think you are “too fat” and so you want to lose weight.
If I said to you, I have a “solution” to your “problem”!!! But FYI, It has a 95% failure rate, a 37% chance that your condition will get worse over time AND a 35% chance of developing a mental disorder along the way… would you take my “solution”…?
The “solution” that I’m talking about of course is DIETING.
And 95% of diets don’t work long term – long term being more than 3-5 years of the weight “being kept off”.
There is a 37% chance of gaining more weight over time if you diet AND a 35% chance of developing disordered eating throughout the process!
I’m sure you have lost weight in the past, but here you are again unhappy with your body size… it was the same for me and all my clients.
Weight loss via dieting is a temporary solution at best – that is IF you don’t get disordered eating from said diets… which is actually what happens to 35% of people that diet.
So those that you see that have lost weight and kept it off, go visit them in a couple of years and see if they have still “kept the weight off.”
So without further ado, in my professional and personal opinion, THIS is how people lose weight and keep it off…
They have to constantly restrict
Those very few (5%) that DO successfully lose weight and keep it off LONG TERM (+5 years) are having to actively restrict every day in order to maintain their weight loss. Which if you ask me, is disordered eating… because eating should be easy!
***Little side rant:
We were not born feeling the desperate need to manipulate our bodies and control our food all the time, we have only learnt how to do that. Yet it can be SO ingrained in us that we honestly believe with every cell of our being that we just have to control what we eat otherwise we’ll be super unhealthy, unattractive and die alone! That is NOT true.
Alongside the constant restriction, at least 35% of them will be binge eating and actually very unhappy with their relationship with food and their body. We just don’t see that on the outside.
Like myself for example, when I was super lean, I was ALWAYS having to restrict myself, saying no to all of the food I would have loved to eat. Spending SO much time on MFP counting my calories and macros. Ignoring my hunger every day. Over-exercising when all I wanted to do was REST. ETC>>> SHIT way to live.
Eating should be easy.
Eating should not be restrictive. Eating should be based on what feels good to you and your mind, body and soul in each and every moment. Your body knows best. That’s the whole point in hunger and fullness and cravings etc. Your body signals to you the information…
Those that don’t end up binge eating, will most likely end up yo-yo dieting.
That is where they will stop restricting for a period of time, they will put weight on (regardless of whether or not they are binge or emotional eating) – because our biology drives us to eat more and store fat after any period of restriction – and then when they’re unhappy with their body again, they will start another diet…
They naturally have a lower set point weight range than you
Another reason why those that have lost weight and kept it off could be due to the fact that they naturally have a lower set point weight due to their genetics.
So if they lost weight for whatever reason – FYI, It would make more sense to take a look at why they may have gained weight in the first place as that could be anything from nursing an injury, emotional eating during a difficult period, the side effects of their medication etc – their body would want to stay at that smaller size.
This is because their natural set point weight is at that smaller size. It would have been highly likely that they would have been the size they are now – after the weight loss – for significantly longer than the period of time there were at a higher weight.
We never really know anything about anyone’s health or weight from stories from the outside, so let’s stop comparing ourselves to others, ok?
For a deep dive into “how to find your set point weight” check my last article about it here.
My fiance’s family, for example, are (in my opinion) all tiny and naturally small-boned. They eat what they want when they want. Being slim is just naturally how they are. Eating is easy for them because…
They have never dieted before and have just eaten “normally” since birth. This means that their body isn’t fighting for weight regain to overcompensate for the past or impending lack of food. They just stay easily within their natural set point weight range.
They weren’t brought up in an environment that values thinness. Yes.. believe it or not, there are some cultures and families that arent all brainwashed by the beauty and diet industry!
It was actually a hugely pleasant surprise to me when I first moved here to The Netherlands to see that none of his family even spoke about their bodies or diets!!!
Their Environment and Lifestyle is differnet to yours
Lastly, our environment and our chosen lifestyle can have an effect on our body size. Even though this can be the case, our genetics play the biggest part in what size our bodies are – which is our set point weight range.
If we all ate and exercised exactly the same, we’d still have different bodies.
Let’s talk about the environment first. If someone LOVES chocolate but they are living in the Jungle in Bali then it’s obviously not available for them to eat it.
Let’s go with a more realistic option…
If someone can’t afford to buy the food they really want, as their money has to go on bills first, then the foods they really want to eat are not available to them.
Instead of bitching about your environment, try being grateful for it! If you work in a chocolate factory for example, and you say that you can’t stop yourself from binging on the chocolate, first be grateful for the fact you’ve got a job and you are allowed to eat the chocolate(!) then try giving yourself 100% permission to eat as much as you like whenever you like. You may eat a sh*t ton, to begin with, but I promise you, if you keep physically and MENTALLY allowing it, you’ll be like “meh”, I’m not really that bothered about it anymore…
The fact that you’re so scared of any potential (not definite) weight gain is what will trip you up! That’s why you need to work with me ;)!
My lifestyle is very active. I have a big fur child – and Alaskan Malamute called Hero!
And so I walk 3 times a day, in total that’s around 2.5 hours. I LOVE to train and lift weights 3 times a week. I LOVE to do a HIIT workout once a week and I LOVE to run twice a week. That’s a lot of body movement that I actually want to do and would still do if it didn’t make any difference to my body whatsoever.
I also LOVE to nourish myself with nourishing meals3 times a day and I also LOVE to eat chocolate every day in amounts that others would deem “inappropriate”… good job I don’t care about what others say…!
That’s MY lifestyle that I LOVE. Again, let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. If at the moment you hate exercising and eating vegetables because it feels like punishment, that’s precisely why you need to do this work.
I’m not saying that when you learn how to live in food and body freedom you will only want to eat vegetables and exercise a lot, what I’m saying is;
When you’ve healed your relationship with food and your body, you will most likely be doing “diet behaviours” that won’t feel “diet-y” AT ALL, because you’ll be doing them out of a place of self-love because you WANT to! But the only way to get there, to the other side, is through my love!
You can create a healthy lifestyle for yourself that you LOVE and your body will still be whatever size she wants to be…! 😉