Summer is here so GOOP is jumping onto the “fast weight loss” fallacy quicker than a jade egg can fall out of a vagina. Their “expert” is Tracy Anderson who shockingly has a new line of granola bars to plug! She is apparently a fitness guru to the stars, but I have never really given her much thought and after reading this article it is clear I’m not missing anything. Some people in fitness also apparently don’t think to much of her methods.
First up there is no fast weight loss so if that is your title then you have done a bad thing because you are selling something that doesn’t exist or perhaps to be more accurate doesn’t exist safely. If you are an editor and this was the headline you wanted then you, my friend, are a bad person, then again those granola bars aren’t going to move themselves!
According to Anderson, “The best way to jump-start weight loss is to work out every single day until you actually crave the workout.” No, that is the way to injure yourself or to be so sore after two days that you never do it again. And craving the workout? I exercise regularly and I never crave it, in fact I view it as a chore although I do feel better afterwards. What Anderson appears to be recommending is that people become addicted to exercise.
Exercise is not the cornerstone of weight loss. It is a very healthy thing to do but I encourage people to think of exercise as related to but different from weight loss. They are related because they are both good for your health. Even if you could work out for 1 hour very intensely every day most people would be lucky to burn 500 calories (a pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories). Assuming they did not injure themselves and did not compensate by eating more they would lose at most 1 lb a week. Is Anderson suggesting people should be working out for three hours a day?
The next advice is to, “Get off gluten.” Sorry, no. A gluten-free diet is not healthier nor helpful for weight loss. In fact, many gluten-free foods make up for their bad taste with extra sugar.
Some of the advice isn’t bad. For example, avoid eating large portions and if you are hungry between meals having something like a poached egg and try to wait to see if that fills you up are fine generic statements. However, it is hard to applaud that meager good advice when it is followed by what amounts to recommending anorexia.
Anderson gives medically dangerous advice when she tells GOOP, “If you have weight to lose, you can effectively do a fourteen-pound weight loss in four weeks.” She admits it will cause, “short-term stress (particularly during your cycle if you’re a woman)—but this can end up being less stressful than living with the stress of excess weight.” NO, ANOREXIA IS NOT BETTER. It is not healthy to replace weight with an eating disorder.
Starvation is not healthy in the short-term and most people who follow extreme diets end up rebounding and gaining more weight (also not healthy). Some will develop eating disorders. There is also this idea of dangling the promise of fast weight loss like a shiny lure. Most people probably won’t go out and follow Anderson’s stupid and dangerous routine, however they leave with the seed planted for “fast” and this is a dangerous and false expectation. People often give up on their lifestyle changes when they don’t meet impossible goals.
So then GOOP takes it a step further. What if you only have two weeks to lose weight or one? How can you possibly think this is a worthy question to ask? Anderson is only too happyto answer, “Follow the above plan for just two weeks, or one. If you go no carb, people can generally lose around eight pounds in this timeframe.” And of course in 48 hours if you are lucky with your GOOP approved starvation you could drop four pounds.
I am not an obesity expert, but I know much more than the average doctor about weight loss. I struggled for years (and in many ways still do) with a binge eating disorder. It has taken a monumental effort to lose the 60 lbs. and to keep it off. I know I am in a very rare percentile of people who have maintained their weight loss. The odds are worse than surviving many of the hardest to treat cancers. I got here by following a very evidence based approach and marshaling every ounce of reserve to stay on track and by ignoring people like Anderson. I also enjoy the privilege of not living in a food desert and to live somewhere where I can go for runs safely.
There is no upside to dangerous articles on weight loss. There is the risk of injury or rebound weight or triggering an eating disorder. Pick your bad outcome, but even for the reader who doesn’t follow the dangerous advice each headline that offers the false miracle of fast weight loss lowers your threshold on the subject. Exposure to these unrealistic ideas drives the weight loss industry. If you read this article and think you couldn’t do what Anderson is suggesting then maybe you might buy her over priced granola bars and start there with the eseence of Anderson. I suppose that was the point.
Exercising daily until you “crave it” and a regimen for dropping 14 lbs in 4 weeks or 8 lbs in two weeks is medically dangerous in the short-term and is not going to put anyone on a path for wellness. This is promoting anorexia and how the GOOP editors thought it was ethical to even ask this never mind publish it is simply incredible.