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Self-Care Excerpt from Don't Weight

Not as Simple as We Were Told

We hear the same basic simple message from fitness professionals, doctors, counselors, and gym teachers. They learned this basic message from their teachers and mentors. The message is that weight loss is a simple matter of calories in and calories out. Unfortunately, we have all been taught an oversimplified and inaccurate theory.

If body weight were dependent on a conscious manipulation of calories in and calories out, we would all have dramatically fluctuating weights throughout our lives.

If this simple theory were true, and you ate only one large apple per day
(that's about 100 calories)
more than you needed, you would gain

ONE HUNDRED POUNDS every ten years.

This simple theory is not true. The weight maintenance mechanism is much more complicated than calories in and calories burned. Most people do not gain 400 pounds from age twenty to age sixty, even if they eat much more than an extra apple per day. This is not reality for most people. Most people experience gradual changes in weight over time.

That is, except for dieters. Some dieters do experience dramatic weight gains in short periods of time. I often work with very large people who weigh between 300-700 pounds. Every single very large person with whom I have worked, has dieted repeatedly and consistently throughout his or her life. Dieting and food restriction are the most likely way to increase your weight over the long term!

Weight change and weight stabilization are NOT simple matters. Clearly there are more mechanisms at work here than just the individuals ability to guess calorie consumption and energy expenditure. Science does not understand the complicated weight maintenance mechanism. That is why, at this time, there is NO medication that can promise more than a 5% to 10% loss in body weight. There is NO pill that results in permanent weight loss. That is why EVERY single weight loss program has a failure rate of over 90%. (That is, over 90% of those who lose weight, gain in back within 5 years.)

Even The Weight Loss Registry from The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center helps to demonstrate this fact. The Registry was started in 1993. The media often uses the people in The Registry as proof that weight loss is a simple matter of calorie control. I would like you to consider the following statistics before you believe the media hype. Can you imagine how many millions and millions of people have lost weight in the nine years between 1993 and 2001? Well, in 2001 there were only 3000 people with "successful" weight loss stories in The Registry. And these are people who have maintained their weight loss for only ONE YEAR! Instead of demonstrating that permanent weight loss is a reasonable expectation for the majority of people, the small number of people in The Registry suggests that the estimate of over 90% failure rate for permanent weight loss is likely to be true.

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