I was going to do this post a few weeks ago, but needed time to think about it. (Slash I needed this awesome SNOW DAY to relax and write! Thank you all very much for doing your snow dances I requested in yesterday's post!)
This post has been edited several times, and the product is pretty lengthy, just to warn you all.
|Original Photo Source|
I would like to start out by saying that I don't intend to insult anyone participating in this particular program (or any weight loss contest), and not necessarily even insult the organization promoting it. I just disagree with it. I don't intend to step on any toes with this post, however it's challenging to share opinions without rubbing at least one person the wrong way.
I'm a dietetics major, in case you hadn't heard. Or seen all of my annoying tweets of food we get to make in my nutrition lab. Seriously, I LOVE the fact that I get a credit for making, eating and experimenting with FOOD!
Since I am a dietetics major and I learn about nutrition all the time in class (not to mention on my own time), it's safe to say that I know the real definition of the word "diet." I think everyone does, really, right? Your diet is the food that you eat.
I think this is part of the reason that when I expressed concern to a certain fitness community that is prevalent online about a certain "diet challenge," I was a little annoyed that I was responded to with the definition of the word, "diet."
The definition of the word in no way bothers me, it was the use of the word when in the phrase "diet bet" that bothered me. Because in that sense it doesn't mean "the food that a person consumes." It means "I bet money I can go on a diet and lose weight." The fact that I was responded to with the definition of the word and not its true contextual meaning made me even more uneasy about the contest. As though they were trying to hide something.
Besides the fact that not everyone needs to or should focus on the numbers on a scale, there are many issues that I have with weight loss competitions.
First of all, weight needs to be lost slowly. Only one to two pounds PER WEEK is recommended. Why? Because weight loss messes with your metabolism, so this process needs to be done slowly. Just as it's definitely not healthy to gain a bunch of weight quickly, it's not healthy to lose it quickly. This particular competition is only a 4 week competition, so weight loss should only be 4-8 pounds max.
Secondly, this program is not customized to each individual, like a weight loss program should be. Since it's not customized to each individual, methods of weight loss could potentially be unsafe. If you were honestly trying to win hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars by losing weight, wouldn't you try everything possible to win? Not that all participants are behaving in this manner...but it seems like this would be a very likely scenario.
Thirdly if the participants are just "going on a diet" or working out vigorously and NOT making small and gradual changes in their lifestyle, the weight is more likely to come back on...with a few extra pounds to boot. How frustrating is it to try so hard for something and end up having it backfire on you? My heart hurts for these poor people!
Let me go into the metabolism issue a little (again, I'm only a student, but certain nutrition principals have been drilled into our heads). Say you are used to consuming 2000 kcals (food calories) per day. Your body is used to that amount of energy and is operating at a certain metabolic rate, we will call it "average metabolism." If you cut those calories too drastically, say to 1000 kcals, yes you will initially lose weight since your body will convert your fat to energy.
That whole "calories consumed minus calories spent" deal will temporarily work towards your favor while your body uses up the extra available energy in your body.
This does not just mean that all your belly fat burns off, sorry, it's a little more complicated than that. Some fat will burn off but your body will also use other sources of energy..such as proteins from your muscles and liver. Not so healthy, right?
The thing about the drastic calorie cut is, our bodies are incredibly adaptable. This means that your body will adapt to the new calorie intake of 1000 kcals and your metabolism will fall to "below average" since it cannot fuel its processes properly on the new, lower calorie intake. Weight loss will halt or come to a "plateau" and the person trying to lose weight will probably become frustrated and fall back into old habits. Back to square one.
The maximum amount of food calories to be cut out per day if a person needs to lose weight is 200 kcalories.
I know we want it to be all about calories in versus calories out, but like I said, it is more complicated than that. This is why there are Registered Dieticians and other professionals who are trained and who study this process for a living out there to help those trying to lose weight.
I did check this particular contest site out, just to make sure I wasn't making unfair assumptions, and was disturbed even further by some of the comments left by participants. Some were calling themselves "disgusting" and just all around using negative self-talk as motivation to "fix" their bodies.
I really think that in order to change or improve ourselves, we first need to love ourselves. Negativity and name-calling is not a healthy way to achieve your best body.
Love Challenge. Basically it's 21 days of committing to loving yourself and/or others. Each day you make an effort to love the way you look, your brain, your personality or whatever you can think of that you love about yourself.
After you get the mental part right, try setting some positive, concrete goals that you believe you can achieve.
Some examples include:
- I will up my vegetable intake to three servings a day by the end of this month.
- I will go to the gym three days a week for the next three weeks.
- I will make an effort to sleep 8 hours on most nights this week.
- I will run a 5K race in two months.
|Love your woman muscles! And your dorky self-photo taking self!|
To sum up my thoughts, I feel like these kinds of things aren't properly regulated and the participants aren't given enough information to make healthy lifestyle choices when the only goal is weight loss in a short time period. In the case of this particular contest, it seems more about the hype and getting attention/followers.
I am not a big believer in using weight loss as a goal, but some people may need to lose the weight simply to alter their risk for chronic diseases. In this case, if your weight loss needs are over 30 pounds, I would highly recommend seeking help from a professional.
Otherwise, tread with caution when entering any weight loss contest. The goal should be to get healthier for life, not just to win in the short term.
*~Amanda aka Semi-Health Nut~*
Please share your thoughts on this! I'd love to get a good discussion going here!
I'm also linking a couple of posts:
- A post Lindsay from Lindsay's List did on the thoughts behind her diet changes that aren't weight related: Healing the Gut
- A post that describes the thought process behind the way I eat so perfectly I swear she stole it right from my brain: Weight Loss: The Thoughts Behind
- I don't normally even read Kath's blog, one of those ones I stopped reading out of sheer jealousy that she can post a picture and a sentence and get 100 comments, but I might start it up again after seeing this post.