The UK diet industry is worth in excess of £2 billion a year.
Is that a just reward, well-earned by helping millions achieve and maintain a healthy body weight? Well, in 2017, 24% of British men and 26% of British women were classified as obese with 62% of people considered to be overweight.
Slimming clubs, intermittent fasting, meal replacement shakes, the elimination of entire food groups, miracle supplements…… I could go on. All backed up by inspirational stories and motivational before and after images; a magic bullet to deliver your wildest dream.
A slimmer, happier, more successful version of yourself is just a few easy steps away. Just pick your goal and start your weight loss journey today!
And therein lies the problem. The most persuasive factor shared by all of these is the promise of an end point. You will arrive, victorious, at your chosen destination – your target weight. But then what….?
You’ll live happily ever after, of course!
Statistically speaking, probably not. Sorry about that. (A British Medical Journal article in 2011, reveals that after 5 years, just 16% of dieters following a well-known programme had maintained their weight loss.)
First you’ll chuck the point counting guides, the food diaries and the book of delicious recipes straight in the recycling. You’ll keep the weekly £6.25 in your pocket for something more fun and shove the shiny winner’s badge at the back of your sock drawer.
Gradually, the numbers on the scale will start to creep back towards, then past, your starting weight and you’ll mentally beat yourself up for being such a loser (but not in the way you’d intended, of course). Eventually, you’ll slink back and apologetically hand over more cash to start the process all over again. Maybe this time it’ll work?
So is there an answer?
Well that’s the weight loss industry’s best kept secret.
Ask anyone who’s tried to lose weight and they can tell you with total confidence what makes up a healthy diet. Here’s a clue: it doesn’t come in the form of two nutritious shakes and a delicious treat bar ‘just a few Naughty Points each’ (unless you eat the whole box in one sitting).
The key to a healthy body starts in the mind. You have to find your personal trigger; an event, a ‘candid’ photo, illness or injury, a throw-away comment by a trusted friend are the usual culprits. With your trigger moment comes the dawning of realisation:
Being active and enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods, including the occasional treat without the guilt trip, is something to commit to for life, not a quick-fix dash for goal.
Find the activity that brings you joy and find your team – they’ll give you more support along the way than the weekly humiliation of weighing yourself in front of a complete stranger.
You’ll have ups and downs, gains and losses – life’s messy and gets in the way of the best laid plans from time to time – but you’ll be in charge of your own journey and it’s ever changing goal posts.