An important article was published in the New York Times magazine on 12/8/11. In her article titled “The Fat Trap,” Tara Parker-Pope asks if we have to be “superhuman to lose weight.” I urge you to take some time to read it, but then come back here. There’s more to the story.
You see, I think the common response when we hear or read about the true metabolic realities of weight loss, is to feel pretty let down. You might feel worried about being stuck in your uncomfortable “fat” feeling forever. You might even be entertaining thoughts of self-blame about the size of your body, or feeling more body shame, wishing so much that you could find a plan that would really work this time so you don’t have to feel these things again.
The good news is that you are not stuck just because dieting doesn’t actually work. It is so very important to remember that you manage to stay skeptical of most marketing ventures that are directed your way (of which there are many!). The dieting and weight loss industries, in all their various forms, make up a $60 billion dollar industry that is highly dependent on repeat customers. They know it doesn’t work either. They blame you, shame you and tell you that you aren’t trying hard enough instead. This tactic tends to trump our efforts at remaining skeptical of them.
Doesn’t that make you angry? Allow yourself a moment of that. The fact that dieting does not work for your physical bodies is not new news. Linda Bacon Ph.D, the author of Health at Every Size, has researched weight loss extensively and has reported similar findings.
This is the time of year when the desire to make changes in the name of weight loss is the loudest and the marketing is the heaviest. It is incredibly easy to find yourself lost in the dominant thought process about weight loss. This thought process is something like “weight loss is important for health,” “the changes I make to my health behaviors must result in weight loss to be productive,” “ I have to change who I am from the outside in to be better” or simply, “Thin = health.”
This is where we find that traditional weight loss is not sustainable psychologically as well. We do not change from the outside in, but from the inside out. It’s tough to make big changes when we are afraid we are not good enough, even though we desperately might want to. These efforts also do not tend to be sustainable. We cannot shame ourselves into change. It doesn’t work. If it did, it would have already happened.
Carl Rogers reminds us, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” It is inevitably true. If traditional weight loss doesn’t work, then we are left to deal with what is really happening in us, the real stuff that Brene Brown says “gets in the way.” We frequently know when making food choices what works for us and what doesn’t, but that isn’t what we rely on in that moment of choice. Other psychological factors come into play. We also know that a lifetime (no matter how long) of body dissatisfaction and dieting really skews our beliefs about food and self-care. We almost have to de-program that “dieting mind” to reconnect to our bodies again. It’s true…and it’s possible.
Hope is not lost. There’s a whole world out there that can support you in real and sustainable health practices. Our resources page can introduce you to some of our favorites. And let us know about what you find on your journey.
So tell us, what did you think about “The Fat Trap” article?
In 2005 therapist Hilary Kinavey and nutritionist Dana Sturtevant started facilitating groups to help women let go of food/weight obsession. Realizing that they shared a similar approach and philosophy regarding food, weight, body image and health – one directly counter to that of conventional institutional paradigms - the two decided to merge their practices to create a partnership that would offer a revolutionary approach to women seeking answers about eating disorders, weight concerns, exercise, and nutrition. Thus, Be Nourished was born. Encouraging a non-diet approach to food, weight and health, Be Nourished offers individual counseling, workshops, classes and retreats to tackle topics like conscious eating, hunger awareness, body acceptance, and self-compassion. For more information, visit Be Nourished.