Is Being Overweight a Choice?
Let me start by saying that I don’t normally write about weight loss in particular, but this is a topic that needs to be addressed. I tend to work with clients on rehab and strength work, but everyone wants to have a healthier body composition regardless.
There’s a big running narrative out there about how weight loss boils down to calories in versus calories out and if you’re not doing your part then it’s 100% on you for choosing to be overweight.
This is usually said by people who have no understanding of the complex and multifactorial nature of obesity. It’s true, but it isn’t at the same time.
It is not as simple as eating less and exercising more.
As much as calories in versus calories out applies, the behaviours we carry out (and the reasons WHY we do them) will ultimately determine your success in losing weight.
Our genes play a key role in how we all respond to the foods we consume. But in reality, genes load the gun, and behaviours pull the trigger. And our environments work against what our genes are best at.
In our history, we are better equipped to handle times of famine rather than times of feasting. We can very easily consume our entire day’s worth of calories in a single, very convenient meal, and our genetics have definitely not caught up to these behaviours.
Ultimately, we need to set ourselves up for success by making the more nutrient-dense food without as many calories the easiest to access. Just like we may put our gym bag by our front door to remind ourselves to get a workout in, we need to make eating healthy the most convenient, in whatever way that makes the most sense for you.
When dealing with someone who wants to lose weight, you also have to consider what societal and psychological pressures they are facing that could potentially sabotage their results.
There’s way more to it than just choosing to be overweight and eat everything you like. For some, it is easier than for others but the best way to go about it is to find out how to create actual behaviour change rather than just focusing on the choices they currently make. The “why” is even more important. And this will be different for each person.
Discipline is of course a factor, but we need to focus on creating lifelong changes in behaviour that go beyond just day-to-day choices.
For clients that I typically train, losing weight helps decrease some physical and mechanical loads on the body which are sometimes the cause of their pain. So framing weight loss in a sense of decreasing aches and pains can be a big motivator. And once the ball gets rolling, the motivation continues from there.
It can be hard to get that ball rolling initially, but once it’s really going it’s hard to stop.
To your good health,