Honestly, Parker-Pope made it seem almost hopeless. Citing studies such as one in 2009 by Joseph Prioetto in Australia. His study placed 50 obese men and women on a very low calorie diet (500-550 calories per day) for eight weeks. Participants did lose weight, but within a year many participants had gained back about half of the weight they had originally lost. Participants also reported feeling hungrier and thinking more about food than they had before they lost the weight. Parker-Pope goes on to cite scientific information about the hormonal changes that occur during, and as a result of, weight loss. She cites these hormonal changes as the reason overweight individuals are unable to maintain weight loss.
“What we see here is a coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight,” Proietto says. “This, I think, explains the high failure rate in obesity treatment.”
Now, wait just a minute here. Yes, I read the same study that shows hormones responsible for hunger and metabolism are affected, but that does NOT mean that maintaining weight loss is impossible.
First of all..WHY does someone need to go on a 500-550 calorie a day diet for eight weeks? and WHY would you expect your body NOT to fight to regain weight after such a long period of time under basically starvation like conditions? What would happen if we took a better approach to the situation maybe approaching weight loss as a lifestyle change? Yes, it will take longer to get it off, but did you become obese in eight weeks? Why then would you think that you could lose the weight in that amount of time? Maybe losing weight without such drastic measures would not result in the reported hormonal changes.
Parker-Pope writes: "For years, the advice to the overweight and obese has been that we simply need to eat less and exercise more. While there is truth to this guidance, it fails to take into account that the human body continues to fight against weight loss long after dieting has stopped. This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat."
She goes on to cite research that identified a number of genes which may 'predispose' people to being overweight- or even to desire fattier foods. Why not just give up now? Well, hold on she DOES go on to discuss the National Weight Control Registry. The registry follows 10,000 people who have lost a minimum of 30 pounds and successfully kept it off for at least a year. So there IS hope! Don't worry, she stomps on that too as she mentions the extraordinary measures people go through to maintain that weight loss. One successful person has this to say: “It’s one of the hardest things there is,” she says. “It’s something that has to be focused on every minute. I’m not always thinking about food, but I am always aware of food.”
Parker-Pope interviewed Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University who had this to say about the 10,000 people in the National Weight Control Registry: "“All it means is that there are rare individuals who do manage to keep it off.. You find these people are incredibly vigilant about maintaining their weight. Years later they are paying attention to every calorie, spending an hour a day on exercise. They never don’t think about their weight.”
Parker-Pope goes on to describe several individuals who go to great lengths to maintain their weight loss: measuring all of their food, keeping food and exercise logs, carrying a water bottle all day each and every day, exercising more than an hour each day 6 or 7 days each week, avoiding bread, pasta, desserts and eating a larger percent of calories form protein. She has this to say about one very committed individual:
"Just talking to Bridge about the effort required to maintain her weight is exhausting. I find her story inspiring, but it also makes me wonder whether I have what it takes to be thin. I have tried on several occasions (and as recently as a couple weeks ago) to keep a daily diary of my eating and exercise habits, but it’s easy to let it slide. I can’t quite imagine how I would ever make time to weigh and measure food when some days it’s all I can do to get dinner on the table between finishing my work and carting my daughter to dance class or volleyball practice. And while I enjoy exercising for 30- or 40-minute stretches, I also learned from six months of marathon training that devoting one to two hours a day to exercise takes an impossible toll on my family life."
WOW! That's all I could say when I read her article. So in a nut-shell she is saying that weight loss is a challenge and she doesn't think she can dedicate the time necessary to do it. Hmmm, as a trainer I have heard THAT before..but that is not what is actually being said..what that actually means is that you don't WANT to do it. So I would question your desire to lose weight, to be healthy, to be a good role model for your children, family and friends. Harsh? Nope, I don't think so. Look at it like this. If someone wanted to become a journalist for saaaaayyy the NY Times, I'm sure there is a good bit of schooling that must be undertaken. Certain degrees attained, many hours interning, studying, writing, investigating. Hours of interviewing and job hunting. You may even say that there wasn't a minute that went by when the thought of this dream job wasn't in her head. Hmmmm, so if something is really important to someone they will take the time necessary to achieve that goal regardless of the time or effort it takes. Yep, I'll agree with that. So if someone will go through such great lengths to attain a degree or a job, why should improved health or weight loss be portrayed as something not deserving of such attention?
Ohhh that's right because you can work hard and still not succeed because of those silly genes. Yes, the ones that make some of us crave fattier foods and eat more calories. WHAT?? Ok, I'm not denying that those genes exist, clearly if scientists have identified them then there are there. Let's stop and think about this for a moment though. If those genes are in us NOW, couldn't it be a rather safe assumption that there were in us 50, 100, 150 years ago as well? If so why has the number of overweight and obese continued to climb with each passing year or decade? If those genes have always been present then the numbers of overweight and obese persons should remain rather constant. These people would also be found in many other countries and not predominantly in the United States of America.
Hmmmm..maybe just maybe it DOES have something to do with the foods (or non-foods as I see them) that people in this great country are consuming. Maybe, just maybe it would be a worthwhile endeavor to keep a food log and spend time thinking about what we eat.
Darnit, there I go bringing it back to personal responsibility and paying attention to what you are eating. My husband and I have this conversation all the time. It would be nearly impossible for someone to eat healthy foods and be fat. Really, do you understand how hard it would be for you to be fat eating lean protein (meats, fish, chicken, turkey, egg..) and vegetables?
God forbid you should have to exercise. Having to exercise over an hour a day, six to 7 days a week?? GASP! Haaaaa. This always makes me laugh. The human body was not meant to sit around. It was meant to be used..to 'exercise'. Get off your butt. People see nothing wrong with spending 8 hours a day working a job..trying to accomplish something, to be good at something. Yet it is inconceivable to exercise for an hour?? Are you kidding me? Do you WANT to lose weight? Do you want to succeed at THAT job? If you are unwilling to spend an hour exercising, or say that you are 'unable' to do it..then your answer is 'NO!'. I'm ok with that..just don't complain that you can't lose weight or that you can't keep it off. You get out exactly what you put in. If your results aren't what you want, reevaluate your approach.
So here's the truth:
Step one- do not become overweight. It would be a tremendous challenge to become overweight eating only lean protein and vegetables.
Step two-if you are overweight, see step one.
Step three- realize that it WILL take conscious effort AND time to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF.
Delayed gratification is not something we Americans do well with. We don't want it now, we want it last week. Repercussions? Who cares, give it to me yesterday. This desire to have things RIGHT NOW is even more common when it comes to weight loss. Maybe just maybe if we explained this to people we would have a better chance of actually effecting lifestyle changes, successful weight loss AND weight management.