I love to blog because I love to write. However, I find it daunting to talk about weight and weight-loss because I’m concerned about my comments may come across. Aside from being scrupulous about not using weight in a stigmatizing way, I also want to address readers’ concerns on the subject and be careful not to bum them out by what I say.
Every time I post a blog or an article describing scientific evidence that weight is strongly genetically based, I get a pang of discomfort. If I write that obesity is highly heritable, I worry that readers will feel pessimistic and lose interest in taking care of their bodies, thinking “What’s the use?” If I write that most people who lose weight regain it or, often, regain more than they originally lost—I fear that I’m blowing someone’s day and that they’ll feel frustrated and helpless to ever find a sustainable weight for themselves. I feel as if I’m stealing their hope and replacing it with despair.
Equally, if I write that readers are unlikely to lose weight and keep it off by focusing on the scale (rather than on health and wellness), I worry that they’ll think I don’t understand them. Specifically, I fear that they’ll think that I don’t get that they wish to both be healthy and slimmer. I do understand this, but I also know that a weight-loss focus does not work as well in the long run as does a health focus.
And, if I say that weight-loss shouldn’t be a goal, I’m concerned that they’ll think I’m telling them to simply accept their larger bodies as is and not pursue health goals. Weight loss does benefit some people in some ways and not in others. A focus on health benefits everyone and, by having health goals, people may also drop weight. I don’t want readers to surrender to the belief that they will always have poor health, whether they come by it via genetics or by giving up on wellness.
So, my dilemma is how to say what I believe based on science and on my three decades of experience treating dysregulated eaters and higher weight clients. I don’t want to turn you off, bum you out, or make you angry that life is unfair. I don’t want you to give up because you believe that the deck is stacked against you and that becoming healthy is out of your reach. That is not true, no matter what your weight, size or history. You can always (always, always) improve the actions you take regarding eating, moving your body, and life skills, as well as better your understanding of all that drives your behaviors that work against you.
I cannot change the truth (yes, there is such a thing as truth based on evidence, no matter what the powers that be say) and neither can you. But you can change what is under your control which is your thoughts, feelings and behavior. You have more power than you think you have.