Have You Been Brainwashed Into Being Overweight?

Have You Been Brainwashed Into Being Overweight?

Have you been brainwashed into being overweight?

Have You Been Brainwashed Into Being Overweight?

Have You Been Brainwashed Into Being Overweight?

One of the biggest barriers to making any kind of change in your life is a lack of belief that your actions will actually cause any results or have any meaning. One of the biggest problems with trying to lose weight today is that we’re brainwashed into thinking that it’s horrendously difficult to do. It isn’t, and you realise this when you’ve actually done it. But in the face of digital media, PR companies and billion-dollar weight loss company budgets, these messages can be difficult to ignore. But ignore them we must, since we risk obesity-by-brainwashing if we don’t! Neuroscientists have recently discovered the brain is like some living, eavesdropping entity. Every time you tell yourself you can’t do something, or someone else tells you that you can’t do something, and then you attempt that particular task, bits of the brain actually switch off. The brain thinks, “You can’t do it, so why put in the effort?” From the brain’s point of view it’s clever stuff; but from the point of view of someone who’s trying to lose weight, it’s actually quite damaging. Consider how often you hear the message that losing weight is difficult and confusing and you can’t possibly do it on your own. Then consider where the message originates. What are the motives behind the person or organisation making the statement? What’s in it for them? Chances are the answer has many zeros attached to the end of it!


So-called “reality” weight loss TV programs only serve to exacerbate the problem. Losing weight doesn’t look easy when viewed through the eyes of the television lens. Blood, sweat and tears, ritual humiliation, screaming and shouting, and the occasional bout of throwing up in a flowerpot – yep, that’s surely going to entice you to want to lose weight, isn’t it?[1] But of course it’s well worth remembering that the primary focus of those shows isn’t to help people to lose weight, it’s to gain ratings. And then consider that those people are in a controlled environment twenty-four hours a day for weeks on end. How are you supposed to do it all by yourself at home, with obstacles every which way you turn?


However, this is all part of the much larger issue of weight loss dependency. Many fitness instructors, personal trainers in particular, seem intent on flogging people to within an inch of their lives in order to perpetuate the idea that their clients cannot possibly live (or exercise) effectively without them. Personal trainer dependency syndrome is rampant – and physiotherapists, massage therapists and osteopaths are all reaping the rewards!



Muscles take approximately two weeks to adapt to new levels of exercise, and tendons, ligaments and bones take up to two months. That’s the reason the three to five week period of any new or strenuous exercise program is usually peak time for injuries, such as torn ligaments and tendonitis. The body’s adaptation process to exercise is much like a house being re-stumped. An under-exercised body is quite stable in terms of its potential for injury. If the body is subjected to a dramatic increase in activity level, then much like a house that’s been raised and held in place by timber stacks ready for re-stumping, the body becomes highly unstable and prone to injury. With time the body adapts to this new exercise regime, just like the house that is lowered back into position to settle on its new stumps.



Losing weight – and keeping it off – doesn’t have to be that difficult. Click To Tweet

For me, losing weight wouldn’t make it into the top ten – or even top twenty – most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life (and it’s not that I’ve had some kind of overly challenging or difficult set of circumstances to endure). I often laugh at some of the labels that have been applied to me over the past couple of years: “the weight loss wonder”, “weight loss freak”, ”the epitome of fitness” – I’ve been called everything from “supernatural” to “extraordinary”. People who’ve known me for years laugh even harder (and shake their heads as well!). There’s nothing super-special about me. In fact, the only thing that makes me so special in terms of weight loss is that I stopped listening to what everyone else said about how to lose weight (and how hard it was to do) and worked out what was going to work best for me physically, practically and psychologically. Pig-headedness has its advantages!


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Obesity Is a Confidence Crisis

Obesity is a Confidence Crisis Click To Tweet


The second major reason why people don’t “Just do it!” lies in their lack of confidence that their actions will actually result in any long-term change. Again, the “reality” of weight loss marketing and media has distorted the true reality of weight loss. Quick fixes abound. In terms of media, a successful weight loss or diet story is a ratings bonanza. People are so desperate to lose weight that they’ll try anything. I was once quite critical of a TV reporter who asked me “what is the magic weight loss bullet?” twice in the space of a four-minute interview! Why assume there’s a magic bullet at all? The answer, of course, lies in the impact of weight loss marketing schemes that all promise magical results with minimal effort. Now we no longer even question whether there’s any truth in their claims – we know that most of the time, they’re nothing but smoke and mirrors, yet we still don’t’ want to take the risk that they are completely useless – so we keep on buying them.


Quick fixes do give lasting results – but not the kind you actually want. Every twenty-four-year old, or perhaps even fourteen-year-old, who takes their first small step towards a “lose fat fast” diet is actually making one giant leap towards a yo-yo dieting cycle which can totally “stuff” their metabolism – and their mind – in just a few short years. After twenty-four hours of severe calorie restriction or detox, your metabolism slows by 5%. Continue eating too little and your metabolism can easily slow down by 20% (some experts claim metabolisms slow by as much as 40%). Thus, while you will lose weight quickly, you will regain it all – and often more – just as quickly. A very low calorie or detox diet is the equivalent to your body as a hit of heroin is to your brain. You can only take so much before you start to see major long-term damage that can be difficult to rectify.[2] And while the physical consequences are serious enough by themselves, the psychological impact of repeated quick fixes is even more dire: they destroy our confidence that any change is possible[3].


The success rate of “medium fixes” (or less radical approaches that advocate .5 to 1 kg per week of weight loss) doesn’t do a lot to inspire confidence either. While I discuss the reasons why these approaches don’t work for so many people more elsewhere, it’s obvious that for people who’ve experienced the deprivation, discomfort, disempowerment, demotivation, disengagement and dullness of dieting over and over again, only to be fatter now than when they first stepped on the diet merry-go-round twenty years ago, the impetus to step on it again isn’t particularly strong. Similarly, for people who’ve done burpees until they felt like they were going to burst, push ups until they puked or squats that left them feeling like they couldn’t pee in peace for days, and yet who are fatter now than they ever were, the thought of doing it all again for mere fleeting results isn’t exactly an enticing prospect.


While people who resort to surgery for weight loss are often thought of as lazy, it’s more a case that they just feel hopeless. Surgery is no picnic, yet its prevalence is increasing dramatically. In 2009–2009, for example, the UK reported a ninefold increase in the number of patients undergoing such procedures in just five years[4].


To voluntarily subject your body to this kind of invasion suggests a type of desperation that can only have resulted from years of failure. Some obesity experts have been similarly affected, and now strive not so much to cure obesity, but merely to contain it.


My typical weight loss client is no different to anybody else’s. Typically:


  1. They’ve been a yo-yo dieter for many years (usually over ten).
  2. They’ve tried “everything” – shakes, programs, personal trainers, frozen meals, etc.
  3. They’ve had short-term success with at least one method but have regained (or are fast regaining) all the weight they’ve lost.
  4. They’re emotional eaters.
  5. They’re wary of wasting more money on weight loss products or plans, skeptical that any will work, but too scared not to try because they’re sick of being overweight.


In terms of weight loss, we don’t just need to think outside the weight loss box, we need to toss the box away. Click To TweetWe need to work hard on turning off those neurons in our heads that are shouting, “this isn’t right, this isn’t right”, and rethink our whole approach. Personally I don’t advocate following a specific diet or exercise plan, counting calories, or following the “everything in moderation” dictum. I also prefer “portion ignortion” to portion control. I break all the weight loss rules – and that’s why my methods are so successful.


If all the established weight loss rules worked then we wouldn’t be living in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Nevertheless, I’m not saying that you have to follow my rules; I’m the quintessential rule breaker myself. What I am saying is that you do need to create your own set of rules for healthy living – but ones that suit your life and your personality. It’s up to you.  In terms of weight loss, doctors prescribe pills, exercise professionals prescribe exercise and dieticians prescribe food, and they all work – if you actually stick to them.  The common denominator is you. While you can consult as many experts as you like, there’s only one expert in your own life- and what will work for you- & that, of course, is… Click To Tweet Any way you look at your overweight dilemma, you’re the one that got yourself into it, whatever the reason, and it’s only you who can get yourself out of it!

Want to know more?  Take my FREE Detox Your Mindset For Weight Loss Success Challenge!  It’s up to you!!!

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[1] Contrary to the commonly held belief that weight loss shows motivate people to lose weight, shows such as The Biggest Loser have been shown to discourage people from losing weight or starting an exercise program, according to a study in the January 2013 issue of the American Journal of Health and Behaviour.

[2] O’Neill, Matt, “Metabolic Motivator”, Filex: The Fitness Industry Convention, Sydney Convention Centre, Sydney, NSW, 16 April 2011.

[3] M Moore, L Boothroyd, “The obesity epidemic: a confidence crisis calling for professional coaches”, International Coaching Federation, 2006, retrieved 21 November 2011, <http://www.coachfederation.org/includes/docs/033whitepaper-ICFupdatedusethistorepost.pdf>.

[4] D Batty, “NHS sees ninefold rise in obese patients turning to surgery”, The Guardian, 2010, retrieved 3 January 2012, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/27/nhs-obesity-operation-ninefold-increase>.

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Sally Symonds

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