Deepak Chopra Wants Us To Meditate Our Fat Away


Now in addition to shilling for Weight Watchers, Oprah is shilling for Deepak Chopra’s new weight loss gimmick, a 21-day meditation challenge called “Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit.”

Chopra told ABC News

Meditation is a way of progressively quieting the mind. We are also introducing the idea of shedding emotional baggage, which frequently is the cause of weight gain.”

Let’s try that last part again:  “…which frequently is the cause of weight gain,” he said with absolutely no evidence to back it up, but he seemed pretty sure of himself so we’ll go with that. Also, there is no reason to believe that even if people are able to shed emotional baggage, their bodies will then become smaller.

“Meditation decreases the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. When you have stress, then you accumulate belly fat.”

This is a gross oversimplification of the research the explores connections between stress, cortisol, and body size and, again, there’s no conclusive research that meditation will lead to long-term weight loss.  And if we’re going to have this conversation then I would like to talk about the health issues that are correlated with raised cortisol (most of the same health issues that are correlated with larger bodies are also correlated with prolonged stress, possibly due to this cortisol connection.) Then we can talk about how the stress of being constantly stigmatized is a health risk, so maybe people who stigmatize fat people and wage “wars on obesity” are the ones who need to meditate on how to knock that shit off.

I’m sure Deepak Chopra has helped a lot of people with a lot of things.  I actually met him once years ago at an event I helped coordinate and he was a low-maintenance joy to work with (especially compared with the local people who weren’t nearly as famous but were twenty times more demanding.) I’m sure he’s well-intentioned.  I doubt that his program will have any greater success than any other weight loss method (which is to say, virtually none.) But on the plus side, at least it’s way less likely to kill you than some other weight loss methods.

But this has got to stop.  There isn’t a single study that exists where more than a tiny fraction of people are able to lose weight long term.  People believe that everyone who tries hard enough can lose weight because we are being constantly lied to by people and companies who profit from those lies. And consequently, people spend their entire lives focusing a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money chasing something that is never, ever going to happen (especially since the more we try the less likely we are to succeed.) Further, this focus on weight loss is often to the detriment of people’s health, and is completely unnecessary, especially given the many options that exist to focus on health and living the lives we want outside of weight loss. Enough already!

I find a mantra helps, so that every time I see someone claim that they know how to help people lose weight I think “Hey, that’s bullshit!”  It helps me keep things in perspective. Feel free to modify to suit you.

The Body Love Obstacle Course

This is something I’m super excited about.  Jeanette DePatie and I (along with some amazing people who we will announce soon!) have been working on a new program called The Body Love Obstacle Course (BLOC.)  It’s about how every aspect of our lives is affected by the way we feel about our bodies, and how we can use that fact to create the careers, relationships, and lives we want, and handle the obstacles that the world puts in our way. As a preview we’ve released a free video that includes some information about the BLOC as well as an exercise to help you get more body love right now! You can check it out here!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

29 thoughts on “Deepak Chopra Wants Us To Meditate Our Fat Away

  1. I hate when I see this happen with people who aren’t actually full of shit and sort of know what they’re talking about. Then they realize their program has the potential to cause weight loss (as circumstantial or occasional as it may be) and they see dollar signs and suddenly it’s all about that. It’s just so easy to market everything for weight loss.

  2. This really troubles me. I’ve been using Reiki (energy healing) and meditation to heal my body image issues and learn self-acceptance. I really thought that’s what meditation was all about – acceptance, being grateful for who you are and what your body has to offer you – becoming in tune with yourself and releasing the negatives thoughts and feelings. Reiki has really helped me in this regard. I hope people don’t miss the boat here.

    1. Personally, today I feel more like dancing and singing a little song. Maybe one that starts with
      I say BU


      1. I’ve sang that one a few times myself. Probably showing my age that I remember hearing the original, correct version on the old Beanie and Cecil cartoon…

  3. I call bullshit on Dr. Chopra. The time in my life when I was the most stressed and depressed was the time in my life when I was thin, when I actually fit society’s mold.

    1. You know, Laura, I was actually more depressed and felt less sexy when I was slimmer (which would occur after an illness or after a dieting attempt or after I’d fallen for some nasty, unattainable man). I actually felt healthier and happier (and yes, sexier) at my higher weights. But when I tried to explain this to two doctors, they pooh-poohed it and told me that it was not possible. (Big help, telling me that my experiences were not valid…)

      1. I’m surprised docs didn’t tell us that a little stress is good for us since it made us thin(ner). Can’t have women going around all fat and happy. It’s bad for business!

      2. I felt at my sexiest when I was belly dancing.

        I said, “Hey! It’s BELLY dancing, and I totally have a belly! I’m gonna rock it!”

        Seeing myself in the mirror, with that belly swinging around, and the hips swaying, and swaying even further, as the fat caught up, and the thighs joining in, and the flappy arms and all of it was just so luxurious!

        Our teacher kept telling us to remember to smile, but when I saw myself in the mirror, I didn’t need to work hard at smiling. I just wanted to.

        I think that was the first time I actually loved my fat.

  4. I happen to believe mediation can be good for you, and personally *personally* it has helped me relieve stress. But isn’t relieving stress pretty awesome in itself? Like, we could just drop that last bit about losing weight (harhar I is witty) and it would be legit?

    1. Exactly. It’s good in and of itself, and doesn’t need to be justified by claims that it does anything more.

      Just like a fun, fluffy movie is good enough, in itself, as a means of enjoyment for an hour or two. I find that watching some basic fluff can leave me coming out of the theater feeling renewed and ready to tackle my problems that just a couple of hours before felt overwhelming. But so many people think that film has to be all meaningful, all the time, or it’s worthless. Well, that’s hooey!

      Meditation CAN be deep and meaningful, or it can be just a good way to relax and renew, or anywhere in between, and it’s just plain good, no matter where it lands on the spectrum. No need to add more to it.

  5. This is another one of those, “Credit thin peoples’ thinness to some random-ass activity you see one doing, suggest fat people do that thing too, and then when asked how you know fatties aren’t *already* doing that thing, wave it away with, ‘because if they did it would have made them thin, duh.'”

    How does Dr. Chopra know the fat people he’s suggesting meditate aren’t already meditating?

    Because they’re not thin!

    This isn’t evidence. It’s a punchline to a fat joke.

  6. I’m glad he was pleasant to work with, but Deepak Chopra has been slinging bullshit (and making a tidy profit doing so) for years. This is just the latest in a long line of medically questionable, New Age-y woo scams.

  7. So frustrating – this, I think, is the beginnings of diet talk disguised as non-diet talk. It’s like the training seminar I just went to which was essentially “Mindful Eating for Weight Management” (tho officially it had a different title. Again, they had zero long-term evidence to show that mindful eating led to significant long-term weight loss. The facilitator seemed to know this and didn’t spend much time on talking about weight loss – just a lot of time talking about what “caused” obesity (as though she actually had a real answer to this) and the “dangers” of it – same ol’ dreck.

  8. Oh, dear, this is depressing. I meditate regularly and it’s absolutely life changing. I think it’s one of the “healthiest” habits I’ve got and really enhances my well being. But I haven’t lost a single pound from doing so and I hate seeing such a beneficial practice marketed that way because all it can do in the end is discourage people from taking it up or encourage people to try it for the wrong reasons. 😦

  9. Meditation is wonderfuI, but not necessarily for losing weight. Maybe as part of a more healthy life plan. I have epic regrets, not for being fat, but because I have focused my entire life on the weight loss dream. I’ve lost 50 or 70 pounds, many times, but never permanently. I could have focused my mind and money on much cooler things. I risked my life with terrible diets and diet pills. While I’m certainly not perfect, I live with better habits than those who still vilify me for being fat. I’m considered “non-compliant,” but for my entire life, I’ve done nothing but comply. We are lied to, nagged, and given false hope. I’m 71 years old, I wasn’t supposed to live this long! Bless us all.

  10. What is with this ongoing belief that all fat people must have emotional issues that make us overeat? I am SO sick of it!

    Some people eat when they are upset, some people don’t.

    And why do we have to control our eating? Does Chopra measure out his food? Or is it only us ’emotionally baggaged’ people that need to control our food?

    Bah, I know I’m ranting but it probably has more to do with my roommate’s new diet. Something about the military, and finishing dinner with a bowl of ice cream. I have no idea. I don’t care what she eats, as long as I don’t have to hear about it. I suppose I may need to have a talk with her…

    I also noticed she has several kinds of shampoo which I also don’t understand. She fusses about her appearance much more than I do and I’m finding it weird.

    I should just have my tea and cookies and get some sleep.

    1. Frequently, I go OFF food when I’m upset. Not so much now, but for a good twenty years, I used to starve myself when I was angry.

      I would also scrub floors.

      Now, I comment on websites, or else I play violent hack-and-slash games, and get out the negative energy that way. I think it’s healthier to just whack a few orcs, or say some of the things I have on my mind, and let food just be food and not “the enemy.”

      And yes, I have labeled food as “the enemy,” back when I thought that my weight was stopping me from achieving my dreams (which were not, btw, at all weight- or size-dependent).

      Emotional issues MAY make someone over-eat, or it may lead to starvation, or self-mutilation, or really risky hobbies, like jumping off tall buildings with a bungee cord around your waist, or playing “chicken” on the rail-road tracks. And yet, we hear over and over that fat people MUST be emotional eaters, because why else would they be fat?


      Why can’t we just let emotional issues be a normal part of human life, that we all need to deal with, in one way or another, and stop blaming them for our problems, and just find healthy and safe ways to deal with the emotional issues, and the emotions that rise therefrom? I mean, really, anyone who doesn’t have emotional issues has some real issues, you know? We aren’t meant to be robots.

      I wish people would stop thinking that emotions are so bad and damaging. Emotions are real and healthy and darned useful things! What is bad and damaging is trying to squelch them, deny them, or deal with them in bad and damaging ways.

      Good luck dealing with your roommate and her diet talk.

    2. Me too. When I get sad, I don’t eat. Plus the stresses of being with family make me physically ill, so I don’t want a surprise barf.

  11. also a “21 day meditation challenge”? Meditation is not a quick fix, a thing you do for 21 days and get results. It takes practice and discipline, strength and a great deal of patience.

  12. This just makes me think of that “Serenity NOW!” bit, where a fat man is trying to get all zen and meditative, but just winds up screaming that he wants serenity RIGHT NOW!!!

    Yeah, fat guy meditating, and screaming “Weight-loss NOW!” makes as much sense.

  13. Deepak Chopra! Noooooo Not you too! Our shitty, thin obsessed, diet culture isn’t going to be happy until every single person I looked up to is on my “Fuck Off” list. Seriously, thanks for being a part of the problem, Deepak Chopra, and being just one more cog in the massive machine that makes my life and the life of every other fat person that much harder.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.