The Health and Fitness Industry Is Dead. And That Includes You, Paleo.
Following the advice of the mainstream health and fitness industry has left us more diseased, broken, and fatter than ever before. They’re not only not helping us, they’re killing us.
The health and fitness industry truly jumped the shark with the introduction of loud-mouthed Jillian Michaels and television shows like The Biggest Loser. Motivating people to change long-term doesn’t come by way of screaming at broken people to be unbroken, no matter how great it may be for ratings.
It’s time for a revolution.
It’s time for a revolution in health and fitness. The days of “eat less and exercise more” must be put behind us, along with the diets, fitness DVD programs, gimmicks, shakes, pills, and weight loss game shows.
The old model treated the symptoms with logical — yet blatantly false — theories: calories, macronutrient ratios, an emphasis on cardiovascular exercise, fat avoidance, meat avoidance, whole grains, the demonization of saturated fat and “heart healthy” vegetable oils, to name a few.
Late night television and gyms across the country were over-run with fitness programs. Exercise was the savior — the be-all, end-all of reaching your weight loss, health, and performance goals; all of which were mostly empty, superficial goals based on vanity and little else.
The important goals you may have had were never addressed. The health and fitness industry took a hardline stance that “sex sells” and made your goals for you. Stop worrying about feeding your body and changing your relationship with food. If you look like the guy or girl on the cover of this magazine, you’ve won.
You can’t win that way because changing your body to a specific looks guarantees absolutely nothing. Besides, the people on the cover of the magazine don’t exist: the guy is dehydrated and the girl is airbrushed. But, the headlines are catchy and you hope that the words on the pages will change you in 12 weeks, failing to realize that even if they did work you wouldn’t be healed.
The linchpin of the old model — willpower — was also the bane of your existence. If you were overweight, your lack of success was not due to following bad advice, it was caused by your sheer lack of will. Your weakness. Your fault.
Today, we know that willpower is a trap; a finite resource that runs counter to the advice in the magazines. The psychological concept of ego depletion automatically renders that type of advice — what’s found in magazines, fitness DVDs, and mainstream “nutrition” programs — null and void in the context of long term change.
If solving the underlying problems without using lies and gimmicks to treat symptoms is the goal, what should the new revolution look like? Before I answer that, I want to give a hat tip to the revolution that made a lot of progress before falling short of the mark.
Paleo: the revolution that wasn’t good enough.
In the early 2000s, a revolution began to unfold as new ideas about nutrition — based on the framework of ancestral health — proliferated the blogosphere and bookshelves. This revolution is still exploding today, branded Paleo with offshoots and camps such as Primal and Weston A. Price.
This revolution serves to mostly correct the record of optimal nutrition and exercise. Thought leaders like Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, and Robb Wolf have corrected myths, changed our thought processes, and set us on a new path.
A glaring issue, of course, is that Paleo struggles to define itself. Nobody knows what “Paleo” actually is. Weston A. Price is as close to Paleo as you can get, yet co-founder Sally Fallon is busy waging a war against Paleo to “correct the record.”
Correct what part of the record? In the context of what matters to you and me, maybe Robb Wolf forgot to cross a t or dot an i after a night of NorCal margaritas — I’m not sure what else Sally Fallon could correct that’s relevant to anyone who is busy doing work that matters.
The secret is that the dispute between Weston A. Price and Paleo is not a dispute of the important information, it’s a branding war. This pseudo-conflict pits Sally Fallon against Paleo in a move that only hopes to corral crossover customers and boost the bottom line of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
This is what happens when social movements label themselves. Like Fascists hating Marxists when both clearly want totalitarianism, Weston A. Price hates Paleo while both brands just want people to eat real food.
Not into politics? Imagine PepsiCo waging a publicity war about how Coca-Cola is nothing like Pepsi. For every point of relevance in that campaign there’s 9 points of irrelevance. It’s a marketing stunt.
But, branding wars aren’t what caused this revolution to fail. This revolution failed because it got lost in the science — it got lost correcting the record of mainstream medicine and forgot about developing a way to help the people who are alone in the trenches, bruised and muddy from years of trying and failing. It turns out that’s still a world full of people.
The new revolution isn’t about information because information isn’t nearly enough.
The Paleo revolution ended one thing: the world’s need for more information.
If you needed an answer to: “What do I eat to lose weight?” or “What do I eat to maximize my health?” then Paleo, WAPF, and their thought leaders have given you those answers.
This is a huge problem corrected. If you try to operate using the wrong information you’re doomed to failure. That was the case for decades and the problem is now solved.
Of course, there are always more studies we can do, more research to sift through, more foods to analyze, and more tests to run. And I’m confident that the people I mentioned earlier will continue to do that work. My point is that whatever happens from this point forward is of little relevance to you, the layperson who has been struggling with weight and can’t seem to make progress.
Nobody can proclaim, “I don’t have enough information to reach my goals.” That statement is only spoken by people who are losing the fight against The Resistance. Those people are suffering from following a “high fact diet.” They think more information, more research, and more theory will give them the key to better health and a better body. That’s bogus. The high fact diet distracts your attention from doing the work that matters.
Unfortunately, plenty of people are following the advice of the Paleo revolution and continuing to fail. They have all of the right information and they’re continuing to fail because society is set up to fail them and they don’t have the tools to defend themselves. These tools are the same tools I allude to in the Success Triangle, namely on the EQ side.
The big picture is that there will always be ANTI foods and they’ll likely always be popular. New research about sugar won’t burn down the Slurpee industry. CrossFit won’t kill Krispy Kreme. The triggers in society are pervasive and there’s nothing information can do about it.
So why do we continue to give people information? Why do we continue to write books? Why do we continue to produce podcasts, as if hearing the truth is all people need?
People know the truth about smoking. The information and horror stories is fed to children in school, smoking is banned in many public places, marketing cigarettes is banned in many areas, and the product is heavily taxed.
Every single one of us still knows people that smoke and who, deep down, want to quit but can’t. And we know even more people who continue to smoke as if it’s not bad for them or who operate in the failed mindset, “We’re all going to die some day.” Spoken like a true addict.
Contrast that with addictive, processed foods and society has completely opposite plans: We feed these foods to children in school to get them addicted early and it’s available in so many places that finding our drug is not the problem, turning the drug down is the problem. Bans won’t help and eating ANTI food is cheaper than eating real food because we subsidize it.
To compound the problem, we’re talking about healing a society that takes a record level of prescription medication to cover up legitimate psychological and emotional issues, has a general apathy or aversion to recovery and therapy, and who masterfully reproduces a cycle of abuse — whether intentional or unintentional — in future generations.
Imagine if we gave cigarettes to school kids, subsidized them, put them in vending machines, and conformed society in a way that made escaping smoking inconvenient. That’s the problem we’re dealing with.
Understanding all of this, the revolution’s strategy was to arm the public with the right information? Paleo and WAPF are busy bringing carrots to gunfights.
The new revolution is about the psychology of success.
Just as we now know that fat loss and body composition are 80% determined by what you eat (and 20% exercise, genetics, physical history and so on), the new model knows that big picture success is 80% intangible and 20% tangible.
That intangible component is emotion, psychology, mindset, and support. It’s the stuff that can’t be mapped out or blueprinted. It can’t be programmed. There is no instruction booklet or DVD.
The reason people can have the right information and still fail — or the right information and never start — is because of that intangible component. If our job as mentors, coaches, program-designers, gym owners, fitness instructors, yoginis, and nutritonists was to program robots to live, eat, sleep, and exercise according to a blueprint we’d all have a 100% success rate.
Robots aren’t human. They don’t have an inner child. In other words, they don’t have meaningful history and the fear, insecurity, self-doubt, self-sabotage, anger, sadness, and shame that are attached to that history.
Humans have all of those emotions and those emotions act as roadblocks to success whether you’re operating with the right information on not.
Food is the easiest drug to access. On top of that, processed foods are designed to be addictive. We know that hard drugs and alcohol are a coping mechanism. We need to understand that food is not just a similar coping mechanism, it’s the most popular and most easily accessible one.
The health and fitness industry is dead because health (nutrition and lifestyle education) and fitness are no longer adequate for addressing the issues of body image, disordered eating, addiction, and all of our metabolic concerns. It’s all about the psychology and mindset of the individual.
People who are trapped in the cycle of addiction and dependency — which is far more pervasive than anyone realizes — can’t simply be informed to change.
The One Percent.
The success rate for people trying to make lasting change with regard to health and fitness is 1%.
With the Paleo revolution, that number may well increase noticeably as people begin operating with much better information. But it will never pass any meaningful mark. Even 50% would be flipping a coin with each client — and that’s a stretch.
If the industry ever wants to extend success to more than 50% of the people they work with — into the 80s and 90s — the focus absolutely has to be on the EQ side of the triangle.
70% of Americans take prescription drugs, with the second most common drug being an antidepressant. The third most popular is opioids.
Stop wondering why the information alone isn’t helping people: it stands no chance when confronting the enemies of addiction, dependency, low self-worth, unhealthy body image, low confidence, depression, anxiety, and learned helplessness. It can’t correct the consequences of physical, mental, and emotional abuse, which in varying degrees is far more pervasive than anyone wants to admit.
When my clients fill out their profile form, 90% mark the following statements as true:
My parents forced me to clean my plate or punished me for not eating certain foods.
As a child, I was rewarded with treats such as ice cream or candy.
You may not have a diagnosed eating disorder, but you likely suffer from some degree of disordered eating. How can you not? Those two statements are learned, patterned triggers for disordered eating programmed into nearly all of us from birth. And those are just two very small examples.
What about abuse? You may not think that you suffered any mental or emotional abuse unless it was blatantly obvious. It’s unimaginable until it’s put into context for you. Have you personally been told any of these before by an authority figure?
“You’re upset about that? Seriously?”
“How could you make that mistake?”
“Deal with it.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t be a baby.”
“What are you, stupid?”
Those are the statements of pervasive bullying. They’re also common phrases used on children by what society would consider to be “typical, healthy parents.” They’re also mild forms of mental and emotional abuse.
These statements (and others like them), spoken by authority figures on a regular basis, cause deep and lasting psychological damage. And these are light compared to what most people experience. If this was the extent of the hurt you suffered, you have a massive head start.
Does this mean that every human walking the Earth is damaged goods to the point of being unable to independently process information and make lasting change? Absolutely not. But, it’s not the norm and it’s not a viable plan if you’re interested in helping a higher percentage of people.
How hurt you are is graded on a scale. The more hurt you are, the more you need a coach. The less hurt you are, the less you may need one. In my experience, far more people are hurt than not and far more people need help than not.
The human mind begs all of us to escape the hurt by using drugs, the most popular of which is food. Until we start addressing health and fitness with human emotion accounted for, we’ll continue to fail 99% of people who are interested in true healing.
The Weight Loss Trap & Conclusion
The fantasy of an ideal body is that happiness, unconditional acceptance by others, and emotional healing are delivered through weight loss. But, you cannot heal people with weight loss.
“You don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight” — another line from the The Rebooted Body Manifesto — holds true for both physical and emotional health.
The funny thing about psychological roadblocks is that they never go away — no matter how many Band-Aids you slap on — until they teach you what you need to know. The health and fitness industry made billions of dollars trying to make better Band-Aids. The new revolution is concerned with ripping those Band-Aids off and achieving true healing on all sides of the triangle.
For the “clients” out there, do you want the key to success from someone who has been in your shoes? The key to success is finding someone you trust who has the wisdom — not just the knowledge — to help you travel the long and difficult journey to true healing and then packing your fucking bags. No more reading, no more researching, no more distractions. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. And do the work with someone who knows how to treat whole people, who fully understands the success triangle, and who is committed to your transformation.
For the “leaders” out there, I invite you to join the new revolution. I have no doubt that you’ve done amazing work up to this point, which is why I’m talking specifically to you, right now. You’re here, you’re committed, you’re smart, and you’re motivated. Focus those amazing qualities on the genuine healing of whole people.
In other words, do less informing and more transforming.
The old goal was to transition from working with clients to writing books and spreading information. That was how “success” was defined. But, speaking with people is always better than speaking to people. The new goal is to go back to working with clients — and working at a deeper and more meaningful level than ever before.
If you’re new to the concepts healing mindset and psychology, explore and learn those concepts. You don’t have to throw your hands up and pretend this is not for you. We need you and your clients need you.
Whether you’re a client or trainer, please share your thoughts on this new revolution. And most importantly, let’s take these ideas and do something with them.
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Kevin Geary is the founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. He helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.All stories by: Kevin Geary
I like the statement, “you cannot heal people with weight loss.” As a nurse, I see this all of the time. People are going for the fast track to weight loss and ending up digging themselves out of a deep, dark hole of health issues as a result. Great article.
Couldn’t agree more with you both.
I have people call me whining that they need a “Quick fix” yet don’t want to put the effort into the long term changes life healthy eating and excersize. I don’t turn them away I give it to them blunt and if they stick around great. I would love to see that 1% turn into 100%.
Wow, well said. Many of the ideas about food addiction have been rolling around in my mind, too, but you’ve so eloquently put these ideas on paper. It’s a case of leading the fully aware horse to the water, watching him drink and then watching in amazement when they walk away and knowingly pick up a bottle of hemlock and start drinking it.
Kevin, this is EXACTLY what so many people need to hear!! You are so right, we need to stop seeking information and get to the bottom of the problem- addiction, abuse, self-image, self-esteem- it all matters!! One of the hardest things is convincing people that their thoughts about themselves will shape the decisions they make about food and their relationship to it. I love, love, love this article!!! Thanks for sharing this!
Food is life and food can be a poison that kills human life. Food became my life, one quotes says that the struggles of a chef is being healthy knowing his been surrounded by food. I did felt that way. My relationship with the foods basically depends on my emotions and the call of work. I’ve been a victim of my own foods and the ideas of living as if its your last which turned my health so bad nearly to obese that strongly affects my perceptions in life, the way I think, my emotions and other perceptions. It’s not easy to lose weights knowing your associated with foods plus your mind setting is really crazy abot eating. I did paleodiet and lose 20 kgs,which I really don’t imagine I can do it. I shared my weightloss journey in my social networking accounts like fb and ig, coaching colleauges the things I did for free. What food to eat, and what not to it. But upon reading your article, it made me thinks more deeper. It’s not about only informing the person rather going deeper to a person struggles or situation. And or wait until the person real intention runs after you and be changed. Or putting your shoes to that person while giving the best transition. I can’t say I won’t fall into wagon now, having a great relationship with foods and its importance knowing I did made myself a better person but most especially how my emotional aspects and relations with other people also changed. I really want to be a part of the solution, not the problem. The answer always find within oneself. I tried whole30 then continued to Paleo. I am a chef and I am part of that 1%, but after reading your article, Everythings changed. I know I can do much better in helping others and find themselves in the same leauge. Its about mind setting.
Reading your araticle, I feel as if you know me better than I know myself. All of the issues regarding food as a child, and moderate verbal and emotional abuse apply to me. I have so often felt like a failure for taking the weight off and then allowing it to gradually creep back on. I know I have issues, I have felt for a long time as if I am an unwilling addict and food is my drug – I use it to numb feelings of pain, inadequacy, disappointment and stress, loneliness and boredom. I have tried every diet out there.. no fat, no meat, no carbs, no solid food, just juice, cardio, hiit, yoga, jogging, step classes, free weights,. all succeed to some degree but I have never been able to stick to any of them for more than a year or two. The underlying issues have never been dealt with, and after reading what you have to say I realize that what I DO need is a coach who can help me deal with those things and put them behind me for good. Thank you.
Betty, it sounds like you’re on the cusp of truly getting a handle on the mindset side of things, which is awesome. Diving deeper into learning more about yourself and changing your relationship with food is absolutely going to take you to where you want to go. Keep working!
You nailed it! Thanks for the great insight and practical material. I will definitely share this article to my network.
It all starts with the mind. At a simple level, people either avoid pain or seek pleasure. I became a much more effective trainer, when I learned the power of the subconscious mind over our logical/rational conscious mind. I want my clients to see exercise as fun (pleasure) to help engrain the habit in the emotional mind. If people are exercising to avoid a poor self-image, they will soon run out of will power — leading to more self-judgement.
My question to you is, how do you inspire people to look within in the ‘new revolution?’ People love to seek external methods (ie more information, new diets, new pills, etc) for the solution. The root of the issue is likely a belief or agreement engrained in the emotional mind.
Thanks for your passion and wisdom.
Dan, thanks for taking the time to comment and great question!
I absolutely don’t have it all figured out and I’ll be the first to tell you that. I’m currently working with over 100 clients and the more I learn through working with them the more I uncover what the solutions should be.
I created an online program because that was the best way I could see to scale these ideas (while continuing to learn) and help as many people as possible. That online program also serves as the breeding ground for new ideas and methods. It’s my “lab” if you will; and my goal is to continue to refine that program until it becomes the most relevant and helpful system on the planet.
The fact remains that people have to somewhat come to the realizations I talk about themselves and seek out people who understand all three sides of the success triangle. I don’t think our goal should be to convince everyone, but to simply help those who don’t need convincing first.
The more people get REAL help and achieve lasting results the more people will take notice.
Judging this post by its title, I read it with an argumentative attitude. What do you mean the Heath and Fitness industry is dead? What the hell do you mean Paleo is dead? I didn’t get much out of the 1st reading. After reading it again a few hours later (with an open mind) did I fully realize the message. I agree completely. I see this with all the diet and workout hopping going on. If I can just eat this, lift this, run like this, I’ll be this. We are not this and that. It’s hard to explain this idea to people. Your message may not be popular because it requires hard work, soul searching, and commitment. Even the best plans can be sabotaged by a negative mind. Nicely written.
Great article, and I have always felt that the underlying psychological aspects are as important, if not more important, than delivering information to our clients and patients (though I disagree that the Paleo movement has failed already, it just needs to do a better job of addressing the psychology at play). But for those of us that are actually in the trenches helping people to try to get healthier and lose weight, what can we do to better address the psychological elements? I want to be equipped to address my clients’ psychological and emotional components, but don’t know how many answers I will find by picking up a Psychology textbook.
Taylor, continue to read the blog and listen to the podcast as I plan on offering a bunch of content going forward to address exactly that. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your thoughts. I’m not hating on Paleo, just pointing out something I believe must be addressed by any movement that wishes to be successful for the greatest amount of people.
I read this article with a very defensive attitude, I have to be honest!! I work in the fitness industry and I live to inspire people to live healthier lives. So you can imagine how the title maybe rubbed me wrong lol…. After really taking the time to read this article it all came together and I’ found a new appreciation for the message being shared here!! I think we have great resources in our society on how to become healthier but if you don’t look inwards first…what ever path you choose will turn into just another thing to do. Thanks for taking the time to write this
Wow, absolutely fabulous article. It really spoke to me as someone who has spent the last 2 years travelling the road and coming to the conclusion that I want to empower others to make the journey and help them “pack their fucking bags” (now firmly in my vocab…love it).
My own experience has also taught me how deeply nutrition and gut health is connected with emotional health, so I guess healing the body can go some way to healing the emotional scars or at least gaining clarity about them.
I have been struggling to make the leap into coaching as I really felt deep down that it is something so much more fundamental than writing a client a diet plan (which is really what I learned inmy coaching qualification). Thank you for putting my vague notions and suspicions into words and helping me find a new way forward.
Dude! This is what I’m talking about! I write about similar things. I couldn’t have said it better. For fucks sakes it’s not a physical or knowledge problem. It’s an emotional problem. Fuck yeah! I wanted to stand up and cheer! Finally, somebody fucking gets it. Carry on good sir. Carry on.
*Advocate for athletes in recovery from eating disorders
It’s refreshing to hear a non-partisan take on the health & weight loss industry. Most articles that you read will put down method X in favor of method Y, and I’m guilty of this on my blog (promoting CrossFit and Paleo alot) but rather than focus on the methods of weight loss and overall health you’ve focused on the core, underlying issues. It’s essentially the same analogy as putting a coat of paint on a car with a busted transmission. It can look as pretty as you want it to look, but it’s not driving anywhere until you fix whats under the hood, the emotional and psychological (or in some cases psychosomatic) issues.
I’m going to use my best to use the phrase “CrossFit won’t kill Krispy Creme” in a sentence in the coming week. Great article.
“You don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight”…great article. Dealing with the emotions around eating, even for those who aren’t struggling with weight, is key. I know every single event in my entire life centered around food. Sometimes celebratory, sometimes heavy family dinner conversations, and then I made a career out of it, so I had a lot of triggers in there. Positive and negative. It’s only been since farming and not having access to a lot of my ‘go to’ food buddies that I’ve broken the chain. I found that food wasn’t the celebration, but I still celebrate food.
We tend to use food to glue our life together, rarely eating when we’re truly hungry. That’s how we develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Food has one mission and that’s nourishing the body. It can’t have alternative missions. A great question to ask yourself is, “What do I want this food to do?” That’s the key to the city. Thanks for the comment.
Good job, Kevin. I like your style.
If I may, I host a small group on Facebook, called Mental Meat Heads, and I produce weekly interviews with coaches and fitness professionals on my website. Your message mirrors my own and I’m very excited to find another voice that echoes my own ideas. I’d like to extend an invitation to further your outreach and continue this conversation in an interview. Please send me an email if you are interested.
And thanks, I’ll be reposting this extensively.
Its all wrong and all right. The article has a under-current of finger pointing.
I think building on facts to construct a diet (that word has been destroyed and I’m using it as a way to eat) and exercise routine is critical. Most build on false information. Your genes are a huge part of what you look like, and with that, you can enhance or support YOUR ideal body shape. Each body is different in the way each life is different. What works for one certainly isn’t going to work for another unless you are the weight-loss industry at large and trying to sell something. With that said, as in the movie Fat Head, most aren’t using their heads to find a way to live. Eating moderately and exercising regularly no one will get fat. Reconstructing one’s body takes months/years as a lifestyle, a commitment, just like a good relationship does. It wasn’t one bite that created the fat body so its not one bite (or weeks of bites) that will heal it. Building a new relationship with oneself is critical. Where is that information in the latest diet book? That new person isn’t going to be motivated by anger or fear. It will by encouragement and addressing each emotion that surfaces as it does.
Where is the call to self-accountability?
I believe that the energy/emotions/effort that it took to put the weight on will unearth it self as the excess energy/fat is consumed. Get ready for many “come to Jesus” moments as you lose weight because your issues will surface. Its not a free ride from the reasons one is fat!
If you live on fish and veg for a few weeks and exercise you will lose weight. Is that more extreme than eating sugar and carbs, which are things that ultimately tax the body to its very limits? Extreme circumstances call for extreme measures. That is also measured in moderation and commitment. This is an accountability wake-up call for anyone over-weight. What you eat in private you wear in public. It’s not the paleo people or keto people at fault any more than any other. When we get present to our self-responsibility and stop blaming we can then move past the victim/perpetrator mentality. Its no one’s fault. Its a responsibility to yourself.
A “coach”? Maybe, someone to hold you accountable if you cannot do it for yourself? Sure. But how will you bring yourself back into integrity when you screw up. Because you will. It’s not about being perfect, but about being committed. So, that could be a good idea to have a coach, however, if you have someone who is close to you to do that, hold you accountable, its much more powerful. No shame. Just honor. When people learn to honor themselves they won’t sit on the sofa and say, “tomorrow”. They will feel worth it in the moment.
Thanks for writing this “push-against” and creating the dialog. Resistance builds strength, in and out of the gym. 🙂
I think I agree with what you are saying about self-responsibility and building a relationship with yourself. I do believe that a good health coach will hold this as the nucleus of their philosophy/ approach and will help a person at least begin to understand their relationship with food along with information and support. The accountability and information is what people seek when they hire a coach but much like therapy shy away when it’s time to do some real work.
There is also the pervasive Societal scolding about how families should eat at the dinner table together, and that a failure to do so makes you a bad parent. (Just type in “families dinner together” into Google, and the first article that pops up, at least on my search, is WebMD.) The pervasive “linger over your food, talk with other people, but don’t do Stuff, just savor it” is calculated to shame people who (like myself) prefer to eat alone, with the company of my computer or my books. I’m not going to eat more in those situations — I’m far more likely to get bored while at a restaurant table with others, and eat whatever else is in reach on the table, including the bread. At home, keeping myself entertained, there’s no bread, no real sugars, none of that, and my stomach doesn’t go “Yeah, I can fit something else in, as long as it keeps us out of jail.” 🙂 I have to physically get up and acquire more food before I can overeat … and if I’m hungry enough to pause my game or put my book down, I probably need that food.
One thing about Paleo/Primal/WAP/LCHF/etc: There is -less- shaming for “this isn’t working. What am I doing -wrong-?” The answer isn’t, usually, “you suck.” It tends to be more constructive, with people offering what worked for them, be it dropping dairy, going on an autoimmune protocol to figure out if there are/were food allergies, or admitting they were “cheating” every day and working to stop that addiction. Sometimes you get the “oh, just work out more, even if you can’t without an asthma attack” or “eat your veggies, even if they make you sick!” response of standard mentality, but it isn’t nearly as nasty or the only answer otherwise.
The statements above are so true. As a life coach I take an holistic approach. Yes the right kind of training is important….hormonal training. Nutrition is important. As important, however are the emotional and sociological barriers that must be taken down. This is where information has its role. but not just spoon fed information. Logic, reason, evidence, proof are vital tools. Trying to persuade someone to alter their direction after a flow of decades of misinformation is not easy, but we must not stop trying. One person at a time is the way forward. Influence one person..that person influences another…and so it grows. One of the problems is the multitude of so called fitness experts/personal trainers etc who know a little but are still framed in standardised traditional methods and theory.
Choose your mentors wisely…as Tennyson said…’knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers’
I feel like I just visited church Kevin! Jennifer Fugo posted this + I was so excited. I’m always saying: people don’t need more information, they need more understanding. I’ve created a bio-psycho-social model called Truce with Food that wraps functional medicine + emotional healing into a coaching process. While I have a background in functional medicine + holistic health, my Masters is in Coaching + the change process because that is what the health + fitness industry is lacking. They don’t know the “how”. And the how involves people becoming their own experts (for someone to effectively change their story about their health + food, they must become the expert in their new story). I think trainers and health experts can help but with the understanding they are the guides on the side. I’d love to connect with you more as we are in the same philosophical camp!
Thanks for this. It articulates the experience I’ve had in the last year. I transitioned to a paleo lifestyle after giving birth to my first child. At the same time my sister, who I am very close to, started selling weight loss shakes for a multi-level marketing company. The “inspirational” posts on her Facebook wall to garner business, and her own weight loss ‘success’ (even though I know she’s developing health issues), triggered so much emotion in me, who had always borne the brunt of our mom’s self-esteem issues with her own body. I blocked my sister’s newsfeed and over the course of several months became healthier myself. I fought my demons and had success both emotionally and physically. I also found a paleo leader who has posted a lot about her own body and the issues she faces from the judgmental parts of the paleo community. Her posts have made me laugh, cry, reflect and focus on what’s important; my own mental and physical health and that of my baby girl, who WILL NOT be exposed to the types of emotional abuse you discuss. I am so determined that she avoid as much of this as possible and have a healthy relationship with food. I am proud to say that I have substantially healed emotionally, and while I’ve certainly not perfect, I am confident in myself and my body internally and externally. I think I had it pretty easy, with my sister’s advertising forcing me to make the choice of feeling bad about myself and saying, you know what, I’m doing this and I’m healthy. But now when I talk to people about food or weight (and I am no preacher trying to convert everyone), I talk about it differently, in a healthy way, not in ways designed to make people feel bad about themselves, which is far more common.
II could not agree more with you. I am a nurse that struggles with her weight and I have always said it is related to a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. I see many people daily from all walks of life in my job; I sometimes feel like it is a miracle as dysfunctional as most of us are that we have a society that is not in total chaos. While I am on board 100% with the paleo movement, with getting real with whom I am and what lies beneath these self-defeating coping mechanisms I am beginning to view the paleo movement as another money maker. Maybe I don’t fall into the correct demographic for paleo. However as a single mom in full time grad school that barely makes it to the next paycheck sometimes paleo seems impossible and having a coach is out of the question. This lifestyle can be complicated, expensive and overwhelming yet I believe it is the solution for me because it does address the whole individual and how I impact everyone and everything around me. I feel that paleo pushes us to understand the magnitude of our existence. Buying into the concept of what the animal I eat eats affects my health is huge. The implication of that type of conscious living is huge and I believe can have an impact that is far reaching. Then I become sad again because the pervasiveness of money making is all over this movement and again, it becomes out of reach. I guess what I am saying is that this movement is so authentic on one hand and yet so exclusive on the other. I will also say that I believe there are many people out there that blog and keep it real for those of us who would love a coach or to go all paleo when it seems impossible. They help us figure out how to overcome the obstacles with real life solutions. They may profit somehow off their blog or their books yet they provide so much through social media. I know my health has improved, my stress has decreased, I am conscious of so much because of this movement and while I have not lost weight and vacillate between doing this 100% to unhealthy eating habits I know I am making progress. I am sure I would be farther and probably lost some real weight however I know I am evolving and it is because of the wealth of information out there for free. I encourage anyone that struggles financially to understand that the information is there just don’t give up and keep looking.
Hi – Thanks for the post. I am a nurse with a public health degree finishing my health education/coaching training with the National Institute of Whole Health. I had been indoctrinated into the Paleo concept before the training and was curious to see if this “evidenced based health information” training would back up what the paleo bloggers and authors preach. For the most part yes, probably more so the Weston Price concepts. However, what I love about NIWH is that we learn that Everything is related to Everything – meaning we cannot isolate diet or exercise from the 5 aspects – Environment, Emotional, Spiritual, Physical and Nutrition state of our beings. By working with someone who can guide a person to not only give evidenced based health information but more importantly get the person to see how all those components are related and get to the root cause of any ailment, the person is then empowered to own their well-being and make their own informed decisions. I agree – that is the real health care revolution we all have been waiting for.
I am at a point in my life where I don’t know what to eat anymore. My digestion is a mess. I cut out grains even though I never really had a problem with them. Then I started reading too much and now I’m so fucking confused and every meal is a stress. Hunger has become the bane of my existence.
Hey, I just wanted to thank you for sharing this perfectly well written idea. At the start of the article I was critical, for I am very impressed by the work Jilian has gotten done with her yelling, which for some reason works, but in the end I agreed with you. I understood what you were trying to say and I agree 100% that this is the key and this is what everyone needs. I also find that the past mistakes/experiences are needed so we can look back, learn, grow and move on from them – so like you stated, the information is still needed but it is time to get this to another level and actually develop something more effective. The only problem may be that sometimes people are too intensely against change and new ideas, that this may seem an exhausting plan, however, I have a good feeling about this and I can’t wait to see this idea improve even more and take off. Thank you again, you definitely gave me something new to consider, think about and share 🙂
I am a health coach and I absolutely love this article. For me it expertly explains the state we are in with health and wellness and also perhaps unwittingly describes exactly why we need health coaches. Skilled health coaches who not only know the food facts but understand the concept of recovery and what it takes to help people change and how to guide and properly motivate people to change. The medical community including dieticians are so consumed with daily operations and time constraints that they can’t learn/teach real nutrition or relay the importance of food on our mental and physical health. They’re so busy prescribing meds and surgeries they are unable to spend the time educating and informing. Personal trainers mostly just train and don’t have the time built in to really focus on their clients food intake. Mental health therapists and counselors (I am one of those too) generally don’t talk with their clients about nutrition and it’s impact on mental state. So who can people count on? Health coaches! Thank you so much for this article.
Education by book, lecture, training or other means are the first step of the learning process. Eating is an essential function for us as humans, although it has been used as bribery, torture, gluttony, punishment, reward, and comfort for years. Healing the mind and body of the person (over eaters especially) be it with education, experience, or counseling are necessary for real long term change. This is a difficult process and each person must be treated as an individual as each body is different. It is proven that the cookie cutter approach just does not work there are too many variables with fitness level, overall health, medications, disease etc…Until a person has desire big enough to overcome their fears (excuses) nothing will have a lasting effect.
One of the hardest pieces of this puzzle is that many of the practitioners (doctors, personal trainers, fitness instructors, educators, therapists) have not personally experienced the struggle that an over weight and/or unhealthy person goes through on a daily basis, giving a lack of true understanding of the challenges be it physical or mental. There is a lot to be said about empathy and a commitment to help others but nothing beats personal experience. We need more real people with real personal experience who have a passion for helping others rather than life long fitness/health buffs, passionate as they are, trying to instill their beliefs and ideas on those of us that struggle to eat right and exercise.
This is such compelling writing, and it is very well-timed for me. After being Paleo “on and off” for about a year, I made a decision that I needed to be a better me due to some recent personal struggles. I have been dealing with these issues with a professional, and I have surrounded myself with positive people. And I continue to do so, which is the most important thing. Paleo has provided me a wealth of information that I am passionate about, but I can say that I truly feel I am undergoing a transformation from the inside out and not the outside in. This is because, first and foremost, I have finally started dealing with my emotional issues! It has motivated me in a way where I don’t even question having a “cheat day”. I don’t even think about weighing myself anymore…it’s so liberating!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
I like your style and you have a great site. I have read this three times now (and like others the first couple times I was highly skeptical) and I do like parts of it very much however, I just fundamentally disagree about people being broken as a significant root cause for not doing something right for themselves. I grew up with parents that grew up with parents that lived through the depression. Of course you ate everything on your plate, you didn’t waste food. They also chided and corrected me when I was acting up, that’s not abuse it’s parenting the best they can(they don’t teach that either). Plus I don’t blame my upbringing for my bad choices that made me very unhealthy. That was all me, not me feeling bad about me but just me being stupid. I think the real problem is the SAD diet is drilled into our heads so much that it is tough to step out on that ledge. Further when you do step out there, people think you are crazy because you are going against the “norm” and hacking into your body’s natural ability to take control. No one is taking the time to get the people we trust (i.e. the larger medical community) to say the right things. I think big pharma and big food are really happy with that too and do all they can to keep the message the same. I liked many points you made and the article is very well written. I love: “No more reading, no more researching, no more distractions. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.” However, I don’t think the people that should be doing the reading are believing because their filter is set to ignore that food is medicine, not because there are demons in their closets.
GREAT ARTICLE! There are so many great points there. I Learned many of these things a few years ago when I first began changing how I looked at food. Then things got deeper, more into the depths of my mind. I’m still realizing and dealing with things from my past. It is so sad what we do to our children with the food rewards. I did it to mine and never even realized what I was doing. Thank you for sharing!
The health & fitness industry and Paleo aren’t so much dead as WALKING DEAD–as in zombies! As long as the CW that currently exists still has enough mouths and minds to keep pushing it, it will still walk around. Same for Paleo, even with the carb-creep that’s evident with each new book churned out, new recipe submitted to Fast Paleo, or even the food product invented “to save us time and energy”–isn’t that what the diet was all about? Getting us to expend more time, energy, and thought on our health and nutrition? How are we gonna do that with an ever-growing Paleo/Primal Food Industrial Complex?
Yes, inroads are being made as we slowly rewrite the nutrition and health story, but CONVENIENCE has crept back in where it doesn’t belong. Isn’t convenience where we went off the rails in the first place? Aren’t we just replacing THEIR convenience with OUR convenience?
As for me, I’m waiting for someone to start THE REAL 21-day sugar detox…you know, the one that doesn’t rely on crutch foods like apples, carrots, raisins, and other sugar-and-carb-loaded ingredients. Where do you go when you’ve managed to detox yourself away from THOSE foods, and maple syrup/honey to boot? 21DSD isn’t really a sugar detox–it’s more of a sugar SUBSTITUTION program! When are we REALLY and TRULY gonna find a program that gets us completely and totally off the sugar?
Wow, wenchy — so many great points. A while back I started sketching out a podcast episode about the perils of convenience and you just reminded me to go find that and actually get it recorded.
I agree with you on 21DSD.
Shameless plug: Total Body Reboot has a no-nonsense, REAL 30 day sugar detox built into stage one 😉
Wow, where do I start? I am one of those success stories – (I am the 1%?), 35 kgs off for 5 years now and it took 4 years to lose. I completely agree that the emotional side is key to success and also taking a long term view. In my weight loss journey, I tried a number of different things to finally reach my goal, but the “critical success factors” were eating real food, moving daily, watching the carbs and making the mental shift to “lifestyle” not “diet”. Yes, it sounds easy but it’s not, I can say these things with the benefit of hindsight.
I started a blog to try and help people eat healthy for one. I realise that the vast majority of people aren’t interested in their health or what they put in their mouth, and this is the key for me, prioritisation. We (people reading this blog) care about our health, we read, we think, we try, we tinker. But what’s bugging me at the moment is how to spread the message to help other people see the need to make real food a priority! I’m ruminating on this at the moment. How can I help?
I’m inspired by this quote from Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
You can’t convince others until they’re ready to be convinced. The best method I’ve found is to set up the net underneath them and wait for them to jump. The good news is that there are plenty of people who are already jumping who you can spend your time and energy on in the meantime.
The gimmickry has basically turned people into skeptics of fitness… too much swag, too much hashtagging of WOD workouts, bad diets, silly trends, dumb crap all over… I persoanlly am going to implement into MY gym just straightfoward stuff… military PT, crossfit with dedicated trainers… I am so sick of all the gimmicks… makes every trainer, fitness professional look like jackasses.
Great post. I am a nutritionist, plus trained in NLP (neuro linguistic programming), and I can attest to the fact that helping people get healthy goes beyond teaching them what to eat. Every single one of my clients has had some kind of mental/emotional issues we have had to work around and breakdown in order for them to see results. The shame is the ones who are unable to go there because they are so rooted in fear.
So… what if you eat healthy, do everything you’re ‘supposed’ to and are still fat? I’m sorry, but I think this is BS – “You don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight”. How about getting healthy being the goal. Just. Being. Healthy… at whatever weight you are? I’ve been watching your posts, getting your emails and considering your program as a way to get healthier. But, now I know this is just another weight loss program. That’s okay – no hard feelings. It’s just not for me.
Lisa, I’m not sure how you can take my statement, “you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight” and take that to mean that I’m only concerned about weight loss. That statement speaks directly to people who WISH to lose weight but perhaps thought about the paradigm backwards. There are many people in my program who don’t have a weight loss goal.
Right on! It’s awesome to hear that someone out there gets it. More than anything, we need to address EQ; and, we need to address the fact that food is a feel-good drug creating an addiction way worse than any other addiction because we all need food to survive. Thank you Kevin. Excellent blog.
As a psychotherapist practicing a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I completely agree with this. Much of my work with people involves identifying the habitual negative thought patterns that are typically formed during childhood and have become hidden beneath one’s full conscious awareness, where they wreak havoc on emotions and life decisions. We instinctively flee unpleasant feelings and often do this through the momentary comfort of addictive foods. i support people in connecting with their deepest values and taking an honest look at what is keeping them from living a life that is in line with them. I then guide them in developing the mindfulness skills that enable them to willingly experience discomfort in service of living a valued life.
Thank you for this article, Kevin! Before I seriously considered your program, I needed to see what your approach to the emotional and human side of all this was and this article gave me a great understanding. I have done so much work (mentally, spiritually, and emotionally) to get to the place I am, but I’m exhausted. At least now though, at the point that I muster up the resolve to try again, I have an attitude of love and acceptance and healing for myself that I never had before. I’ve just brushed the surface of what you are offering here on the interwebz but I am so ready to begin. All it takes is that first step. Almost there!
Actually I did heal my emotions through weight loss. The world is so horrid to fat people that when I became a more normal weight some people who had always been my friends stayed that way but people who had never given me the time of day gave me respect, particularly professionally. I felt so much better about myself and had not realised what a painful burden I had been carrying of social disapproval. It is quite scary. So there are real emotional benefits to losing weight. Also some of the weight gain is based around real physical things, like inherited poor liver and thyroid function (all my family but one have had thyroidectomies, and Gilberts disease, except my skinny sister) and all my older female relatives are diagnosed diabetics. I know there are SNPs that affect weight gain and I know I have them. So its not all about emotional issues. But I agree there are some and that it helps to get rid of them but working on the layers of health issues to get normalised is not just about one sphere. And yes losing weight does solve emotional issues because social exclusion hurts.
Bravo, buddy. This is exactly what people in the fitness industry need to be hearing. I think one of the traps that many fitness pros get into is that everyone is like them or wants to be like them but the people we need to be reaching are truly nothing like us at all.
Something like 83% of adults don’t have gym or studio memberships and never will – that means they aren’t seeking out the help of a fitness professional even though they likely need a bit of guidance. They don’t know where to turn to get truthful advice that actually is meaningful for their lives, not some idealized version of a life seen on a poster.
The fitness industry is pretty intimidating for these folks, it doesn’t speak their language and makes them feel incompetent, unknowledgeable, and doomed to failure. Most people don’t want to have ripped abs and glistening quads that pop out of their shorts, they want to be able to move better, shit properly, and sleep well at night.
People want to enjoy their lives, engage with people they like, have fun, and be comfortable in their own skin and skeleton (by this I mean no GI issues, no body-image issues, no musculoskeletal issues, no negative thoughts, etc.). The fitness industry tells them that in order for that to take place, they must do crazy shit to get in shape and lose weight so they can be posterized.
I love the ancestral health movement (paleo, WAPF, JERF, traditional foods – whatever you want to call it) because it has opened many peoples eyes to the importance of eating real foods but even though many of us in the fitness industry are familiar with this movement, the general population largely isn’t. Something like 3% of the population follow a paleo diet. It may be 50% of CrossFitters, but only a small chunk of the population CrossFit, even if it seems like in our circles way more people do.
That’s because our circles typically don’t include your average Joe and Jo. Even the more well-informed movements (MovNat, the great guys out there like Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, and Mark Sisson who are undeniably doing great things, all of the nourishing/local food movements, etc), are not tapping into enough of the people who need it because they’re still focused on achieving that fitness and health ideal rather than focusing on the journey, the every day, the NOW.
Constantly looking toward the future and creating and idealized version of self, which is what the fitness industry is built around (life starts when you finally lose weight, get healthy, stop smoking, start working out, eat healthier!), sets us up for failure because you will never get there. There will always be better (leaner, faster, stronger). This sets you up to always seek perfection which reeks havoc on your physical and mental health if you continue along the path or forces you to give up because you realize perfection is unattainable.
Where we need to go is helping teach people to live in THIS MOMENT because it’s all we have and all we’re guaranteed. Be good to your body and mind right now, the rest will take care of itself. Be mindful of what you’re putting into your body, as that’s what forms each and every one of your cells, be present with the people you love, move your body, listen to music, breathe, play outside.
Focus on all the great things you can do to feel good right now in mind and body. Not with an end goal in mind Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to think about the end goal such as being healthier, living longer, being more active, being able to engage more in activities you enjoy and be aware of it, but the focus should be on now, being comfortable with your body now (love your body NOW and you’ll want to take care of it, hate your body now, you’ll continue to sabotage it), being happy and healthy RIGHT NOW.
But the fitness industry wants you to want to look like the girl or guy on the “motivational” poster. That’s not realistic. We are each unique in our biology, our psychology, our environments which means we are always going to just look like ourselves, each of us. So we need to want to look like and be ourselves.
Ay yi yi – that was quite a rant for a Tuesday morning! And I haven’t even touched on all the thoughts swimming through my head!
Thank’s for getting me thinking, Kevin. Love what your doing.
Really enjoyed your article. I have scleroderma sans scleroderma, an autoimmune disease. Basically, they treat symptoms, nothing they can cure. So, yes I am on pain relieving opioids, etc. I’m not looking for a cure, just trying to be as healthy as possible. I do need information because I have been ignorant about food. Fifty-eight years not knowing how much sugar is hidden in cans and boxes. Not knowing how addictive sugar is or how much it affects our well- being and health. Now I learn how much everyone’s Emotinal Quotient effects our eating habits. Thank goodness for information?
I have always felt that “diet programs” were ridiculous because they weren’t sustainable. I can and will eat real food the rest of my life. We weren’t designed to eat processed food. We’re all paying for that with our health. I’m a menopausal woman who has never had to think about weight in my life until now. And, yes, I have some vanity about it, but I’m working on being healthy. The weight will take care of itself. Right?
Thanks for the articles.
Hi Ruth, thanks for stopping by. If you create a healthy environment for the body, amazing things will happen. You might run into some hurdles and obstacles along the way, which is what I’m here for, but you’re absolutely on the right track. Keep up the great work 🙂
I wish more people would realize your weight is more determined on what you eat and not how much you move. I take a really good exercise/weight lifting class that last 50 mins.. and it kills me to see , mostly women, after the class feel they have to jump on the treadmill for another 30 mins.. I want to say, just go home and relax awhile! Great article!
After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and crazy and harmful workout routines, it is clear that knowing the “facts” and taking action when not coming from a solid internally anchored well-being model is just another failure waiting to happen with devastating effects on my body. What this article just did for me was open a light, give me hope that I can build that solid foundation beneath any future health related changes I make. Thank you.
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