The answer to this popular joke is
- None -
because Microsoft will declare darkness as the industry standard!
I would certainly sound like the Microsoft in this Joke when I say “Weight Loss by Dieting? – that’s just not feasible”. Actually these are not my words, but of a renowned psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, in his book “What you can change.. and what you can’t”. And “Grapes are NOT sour” for me because, once upon a time, I lost 19 Kgs in just 3 months. Later that year I got married and my wife cooks awesome. And so all the weight that I lost got back.
Let’s start from the start -
Why would anyone want to go for a dieting and weight loss?
Answer is plain & simple because he is overweight!
If you say someone is overweight, then is there a baseline, an “ideal” weight, to measure the “overweight” with?
Yes! Once an Insurance company in America recorded heights and weights of 4 million people, all of whom are now dead, and published a statistical correlation between height – weight and longevity. A weight mostly around which people with certain height were observed to live the longest was taken as the “ideal” weight for the given height.
Another observation in this study was that life expectancy was found to decrease with increase in weight or in other words an obese person loses a few years of life because of overweight
Oh! Then it makes sense that a person with overweight should go for dieting and bring his weight down to the ideal weight. This way he could regain all the years he lost due to being overweight, right?.
This sounds good, but no scientific study has ever been done that could show that a person who once was obese and brought down weight to ideal weight will live as long as a person who was at ideal weight all along.
In fact there are quite a few studies that show the harmful effects of dieting and weight loss.
One study says that 97% of people who lost weight by dieting, regained their weight in next 5 years. Another study says 87% actually gained back only within 3 years. In a way, weight lost by dieting is analogous to the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger who leaves you after saying “I’ll be back” and almost everytime gets back.
One of the side effects of dieting is Depression. You naturally feel good when you succeed in losing weight, but when weight starts to regain, it also brings in a sense of failure and helplessness and draws you into depression. You try again and regain, and fall deeper into depression.
If you have a rechargeable battery for your electronic devices you would know that life of a battery is not measured in years or months but in number of charge-&-discharge cycle as a battery weakens after each recharging. In the same way, our internal organs especially the heart are negatively affected by repeated loss and gain of weight.
Ever heard of a disease called Bulimia Nervosa? It’s an emotional disorder caused by obsessive desire to lose weight. On natural demand of the body a person overeats, and realising this he then self-induces vomiting or starts fasting, he feels hungry again and cycle continues.. So much for the desire to lose weight.
If dieting and weight loss are so harmful, why don’t we hear about it anywhere?
When you watch a commercial advertisement where a person jumps from a tall building saying “Aaj kuchh toofani karte hai”, you are also shown a warning saying “this stunt is performed by professionals. Please don’t try to replicate”. When someone buys a pack of cigarette he finds a warning “Smoking Kills” on the pack. This happens because there are regulators that monitor these big industries and force them to show these warnings for the well-being of people.
Weight-loss is a multi-billion industry and we see so many bold statements as “Lose 10 kg in 21 days / 30 days” across all media. Unfortunately though, there are no regulators who could force those firms to give a visible warning message that all the weight lost by undertaking this programme is most likely to regain in a few years, and could also impact normal health. So all we can do is to understand the reality, stay normal, and keep ourselves healthy.
In the end – What was the purpose of presenting this topic?
To destroy someone’s optimism? No !!
Martin Seligman, whose book “What you can change…” was the prime source for content in this topic, is better known for his other books that supports positive psychology and optimism. And a positive person can spread positivity not destroy it.
The purpose of this topic is to help people focus their limited time, money, and efforts on something that’s truly within our reach.
Remember, having excess fat does not matter, what matters is being fit.
PS: This is from the transcript of my P2 speech at OFSS Toastmasters