FIVE MYTHS OF WEIGHT LOSS
#1 Short-term weight loss will be permanent
All of the weight loss programs out there on the market that are advertised for six weeks or 12 weeks. Transformation formula, transformation body, all of them are about calorie deprivation, food deprivation and high-intensity exercise. There are just variations of the food that you eat and the types of exercise you do, but the formula is the same for all of them.
The problem with this formula is that yes, it’s very successful for short-term weight loss, but because of what it does to the body, it’s almost guaranteed for around 95% of the population that over course of time that anyway, the weight will come back on*. And for some, that weight regain is very quick, literally within the first few weeks of finishing the diet. For some, the weight may stay off for a little bit longer, but eventually, it’ll always go back on and that’s because of the way it was lost in the first place. The body responds to the starvation of the food restriction and does what it can to reset and get the fat back again.
*Department of Health and Ageing, National Health and Medical Research Council, Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia, Melbourne 2013, P161
#2 Everybody can be skinny
Social media and everywhere else will have us believe that there is this ideal body type and that it is achievable for everybody. It’s simply not. Not all bodies are supposed to be slim. Some bodies are supposed to be bigger than others because genetically we’re all different. Lifestyles factors were somebody can be living to all those lifestyle factors. Their genetics will mean that it’s, their body shape is different. Not everybody can be slim and skinny. After having a baby, a woman’s body changes. Sometimes we have more belly fat than we did before. That’s just part of the postnatal process. There are lots of reasons why not everybody can be skinny.
#3 Skinny is healthy
Do you need to lose weight to be healthy? The majority of people know it’s actually the behaviours that they need to change when it comes to health. And we, we know that skinny doesn’t mean healthy. Skinny can mean somebody has an eating disorder. Skinny can mean that they actually have high cholesterol. Skinny can mean all sorts of different things and it doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. Also, a larger body doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy. A person’s behaviours may mean that they need to do something to change their health. But the stock standard “lose weight” response to any health condition is misguided. A major study of over 11,000 people found that it was health behaviours, not weight, that determined longevity.
#4 Weight loss is only about diet and exercise
Unfortunately, the health and fitness world, and the diet world, will have all of us believe that it’s just about what you eat and how much you move. You may have heard of things like the 80/20 rule, which often refers to 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. However, what that fails to recognize is what we know about movement, sleep, community. Sleep is well researched, we know our bodies need sleep if we don’t get the right amount of sleep for our body our system does not function properly. We also know a lack of quality sleep over the long term is a health risk factor. For mums of young children, sleep is inherently difficult.
We know that our body doesn’t work properly without regular, quality sleep. Our digestive system doesn’t work properly, our stress management system doesn’t work properly, everything. Our cortisol hormone levels increase, which also has a role in helping fat to store in our body. Our ability to absorb nutrients just doesn’t work properly. You could have the best nutritional diet on the planet and be moving a lot. But if you’re not sleeping well, for whatever reason, then your body’s not going to work at its optimal level.
The impact of stress is well researched, we know the effects of too much stress on the body. We know that it’s high-risk factor for heart attacks. We know our immune system a doesn’t work as well when we’re stressed. Same goes for all the other systems in our bodies. So again, you could be eating a great diet nutritionally and that will help manage your stress, but if you’re not doing other things to help manage the stress on your body, then that’s another component.
#5 One approach fits all
We simply know that this is just not true. Again, all the diet plans that are out there that are sold for weight loss, they all have one size fits all approach. Do intermittent fasting. Do Paleo. Do keto. Do Low Carb High Fat. Do meal replacement shakes. The list goes on. There is always the next shiny new diet that we go after as the next best thing. The truth is, we know while some of these things work for some people, they don’t all work for everyone and in fact, many of these diets can make people sick. The professionals who know about nutrition are all saying the same thing about this, nutrition needs to be suited to the individual. Yes, there’s a general guideline around eating enough fruit and vegetable and getting all your nutrients and food groups, but then after that, it’s all dependent on the individual.
Some people need to be on a high carbohydrate diet. Some people need to be on a low carbohydrate diet. Some people are wheat intolerant, some people are dairy intolerant. It’s the same with the exercise. High-intensity interval training works for some people, but for a lot of people it’s just horrible and they don’t want to do it so it’s not going to work for them. There is not a one size fits all approach.
All the transformation programs out there, I’ve not seen one yet that’s gets marketed, that actually caters for an individualized approach. All of them will have you doing the same thing in a group for a six or 12 week period of time and it simply does not work long term for the majority of people. Yes, it’ll have some short-term success and maybe a very small amount of people that will work for long-term, but all the rest, it’s just not going to work. Why don’t they work long term? Because the program isn’t sustainable. There is zero point to doing a program for a short period of time expecting long-term results. In fact, most people will hate it while they’re doing it. Why do something that you don’t enjoy?! It’s no wonder that the majority of people stop!
What does work?
You might be wondering by now, well if none of that works, what does? Here is the answer:
- Work on understanding what you really want in life. If you think it’s weight loss, what is it about the weight loss you are really wanting? It’s never about the weight loss, but what you think the weight loss will give you.
- Heal your relationship with food. Stop the restriction.
- Focus on nourishing your body, not punishing it. Learn how to nourish your body and how to make those changes in your life, not what someone else tells you.
- Think joyful movement, not movement for punishment or just weight loss. Focus on moving regularly and find what you enjoy.
- Learn to cherish your own body for the amazing things it can do. Let go of the false belief that your worth is tied up in your body size.
- Focus on sustainable change over time, not a short-term program that you detest doing.
Sonia Hennessy is a personal trainer and wellness coach and operates the Bella Femme Studio in Gisborne, Victoria, Australia. The Bella Femme Studio is a personal training and wellness coaching service specialised in helping busy mums to build confidence, get back control of their body, increase energy and find joy in their lives. Sonia is also a pre and postnatal, and pre and post menopause fitness specialist.
To find out more about the Bella Femme Studio and the services offered click here.