I want to lose weight – the diet and thin ideal culture

“Ewa I want to lose weight, tell me what to do?”– said my client. 

I shake my head. “No… please, don’t get into this trap.” This client knows me, he knows I will be honest with him….

“So what can I do?” 

“Why do you want to lose weight? Is it the weight loss that you want, or do you want to be healthier, be able to run, move, and enjoy your life? How your life would be different if you had lost weight? ” 

Diet culture and the thin ideal culture are everywhere. We see them on the posters, we see them in TV, magazines, books. We hear people chatting about the most recent diet they tried and how amazing it was. And the comments:  “Have you lost weight?” while actually think : what have you done/ I want it too!  

” I have been struggling with emotional pain, and I couldn’t eat for weeks, destroying my body and mind” – but you don’t want to hear that.  

You also do not want to hear that diets DO NOT WORK! Research tells us that 95 % of dieters regain all the weight they have lost ( + regain more) . The 5% that is successful probably develops a restrictive eating disorder. But you do not want to hear that either. 

Am I  the bearer of bad news?   Or good news? 

Maybe it’s good news because when you know, then you can change your strategy/ mindset. 

Why diet don’t work? 

Constant dieting may make weight loss more difficult, as our metabolisms fight back, searching for the stasis of a familiar, fatter body.57 A major study following contestants from the television show The Biggest Loser showed that despite their dramatic weight loss on camera, most contestants were unable to maintain their smaller size, despite hours of working out each day. The study’s results were staggering: after their extreme televised dieting, every contestant’s body burned fewer calories at rest than it did at the beginning of the competition—and one contestant was shown to burn eight hundred fewer calories each day than expected for a peer of the same gender and size.58 Those results aren’t limited to reality TV contestants. As one Slate writer put it, addressing dieters, “You’ll likely lose weight in the short term, but your chances of keeping it off for five years or more is about the same as your chance of surviving metastatic lung cancer: 5 percent. And when you do gain back the weight, everyone will blame you. Including you.”59”  What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat” by Aubrey Gordon

What is your motivation to focus on weight loss?  Is it the thin ideal?

“This cultural obsession with weight loss doesn’t just impact our physical and mental health; it also impacts our sense of self and, consequently, our relationships with others of different sizes. Women of all ages report astronomical levels of body dissatisfaction, ranging from a low of 71.9 percent of women ages seventy-five and up to a high of 93.2 percent of women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four.47 According to a survey conducted by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, nearly half of respondents would rather give up a year of their lives than be fat.48 “The 4,000 respondents in varying numbers between 15% and 30% also said they would rather walk away from their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed, or become alcoholic rather than be obese.”

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat” by Aubrey Gordon


Re-assess your values, educate yourself and make health and strength your goals.   

Books to read:

What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Fat

The Body Is Not an Apology: Second Edition

8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin, Gwen Schubert Grabb

 More Than A Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament Kindle Edition by Lexie Kite (Author), Lindsay Kite

Get a free ebook from my colleague Louise: