This is the year, you tell yourself. This year you’re finally going to stick to your 5:2 Paleo Wheat Belly Bikini Challenge and by next Christmas you’ll look like you’ve been Photoshopped.
But before you hand over a small fortune and another slice of your soul to the weight loss industry, Dr Rick Kausman, author of If Not Dieting, Then What? and fellow of the Australian Society for Psychological Medicine, suggests you think again.
1. There is no magic number or chart that can accurately measure your health
Despite being thoroughly discredited as an accurate measure of an individual’s health, Body Mass Index (BMI) is the favourite tool of the weight loss industry.
‘Weight is a terrible proxy for health’, say Dr Kausman, who has been running a weight management and eating behaviour clinic for 25 years.
‘You can’t measure someone’s ideal weight from a chart. And if we are measuring health, then weight is the wrong measure. Health is much more complex than a number.’
‘Without BMI measures the weight loss industry would fold because there would be no goal for people to aspire to.’
‘A waist circumference may give a clue as to possible risk factors, but that still doesn’t mean you can assume that a person is unhealthy. It’s still just an average for populations that can never be applicable to all individuals.’
Dr Kausman says that behaviours and attitudes are much better measures of health. He suggests a quick self-inventory along the following lines: Are you moving your body in an enjoyable way on a regular basis?
If you need something more objective, then blood sugar levels and blood pressure are much better measures than the all-encompassing BMI number.
2. Rather than you failing the diet, the diet failed you