Just a quick note to all the people (mainly personal trainers) out there that strip all weight loss discussions back to the simple energy in / energy out equation, and who consistently suggest that overweight people need simply to “eat less and move more”…
Whilst no one is denying the simple maths here, underpinned by the first law of thermodynamics (of course, any increase in mass of the human body (fat or muscle) must have come from a surplus of energy eaten and absorbed at one point in time), the advice itself is erroneous and unhelpful.
If the advice worked, we wouldn’t have a situation whereby 70-75% of the developed world are overweight or obese.
I can only think that such advice, often spoken as though it is some kind of great breakthrough in weight loss science, must be given on the assumption that people don’t already know it.
But this quite simply is not the case. People are not overweight or obese because they can’t count, and people are certainly not overweight or obese because they are stupid.
This is why I really can’t stand the overly simplified and cocky delivery of the ‘calorie deficit’ message that I hear time and time again in gyms and on social media.
People are overweight or obese because of a host of complex emotional, psychological and physiological reasons, reasons which make it incredibly hard to “eat less and move more” no matter how much someone wants to. And telling someone who is obese to do this is akin to telling someone with depression to “cheer up”, it really must stop.
The correct approach to weight loss is not to simply get the calorie counter app out and condemn people to a miserable life of scanning barcodes and feeling like they are constantly denying themselves the foods they want based on arbitrary estimates of the calories their bodies will absorb from what they eat (calorie absorption is a whole new topic, for another day… ). It is to look at the individual circumstances of the person and to understand WHY they aren’t adhering to very simple and basic acts of self care which are likely to include eating good, nutritious food in reasonable amounts, keeping active and sleeping well, among other things.
To summarise, the question should be “what do you think is stopping you doing what you already know you need to do to get healthier?”
Now, if people are prepared stay quiet and listen to what information is offered in response to a question like the above, it will become clear that it is not simple at all, and that not everyone can be tarred with the ‘lazy and greedy’ brush, pretty much no one at all in fact.
Often weight gain, particularly extreme weight gain is linked to trauma, stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues. There are often complex issues associated with parents or siblings and their attitudes to food, health and dieting, and sometimes all of the above in a single case.
Over the years as a nutrition consultant and fitness trainer firstly and subsequently as a life coach and hypnotherapist, I have seen it all and I have helped everyone I have come into contact with.
You must never judge a book by it’s cover, it’s a fatal mistake of a coach or therapist, and you never know what is behind someone’s weight gain, and why they can’t lose weight and keep it off.
Let’s try a more enlightened approach to weight loss, beginning by seeing, hearing and understanding people more clearly and let’s see if we start to get different results.