The above text exchange appeared in my Facebook feed, placed there by a personal trainer (whose name I blacked out from the image) who shared it to promote his business, a testimony to his prowess and the results he can bring to his clients who are seeking to lose weight.
Let’s talk about results. Losing weight is relatively easy and numerous paths to weight loss exist. Keeping off the lost weight, well, that is a completely different story. Research shows us that about 95% of people who try to lose weight will ultimately regain it (whether or not they maintain the behaviors that created the weight loss in the first place) and of that 95%, 60% of them will end up heavier than they were at baseline.
Said differently, if 100 people intentionally lose weight, five of them will keep it off, 38 of them will return to baseline, and 57 of them will end up heavier than when they started.
These facts may not be talked about very much in our weight-loss-obsessed society, but they are no secret. At the 2013 Cardiometabolic Health Congress, data were presented showing that this pattern of weight loss and subsequent regain was virtually identical regardless of the mode somebody used to lose it. That is why some people in the healthcare field say that the best way to gain weight is to go on a diet.
So when the trainer refers to his client’s 10 pounds of lost weight as “Weight that will stay off,” on what is he basing that claim? Based on the research, if he says something like that to 20 of his clients, 19 times he will be wrong. Not only is he misleading people with false promises and expectations, but he is putting them at high risk for weight cycling and the negative consequences with which it is associated.
Chances are better than not that the client in question will eventually regain the 10 pounds he or she lost plus more. What will the text exchange between the trainer and client look like then?
The sad thing is that I think the trainer in question is actually a good trainer in terms of the mechanics of his profession. He just needs to be more careful about the lessons he is teaching his clients. Had he responded to his client’s text with a sentiment along the lines of, “Losing weight feels important to you right now, but let’s remember that being physically active is doing wonders for your health and well-being regardless of what happens with your weight,” I would not be writing this blog.