You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. Back in my dieting days before I did my research I believed it. The secret to lasting weight loss, they say, is that you can’t go on a diet, you have to make a lifestyle change.
This is total, complete, utter bullshit. It’s a lifestyle change alright – you change to a lifestyle where you’re dieting all the time, and it still doesn’t work. One of the big issues that the weight loss industry has created is a world where any weight loss claim said with authority that sounds even remotely plausible is accepted and repeated as proven fact. Even in the world of peer-reviewed research, incredible liberties are given to weight loss research when it comes to not having to support their assumptions with evidence.
I was on a panel at a very prestigious school for their Eating Disorder Awareness Week. At one point the school’s dietitian who was on the panel said that the reason people don’t maintain weight loss is that they lose the weight too fast, that you you should lose 1/2 pound a week and then you would keep the weight off. I wasn’t surprised to hear it, there have been versions of this going around since I was a kid.
I knew that the students at the school were super smart and data driven so I said “I must have missed those studies, , who conducted the research.” She stammered for a moment, then said “Oh, there isn’t any research.” Had I not been there those students would have heard only from a professional dietitian employed by their school authoritatively telling them that they could achieve lasting weight loss by losing 1/2 pound a week as if she was stating a fact, despite having not a shred of evidence to back up her claim.
I think that one of the hardest things we have to come to grips with as we get off the diet roller coaster and start a non-diet path is the sheer number of times we’ve been lied to, and the extraordinary breadth and depth of people who have done the lying. Some because they believe the lies, some because they want to believe the lies (despite that fact that they’ve been weight cycling for years), some because they want clicks on their site and they know that anti-fat articles are always good for that, and many, many of them for profit.
I hear about far too many people who, on their death bed, regret having spent their entire life dieting. In order to break free of the diet and weight loss paradigm that holds us down we have to see it for what it is – a lie, created on lies, supported by lies, and perpetuated by those who lie for profit. It’s a Galileo issue – the idea that anyone who tries hard enough to lose weight can do it is widely believed, supported fervently with religious zeal, and not at all supported by the evidence.
My life got better immensely and immediately when I stopped buying the lies that I could manipulate my body size, and that doing so was a worthy pursuit in the first place. When it comes to diet culture, that’s the only lifestyle change that I’m interested in.
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