With some 12 million people in the UK and approximately 100 million in the USA on a diet at any one time the pursuit of thinness is highly sought after. This is fuelled by concerns about health and our preoccupation with our outer appearance. The media feeds off this with a continual barrage of pictures and stories about celebrities and their perfect, slim lives.
Dieting success is elusive
But people who diet go on an average of 4 diets a year according to market research surveys, which is a reminder of how little success diets offer people. And they keep doing on average 4 new diets a year when they don’t work.
Many of the celebrities who attract attention for losing weight also attract attention for putting it back on again. They are of course no different from the rest of us and their lives are probably no more fulfilling, but the wealth and attention they enjoy can make it look as though they lead charmed lives.
Finding a comfortable balance
As people I work with start to lose weight I am struck that many discover that they are less concerned about reaching a particular weight and more interested in reaching a point where they feel comfortable with their weight and eating patterns and activity levels. Arriving at a comfortable point is a very positive achievement because when you get there, it’s easy to maintain because the eating patterns, activity levels and weight are the ones that feel good.
Weight is not the be-all-and-end-all
Weight as a one-off single measure of health is recognised to be an over-simplification. This is making the news this week following the publication of “The Obesity Paradox” by Dr Carl Lavie which challenges the prevailing view that being overweight is simply bad for you. Dr Lavie is a Consultant Cardiologist and notes the well-established finding that the biggest risks of death lie at the extreme ends of the spectrum of extreme underweight (as measured by Body Mass Index of 18.5 or less) or extreme overweight (BMI of above 35). He also notes the well-established link between obesity and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke.
But he goes on to discuss research which suggests that among people with medical conditions such as heart disease, those who are overweight or moderately obese often live longer and fare better than normal weight patients with the same ailments. He says that metabolic fitness as reflected in raised blood pressure and high cholesterol needs to be taken in to account and that this is improved by the quality of nutrition and by exercise.
“Rather than tirelessly encourage weight loss and focus on the numbers on the weighing scales or BMI index, we should promote cardio-metabolic fitness and urge people of all sizes to think about their health in terms of how well they eat and exercise”.
Step by step
With Appetite Retraining the focus is on making stepwise changes to eating habits until you reach the point of feeling comfortable with your weight, eating patterns and activity levels. These changes need to work within the demands of your home, work and social life or they will not be sustained. This is a problem for most diets in that they require a wholesale change overnight to how and what you eat. For most people, achieving this level of change alongside a lifestyle that doesn’t change becomes too stressful and the diet is let go. The aim with Appetite Retraining is to ensure that the changes are sustainable by making one at a time and establishing how the new habit can become integrated into your way of doing things before you move on to making the next change.
If you wish to sign up for a Diagnostic Assessment with Dr McCarthy to work out which specific eating habits you want to change and how to begin to make the changes, see further details here