If there’s one meme that makes me particularly nuts about weight loss gurus, it’s this one:
“I lost weight, so you can too!”
This concept is so ludicrous, but we all believe it. In a weird way, it makes sense to us. We think, here is a fellow human who is thin and/or lost weight. I’m a human, so it should work for me too!
But we forget that being human may be where the similarities end between us.
Here are some things to consider:
1) Genetics — About 70% of weight variation is based on genetics. In other words, fatness is incredibly hereditary. If no matter what you do, you still have your mom’s thighs or your dad’s double chin, that’s because genes have a huge effect on relative fatness, and where it shows up on our bodies.
2) Circumstances — This should be pretty obvious too, but people lead really different lives, with varying obligations, stress levels, health concerns, work schedules, access to food, access to workout equipment, access to sunlight, etc. And these circumstances all play a huge role in how one’s body might respond to whatever “plan” is being pushed on it.
3) Metabolism/Bodily Differences — People’s bodies are really different. The calories in/ calories out model that is so cheerfully touted is not based on reality. People’s metabolisms, their ability to lose weight, gain weight, gain muscle, etc. is all highly individualized.
4) All Weight Is Not Created Equal — People lose weight and gain weight for a lot of different reasons, and sometimes even they don’t know why. Some folks who obsess about losing their “baby weight” may have lost it anyway because they’re genetically predisposed to do so. A lot of us know that guy who lost a few pounds after he stopped drinking soda, but that doesn’t mean that will happen for someone else. And the “stopped drinking soda guy” may have drunk more soda in a day than you do in a month. Sometimes following Health At Every Size principles results in weight loss for some folks, and it may result in weight gain for others. And it’s hard to predict what will happen to whom.
5) The “I Did It” Folks Are Outliers — Only about 5% of folks who lose weight actually keep it off past the 5 year mark, and usually they didn’t lose all that much weight to start. The huge, vast majority of people who lose weight gain it all back, often plus more, within 3-5 years. So these “I did it!” folks usually fall into 1 of 4 categories (a) statistical anomaly, (b) still in the honeymoon phase before hitting the dreaded 3 year mark, (c) didn’t lose much to begin with, and (d) totally lying.
Basically, everyone is really different. Remember this the next time you start to fall for the “I Did It, So You Can Too” Phenomenon!
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Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. Go to http://www.bodylovewellness.com/free to get her NEW free gift — Golda’s Top 5 Tips For Loving The Body You Have Right Now!
-  Linda Bacon, Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Dallas: Benbella Books, 2008) 137 ↩