In our introductory posts, we’ve told you a little bit about ourselves and why we created this business. We noted how tired we’ve become of programs that demonize body weight and make extravagant promises around weight loss and health. We’ve seen the damage that these programs can do. There is a common narrative that we hear from our clients. It goes something like this:
I am overweight, and being overweight is unhealthy. Everybody knows that losing weight is easy as long as you work hard enough, and because I’m so unhealthy, I need to lose weight too. And I’m not just talking a few pounds. I need to lose a lot of weight so that I can be healthy and normal. Except it’s not easy at all. If I don’t lose weight, or I don’t lose enough weight, or I don’t lose it fast enough, I get frustrated. And when I get frustrated, I give up. And when I give up, I gain weight back, and often more than I lost to begin with. And then the “next big thing” comes along for weight loss, and I start all over again.
We can’t tell you how many thousands of people we’ve met over the years that all effectively share this story. In order to help explain our mission and philosophy, we need to talk about some of the misconceptions that make up that narrative.
Misconception #1 - Overweight = Unhealthy
Ask anybody about the risks of higher body weight, and they’ll conjure images of diabetes and heart attacks . And while it’s true that having a higher body weight can be associated with poorer health, it’s far from a direct relationship. In fact, we routinely run into people that are perfectly healthy (ie no health problems, no medications etc) despite living at a higher weight. Likewise, there are plenty of thin people out there with diabetes and high blood pressure. So while weight and health can certainly be related, they are not one and the same.
Misconception #2 - Weight Loss is Easy
Anybody can do it - they just need to try hard enough. And if it’s not working for you, then you must not have enough willpower. Sound familiar? Except that sustained weight loss is not easy - in fact, the vast majority of people who lose weight ultimately regain it all (and often more) within 1-2 years. We’ll introduce you to some of the reasons for this in our next post. But the bottom line is this - if it were so easy to lose weight permanently, everybody who tried would have already lost it by now. And you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
Misconception #3 - I need to have a normal BMI
Body Mass Index (BMI) really warrants its own post, and I’m sure we’ll do one in the future, but for today, let’s examine a hypothetical exercise. Say you’re 5’7” and 158 lbs. The BMI charts would consider you “normal”. Now go eat a nice dinner, and then weigh yourself. Poof, you’re “overweight” and therefore, unhealthy. Of course this is silly, and while it may be a simplistic example, it does illustrate the problem with the BMI charts. They lead people to set weight loss goals around being “normal”, and they distract from actual meaningful goals for health and quality of life. And if you’ve ever looked at BMI charts and done the math, maybe you’d found out that you’d need to lose 50 pounds, or 100 pounds, or 200+ pounds to be “normal”. And maybe that number was soul-crushing, especially when you didn’t get there. And perhaps, you gave up when it felt impossible to reach that number, or when you weren’t reaching it quickly enough. But maybe the problem wasn’t you. Maybe the problem was this notion of “normal”, and if we’d set more realistic goals with a focus on health, you wouldn’t have felt so frustrated and given up.
So considering the factors above, we believe that society and medicine put WAY too much stock into the number on the scale, and we oversimplify just how easy it is to lose weight. As noted above, it’s actually incredibly difficult to achieve massive weight loss and keep it off. And there’s a dirty little secret that people conveniently forget to mention when they’re selling you on the next big weight loss secret.
It’s called SET POINT.
It’s complicated, not fully understood, and it’s the reason you don’t have 100% control over your body weight, regardless of what anybody else says.
Stay tuned next week for a detailed breakdown of why sustained weight loss is so complicated.
Adam, Sarah and Stephanie