So Weight Watchers had finally shed the weight. And it only took them 55 years. Who says diets don’t work?
Like a nerdy teenager determined to reinvent herself for the start of college, the world’s most recognizable diet brand is now going by the slimmed down ‘WW’ and operating under the tagline ‘Wellness That Works’.
But WTW is wellness anyway?
And can a concept so nebulous that it seems to cover everything from green juice smoothies to Japanese vagina sticks, really help those of us who are struggling to reign in our waistlines in the midst of a global obesity epidemic?
Does Wellness Work?
In the UK the main competitor to the weight-loss brand formerly known as Weight Watchers is the rather delicately named Slimming World.
In 2018 aspiring towards wellness is certainly more socially acceptable, than striving to be slim. But at least slimming has the advantage of clear goals and measurable outcomes.
The BMI may have taken a bashing in recent years, but there’s something very reassuring about a scientifically-backed tool which can tell you whether you’re on the right track weight-wise.
A BMI in the healthy range tells you nothing at all about how good you look in a bikini or how comfortable you feel in your own skin, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
When Wellness Is Just Too Much…
Before it became just another marketing cliché, wellness was supposed to about taking a more holistic approach to health and body image. Holistic here in the sense of ‘well rounded’, rather than magic crystals and whale song.
Undeniably health is more than just how well we physically feel right now. It also encompasses how we feel about ourselves, our emotional and psychological health, and our expectations surrounding our health, including our hopes and anxieties about our health in the future.
But the burden of achieving all round ‘wellness’ – healing ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually – seems more like a philosopher’s quest for enlightenment, than something that many of us can achieve with a series of relatively minor lifestyle adjustments, like walking on your lunch break or sticking to suggested serving sizes.
…. And When Wellness Isn’t Enough
While many people become overweight as a result of lifestyle factors, for others weight management has a more serious psychological component.
In her 1978 classic ‘Fat Is A Feminist Issue’ psychotherapist Susie Orbach discusses underlying purpose that that binge eating and being ‘fat’ serves in the lives of some of her clients.
Although we all become overweight in the same way – by taking in more energy than our bodies can actually use – the means by which we become overweight and the causes that govern our decision to overeat can be highly personal.
But when being overweight is a consequence of a contentious and disordered relationship with food, sexuality, body image and self-worth, then ‘wellness’ is just a red herring which can prevent an individual from engaging in a more direct way with the roots of their psychological distress.
Why Weight Watchers Doesn’t Want You To Lose Weight
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. But long before it was touting ‘wellness’ as the end goal, Weight Watchers and it’s ilk never wanted to sell you weight loss. They wanted to lease your weight loss.
Yo-yo dieting rightly has a bad reputation. It’s demoralizing, exhausting and probably bad for you. But it’s great for business!
You have successfully for as long as you’re on their program. When you stop, you gain the weight back. Then as soon as you’re ready to loose weight again, you go back to the program because you know first hand how well it worked the last time.
But Weight Loss That Works!TM doesn’t cost a penny. If you consistently take in less energy in the form of calories than you use, then over time you will lose weight. Working out the best way to do this, in the context of your own lifestyle and preferences, is up to you.
It may or may not be easy, but at least you don’t have to drink any green juice smoothies.