Why I Can’t Help you if Weight Loss is your #1 Goal

Over and over again we read that diets just don’t work. The data is a bit scattered here, but this article from the Scientific American published in 2020 estimated that 80-95% of people who lose a significant amount of body fat do not maintain that loss at 1 year. In a 2019 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that dieting actually predicts future weight gain.

I know this first hand as I worked in an Endocrinology clinic for almost 10 years helping people do extremely restrictive very low-calorie diets, formula diets, and even preparation for weight loss surgery. Working in this clinic, felt extremely rewarding at times, but the results never lasted. People I loved and cared for kept coming back and it wasn’t because they loved to be there. It was because they had regained the weight.

Why weight loss doesn’t work

In 2007 UCLA researchers reported seeing lower metabolic rates, change in gut microbiome, alteration of fat tissue, satiety hormones, and other factors that would affect long-term success of weight loss. We are now starting to understand that the stress on the body from extreme restriction can cause more harm than good.

We also know now that Yo-Yo dieting is dangerous. Repeated weight loss and gain is linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and altered immune function according to this 2007 UCLA newsroom article. There is also evidence of Increased Inflammation, hypertension, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia.

Weight is not a good measure of health

Lastly, we are starting to understand more completely that weight is not a good measure of health. This  excellent review article in the Nutrition Journal published in 2011 showed no increased morbidity or mortality rate with higher adiposity.

So why do we keep focusing on weight loss? We may lose for a time, but it is regained and the results are even more detrimental to our health! Why do we keep doing the same thing over and over and then expecting different results? Isn’t this the definition of insanity?

OK, so you have read my arguments, and you may be wondering now, where do I go from here? There are tons of online resources to help you consider how to adapt a more Intuitive Eating Mindset. I like to take it a step further and add the aspect of faith. We know that wellness is more than just physical. I truly believe in incorporating the physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual into wellness.

Wellness over weight loss

If I can’t help you with weight loss, what can I help you with?

  1. Shift the focus from weight management to health promotion.
  2. Learn what is actually healthy for your body.
  3. Listen to your body and your hunger cues.
  4. Explore which foods you love and consider “off limits” and enjoy them sometimes!
  5. Improve your health in every area including physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual.
  6. Embrace balance.
  7. Focus on taking care of your body rather than punishing, depriving, and ignoring it.
  8. Incorporate your faith into your decisions about food and movement.

I hope this article helps you think differently about your goals with your nutrition, health, and movement. Let’s use what we know to help us understand what to do, and let’s use our faith to inform our motivations and our attitudes in all of it!

 

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