Sunday, 8 January 2017

Please...don't lie to me.

Okay chaps, so we've made it through our first week of 2017. Now, if you're like me (and unless you've just got married or had a child or anything like that) the first 8 days of January have not been life changing. We have not woken up on January first; fresh faced, bright eyed and bushy tailed. If you're like me, you probably didn't wake up TODAY at all like the above either. Change takes time, and honestly, change takes serious struggle. It takes continuous effort to reinforce new habits, to limit the power that old habits had over you and your decision making abilities. This applies to ANY change. Even if you are told 'YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THIS THING OR YOU WILL DIE' that doesn't mean that you won't still have to actively say to yourself, no I can't do that or yes I must take that medication. No matter your reason for change, it doesn't stop it from being a challenge.

Okay, I think you've got the point. Change = hard.

So, imagine me- if you will- last night scrolling through Instagram  and seeing a sponsored post by Weight Watchers UK. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am still an adherent of Weight Watchers, it has worked for me thus far and I like the flexibility of not having to count things like fruit and veg. I understand it does not work for everyone and even I don't like some aspects and have modified the plan to suit myself...back to post. This Instagram post was an advert. I know, surprising considering it's January and most of us still have a box of mince pies left over from Christmas. This year's Weight Watchers celebrity is Oprah Winfrey. I am not by ANY stretch of the imagination criticising Oprah or her efforts to lose weight and feel better for it. ALL I will criticise is the simple line 'I can honestly tell you I struggle no more'. Literally the first thing that came to mind, totally involuntarily, was 'Oprah! Don't lie to me!' Because that is what it was. A LIE. 
Pretty self explanatory...
Let me lay out my evidence for this. I'll go off my own experience firstly. I have 26 years of unhealthy habits with food to break. I know that even when I am 'done' with the weight loss element of this journey I may well still have a daily battle fighting for moderation and stopping my emotional relationship with food from sneaking back in. Weight loss is one battle. Maintenance is a whole other battle. Having sat in countless Weight Watchers, Lighter Life and Cambridge Diet Plan meetings over the last few years never once has a leader or a member on maintenance said that they don't still struggle. Certainly it gets easier as new habits become a part of your day to day life but that doesn't mean that if you've been an emotional binge eater for decades that you won't have that moment after a shitty day where you go 'f*** it, just give me the sodding crisps'. Regardless of the 'real life' community of people changing their lifestyle that I have had the fortune of meeting and getting to know over the last 4 years, a quick glance at before and afters on Instagram itself will show just how much effort, CONTINUED effort, anyone who has lost/ is losing weight must commit to.

To suggest otherwise is to discount the extraordinary effort of anyone who has ever undergone serious change. To suggest otherwise is like saying 'but weight loss is easy. Just eat less and move more and there you go'. I don't think that there really are THAT many people who hand on heart truly believe that weight loss is easy, but Weight Watchers' own marketing strategy is telling people the wrong thing. That if you DO continue to struggle after losing weight or whilst losing weight or during whatever change you are undergoing in your life right now that you are somehow a failure or not doing it as WELL as Oprah (who, let's be honest, can afford to have someone cook her meals and make her work out every day if she wanted to). It's not realistic, it's not supportive and actually I think it's damaging. A quick read of the comments under this post and I saw people talking about how they DO still struggle but they're trying really hard. Like they were trying to explain away naughty behaviour to a disappointed parent. And this is the thing. I get what Weight Watchers are trying to do here. They're saying this is an easy program, it's flexible, it's doable, you can eat what you want (in moderation) and still lose weight. But what they've done is set the bar for weight loss attainment far to high for the average person trying to lose weight. And for a system that is trying to be increasingly supportive and aware of how emotional health feeds into relationships with eating, to my mind, it's undone a LOT of its good work. 

So to anyone who was in anyway downcast by last night's Instagram post, or simply feels like they're finding this too hard, it IS a struggle. You are NOT achieving less simply because you do find it challenging. And never NEVER let anyone, not even the company that is meant to be supporting you, make you feel inferior or incapable. You've got this. 

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