Books that are written by people who have had successful weight loss often frustrate me. They frustrate me because the books often get promoted and sold to billions of vulnerable people with weight issues with the implications that the author “knows” or has found the holy grail, the solution, or the “way” to successful weight loss. And, if they are a well-known celebrity I get even more frustrated. Firstly because they immediately have access to an enormous readership which could be wonderful, if their stories also showed the extraordinary complexities of weight loss and what causes weight related problems in the first place. Also, because if they are famous they may not have financial issues or time issues that so many people struggle with that can impact on managing weight. They are more likely to be able to afford access to good nutritional advice, healthy food, a personal trainer and endorsements that the everyday person simply might not be able to afford.
Many of the stories are often brave, insightful, knowledgeable, inspiring and I commend them sharing their own personal story just not under the guise of a “how to lose weight “book.
We know that weight loss is not so easy for millions of people especially long-term maintenance. The science and research in this area is demonstrating that people living with obesity have an enormous amount of complicated hormonal, genetic, biological and metabolic factors that contribute to their obesity. Then, lets look at other factors such as cultural and emotional eating behaviors. Life stage, gender, family dynamics are among the many other factors that play a role in long term weight management. The day-to-day challenges of navigating eating can be really hard for many people.
Telling them to stop eating sugar or to quit booze solves none of these things. Sure go ahead and do these things and there will be positive health benefits for sure, and maybe some weight loss too.
But it is just a part of a bigger picture.
Perhaps waiting for five years before proclaiming “success” and exploring what the years of maintenance looks and feel like might be more relatable to. How did managing all life’s challenges like love, loss, long working hours, illness, pain and inter personal relationships affect weight management? How would they navigate the extraordinary difficulty that some people have, where a drive to eat is accompanied by a constant hunger? Often people who don’t have that drive do not understand how consuming that feeling might be.
What we do eat or drink or don’t eat or drink is only part of the picture.
Just because you did something doesn’t mean everyone can do it and it certainly doesn’t make you an expert on anyone except yourself.
Because, when we say: “If I can do it anyone can” it runs the risk of shaming people and making them feel inadequate if they genuinely “can’t”!!!!