Entering into February, we are now at the time honored point of the year where many of the 50 million or so Americans that entered into a diet as part of their New Year's Resolutions have given up. For whatever reason, it failed and left the individual in a complex, often disappointed but ultimately unique place. As primarily a whole person running coach, you might expect me to say: No! Don't give up! Keep trying to lose that weight!
But that's not what I say. And here's why.
According to Harriet Brown, author of Body of Truth, people enter into diets for two basic reasons. We want to look better and get healthier.
But here's a cruel fact for you: decades of studying has shown that dieting does neither of those things.
Let's start with looking better. Obviously in the context of dieting that is judged on whether we got thinner or not.
Dieting can make people thinner for 6-24 months, which is how long most studies follow people. But here are some sobering realities when it comes to whether dieting even results in weight loss:
Not only this, but the typical American tries several times each year to diet. What often accompanies this is weight cycling, or yo-yo dieting. This means body weight goes up and down. Weight cycling can be a major issue, for a variety of reasons:
But what about health? Surely dieting and weight loss leads to better health! Sadly no. Here's what actually happens:
So in sum we can make the following conclusions: diets neither makes us thinner nor healthier, nearly everyone who diets ends up heavier in the long run, many people's health suffers rather than improves, repeated dieting can make it worse, and dieting is a major risk for binge eating and obesity. For more on this, check out Harriet Brown's fabulous book, Body of Truth.
And what do I say as a whole person running coach? I say that perhaps its time to rethink our assumptions about body, health and weight. Perhaps its time to explore our relationship with our body and with eating. Perhaps dieting doesn't need to be an automatic thing we think we should do.
New to the Blog?