Why Losing Weight Is Hopeless and I Couldn’t Care Less
When I look at the statistics. When I look at the numbers. It seems like there isn’t much point in trying. Sure there are TV shows and anecdotal evidence of success, but when you look at the studies it’s hopeless.
One commonly cited study states that 95.4% of overweight and obese people that lose weight will regain all or more of what they lost within 5 years.* That means that even if I train 100 people a year and I do a kick ass job, in 10 years the best I can hope for is to help maybe 40 people lose weight and keep it off. And really the number is less than that. Of those 100 people, only 60 to 70 will stick through the whole program. That means that in 10 years I may only help 24 to 35 people lose weight in a lasting way.
The Meaning of Life
If I told you, that you were going to spend all your time and energy over the next 10 years, pour your heart and soul into your work. And in return, you would only end up helping 24 – 35 people lose weight and keep it off. Would you do it? I mean I know I want to help people, but I could be feeding starving children. I could be helping to cure cancer. I could be handing out condoms and clean needles.
So, why would I put my energy into training, when it may have such a small impact? Should I do it so I can build a few six packs, brag about my squat, and go to work in sweats? Should I do it because personal trainers often become mini celebrities to their clients? Should I do it because I get all the glory and they get all the blame? When they lose weight, the clients think it’s me. And when they gain it back, they think, it’s all their fault. And then the fitness industry tells them they gain weight because they’re weak and they lack will power. If only they’d listen to us and stick to our programs and diets and meal plans, then they’d be skinny like we are. Doesn’t that sound messed up to anyone besides me? And when I think about it why would I want to train when this is the message my industry sends?
So I thought about it. And I thought about it. Hell I even stayed up nights. And the only reason I can come up with is that I don’t care if you lose weight or not. I don’t care if you can run a 5k or not. I don’t care what you can bench. And I don’t care about what the fitness industry says. I don’t really care about any of those things. But what I do care about YOU.
I believe deeply in the power of mindfulness and movement to help you live a better life. I believe it because I’ve seen it. I believe it because it helped me. I believe it, because I live that change everyday. And it’s not the change they’re selling you on TV. It’s not the change found in diet books and workout videos. That kind of change is their change. The real change. The change that matters. The change that sticks. That’s your change.
I’ll make a deal with you. You can come to me to lose weight, but I won’t help you. Sure I can give you a plan but I can’t make it happen. I won’t promise you results. But what I can promise is something you can’t get from the Internet or from The Biggest Loser or from a CrossFit gym. What I can promise is a trainer and a coach who will listen and try his best to help make your life better. I won’t do it by telling you how many pushups to do, by helping you get a six-pack, or shape a yoga butt. I’ll do it by helping you see into your own mind. And by helping you accept that who you are deep down, is beautiful, kind, and loving. I promise I will do my best to see that in you and to show you what I see.
I Don’t Care
Because I don’t care about statistics. I only care about the person right in front of me. The person reading this blog. Or the person who is looking me in the eye. In all honesty, I can’t promise you the world, but I can promise I’ll do my best to be here and to help you be here too.
Question: What do you think about losing weight and fitness industry claims. Are the statistics right or misleading?
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13 thoughts on “Why Losing Weight Is Hopeless and I Couldn’t Care Less”
temporary diets cause temporary weight loss. the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change how you eat all the time. not easy. I found most of my eating has very little to do with nutrition and fueling my body and much more about emotions. I lost 15 lbs fifteen months ago and I am still maintaining. I walk a minimum 10k steps a day most days, light hand weights 3 times a week and a 20 min yoga routine 5 mornings a week. I keep making small adjustments to my eating habits. Reading labels and no longer buying things with added soy, sugar or sodium. Slowly eliminating processed foods. eating more vegetables. Right now I am starting to make soup and bread from scratch. It takes time. You can’t undo years of bad eating habits in a few weeks or even months. being healthy is a life long process, not a 6 week fix.
This is so right on. More recent studies have shown that you can lose weight on your own more easily than on a specific diet. It’s all about changing your life is small and big ways. Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. It’s very inspiring. Keep up the good work.
Awesome post! I think it’s so sad that people keep thinking that diets are a solution, even in the long term. Calorie or macronutrient restriction has shown to make things worse.. A human body just can’t thrive without enough food. And I also think that, just as you say, we should all focus on living our best lives. Sometimes it just turns out to be what we needed to lose the weight, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t matter bc we’re already living our best lives.
As a real anti-fitness, non gym member I truly enjoyed reading this article. Your approach sounds genuine and like the more difficult route. I’m guessing there are some people who would look at what you’re saying and stick with the “results” kind of training purely out of comfort and pressure. I’m really curious to see when one of the major truths about the fitness industry- its reliance on those who consistently fall off the wagon, its creation of the perpetual weight loss cycle- is going to more clearly come to the light. I will be interested then to see if more people turn to mindfulness and acceptance (or if we just dive into or create another industry to distract us from the internal work.)
Thank you for writing.
Wow! I’m blown away by the insight in this comment. I think you are so right and I’m amazed that the fitness industry has gone on the way it has for so long. The dominant narrative is so powerful I think it’s hard to break out of it. Thanks for seeing this and saying it so clearly in your comment.
I found your blog entry via this search string: “How to lose weight when you just don’t care.” I’m 61 and in a very stressful high-tech job. I’m a stress eater. I’d like to lose 40 pounds but sometimes it is SO hard to care. I work out strenuously 3 to 4 times weekly (cardio and weights). I’m not sure what I’m looking for – not encouragement but maybe just a chance to vent. I will continue to look for a long term solution that works for me but I appreciate and thank you for your post/thoughts. Hal
Why do you want to lose 40lbs?
61 years old, 245 lbs, I’d like the first number of my weight to be a ‘1’! Goals: better sleep, better appearance, better overall health.
Those are great goals. But why do you care about those things. For example one of my goals is to get 10,000 subscribers for my blog. But the reason is so that I can he’ll people. The first goal makes sense to my brain but the 2nd touches my heart. What about your goals touch your heart? And have a deep meaning for you?
Well, statistics are statistics. They are correct. However, the interpretation of the facts into usable information and knowledge is where the industry is lacking and misleading. They address the symptom not the cause.
The fitness industry is a strange animal. Somewhere along the way, creating a place to expel energy has transformed into a status symbol, something for boasting and comparing and judging.
Like Hal, I want to lose 40 lbs, not because I feel incredibly unhealthy but mostly because I don’t like the way my belly folds over my belt. It’s amazingly uncomfortable. I too work in the Tech World and work mostly with my hands, so I don’t get moving much. But, I also lack the motivation. I want to get more fit, but I feel I’m okay the way I am and if I truly wanted it, I’d do it. Maybe that is just my way of removing my responsibility from the issue. I’m really good at playing head games with myself, but rarely in a positive way.
Actually the statistics in many of these studies is questionable. To me it indicates a problem with the approach. But I would guess it’s more complicated then just wanting or not wanting to do it. I’m curious what would give you the motivation to make a change? If I told you you were going to die next week would that give you motivation? If you had to give money to a group you didn’t like would that give you motivation? If you had to wear a T-shirt that says I love Justin Bieber would that do it?
Finding motivation is all about manufacturing it in your own life. Internal motivation has limits, but our ability to create external motivation is limitless. So what would give you the motivation to make a change?
Death doesn’t motivate me, especially if its out of my control; A shirt is a shirt, and that would just give me reason to boast how much I don’t care what other people think. But helping an enemy…That’s interesting…If I had to give money to a group I didn’t like…I do enjoy helping people, however, as much as I like helping people, I equally hate helping my enemies. But, in what scenario would that be plausible?
Simple Steve this is how it works. You choose a target habit something small and doable or a series of small habits. Then you set a threshold say 60% success. Then you write a check out to a group you don’t like. Preferably something annoying but not evil.
Then you give the check to a friend in an envelope and tell them that if after one month you don’t stick to your habit they are to mail to check off. Basically you have now created an very real external motivation for sticking to your habit. If you want I’m happy to hold the check for you, or you can pick someone closer by.
I’ve done this using embarrassing videos, giving up media for a week and various other thing and have found it very effective. What do you think? If you are interested I’m happy to be your accountability monitor or you can find someone on your own.
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