Let’s pretend for a second that you just got shot. What happens? Blood starts pouring out, right?
Now imagine if instead of calling 911, you threw a band-aid on it. What do you suppose would happen?
Depending on the size of the hole, it might work for a hot second but would slip right off as blood soaked through it, right? Would you try another band-aid?
Maybe a different brand or a bigger size?
And what if everyone around you sat around watching the blood pour out while shouting at you to make it stop.
"You just need more willpower! Stop being so lazy! Make it stop! Why can't you just get some self-control and make the band-aid stick? You're such a failure!"
...are just some of the types of things you hear from everyone around you, including doctors.
And every where you look, everyone wants to sell you all kinds of different band-aids that promise the same thing -- but none of them ever stick.
And so you blame yourself.
Imagine if we built an entire culture around trying to slap band-aids over gun shot wounds... an entire culture of people (doctors included) who blamed and judged the victims for being shot, told them that only people who are too lazy to do anything about it let themselves go and bleed all over the floor when they’ve been shot.
That’s exactly what we’ve been doing for generations with weight. Actually, since dieting creates a whole host of other problems, it's more like we've been trying to treat them with more gunshots but I'm going to stick to my band-aid analogy.
Now to be very clear, I don’t mean to suggest that gaining weight is a medical condition like a gun shot wound, or that it’s a mess we need to clean up. The point is the biggest reason so many people struggle with weight and food their whole lives is because we’ve built a culture that blames, shames and attempts to band-aid symptoms rather than address the cause.
This the biggest reason so many people struggle with weight and food their whole lives -- because we’ve built a culture that blames, shames and attempts to band-aid symptoms rather than address the cause.
And there are people everywhere that have a million different types of band-aids that they all claim will fix the problem.
In the same way blood pouring out all over the floor is a symptom of the bullet hole, weight gain is a symptom – it has a direct or indirect cause.
It’s not the problem, it’s the symptom.
But that’s not how we’ve been treating it.
We’ve been taught that:
all weight gain is equally bad and needs to be “fixed” and
you fix it with shame, blame, band-aids and willpower
But neither is true.
What we need, is a grand, large scale, world-wide shift in the way we’re looking at and addressing weight because until we stop treating the symptoms and start addressing the cause, nothing is ever going to change on any perceivable level.
The actual causes are often complicated and a little different for everyone but like with our gun shot victim… the causes are never, EVER laziness and lack of willpower like we’ve been taught to believe.
I’ve worked with many women who have a history of physical or sexual abuse and carrying extra weight makes them feel safer. It’s sadly way too common. Are they to be blamed and shamed? How does a band-aid help that?
I’ve worked with people whose self-worth is so damaged that they use food, overeating, bingeing, etc as self-punishment. I was one of them. And this is sadly far too common as well. How well do you suppose blame, shame & impossible to stick to food rules helps these people?
I’ve worked with people who eat to soothe and comfort difficult emotions, or to celebrate, or when they’re bored. Are they to be blamed and shamed for the way they deal with their pain? How does introducing a band-aid to their world help?
I’ve worked with people who have been dieting for decades and years of dieting attempts has rewired their brain for auto-pilot eating – eating in a such a way that we don’t even really control after awhile and because it’s happening on an unconsciously level, they don’t even know it’s happening. How does continuing to diet or blame and shame help them?
I’ve worked with people who put weight on when they quit smoking or some other habit they’d had for years because that’s just how our brains work. They cannot just quit a habit once they’ve learned it, they need to learn new ones to override the old ones. Smoking gets replaced with eating more. So again, that’s all stuff our brains do unconsciously behind the scenes to drive our behavior without us even knowing.
I’ve worked with people who just don’t want to eat less badly enough to stay in a deficit consistently. This is currently me. I gained weight since last summer but I’m happy eating the way I’m eating, and feel good so should I be feeling pressured to diet or blamed and shamed because I don’t have abs anymore?
See, this is the problem – while the world is busy celebrating all weight loss and demonizing all weight gain, and while the diet and nutrition industry is busy fighting over macros, and whose approach works the best or is the healthiest, nobody is addressing the causes – the WHY.
WHY did the weight go on? Why are you making the food choices you’re making?
We’ve been ignoring WHY the blood is pouring out.
Getting this cause and effect wrong for so long has created a multi-billion dollar diet industry that just keeps growing at the expense of our mental and physical health. It’s making us heavier, super unhappy, less physically and mentally healthy, contributing to depression, anxiety, self-destructive behaviors and keeps most people trapped on the diet roller coaster for their entire lives.
But if we turn it around – it we start actually getting the cause and effect right, it changes everything…
It’s like hauling our gun shot wound victim into the ER for surgery rather than everyone throwing ineffective band-aids at him.
It gives us a chance to diagnose the actual problem and determine if it’s even really a problem at all. For some other people, the underlying causes may be significant and negatively impacting their lives in a lot of different ways.
But dieting doesn’t help ANY of them, it just keeps us trapped in a lifelong diet cycle. And make no mistake, that is exactly what's happening and companies like Weight Watchers knows it.
This morning, I noticed a ton of news articles about their newest app. They're apparently launching a free weight loss app for kids.
I'm horrified. H-O-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.
How is that even legal? I digress...
To say that I'm disgusted and horrified is the understatement of the century. Make no mistake, Weight Watchers and companies like them, no very well that the younger we are when we start band-aiding our systems with programs like theirs, the more likely we are to become repeat customers for LIFE.
They are not trying to solve our kid's weight problems, they are investing in future lifers for their company.
The other thing I'm sure they know and simply don't care about is that the younger we are when we go on our first diet, the more likely we are to continue to GAIN weight as we get older and the more likely we are to experience a lifetime of things like depression/anxiety/eating disorders, disordered eating, weight gain, chronic dieting, abusing drugs and alcohol and deep feelings of shame and failure that negatively impact every single other area of our lives.
See, we can have a society that continues judging, shaming, blaming and ineffectively band-aiding symptoms while feeding a multi-billion dollar industry at our own expense or we can have health, happiness and freedom.
The choice is ours, and is based entirely upon how we decide to continue to thinking about and attempting to manage weight gain.
If you're with me and in for the latter but unsure where to start -- start by getting off weight watchers (or dieting in general) and explaining to your kids what dieting has done to your life so they never, ever start.
PLEASE don't let your kids start trying to band-aid weight gain.
We CAN have a society that's free from weight and food struggles and body hate. I know we can. ____ If you need help understanding and changing your own causes, I created Cognitive Eating to do exactly that! To learn more, click here.