There is an article that was well done on obesity and I will link to it below, it was quite good in terms of many of the issues related to obesity but some of the conclusions they brought up as a solution I would take issue with but that was just a fraction of the piece.
As a formerly obese person I have a great deal of empathy to people that used to be like me, sadly, much of the fitness industry does not. It’s not very common to see body diversity in gyms or on social media posts. IG as an example is contributing to the problem, it just seems like the majority of people making a couple of dollars off of an affiliate program don’t realize how much they are contributing to the issue (often with super rigid and pseudo motivational posts that aren’t helping). So here are some thoughts I have which were addressed but the article was trying to cover a lot of ground. I am VERY clear on the biggest issue most obese people have and it’s going to surprise some people when I say this but many people that are struggling drastically under eat a lot of the time. So let’s get into what I believe are better solutions that last.
1. Moving needs to become more important then eating less. Let’s face it, since the advent of Weight Watchers the eating less movement has had it’s day and it’s failed. The best way to describe it is that to make a 3 egg omelet the diet industry needs to crack about 100 eggs and there is no guarantee that the omelet turns out great in the end. Part of the problem is that to get clients companies sell their soul and once everyone has tried every single quick fix option out there they finally become resigned to a long term and sustainable approach often when it’s too late. This should be reversed. It’s simple, rather than trying drastic measures the very first diet intervention should put moving first and let that evolve into more of a lifestyle.
2. Believe it or not we are eating less, not more. In the article this was the part I took issue with (once again, small fraction of an otherwise good article) the author points to quality of food as being the bigger problem and while certainly there is a lot to say for that if we know people are under eating we also know something else. Their metabolism is being compromised. The biggest problem that most people have is that they restrict food extremely AT THE EXACT same time they start moving more. Usually with some quick fix option that leaves them more broken than before. The real food and low carb movement isn’t helping either, similar to the first example it cracks a lot of eggs to make an omelet that isn’t helping. Both movements (which aren’t bad in theory) thrive on zealots that are preaching a quick fix answer where movement isn’t a priority and foods are good and bad. Teaching someone that they are a victim of foods is part of the problem. It also takes the ball out of the hand of the person affected and points the finger in the wrong place.
3. So what’s the answer? A big part of the answer is that we need to view the problem differently. I have a private client that has been with me for years, when she first started a big part of the conversation was just about being normal and judging progress related to health numbers (like blood work) rather than things that don’t matter AS MUCH like the scale number or what people view as a healthy weight. In that time she has gained roughly 60 pounds of muscle. Cholesterol is well below normal, triglycerides are under 50 and she has the health profile of a very healthy individual. That’s the value of muscle and moving. The answer is simple and complex at the same time, you are dealing with a lot of pain and social stigma. The want for that to go away as soon as possible is real and can’t be ignored. Walk into any gym in the world right now and you will see these people on the fringes of the gym. I once had a gym owner that said to me that he doesn’t expect obese clients to last at his gym long. I asked him if he thought that his attitude might be felt by the client and that it might be a contributing factor to why they leave. He looked at me like I had a horn coming out of my forehead.
The problem we have is that the diet industry only sells as fast as possible and the fitness industry is selling everybody gets abs and neither of those things is healthy as it relates to a long term sustainable point of view. I can show you file after file of clients that ate and moved and lost weight without dramatic intervention but I have a great example. We had someone sign up two months ago, in that time he lost twenty pounds IN TWO MONTHS! He cancelled because he didn’t reach his goals and that right there is the problem. Realistically half of what he lost would have been a great result and look I get it, I felt that pain, I felt the embarrassment and the want for all of it to be gone as fast as possible.
That never got me anywhere though and while I love being a safe haven and the last stop on the dieting train for a lot of people I do wonder what it would be like if we got them first instead of last. The one thing I loved about the article was just how acutely the author spoke about the stigma and pain each client felt. There are no shortage of videos out there saying “what’s your excuse” which is basically the fit person trying to double shame you. Not only is it being shared by a fit person but most of them have someone with a disability or a missing appendage but rarely are they obese. What’s the difference? The difference is we have less compassion because we feel like obese people are doing it to themselves. The evidence does not suggest this, whether it’s mental health, abuse or lack of education it’s extremely rare for someone to make themselves obese on purpose. There is a serious lack of compassion to overweight people even from the people that are supposedly trying to help them and for them to change a lot of us need to change first.
Here is the article I spoke about: