An article came out in the NY Times last week about The Biggest Loser contestants and their post show rebound weight gain. If you haven't read the article, you can catch up here:
If you're busy and you just want the gist of it, here's the rundown. The article basically states that these people gained the weight back because they proved to have a slower metabolism, post weight loss. It shows statistics of over 90% of the contestants burning an average of 300 to 800 calories less than the average person of their size.
Beyond the science, the tone of the article was that obesity is genetically inevitable for some people and that these contestants were doomed from the very beginning. An accompanying blog post showed thousands of comments from readers reacting to this news.
I read comments such as “good to know that this finally is being thought of as a disease.”
I could see this article being a fantastic excuse for anyone feeling frustrated with their weight loss to throw up their hands and say, “Screw it. I'm doomed. I might as well go eat a burger.”
The reality is that there are more holes in this research than a block of Swiss cheese.
Nowhere in the article do they explain the effects of extreme dieting, and over exercise. They do not even mention the effects of losing weight in an extremely short period of time has on the body’s metabolism. It completely generalizes weight loss and metabolism, which are both highly individualized mechanisms.
We must take into account the rate at which the contestants lose weight. While the study measured their slow metabolisms, nothing was mentioned about what the contestants’ food and exercise regimen looked like after the show ended. We are studying a unique group of individuals and generalizing to the masses.
One can only imagine that when these contestants enter the post-reality-TV-world, exercising 3 to 4 hours a day and obsessing about their food is no longer a realistic option. The article only briefly addresses these factors contributing to a slowed metabolism.
Do all of these people leave The Biggest Loser in a completely depleted state (such as adrenal fatigue), resulting in a slower metabolism and inevitable cortisol chaos?
If I were to believe this follow up article, I would feel just as disenchanted as the hopeless readers commenting on it- I will cite this gem taken from the article:
"Anecdotal reports by people who have succeeded in keeping weight off tend to have a common theme: constant vigilance, keeping close track of weight, controlling what food is eaten and how much (often by weighing and measuring food), exercising often, putting up with hunger and resisting cravings to the best of their ability. "
What kind of life is that?! Is that realistic at all? They are basically saying that if you want to lose weight, you are headed for a lifetime of food prison. This is exactly why one of my most used “Carlyisms” is, diets don't work.
There is no such thing as permanent weight loss if we are not able to get to the root of why we eat. If we're eating outside of physical hunger, there's a reason for that. Fighting that reason your entire life causes you to gain and lose the same 50 lbs over, and over again. The weight loss and gain is simply a distraction from the real, underlying issue.
We do this all the time.
We create secondary problems when the root problem is too overwhelming.
The Biggest Loser is a diet alone. The spiritual, mental and emotional side of consumption remains unaddressed.
It becomes a very public example of why knowing better doesn't equal doing better.
It took me ten years to lose the same amount of weight I could have taken off in 4 months. Why? Because there was a deeper lesson for me to learn in losing the weight that I refused to see. I thought it was about food and exercise; calories in vs. calories out.
Only when I was able to forgive myself and open up to learning a deeper lesson of self love, self forgiveness, and patience, was I able to find the consistency required to lose weight, and keep it off!
My concern is that overweight people read these articles and are left feeling like something is wrong with them that can never be fixed. Let's look at the percentage of other people who have lost a lot of weight in their lives; people who are not on a show with this extreme type of setting. Let's interview people who have lost weight, kept it off, and allow them to teach us what it is they have learned in the process.
I’ve been in private practice for almost 7 years, and have seen over 5,000 clients. I have seen obese people lose weight and keep it off. I have seen clients lose and gain the same 5 pounds over and over again. These results are driven by psychology.
My prediction: What they must learn has little to do with food, and much more to do with what they need to discover about who they truly are.
If you have a lot (or even a little) weight to lose, please don’t be discouraged by this article.
If you are looking to lose weight as quickly as possible and plan to follow a restricted diet in addition to hours of daily exercise, then please take to heart what these contestants are experiencing.
There is a way to lose weight and still feel food freedom, but these changes do not start on your plate.
They start in your mind and in your soul.
Allow me to guide you on the path to true food freedom, permanent health and peace of mind.
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