balance on………….The Men Who Made us Thin

Having finally had a chance to sit down and watch all four episodes from this BBC 2 series back to back (the joys of Sky+), it’s worth reviewing what Mr. Jacques Peretti had to say after delving deep into the belly of the weight loss world. Whilst we don’t normally recommend sitting on your backside for hours on end, we nobly did it for you and reviewed the key messages here so that you could use that time on moving and being generally healthier and happier! What did we learn?

Diets don’t do it

Jacques was quite scathing of some of the larger weight loss companies in his earlier episodes, sometimes fairly although sometimes the reporting was a little on the sensationalist side and arguably not always a balanced view.
At balance we’d certainly agree that heavily processed shakes, bars and meal replacements is not the key to long-term success. Interestingly though, having spoken to some people who use them recently, they said that it helped them to ‘kick-start’ their weight loss, increase their motivation and then adopt healthy lifestyles to maintain it. One of the balance values is in empowering people to find out what works for themselves, and whilst you won’t find us selling you a powdered mix to add to milk or water instead of having breakfast any time soon, we do recognise the value for some of getting things moving to help motivate them. Remember though the story of the hare and the tortoise!! And remember that if you do go down this route it’s not a long-lasting solution, so you’re only going to have to make yet another change at some point to maintain it.

Fit doesn’t necessarily mean thin

The piece on exercise in episode 2 is worthy of some attention. It is certainly true that exercise on its own may not be THE solution to weight loss, but then again, as the world’s population grows larger day by day, it is fairly clear that no one single solution has been found, or ever will be!
Jacques’ negativity towards exercise for weight loss was clear, although he did rightly point out that there are numerous other reasons for moving from a health and wellbeing perspective. He also neglected one fundamental point when looking at exercise; type! The focus of the show was very much on cardiovascular workouts, which certainly can make the heart healthier and increase fitness. They also burn calories so can have a part to play in a balanced exercise routine. However, resistance or weights training received little or no attention, yet there is evidence to show that it reduces fat levels and also improves insulin sensitivity, decreases risk of falls and improves cardiovascular health in everyone from athletes to elderly adults an type 2 diabetics! There was a very nice piece about the ‘fat but fit’, showing a couple of ladies who were super-fit but overweight; it emphasised that fitness was key, even if you were overweight. OK, so the exercises they were given weren’t always the safest or most appropriate in terms of injury risk, but they were moving!
The science says is also clear in showing that exercise helps to keep weight off, so when it’s combined with a healthy diet you can get some pretty good results. Exercise should form part of a holistic approach and the focus should not purely be on weight loss but on changes in shape, energy, self-confidence and health as well. Do this and weight loss will come anyway!

What tastes sweet may not be so neat

There was a short but interesting piece in one episode around sweeteners. Jacques pointed out that rats eating them surprisingly gained weight, when it would be assumed that consuming less sugar would lead to weight loss. In an interview with a scientist, she noted that in human beings there was a change in a part of the brain called the amygdala when consuming sweeteners like aspartame.  It seemed change occurred in the brain with regular consumption of sweeteners and that this could actually lead people to eat even more calories as it created a weaker response to sugar.

Weight gain and weight loss has numerous reasons

Peretti brilliantly portrayed the complex interplay between society, the food industry, the medical world, drugs companies, the media and fitness industries. We could take a cynical view of many of these, but that’s not what we’re here to do. All we ask is that you go on your own journey through weight loss, ask yourself the questions:
•   Will what I am about to do make me fitter and healthier?
•   Will it help me to lose weight and keep it off?
•   Is it helping me to gain a realistic view of what I can achieve?
We don’t think that the diet toothpaste or magic weight loss soap fits into this category!!
Think, eat, live, move, and balance your life, balance your scales. :-)