A few days ago, The New York Times posted THIS article. In it, they talk about how a scientist decided to follow a group of Biggest Loser contestants who had lost EXTREME amounts of weight, and see what their bodies did six years later. Thirteen out of fourteen contestants gained some, if not all, of their weight back. They talk, in the article, about how this is due to a slow down in the subjects’ metabolic rate, and how this shocking new discovery is to blame for their regain.
This article pissed me off. So much so that I ranted about food choices on my Facebook and Instagram for a day. Because one of the fundamental flaws in this article is that this particular “study” (and I use that term loosely, which I will explain in a minute) applies to everyone. It doesn’t. And here’s why:
This particular group of people were put through NINE hours of extreme exercise A DAY. They were also guided to a 3,500 calorie deficit PER DAY. That’s insane. Nope, don’t argue with me, because if you are, you’re insane. NO ONE can be expected to keep up that kind of lifestyle. So, yes, sending them home after doing that to them for 7 months is setting them up for “failure” in their weight loss journey. It’s an extreme weight loss in a very short amount of time, which will cause havoc on your bodily functions. So the extreme loss in metabolic rate? DUH. That is probably the LEAST of these poor peoples’ problems.
Here’s the second issue with this “study,” where’s the data for everyone else? Where’s the data that shows what a resting metabolic rate looks like for an average American? Or the resting metabolic rate for someone who has lost the same amount of weight over a longer period of time (say 1-2 pounds per week)? You know, the data that applies to everyone else on the planet? THAT part REALLY struck a nerve for me, because I have friends that looked at this article and felt discouraged about their own weight loss. I heard “what’s the point of losing all kinds of weight if I’m just going to gain it back?” And “my body will fight to get to a certain weight if I’ve been that way for a long period of time.” As someone who is currently in her own weight loss journey, and going into the fitness field to HELP people with this journey, that is so disheartening to hear. This data doesn’t necessarily apply to you.
And here’s the third issue I see with this article; what kind of lifestyle choices were these people making to gain all this weight back? What did their activity level look like? What kinds of food choices were they making? Were they sleeping enough? Getting enough water? Because this whole process, losing weight, is about MORE than just the workout. It’s about WHOLE body health; how much water you drink, how much sleep you get, and in my opinion, the most important, WHAT ARE YOU CHOOSING TO PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? One contestant (the one who has maintained the most weight loss over the last six years) has avoided sugars and processed foods. Here’s my shocked face. Diets don’t work, it’s a lifestyle change. If you stop eating whole, unprocessed foods? You’re going to gain weight. Especially if you’re activity level, sleep level, water intake, etc change. That’s just the way it goes.
I was really upset by this article. I found it pretty irresponsible for there to be no other data shared other than an extreme measure of weight loss. Then I thought about it from the supplement and dietary pill industry. That’s pretty genius if you ask me. Guys, here’s a news flash; THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL. THERE IS NO SECRET WEAPON. THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO DO IT. It takes hard work and dedication. It’s never easy, there are days when it sucks. And there are days when it’s easier and awesome. You will gain a pound some days, and lose two some weeks. It’s a LIFESTYLE change, and it does not happen quickly. It’s a process, and it’s slow. And yes, I think that there is a healthy body type, but it’s VERY individual. My healthy body isn’t going to look the same on someone else. THAT is the problem, we are so busy comparing ourselves to everyone else that we forget the focus should be on our OWN selves. This data doesn’t apply to you if you’re losing weight safely. It just doesn’t.
A friend of mine had a client who found THIS article where it talks about how this article calling the weight gain a “personal disappointment” is actually incorrect, and her issues with the article. It even addresses the slower metabolism issue. I suggest reading it, if you’re interested in such things. Or if you’re looking for a positive article about weight loss (I know, they’re so few and far between).
And thanks for letting me go on another weight loss tirade. LOL I promise not ALL my blog posts will be about that (or they might, who knows).