July 27, 2016

“Can you help me lose weight and keep it off?”

“Can you help me lose weight and keep it off?” – it’s a question I hear a lot, and it’s important that you have all the information so that you can make an informed decision. Don’t just take it from me – read, ask questions, dig deeper.

If you are going to pursue weight loss, find out what the statistics are for people to maintain that loss via your chosen method or by any method at all, not at the 8 week mark when they seem successful, but at the 3 year and 5 year mark (usually less than 5%, and that’s being generous, if there are even studies that went on that long – rare). Find out how much weight loss they count as a success (usually 5kg or so). Find out how many people were even able to maintain the diet for the duration of the short study (dropout rates are usually high). If your doctor suggests weight loss, ask them for these figures as well.

You have the right to choose what you do with your own body, but please know that there is no good evidence to support the idea that anything more than a tiny portion of the population will ever be able to maintain long term weight loss.

This is not just me presenting my opinion. This is an invitation to investigate what is by now a large, well-funded body of research by organsations that still promote weight loss despite their findings. Even diet companies publish research that under evaluation shows that their products don’t work to the extent that the public would expect them to work (would you buy a contraceptive with a 95% failure rate?).

Most of us have personal histories that reflect these attempts that didn’t work – even celebrities with more money and resources than us have had these experiences. It’s not about lack of willpower, it’s just about how bodies work.

This might sound depressing to some people, but the good news is that we can work at changing our culture to reduce the stigma that people in larger bodies face.

There is also, happily, plenty of evidence to support the claim that no matter what our weight might be, if we wish to do so, we can make a positive impact on our health through eating nutritious foods, being physically active, maintaining social relationships, and avoiding smoking and binge drinking. We can even improve those things commonly attributed to weight, such as knee pain, through targeted exercise.

If it is health we care about, pursuing weight loss simply doesn’t seem like the most helpful place to put our efforts, but there is a lot we can do instead.

So no, the honest truth is that even though plenty of money could be made by saying that I can, I almost definitely *can’t* help you lose weight and keep it off and it’s very unlikely that anyone else can either – but I can help you improve your fitness, strength, health and ease of movement.

If those are things you value, I’d love to work with you.


  1. Lauren

    This is the most honest and refreshing answer that I have ever heard. Name a diet and I’ve tried it. I’ve spent my whole life seeking weight loss and body acceptance, and have been let down time after time by either my own lack of motivation or products/diets/programs that have promissed to “help you loose it and keep it off” and haven’t.
    Self acceptance is the key. Aim for healthier, not thinner.

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