I know I know, you are already thinking “Ah man, not another weight-loss-club bashing blog” and yep I wouldn’t blame you if you were, there are tonnes of blogs out there calling out these clubs / supplements / fad-type-diets, every day. So, yep I get it, you don’t need to see another one telling you what you already know.
However, my blog is still about these clubs. But not JUST these clubs, I’m also going to include every other weight loss promoting diet/club/PT out there as well.
About 5 years ago I recall I got shouted at by someone I was learning from, I uttered the words “weight loss” and I was chastised for not instead saying “fat loss” to be specific. Since then this fat loss message seems to have spread ten fold and it seems to have been lapped up and made into FB meme’s and PT straplines all over the shop.
Great, this is great – truly it is.
But I just don’t believe that it’s really sunk in. Or, rather – it HAS sank in, but continues to be contradicted again and again……by the folks who said it in the first place.
Confused? Bear with me and read on..
The term ‘fat loss’ gets thrown around as the superior cousin to the old and outdated ‘weight loss’ statement. The trouble is, true fat loss is notoriously hard to measure. If you take calipers, you have to allow for massive variations for human error. That cm that got added because the coach can’t quite remember where they measured it last time (or worse, it was a different coach measuring you) could see you as a result being slapped with a big fat red label saying “GAINED” on your take home spreadsheet.
Bio-impedance measuring tools, again high variability rate. You had better have the exact same levels of hydration each and every time for it to be even close to accurate. How do you figure that out? Good question..
I think this is the reason that we end up with such contradiction; of which there is still a massive amount happening in this industry. There is talk about empowerment for clients, education and positive lifestyle changes……yet I still see weight loss numbers being used in testimonials. Like, everywhere. Even from the clubs and coaches who are trying to be different.
Or those iphone app framed pictures, the lemme-see-what-you-look-like-now-compared-to-then pictures. A before and after side by side with either no writing at all or just a small paragraph with something a long the lines of “I’ve lost a stone on this plan…”
Whether or not that has been done via a “non-diet” approach or not, the focus is still on the weight. This means it’s suddenly become important again?
I wrote a blog about why I would stop using before and after pictures as testimonials over a year ago, here is the link if you want to read my reasoning’s and thoughts behind that decision —
To condense it, the basis of that decision was this; I coach women to feel awesome in their own skin, so my whole mission in my work is to help women see their own worth and become unafraid to be true to themselves. And part of that has to stem from a solid, fearless sense of self-esteem – no matter what dress size is being worn that particular day.
To show before and after pictures contradicts my values in a few ways….I’ll tell you a few briefly;
- It presents to others that this woman was “worse” before and is “better” now that she is physically slimmer.
- It suggests that you can tell someone’s heath, happiness and psychological state from what they look like in a static photo.
- With the validation via the photo we are subconsciously telling the women that if she doesn’t stay looking like that, she will go back to being “not good enough” and no longer worthy of the complements.
- We have presented to her an idea that her success in life is based on her weight and physical appearance.
- We imply to that women that getting others comments and “likes” about her current appearance is a useful and valid way of judging her worth.
- Don’t get me started on the “Wow, you look great – keep going!” comments, that have the potential to further f!ck that women in the photo up. Her reaction?”Keep going? They obviously think I still have a way to go…I need to lose more. I’ve failed.”
There are more reasons, but you can read that previous blog linked above to get into this subject in more detail.
You can’t coach with the aim of empowering women to feel awesome and take control of their lives, to then still validate their success by having them make “I have lost a stone so far!!” comments to quantify their progress. Who cares? Really, who cares?
That point will only become valid IF you can get that same women 5 years later to confirm to you that she has kept all of that weight off and she is leading a super-duper awesome life as a result of it.
Short term weight loss OR fat loss doesn’t really mean a lot to be quite honest. The truth is you go straight back to that “diet (called-out-numerous-times) club” weight loss mentality by encouraging this validation via weight.
Yes, just like those clubs we all slag off.
Yessss I know, weight loss SELLS. Yup, it does you are right there. It sells and it sells WELL! But so do juice fasts, food replacement diets and supplements. Does that means it’s acceptable to promote?
So, I sat with my mother-in-law over the weekend and we were talking about Slimming World. This conversation is what sparked this whole blog off actually. She was telling me why she stopped going. It wasn’t anything to do with the food or the “food rules”, it turns out it was the other member’s “tactics” that she got fed up of.
“Tactics?” I said, thinking she had mistaken our conversation to be one about bingo club.
She went on to explain to me stories that actually left me speechless. Yup, and that says A LOT. It started with a woman there who had been going along for years. Paying her fees each week to go and get weighed and either clapped (or frowned) at depending what the scales decided to read that day.
“You have lost a 1b! You are good today – you are officially acceptable.”
“You have gained an ounce. Go and sit in the corner and think about what you have done.”
Awesome – way to empower women. (Sarcasm)
Anyway, back to, errm, Sheila let’s call her (made up name, no offence intended to Sheila’s whatsoever).
See Sheila had been attending for years, lost a stone here and there and then gained it back to then lose it again and so on and so forth, pretty typical timeline for slimming clubs.
Mum-in-law had noticed one day that Sheila looked bulky. She had on a woollen jumper and a coat, MIL (mum-in-law) thought she may be ill. So she went up to Sheila and asked her if she was ok, she was met with a grinning Sheila who ushered her to one side. She opened her coat to see apples in the pockets of her jacket, that was on top of her woollen jumper and thick jeans.
Wanna know the reason? Bet you can guess already…
Sheila was going away next week. So she had decided to “fake” a weight gain this week with her weighted clothes and secreted apples (I am honestly not even close to joking, I know it sounds outrageous, I can assure you that my head hurts just writing this.)
Her thought process was that if she weighs heavier today, then the next week she’ll appear in leggings and a spaghetti strap top and, poof! low and behold, she’ll have lost.
Her holiday will have been and gone and she’d have emerged from a week on the wine unscathed and escaping the post-holiday wrath of the Slimming World leader.
God only knows if she did or didn’t put weight (or fat) on over the holiday, and that’s by the by. She’s not interested in what is really occurring in her body, it’s become a numbers game for her.
To “cheat” the scales successfully will have been as pleasing to her as seeing a true scale loss.
Having found my voice again I continued to probe a little more, MIL told me that she had since found out that these stories were actually all too common – hence her decision to “leave them to their games”.
We have all heard the stories about the cue for the toilets before weigh in at Weight Watchers, in fact I’ve witnessed this one myself in meetings I have been into (that’s another story.)
So, I am currently running completely confused by these revelations. I’m confused with the reasoning behind it and as I see it, there are two viable options –
—- Either we have convinced women all over that scale weight is THAT important, that they’d rather cheat themselves and everyone else around them to see a loss (any loss) on the scale to avoid that look of shame from the rest of the group.
—- Or these women (otherwise incredibly intelligent) genuinely don’t get that weight loss from lighter clothes, water loss or any other scale-trickery will have absolutely NO bearing on what they look like in that new dress next week.
Since when did it even become a thing to trick yourself into thinking such things?
I wonder, have we gone back in time? Women have the potential to lead the world right now, we are doing in many ways – yet here we with these intelligent, caring, creative, talented, Mums, Daughters, Sisters and Wives, actually putting that much effort into seeing that stupid little dial move to the left.
PLEASE. Take that effort and passion and use it for something else. Please.
We need your awesome mind to be used for other things, worthwhile stuff, the world needs you to put that determination and passion into contribution to the world around you, for important things.
Stop wasting your precious time and efforts for something that, quite frankly, in 10 years will mean absolutely JACK SHIT to you.
All I ever want to do is to open women up to their own awesomeness. NOT by changing them – but by giving them permission to be themselves. We don’t have to change in order to be great. We all have huge potential greatness within us ALREADY. We all have a limitless internal power, we have the potential to be fearless, fierce and to take charge of our lives and live out our dreams.
But we are so frickin’ caught up in how lean, thin or slim we are, that we are literally cutting our power off at the source.
“I can’t be fierce until I look this way…”
WRONG. You are totally missing the point of being fierce. It’s within YOU. In your gut, in your soul, in your mind. You have it there. You are just CHOOSING to attach conditions onto your own power.
I am not ripped. I am not even close to comp-prep shape. I have absolutely no idea what my body fat is. But do you know what, I FINALLY feel at peace with who I am.
At my leanest I didn’t feel that, ever. In fact I hated who I was. That’s why I was constantly punishing myself to become “better”.
I had attached conditions to my worth as Heather. I was only “good enough” if I was under a certain body fat threshold. Above that specific (plucked from nowhere) number, I panicked. I felt crap, guilty, anxious. The self-limiting beliefs I imposed upon myself at that time were ruling my entire life. And I was waking up each new day feeling worse.
I was expecting to get different results from repeating the same actions. Oh’oh, insanity anyone?
Outwardly you wouldn’t tell, see that’s the trouble about appearances. You can never quite tell what’s occurring underneath. Hence point number ‘2’ in the reasons I stopped the testimonial photos.
I can’t tell you the amount of women I have helped to lose weight since I became a coach. Hundreds.
Many more than once as they came back to me a third or even fourth time in between the all too common yo-yo cycles.
Can I tell you the percentage of them who years down the line still look similar to their “after” picture? Not many if I’m being completely honest.
The ones who did maintain it, mainly came into it from a health perspective at the start. The ones who didn’t were in the general “I just want to look better” camp.
That’s just what happens when things are only looked at on a surface perspective. Nothing to do with a coaches ability, it’s just that sometimes we are focusing on the wrong thing. As I used to. I used to isolate the issue and see the entire solution to being all about eating differently.
It’s only now 10 years or so later, that I’m recognising that it was never even about the food.
The one initial thing I always want to glean from any woman / potential client, is this – are you happy, do you feel at peace mentally most days? Deep down from your gut, are you absolutely in love with your life?
If there is an answer with any variation of the word “NO” then that becomes the project at hand. Ironically, 16 years of nutrition coaching has lead me to conclude that the food is only ever a small part of the problem. Happiness drives health. Not the other way around
So when I see these before and after examples of “success” still be put out onto social media and billboards, it makes me sad. Because we are still buying into that notion that these physical changes are what counts. This also means we are confirming to the next generation of women that this is what counts too.
When it isn’t. It just isn’t.
“You are fierce. You are intelligent. You are powerful beyond belief and you can go and live the life that you dream of!
….but only if you look like this first…
It’s forcing us backwards with huge steps. We want women to feel awesome in whatever skin they walk around in, they deserve to feel fearless and powerful about living their own life and working towards their own dreams. With no conditions attached to them.
Think about it, if we had a world of strong, fearless women who had the courage to step into their own power and feel awesome in their own skin, to live confidently and happily, do you think we’d even have the need for scale-trickery and mind games at Slimming World meetings?
I can’t say 100%…. but truly I suspect not.
Thanks for listening all as always, with love and awesomeness..