I read this post recently by an awesome blogger named Ragen Chastain. Ragen has the blog Dances With Fat. Ragen is a blogger that tells it like it is, although that is not always the popular thing to do. Some people prefer the more subdued “polite” approach. I, like Ragen, prefer the more direct “IT IS WHAT IT IS” approach.
Well her recent post about “Stealing Dreams” hit very close to home.
She was accused of “stealing people’s dreams” because she talks about the statistic that 95% of people attempting long term weight loss fail. I have often been accused of stealing dreams as well when I quote stats, reports, or even my own personal experience with the Lap-Band. The stats may not be what you want them to be, but IT IS WHAT IT IS.
I know some people are the eternal optimist and prefer only to look at the positive, but you do yourself and others a disservice if you fail to evaluate things realistically!
So whether the subject is weight loss in general, lap-bands, or any other aspect in life, it’s beneficial to evaluate things realistically and go into it with your eyes wide open!
Recently, and not for the first time, I was accused of “stealing people’s dreams” since I talk about the statistic that 95% of people who attempt long term weight loss fail. I was thinking about this today at Disney World, the”Happiest Place on Earth” and I’m watching people freak out because Disney fails to meet their unrealistic expectation.
Pro tip: If your child is 3 and accustomed to a routine that includes naps, sitting, downtime, and food containing protein, then no amount of cotton candy and character photo ops is likely to stop a complete meltdown when you try to keep him awake all day while walking 20 miles. This is not Disney’s fault, they are not stealing anyone’s vacation dreams, people have the option to dream realistically and, if they don’t, they will have to deal with the screaming, stomping, pouting consequences.
I am very vocal about the mountain of research showing that long term weight loss is nearly impossible. Because of this I get accused a lot of trying to “steal people’s weight loss dreams”. People criticize me for this despite the fact that I am very clear that people have every right to choose dieting just like I have every right to choose health at every size, and that I only talk about these things in my forum – I never go to weight loss sites and tell people that they should make a different choices. But that does not mean that I’m not going to tell the truth in my forum.
The people who sew in the tag that says “Cape does not enable user to fly” are not stealing my dreams of flying. They are giving me the opportunity to read the tag so I can make an informed decision before I yell “Hey y’all watch this!”, jump off a roof and break something I’ll need in later life.
But back to weight loss, what is the dream really? Is it being smaller, or is it all the things that you believe will come along with that. Consider these sentences:
- I started eating healthier and exercising, I lost weight, and now I feel better.
- I lost weight, I started going to more parties and now I have more friends.
- I lost weight, I became more confident and then I met my spouse.
You could remove “I lost weight” from each of these sentences and they could still be complete. The reality for 95% of dieters is that if they keep the “I lost weight” in the sentences, then they will will need to add a sentence at the end that starts “Now that I’ve re-gained the weight…” That makes me think that we might want to come up with different dreams:
- I dream of a world where people can see the beauty in bodies of all sizes.
- I dream of a world where health care professionals base their advice on the scientific evidence available.
- I dream of a world where we pour sixty billion dollars a year into successful health programs instead failed weight loss programs, where the US is a successful role model for having access to health, rather than a failed role model for making everyone thin.
If someone’s dream is weight loss, then the research shows that they have almost no chance of achieving it, and yet there’s a huge chance of ending up less healthy than they started. If their dream is health, then there is more and more research that shows that healthy habits will lead to better health, even if they don’t lead to weight loss.
A dieter once commented on a piece that I wrote saying “I know that I only have a 5% chance of succeeding, but I’m hoping and praying to be in that 5% because, really, what else makes sense?” You can choose hope and prayer as a health strategy and it’s a legitimate life choice. But it’s not the only thing that makes sense. To me focusing on healthy behaviors makes sense. Choosing a path to health based on research makes sense. Choosing a path to health that has a chance of succeeding outside the margin of error makes sense to me.
Now it’s up to you to decide what makes sense to you, dream your dreams, and make your choices.