Why Weight Loss Programs Fail

The tired fact is, despite the billion dollars spent every year on weight loss products, obesity rates continue to rise. Why don’t these things work? Why do nearly ALL dieters return to their old weight? I read an article about a 5 year study done on Weight Watchers participants, claiming that half of them were able to keep off 5% of the weight they original lost. And this was a GOOD news story!

It may not sound like much, but obesity experts meeting in Prague were impressed. Nearly all dieters eventually return to their old weight, and maintaining a 5 percent loss is considered a health benefit.

Five percent. For me, that would have translated to losing 100 lbs, and then putting 95 back on. 5 whole pounds lost. In five years of effort. On what planet is that success?

No wonder it’s hard to commit to something with such a dismal success rate. Why don’t they work? Is it because the science behind them is flawed? I don’t think so. In fact, I think most of the popular programs are potentially successful.

I’m going to get a little theoretical for a minute, but bear with me:

Let’s say things down to two basic ways of looking at ourselves – what we can see, and what we can’t see (even with a microsope). What’s the point of that? Let me explain..

Some things are measurable. I’m talking about anything that can be physically seen by you, and that other people can also see, like colour, shape, quantities, including my shape, my molecules, my skin and bones, my heart rate, etc., are all viewable and measurable properties of objects, and so we can be object-ive about them.

But what about the things that can’t be measured? If I just stood and stared blankly at you, you would have very little chance at guessing what colour I’m thinking of. And no microscope or device could open up my brain and find either the colour blue or the word ‘blue’, anywhere. That’s because my favourite colour is not an object, it’s a subject. Think of subjects in school. You won’t find ‘a’ math lying around anywhere. It’s just a word to describe an idea or a topic. Are you following? Thoughts, ideas, feelings, and even emotions, are all subjects that can be discussed, but not objects that can be seen or held by another person. So, we can only be subject-ive about them.

Objective = outside world = exterior

Subjective = inside head = interior

Not rocket science, so what’s the point of all this boring theory? And how does it have anything to do with weightloss?

Here’s where it starts to click: Sometimes exterior things cause interior reactions, and sometime interior things cause exterior reactions. Sit back and think about that for a second, or let me give you an example: you’re happily walking along, and you stub your toe on the leg of a chair. This unwanted collision between two objects – your toe and the chair, is likely to bring up some unpleasant thoughts or feelings. Maybe you get mad, maybe you want to throw the damn chair out the window, maybe you feel a little fear that you’ve busted your toe. In this case, whatever is happening on the interior (fear, anger) is a result of something that happened on the exterior (stupid chair).

On the other hand, if you’re a music lover like me, your enjoyment of good music (subject) might lead you into exchanging money for concert tickets (objects). In other words, you didn’t suddenly start enjoying music because the tickets went on sale. The feeling of enjoyment (and the excitement at the idea of experiencing the concert) caused you to act.  In this case, an inside thought caused an outside action.

Either way, when it comes to understanding weight loss, both the outside and the inside need to be addressed in order to start building a path toward long lasting results. So, they answer is:

Weight-loos programs generally fail because they don’t properly deal with interior AND exterior realities.

They fail because they’re either too focused on exterior (exercise, nutrition) and ignore the interior, or they don’t adequately and thoroughly address the interior (attitude, emotions). Or worst of all, they try and boil everything down to one or the other, ignoring the constant feedback loop that happens between them.

A few examples:

Bootcamps

I am not, and don’t claim to be an expert on fitness. What I do know, is that getting up at 6am to run around a track and do push-ups is not going to happen for me.

Exercise programs that require you to suck it up, tough it out, and stick to the plan are usually created by workout-type people who understand muscles and nutrition, and who are equipped with that workout ‘drive’. But if they haven’t themselves gone through significant weight loss, then they haven’t actually experienced the thoughts that go along with being overweight – the embarrassment, shaken self-confidence, self-loathing, bad habits, destructive emotional rides, etc. – all the things that undermine the attempts to ‘persevere’ and ‘suck it up’.

Willpower is a limited resource, and when that runs out, then what? You’re back on your own feeling like a failure.

Think about this: would you get driving lessons from someone who has read a lot about how cars work, but who’s never actually driven a car? You might expect them to be able to fix the car, or explain air flow, fuel combustion, and aerodynamics – even build you a car – but do you think you’d trust them to actually teach you how to drive? Without the instincts and reactions gained from the experience of driving a car? Probably not. Unless you want to just take a chance and hope for the best, which is exactly the approach most people end up taking with weight loss programs.

Wrong Starting Point

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of really great nutrition and exercise programs to choose from and I’m in favor of all of them. But if they require what feels like too many radical changes right from the start, it makes it nearly impossible to stay on track. There are various stages to transforming your relationship to health and you can’t skip them, because each stage is built on the awareness you gained at the previous ones. Right now, if you’re like I was, you’re mind is jumbled mess of contradictions. In other words, you do things (eat things) you know are keeping you fat, but you do it anyway. You don’t know why. So jumping into some calorie counting  diet at this point makes no sense at all. You have to start where you are, period. And the nice thing about that, is things make a hell of a lot more sense where you are, than trying to fix problems you’re not even aware of yet.

‘Positive-thinking’ Approach.

Many well-intentioned systems of thinking have appeared over the last decade, all based around the idea that each of us creates our own ‘reality’ based on our thoughts, and that if we choose positive thoughts instead of negative ones, we’ll have positive results. While this is definitely true in some senses, it really doesn’t help when the most positive person in the world doesn’t know what positive thoughts to have to help them lose weight! I’ve met some really inspiring, super-positive people, who can’t seem to get to a normal weight. It’s not about being positive. It’s about being real.

 

 

And finally…Diets

Another mistake is an assumption that what you need is information. As though it’s information that you’re lacking in order to be fit and healthy. As though giving you more information: recipes, diet plans and nutrition tips alone are going to somehow cause you to lose weight. Reading on Oprah’s blog about her full-scale battle with weight loss, and what are the ads surrounding it? Diets. I wouldn’t wish her experience on anyone. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Starting off with a highly restrictive diet creates feelings of lack and missing out which is the opposite of what you want for a long term lifestyle. Eating enjoyable food is important and life-affirming. I’ve never had any success with restrictive diets. The only things I cut out were things I eventually wanted to cut out, either because I realized I was just eating them out of habit (and didn’t even enjoy them), or I was just plain sick of them.

The truth is, all these things have their place but without a sufficient understanding of how it all fits together and where you’re at with it, trying one thing or another will only give you partial results. Weight Loss Blueprint is a whole person, whole-life approach to losing weight. Because of that, it’s the most 100% natural way to lose weight.

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