You’ve heard it so many times: “Calories in, calories out.” It’s simple, right? Well, not really. It turns out, our approximately 30-trillion-cell selves are much more complicated than a reductive equation. And our body size, as much as we’re led to believe otherwise, is largely impacted by factors beyond our control. Twin and adoption studies, for instance, strongly support the fact that weight is more influenced by our genes than by our behavior.1 And yet, many of us, impacted by diet culture and weight stigma, spend a large portion of our lives trying to manipulate our size and shape via food restriction and/or exercise.
But the research shows, trying to lose weight (especially long-term) is a losing proposition. Most people who drop pounds on a diet gain them back, and up to two thirds of dieters end up at a higher weight than where they started.2 Many evidence signs of disordered eating as a consequence of dieting.
Why is it so hard to manipulate our bodies via diet and exercise?
A number of powerful mechanisms work tirelessly to maintain our set point, essentially to keep us alive. When you’re trying to lose weight, your hormones shift. You experience an increases in ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite (the “hunger hormone”) and a decrease in leptin, a hormone that functions as an appetite suppressant. You become more sensitive to food cues; food even tastes better. Your metabolism slows, and you’re less likely to move your body. Many dieters end up binge eating as a result of dieting and blame themselves, when in fact, binge eating is a natural consequence of restriction.
At Gatewell Therapy Center, we call for a ceasefire against harmful weight manipulation practices and we advocate for cultural reform that actively challenges fat bias, stigma, and oppression. We understand why you want to lose weight, but we prefer to focus on healing your relationship with food and your body from a place of acceptance and respect. You can improve your health and well-being without intentionally manipulating your body – and you won’t do any damage in the process. We know weight loss is a seductive enterprise, but it’s harmful, based on lies, gaslighting, and manipulation. True healing comes from a place of compassion, curiosity, and care.
1 Silventoinen et al., 2010 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19752881/)
2Mann et al., 2007 (http://janetto.bol.ucla.edu/index_files/Mannetal2007AP.pdf)