Here We Go AGAIN!

I can hardly stand it, yet another celebrity on national television sharing her weight crisis. You’ve probably heard by now, Kirstie Alley, actress, past Jenny Craig spokesperson, has found the weight she lost with Jenny Craig. Not only has she gained the weight back, she admits to staying away from exercise for over a year. Hmmm, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again, DIET’S DON’T WORK! Even if a company is paying you to lose weight, what happens when the money stops? Kirstie Alley has shown us. It’s like any diet, what happens when the motivation is gone, the wedding is over, the reunion has passed? Oprah has shown us. If you’re not buying in to the reason you’re changing your lifestyle, it won’t stick. If you’re not making changes that make sense for you and your lifestyle, weight loss won’t stick. If you’re restricting yourself so much that you are unable to achieve any sort of balance, weight loss won’t stick.

Amid all the tears and shame, Alley is saying that she believes after this experience, she has broken the weight loss code and will be revealing herself in 6 months or so, but she can’t reveal her secret. What? Are you kidding me? I know the secret, eat less and move more and do it in private. Stop putting the eyes on you as your sole motivation to lose weight……again. Ahh, but then Kirstie revealed she’d be writing a book about it, now I get it, another celebrity weight loss book. That makes perfect sense for those of us so immersed in a lifestyle like that of Kirstie Alley.

The most disappointing piece to this whole sordid weight loss debacle is that Oprah had Kirstie Alley on her show recently. Part of me “gets” Oprah’s reasoning, to let people know that weight gain happens, many times. But if you’re going to have someone like that on your show, why can’t you point out to the millions of people watching WHY Kirstie failed, why you have failed, why millions of people fail on diets every single day? There has yet to be ANYONE that delves in to the why, other that dietitians on news programs, but Oprah and the other celebrities seem to turn away from the straight up truth about weight loss. You know why? Because there’s not one clean answer, it’s different for everyone, yet Oprah and Kirstie Alley and the millions of others who have gained and lost weight think it should be easy and therefore when they fail, they feel like idiots, “Shouldn’t ANYONE be able to do it?” Yes, anyone can do it but not just anyone can keep the weight off and that is where we miss the boat. ANYONE can lose weight, but the maintenance piece is always missing from the average weight loss program.

Here are my thoughts on why the diet approach continues to fail for so many.

1. Expectations are incongruent with the work that needs to be done. No matter how much you may want to lose weight, if you’re not willing to do the work consistently to get the results you THINK you want, don’t even start. It’s about having realistic expectations. You think you should lose 50 pounds, perhaps start with 10 and go from there. High goals that are not congruent with what you’re willing or able to do (as well as genetics) will set you up for failure again and again. I see it all the time, people think they know what they want, but when they realize the work behind it they quit and once again view themselves as a failure. If expectations are realistic, the work to follow should be as well.

2. It’s all about the exterior. You cannot try to create perfection because you will fall short every time and falling short means quitting, quitting the diet. If I had a quarter for every woman that came to me wanting a flat stomach or thinner thighs (these are typically genetic things that can’t be changed), I’d be a wealthy woman. Because we see magazine covers and celebrities, many believe that is what they should look like, not good. Focusing on the exterior will often result in disappointment simply because change happens from the inside out. Therefore, focus on changing inside first, outside will follow.

3. All you think about is the weight loss, BIG MISTAKE! The more you focus on weight, the less you will focus on health, trust me. Those that weigh themselves consistently become so obsessed with the numbers, they’ll do anything to get the weight off such as skipping meals, counting points (often selecting unhealthy options), cutting calories dangerously low, etc. If you want to get to a healthy weight and be healthy for the long haul, stop weighing yourself and simply focus on making healthy lifestyle changes, move as often as you can and work everyday to eat as healthy as you can. Therefore, making lifestyle changes for your health, that is something that makes sense.

4. You use the scale, BIG MISTAKE! How many times have you been having a really great week, eating well, moving more? You get on the scale after two weeks, (after all you’ve been gaining weight for 20 years and in 2 weeks you expect your body to transform) and you weigh yourself, you’re down 1/4 of a pound and want to scream. Instead of screaming, you eat ice cream or go out for fast food or simply ditch any further effort to lose weight. I know, I’ve been there. You cannot rely on the scale to tell you how you’ve been doing in only 2, 3 or even 6 weeks. As women go through the various stages of life, they lose weight differently, I know it’s unfair, but it is what it is. The best thing that you can do is listen to your body, it will tell you how you’re doing, don’t let the scale dictate your success or failure.

Look, I’ve been following this diet stuff for over 20 years and nothing has changed. Diets simply help people lose weight but rarely, very rarely do diets teach people how to maintain a healthy weight. Sure, there may be maintenance programs, but the reality is that once the diet is over and the weight is lost, people don’t know how to assimilate back to normal life and that’s where the trouble starts. You see, people use food for many different reasons, coping mechanism, comfort, reward, punishment, etc. And until there are other methods of dealing with those issues, food will always remain the obstacle to gaining control over the health. So above and beyond moving more and eating less, perhaps discover what role food plays in your life and how you can change it. I tell my clients all the time, it took you a long time to gain the weight and change your lifestyle habits, give yourself the same patience in getting back to health. As a client of mine recently said to me, it’s brilliant, “Better to be patient, than a patient.”

Here’s to a healthy you, explore, discover and become your best.


One Response

  1. Touche! We’ve got the celebrities boasting about their latest “gimmick” (they won’t call it that) and The Biggest Loser convincing our clients that we should be able to work miracles on them (like losing 10 lbs./wk.). It’s when they fully understand the reality of what it actually takes to reach and maintain their goals that we, as fitness professionals, can finally help. As Oprah, Kirstie, and countess other rich celebs have proven time and time again, all the money in the world will not make you thin. Hiring a trainer will not make you thin. They must take ownership. I love to hear Bob Greene, Oprah’s trainer talk because he comes right out and says, “It’s about truth- being true with yourself.” She knows it. To hear her speak, she could be a trainer herself! It’s a matter of putting that knowledge into action. Great post!

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