Contributed by Kelsey Weibe, Founder of Rediscover You™
If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “I would have the body I want if I just had the discipline to stick to my diet.”
You’re not alone.
There is a reason the weight loss industry in the USA alone has a net worth of over $72 billion dollars. However, if any of these weight loss products or fad diets actually worked longterm, everyone would be skinny, and companies would be out of business.
Rather than recognizing we are operating within a broken system, we instead tell ourselves it’s our fault. We’re the ones who are broken. We’re the ones who failed.
And it’s no wonder, considering we live in a culture inundated with messages that our worth is based on the size of our waistline. We are shamed for having imperfect bodies and praised for having fast and extreme weight loss with TV shows like ‘The Biggest Loser.’
The truth of the matter is that extreme and restrictive diets don’t work long-term. In fact, your chances of succeeding and maintaining weight loss after dieting are the same as your chances of surviving metastatic lung cancer, only 5%. That’s right, 95% of those who go on a diet fail. What’s worse is that restrictive diets are a major factor in long-term weight gain and a leading cause in the development of disordered eating.
A 2016 study by the National Institute of Health followed 14 contestants from ‘The Biggest Loser’ and found that 6-years after the show ended, all but one contestant regained the weight, and all of the contestants had a slower metabolism at approximately 700 calories per day.
This is because our bodies have evolved over millions of years to resist starvation. When we restrict our calories, our bodies undergo a slew of mechanisms to conserve precious resources and sustain life. These include decreased metabolism to conserve energy, and increased ghrelin (hunger hormone) and decreased leptin (satiety hormone), which means we not only feel hungrier, but we also are unable to feel satisfied. These factors, combined with the increased cortisol (stress hormone), make it extremely likely that we will binge or overeat, particularly on highly palatable foods such as sugar because they will be the quickest source of energy.
So what are we supposed to do?
The antidote to dieting is rooted in our habits and taking a slower, long-term approach to our overall health and body composition goals.
If we can instead shift our focus to adding one healthy habit at a time, such as drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, or going for a walk after meals, the more likely we are to sustain the habit change long-term.
It is our habits that shape our identity.
As James Clear wrote in his book Atomic Habits, “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
So, the greater question isn’t whether or not you need to lose weight, but rather:
What type of person do you need to become on the path to better health?
Kelsey is an Online Health Coach and Personal Trainer and she helps YOU stop feeling out of control with food and rediscover a body you love!