The diet industry is worth 2 billion pounds. 2 BILLION! With 58% of women and 65% of men deemed ‘overweight’ and 1 in 5 children starting Reception measured as obese or overweight, there has never been a more desperate time for change.
So why is a 2 billion pound industry failing? What are we missing here that is preventing any kind of dent being made in these worryingly high percentages?
The Wheel of Contentment in my opinion (see Instagram)
Health is an amalgamation of everything we have in life. Our physical health is just one quarter of the cake (‘scuse the pun) and unless we learn to put time into nurturing the other areas of our health, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, we will continue to fall short every time we try to make a change.
Think of it like buying a sports car. You focus all your energy on filling up the tank with certain types of fuel. You don’t clean the car, because the manual doesn’t ask you to, and this guide you’ve been sold for £15 a month says that the best way to use it is to fill it up every 5 days with their own brand fuel and then leave it for 2. When you take it out for a drive, you then top it up with low quality fuel because the manual says if you move the car then you can. Your car starts to have problems, but the manual doesn’t give you any instructions for when problems occur, so you carry on as you are because the manual was obviously written by an expert, and you trust they understand (see where I am going with this?)
Over time, you stop enjoying the car as much as you were. It doesn’t drive as well as it used to, and it’s lost it’s sparkle because you haven’t taken it to any beautiful new places. The car only drives locally by fueling it every 5 days so missing the next 2 means you can’t go far. Not to mention that the manual says it is important to stick to the instructions, so you are nervous to try take the car somewhere new. Your sense of adventure has gone and you decide to sell it. You don’t get much money for it because it only takes the fuel branded by the sellers of the manual. You end up with no car, feeling a failure and back to where you started.
The truth is, most diets out there are corporate brands out to make a quick buck on the vulnerable who are suffering with low self esteem and battling with the person they see looking back in the mirror. Their intentions are not bad, however they churn people out on a conveyor belt centered around physical health alone, and worse still, weight loss driven.
1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health problems in any given year with mental health services stretched to the absolute limit. Just 5.5% of the of the total UK health spending goes on mental health, and with a whopping 50% of women suffering perinatal health problems unidentified we could say we have hit crisis point.
Our relationship with food and exercise is so closely linked to our mental, emotional and spiritual health, and none of these shake replacement, fast day, cheat day, eat cabbage soup for 10 days diets take any of this into account.
Now I am not going to name and shame any diet companies in particular, because you know what, they have their theory and they have the right to market that if that’s what they truly believe, and naming and shaming is not helpful for any discussion. I would however like to discuss a few concepts and theories I have about the practices that some ‘unnamed’ companies use to offer a fresh perspective on the route we take to try and become healthier.
So, there is one well know company who labels some food choices as committing a sin. Now, this particular company allows an allotted amount of ‘sins’ per week, however these are to be monitored closely, and ‘confessed’ come the group meet each week. Now, whilst I do believe in balancing treats with nutritious eating, the mere use of the word ‘sin’ sends a signal to our brain that we have been bad, that we should be ashamed. To confess this to a group of women, and receive a round of applause for not ‘sinning’ more than you should is, to me, one of the most body shaming, patronising and dis-empowering practices I can fathom. I went to see Russell Kane in Cheltenham at the Everyman Theatre last week (literally had a workout from just laughing by the way) and he reviewed ‘said’ diet company himself. He jokingly referred to a meeting he had attended like a neighbourhood cult. Have you ever seen Shaun of the Dead? If you have you will know exactly what I am talking about. Their progress each week (like most of these groups) is measured by a public ‘weigh in’. I mean for fucks sake? Are we still in an age where we give a shit what the scales say? Not losing weight on the scales means added pressure for the following week and a humiliating slow clap and a ‘never mind’ from your peers. (Insert eye roll here).
Muscle weighs more than fat.
When I began my LYL journey I was lighter than I am today. I have recently had less time to exercise and consequently lost muscle, and guess what, I weigh almost half a stone less! My clothes are actually tighter, but I weigh less!
The risk you run by focusing on the scales alone, is that you could be losing muscle mass and in fact doing more harm to your body than good. When it comes to your metabolism, your body size and composition (fat tissues vs. muscle tissues) determines how much fuel you require in order to produce the energy to function. The larger you are, the more fuel you’ll need to function so by opting for meal replacement shakes, or fasting for 2 days, or my pet hate, eating little all week and then smashing a cheat day, you are only going to further slow down your metabolic rate and keep yourself firmly where you are now (whether that’s permanent or via yo-yoing).
Those who cut back to less than 1200 calories a day send their bodies into starvation mode. Our bodies are designed to work instinctively, so if you cut your calories, believe me when I tell you your body does not ‘get on board’ with your new found community of dieters, but rather convinces itself you are lost on a desert island and you therefore need it to hang on to every ounce of fat you have left. Eat lots of food! Quality calories over quantity every time.
The truth is, education about what it is to be healthy is what is missing here and it goes right back to Primary Education. We live in a society where we are brainwashed to think health is about what we weigh, and that we are all ‘missing a trick’ when it comes to being fit and healthy. The are NO MAGIC SOLUTIONS! It is all a lie. Don’t you think these companies would be out of business if they worked? We’d all be shining beacons of optimum health right?
As boring as it is, when it comes to our physical health you need to do 3 things.
- Drink Water
- Get Active
- Eat lots of food (balancing carbs, proteins and fats)
We are coming into a new age of healthy eating with celebrity experts doing their utmost to show us the way we can truly be healthy. Listen to them. Joe Wicks has made a huge impact on the way we view eating nutritiously and has given us recipes that fill us up and don’t cut out any main food groups. Lorraine Pascale is another role model, reminding us daily how to keep a positive mindset, finding time to exercise through respect for your body, and eating lots of delicious food that sometimes comes in the form of a divine cake to be devoured guilt free! Love Yourself Lean is a new platform from which to harness these practices and focus your energy on finding yourself. I am on a mission to change the world. The more of us shouting it from the roof tops, the better
More importantly, don’t forget the importance of your emotional, mental and spiritual health. BALANCE BALANCE BALANCE.
I am a trained Primary School teacher, and during my years in Education I longed for some kind of emotional and spiritual curriculum. I believe meditating every day would be hugely beneficial to children’s well being and consequently improve their academic success. I also believe that every classroom should be provided with a small garden spot to plants vegetables. During my time in school we planted our own cabbages, and the majority of the class did not like cabbage. We watered them daily, and when we finally picked our cabbages, most of the class went home and cooked using it and came in the following day to tell me all about it. Admittedly one little girl did feed hers to her rabbit but you can’t win them all! Children develop their core beliefs about the way the world is before the age of 7, and from then on their ideas are hardwired and very difficult to change. A child witnessing the bad eating habits of a parent will only see that, and therefore grow up believing that is the way to live. A child who sees a parent hiding from the camera, or using negative language about the way he/she looks, will only grow up to be conscious of those things.
We all have a responsibility to make a change for ourselves and those around us, and to recognise that nobody in the world has more power than you to become the best version of yourself. We are all made up of different things and whether it’s a walk in the woods or a boxing class that makes you feel good, it doesn’t matter. We don’t need to be athletes to be successfully healthy, we need to feel alive and we can achieve this by balancing the activities we do, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.
We forget the mere blessing of life, we really do. Caught up in the rat race to nowhere, wishing our life away on the things we don’t have. I’ve said this so many times before, but you are a miracle. DNA will NEVER repeat. What a gift?! Stop hating yourself. Have a glass of wine with your best buddy and don’t ever deem it a sin. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell the person looking back that he/she is awesome. Take a risk and do something completely new. Just get out and do it. Don’t be the person who lays on their death bed and regrets the things you didn’t do because you didn’t believe you could. This planet is made up of people no better than you are. YOU are everything you need to be healthy. Self love is health in the whole sense. Do it for you and do what makes you feel happy.
Nobody ever died from overdosing on happiness, so live your life and remember, self love before self loathe is going to make all the difference. Exercise because you are grateful you can, eat well because you respect your body as your temple, and know that doing anything else that makes you feel content is only going to serve to improve your health.
Ditch the diet today and Love Yourself Lean. To begin your LYL journey today, click here and purchase a journal today.