Weight loss is such a perpetually growing concern, that since the 90’s it has developed its own industry and boomed since then into a multi-billion dollar market. And really, it actually started right after the 50’s when heart disease and obesity was on the rise, and from there everyone started searching for the best answer. Unfortunately, we followed the “low fat” myth for decades with no success. But as the problem continued to rise, more “experts” chimed in in order to sell a product. That’s how weight loss, in itself, has been commercialized. But if we’ve been focusing on this since the 1950’s and 1960’s, why does the problem continue to grow? And after decades of every diet plan, cleanse product, fat burning supplement, celebrity fitness guru, and every new pop-up “medical weight loss” center… the problem continues to climb. Why? Because none of that crap works! It’s a commercialized system preying on the desperation of a growing public, and when you buy a fat burning supplement, all you’re getting is a well-advertised bottle of tree dust with a photoshopped image of a sponsored fitness competitor (who probably doesn’t even take that supplement) that will make you crap your pants.
Sorry to be blunt, but the fact is that we’re all chasing something that doesn’t have an answer. Once the world commercialized weight loss, it stopped making any sense whatsoever about how to lose weight, and in my opinion, it made the problem worse. There’s a largely collective belief formed by media messages, “celebrity trainers”, “gurus” and marketing puppeteers that anyone can lose weight, get ripped, “melt away fat”, and look like these fitness models plastered all over internet, in magazines or on the news.
All anyone has to do is follow this or that protocol, take these or those supplements, do the Hcg diet, get some cool-sculpting done, perform cardio for an hour each day or buy this workout video, etc. Or maybe we should all do yoga like Gwyneth Paltrow so we can look like her? Or be a vegan like this celebrity because she looks amazing, too? Or eat 12 meals a day and train like Hugh Jackman because, hello, Wolverine? This is a massive problem affecting millions of people who simply just want to lose weight. I can promise you that Madonna does more than yoga, nom’sayin?
When someone approaches us about weight loss, they are usually on their last leg and very frustrated. This is understandable, especially for those who seem to do everything right but continue to face challenges losing the weight. When the results do not match our efforts, weight loss becomes an emotional, as well as physical struggle.
Marketing products or cookie-cutter programs to the masses is a successful way to make more money, but a pretty unsuccessful way to solve the problem short-term and long-term. Weight gain is not the problem, it’s merely a symptom of the problem, so it is necessary to approach it with an integrative system of clinical assessments for every individual before designing a program or creating a plan.
Case Study: What I’ve learned about weight gain and weight loss
I’m the youngest of four & having always been adored for my cuteness or beauty since the day I was born I learned to expect this type of appraisal… until… I didn’t.
Having 3 older siblings I really looked up to and always wanted to be like; all of whom could eat the same junk our entire family was accustomed to – it wasn’t until my health took a bad turn leading me to depend on steroids by age 12 that I experienced the polarity to that former self image. The steroids destroyed my metabolism, and thus I began to pack on pounds.
It was such a distinct and painful realization of how the world saw me. Going from “so adorable” and “beautiful, just like your sisters” to “you’re getting chunky”, “you’re too pretty to get fat, you need to watch your calories” and “you need to cover up”.
My conservative and concerned mother made comments often about how big my legs looked, how I shouldn’t wear “certain” clothes and to cover myself up more because “those clothes” are more appropriate for skinny girls. At the same time, she took me to Taco Bell after soccer practices, ordered Chinese take-out and brought home soda, chips, cookies, cereals laced with enough sugar to run 3 marathons, donuts, macaroni & cheese (you know; staples of an amazing childhood!) and… slim-fast shakes. Because she didn’t understand or know better.
From age 12 to about 20 years old, my entire self image was based on how much I weighed, what clothes I could wear and how I looked in the mirror compared to others.
A rebel-to-the-core, I stopped taking my medications when I got to college and began working out more consistently. This led to an eating disorder that made my health worse. I then began to lose so much weight that I had to incorporate binging to avoid others being concerned. At age 21, I learned I had Celiac Disease which made me even more obsessed with my diet.
After 15+ years of losing and gaining weight, along with three full-term pregnancies, I figured out what worked, and what didn’t work.
This is what does not work:
- restricting calories
- online programs
- magazine workout plans
- “fitness challenges”
- punishing myself
- feeling ashamed
- trying to “measure up” to others
- feeling like a victim
- believing it’s “out of my control”
Weight gain is so frustrating. Not just because of how you look, but also how you feel. So to combine the subconscious insecurities of your image with the conscious discomfort of extra layers hiding a true reflection of your soul- it’s a 2-sided impact on the psyche which is why we all, too often, focus on that rather than what the body is trying to teach us.
The psyche believes and feels the product of weight gain, and then it blames the body.
In 2018, after 4 years of incredible stress and personal crisis, one after another, I got down to a record low of 104 lbs. This was unintentional, but I was running on fumes. Pure adrenaline.
After intense and consistent personal and spiritual work to regain balance and harmony… I rested, took care of myself and slowed down. This is when the adrenaline stopped pumping … and suddenly… my body was able to finally respond to all of that stress.
And so… I gained weight.
Initially, that was good, as I’d been way too underweight.
But then it kept coming.
Nothing had changed! Not my eating habits, workout habits, lifestyle habits. Even though we are strictly organic, gluten free and almost entirely “paleo”, my body was storing fat like that was its sole job. I began to workout a bit more; walking, sprints, zone exercises and low volume/high rep resistant training; moving with breathing rhythms, the whole 9 yards. I’ve done everything right.
So it isn’t how I move or what I eat.
This is a symptom of something deeper happening on a physiological level. With an autoimmune disease, I know that as soon as I began to rest and slow down – inflammation rose, activating a lot of systems to work harder. This is actually what recovery is.
Though I do not like weighing more than I’m used to, or having clothes fit too snug and tight… I have to allow my body to WORK. It may not be “working” the way I’d like it to (in a perfect world), but it’s part of the process. And I know it isn’t forever. I have all of the tools and knowledge I need to support my body. The only thing required of me at this point is patience.
Weight Loss: One Size Does NOT Fit ALL
Everyone is different, this we can all agree on. But take into considerations the nutrient requirements, lifestyle factors, and exercise program differences needed to tailor a weight loss plan based on gender, height, weight, age, medical history, family history, current health, allergies, medications, supplements, dietary habits, pain conditions, past or current injuries, hormone imbalances, musculoskeletal misalignments, sleep habits, daily schedule, budget, willingness, motivation, stress levels, etc and so on.
Also important to note is that a weight loss plan will need to be distinctly different depending on how much weight a person wants or needs to lose. Every single one of those factors, and more, goes into figuring out how to lose weight, which is why a fitness magazine, blog, youtube video, podcast or celebrity guru cannot tell you the best way to shed some pounds.