The Fallacy of Weightloss Statistics
Personally, I’ve never needed help being convinced to put off the lifestyle change. Sure there’s a world of personal, societal, and biological imperatives applying pressure in one direction, but that one deliciously melty hot slice of pizza was all it took to overcome it. Just on of the many fun games we play with ourselves to sate that short-term urge at the expense of our future health (well, ok, once won’t kill you it’s the constant self-sabotage that does it)! Or even the days where you manage to put off being active for so long that, well, the sun is now setting and “it’s too late now” and will have to put that off until tomorrow.
One of the things that was honestly hard for me to deal with, that properly made me balk, and wasn’t just some silly excuse when I contemplated getting fit had to do with the stark numbers presented by weightloss statistics. Every time I got close to reaching the mental threshold required for an attempt, I’d come up against some article somewhere proclaiming, yet again, the sorry state of diet success. And it wouldn’t necessarily be someone trying to sell some eating system or fad diet or 6-week cleanse that was going to be the one true prince or a magic bullet to save you from those statistics (there are plenty of those to be sure, but it’s easy to tell an ad from journalism). The real downers came from articles where the headlines may be slightly sensationalist, but if you follow to the sources and at least read the abstract it’s pretty much the same story: a majority of diets have a horrific success rate. 5% success rate? 97% regain rate? May as well not bother. Those numbers are too absolute. You can’t fight the findings.
From what I’ve come across, part of the problem has to do that they’re a. measuring one aspect and then media b. presenting it without context. Weight, as a measurement, is an indicator of health but it doesn’t represent it (more on that in another post! I use a number for weight as an anchor point but that’s as far as it goes). It’s not a holistic measurement of someone’s well being… but it’s being reported that it’s the number that matters when you go to make the effort to be healthy. So based on that single metric and no context, sure, there are lots of failures out there because a number once went below this threshold, then again went back up that threshold.
Well, let’s see what my success rate is. I think I’ve honestly tried 6 times to “finally lose this damn weight.” With one actual success, that brings my personal success rate to, what, 16%? So I’ve contributed to those bad numbers. I’ve failed way more than succeeded. But the thing that is super helpful to keep in mind is that… you get more than one shot. You’re not alloted a single “try” and after blowing it are no longer allowed to try again. As long as you’re alive, you can keep trying. Again and again! Failures don’t mean a damn thing: only the effort matters! And guess what? If you reach your goal but manage fail once again, you aren't allotted just one success in life. You can go for it again!
And further: I’m STILL constantly failing and succeeding! When you get to your “goal,” you don’t stay there. Holidays happen, long training runs get accomplished. Sometimes you’re a couple, five, seven pounds up, sometimes you’re a few down. It’s a constant balancing act. But take heart: that’s normal. What we’re doing doesn’t have a quota to fill or a finish line to cross; there is no endpoint after which we're "done". It’s a life long process, or even more accurately a state of living, and it’s something you’ll be working at for life. For life.