Diets and fitness advice are like the finger. You focus on the advice too much and you will miss the opportunity to achieve heavenly glory. And that, folks, is how you finally get Bruce Lee into an article and past the editors. But seriously, what the heck am I talking about?
Weight Loss is Not What You Eat and What You Do
There is no end of expert advice on calorie deficits, diets, exercise plans, keep moving motivation, and the like to make you think that weight loss is easy.
Almost all of it is designed to make you feel bad not having lost weight to begin with. You’re eating too much. You’re not eating right. You don’t move enough. You don’t move right. The thing is that none of this stuff really matters because weight loss is, in every sense of the term, a pointless exercise.
Of 51 identified weight loss and maintenance strategies, grouped in 14 domains of the Oxford Food and Activity Behaviors taxonomy, the following were the most frequently reported: having healthy foods available at home, regular breakfast intake, increasing vegetable consumption, decreasing sugary and fatty foods, limiting certain foods, and reducing fat in meals. Increased physical activity was the most consistent positive correlate of weight loss maintenance
– Paixão et al., 2020
You can lose weight by losing a limb. You can lose weight by going to the bathroom after consuming laxatives. You can lose weight if you haven’t done any exercise in twenty years and just go for a walk half an hour a day for 8 weeks.
The creation of new diets will continue to follow popular trends. However, the belief that these diets promote weight loss has emerged more from personal impressions and reports published in books, rather than from rigorously controlled research.
– Freire, 2020
The silver bullet of weight loss, the one exercise that can make it all happen is the one that exercises the mind.
Exercise the Mind to Lose Weight
The most difficult thing you can ever do is to see yourself for who you really are. If you have a clinical issue, morbid obestiy for example, that requires intervention and, ultimately, weight loss, you need medical advice. And no, Instagram models and “science and evidence-based” trainers are not recommended as medical experts.
Based on general patterns of results and the most frequent published associations, participation in physical activity and sport was related to less negative and more positive body image. Furthermore, negative body image, predominantly studied as body weight or shape dissatisfaction, was linked to lower physical activity and sport participation and was discussed qualitatively as a barrier to participation. Alternatively, positive body image, studied most frequently as body satisfaction, tended to be associated with greater participation in physical activity and sport. This pattern of findings was consistent for men and women, and across the ages included in this scoping review.
– Sabiston et al., 2019
If you are a competitive athlete, like a boxer, who needs to cut weight for a fight then you need to have a trainer who has done that kind of thing before and has experience.
Bodybuilders cutting weight in the runup to a competition, you have some issues, too, but you’re not really interested in weight loss in the traditional sense of the word. Also, your advice is totally unrealistic for the average person because most people’s lives don’t depend on making weight or cutting or leaning out.
If, on the other hand, you are part of the other 99% of the world who are searching for weight loss help because you feel bad about yourself or you just feel bad then start with an honest assessment of why you want to lose weight.
This is where therapy would help. Yup. I said it. If you have a chronic need to lose weight, and you are healthy or generally okay in every other aspect, you might want to see what that means in a holistic sense. I mean, what’s the real problem because it ain’t your weight.
Even if you think that losing weight will make you feel better about yourself or give you a leg up in the dating pool, it’s still a mildly diversive tactic because, invariably, what you claim to want may not be what you actually need.
So, you have to exercise that mind of yours and get in shape, enough to be able to answer the question “what do you really want” with total honesty.
Losing Weight Isn’t Feeling or Looking Good
So, here’s the exercise, finally, so that I don’t get trolled for clickbait headlines.
1 Round, No Time Limit. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to lose weight?
- If it is to look good, define what looking good means addressing issues of age and sex while also reviewing how you would measure results)
- If it is about feeling good, define what that means based on your age and sex while also reviewing how you would measure the results)
- Make a list of all the good things that will happen as a result of weight loss)
- What happens if I don’t lose weight?
- Make a list of all of the catastrophic things that will happen to you as a result and then compare to them all the things that will not happen)
- Compare list to all the good things that you thought would happen if you lost weight)
Then, you finish off with warm down:
- Do you know that if you build muscle, your weight may not change but your shape will, and that it may mean fat loss but not weight loss?
- Do you know that there is no ideal weight for the average person?
Having done all of that, you may still want to be a ripped, lean, mean machine of a human being. You have idealized that body in your mind or you have an ideal body image that you aspire to acquire.
You then have to ask yourself one question: are you willing to do what it takes to get that body because it is a serious undertaking requiring deprivation, abstinence, single-minded devotion and an environment that will support you through the process, however long it may take?
1. Freire, R. (2020). Scientific evidence of diets for weight loss: Different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting, and popular diets. Nutrition, 69, 110549.
2. Paixão, C., Dias, C. M., Jorge, R., Carraça, E. V., Yannakoulia, M., Zwaan, M. de, Soini, S., Hill, J. O., Teixeira, P. J., & Santos, I. (2020). Successful weight loss maintenance: A systematic review of weight control registries. Obesity Reviews, 21(5), e13003.
3. Sabiston, C. M., Pila, E., Vani, M., & Thogersen-Ntoumani, C. (2019). Body image, physical activity, and sport: A scoping review. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 42, 48–57.