I came across an article written by Rosemary MacCabe, deputy editor of Stellar magazine.
She is doing a diary of her experiences with Slimming World
This particular edition caught my eye
Because it’s an all too common experience for the female members at SF Fitness.
And it’s something I see causes so much frustration and unhappiness
In her own words she’s “in a state of delirious free-fall”
I won’t go too much into the article, you can read it here if you like
Rosemary calls it the
“…inevitable fall off the wagon”
Heard that before right?
Yes if you’re following the same advice thousands and thousands of Irish women have followed for years. But how many of these women have actually become healthier, kept the weight off and are not in a constant battle with food, cravings, willpower and the bathroom scales?
This is what I take issue with
It’s the approach. The mindset it creates. And the hardship and struggle I’ve seen countless women suffer through. All in the name of losing weight.
I’ve labelled it ‘Diet Mode’
Rosemary says she was doing so well.
Had lost half a stone. But then she missed a meeting and then another. She went to a different meeting to catch up. Stepped on the scales and had gained 2lbs.
Had she really gained weight?
Unless she used the same scales as before how can she be sure?
I’ve tested weighing scales side by side and seen the number fluctuate dramatically. And these were brand new scales. I’d hazard a guess the one she’d been using had been used many times over. They become less accurate over time.
So for all Rosemary knows she may have even lost weight.
Scales are the last thing I’ll use with my members to assess progress. For the reasons below as well as the see saw of emotions they can elicit.
Weight’s down = feel great
Weight goes up = feel bad
Or as Rosemary called it “a shame spiral”
But your scale weight is made up of your skin, bones, fat, muscle, blood, water, food waste, carbohydrate, organs and you’ve even got 1-2lbs of bacteria in your stomach (that’s your immune system)
So in theory you could get a procedure to wipe out all the bacteria in your gut and lose 2lbs. You’d weigh less but you’d be sacrificing your health. You could also chop off a leg and weigh a few stone lighter. But would you look any better?
Because scale weight means jack shit
Your friends won’t come up to you, throw a scales on the floor and say step on these scales I want to see if you’ve lost weight.
But they will say wow, you look amazing, you’ve lost loads of weight, what’s your secret?
That’s what everyone who comes to me for weight loss really wants.
They say weight loss. But after a chat we discover they really mean they want to look better, so they will feel better and be healthier.
So if you want to look better, focus on measurements like inch loss, your clothes and photos.
These tell you your true progress not the scales
Because depending on the time of day, month and what you’ve eaten or drank your scale weight will always go up and down. And this doesn’t reflect if you are truly losing body fat.
Body fat is what you call the wobbly bits. The stuff that covers the areas where most of the women I work with want to see more tone in. Thighs, stomach, arms etc
Just check out the pics below.
Not a single pound lost on the scales in two of them. And scale weight went up in the middle one.
But a hell of a lot of body fat has gone. And these women can finally see that toned look they were trying to get for so long.
Throwing all your effort and results away from a measly 2lb scale weight gain, if it even was that, doesn’t make any sense.
I’m very aware emotions rule all. Logic goes out the window at these times.
And Rosemary did point out that what she did, after seeing that 2 lb gain on the scales (which meant she was still 5 lbs lighter than when she started), was like dropping your phone, scratching the screen and deciding to bash the living shit out of it with a sledgehammer.
It was a bump which, in her mind, seemed like Everest
All because she’s been told to place all her hopes on a stupid machine and be rewarded with a sticker when she loses 7lbs.
Seriously who wants a sticker to motivate them? No wonder these women leave the weigh in and head straight for a take away.
Probably the biggest red flag I noticed was this line:
“I had no one to sympathise with and no one to get me back on the straight and narrow”
So she turned to food. She splurged and ate everything in site.
I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a woman who hasn’t done this before.
Feel bad = eat to feel better
And here’s where I take a huge issue with the so called experts and countless internet articles labelling foods as bad or fattening
I’m no scientist. So I’m not gonna go into the biological reasons why one food, like carbs or fat, isn’t fattening
What I will use is what my father calls
So let’s take chocolate
If you ate 100 calories of chocolate a day. And that was the only thing you ate. Would you gain fat?
Therefore chocolate is not fattening
Same goes for all food. I don’t care if it comes in a package or grows on trees. If you only eat 100 calories a day you won’t get fat. And that means no food can be labelled as fattening.
If you can take anything from this blog post let it be this. Because knowing this means you’ll start to develop a much better relationship with food.
On the other hand if you overeat any food you’re going to get fat.
Doesn’t matter if it’s crisps or broccoli.
Sure, it’s highly unlikely to over eat broccoli. Seeing as this is what 200 calories of the stuff looks like:
And I’m aware Slimming World and the likes do promote a style of eating where you can fit in a bit of what you fancy. But even calling them Syns still promotes some idea that these are bad. You’re Synning.
You’re not. You just ate a bar of fucking chocolate. Big deal. Get on with your day and quit beating yourself up. You haven’t broken anything. Because it’s the negative mindset of guilt and feeling ashamed that causes so many women to fall off Rosemary’s wagon.
She finished her article with this
“I’m giving it a good go for the next few weeks”
My questions to her are:
What’s stopping you from feeling like you can do this for the rest of your life? What’s so hard about it you can only do it for a few weeks?
Surely you’d want to be at your goal weight/body shape forever, not just a fleeting moment. To find something easier, something you can see yourself still doing in a year?
That means you’d never have to enter ‘diet mode’ again and suffer through the shame spirals, frustration, delirious free falls, deepest funks and regrets. Surely there’s more to life than this?
There’s one more thing I want to discuss about this article. But it’s gonna take up a good bit of space and probably piss a fair few people off.
I’ll give it it’s own blog post so you’ll have to sit tight for while
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John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.