There is something terribly wrong with weight loss in this country. What is happening when people with the supposed best trainers, best nutrition, and an entire team of doctors and weight loss experts behind them can’t keep the results they worked so hard to achieve? It begs the question, if they can’t do it, what hope is there for the rest of us?
In a recent article in the NY Times, researchers revealed that most if not all contestants from the reality show the Biggest Loser gain all the weight back, with some even gaining back more than before they started the show.
Yes, one can work out 7 hours a day, burning 9,000 calories for months at a time and eat just enough to maintain one’s sanity and lose 200lbs in just a few months, but it comes at a devastating cost, permanent damage to the metabolism. And what’s worse is that weight just comes back even after 7 months of hell. The Biggest Loser phenomenon is proving more and more clearly a truth that no one wants to admit---There are no quick fixes and the solution we’ve been fed all these years about decreasing calories and exercising more, just doesn’t work.
While this may not be surprising to those of us in the nutrition and fitness industry, there is more going on here than the researchers observe. There is a bigger lesson here. The reality is that this isn’t just about weight loss, it is about something much deeper. If we want to solve the weight loss problem, we need to be asking different questions.
We have the tendency to over “scientize” and “medicalize” the human body. We treat our bodies as if they are some separate biological mechanism that is completely divorced from who we are as human beings. The assumption is that all we need to do for success is to break things down into micro-manageable pieces that can be fixed on an individual basis. And if we can’t fix it one way, then we’ll just try a pill.
The question that’s been asked is what are the things we can manipulate with the foods or our bodies to lose weight and keep it off?
But the better question is, what is the common underlying root cause of this obesity epidemic that if properly addressed would solve the issue for everyone?
The answer? Fear.
The truth is, our culture’s problem with obesity is a mirror. It is reflection of how we handle every other aspect of our lives. It is a symptom whose root cause goes much deeper than the number on the scale. We are a culture that lives in fear. We fear that we are not pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, or thin enough. We live in fear of what others think. We fear not being enough and so act as if there will not be enough or that we can’t get enough. And so we eat. Some of us don’t eat. Others go buy too many shoes, while others sell subprime mortgages on Wall Street. Others shoot at unarmed black kids and others want to build walls on our borders. These are all symptoms of the same problem.
When we try to make sustainable weight loss it’s own separate problem, a problem that is only all about how many calories we burn, how long we exercise, and leptin levels, we are not getting at the root cause. Just when you pull a weed out of the ground, if you don’t get the root, it will always just grow back. We simply are not digging deep enough.
But this is how we handle problems in this country. We analyze them. We commission studies for them. We spend millions of dollars on medicines that only treat the symptoms. Making obesity a chronic medical condition is a surefire way to keep people small and at the mercy of the pop a pill phenomenon that is already exploding in this country. And it’s dangerous.
And I don’t mean dangerous in the evil conspiracy by the drug companies way, though that is a very real possibility. I mean dangerous in the way that it steals people’s power. It shifts responsibility of the problem because when one can say, “oh I have a medical condition” it becomes the doctor’s responsibility to fix it. And when that happens we stop trusting ourselves. We stop trusting ourselves to be able to care for, manage and heal our own bodies. We stop trusting ourselves around food. We stop trusting ourselves around money. We stop trusting ourselves around one another.
Consuming excessive calories and gaining an excessive amount of weight isn’t the problem. It is a symptom of the deep seeded fear we hold inside. We forget that the mind always wins. It is the thought behind the thought behind the thought that dictates the outcome.
Marianne Williamson once said, “Our Deepest Fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
If we truly want to solve the weight loss puzzle and achieve sustainable weight loss and health, we have to stop looking at it as its own separate problem disconnected from everything else we experience as human beings. We have to see it for what it really is: fear. Without addressing and transforming those deep fears that are within all of us, the battle of the bulge is lost before it’s even begun.