In my post last week, I wrote about Oprah and Weight Watchers. You can read it here. I was inspired to write about it because of an article I had read that morning that basically said that if Oprah, with all of her money and power, can’t lose weight, why would you think you can? (In his defense, his point was to love yourself the way you are right now, which I FULLY support!) In response, a friend of mine wrote to him and said that if you want the success stories, look in 12 step rooms. And another reader responded that the people who succeed are the people who are giving up addictive foods like sugar.
The backlash in the comments section was very interesting (and a little unsettling) to me. So I did a little internet snooping. People, for reasons I do not comprehend, are very angry about “the addiction model.” I do not know what it is about addiction and the idea of addiction that gets people furious. They are practically screaming through the computer, “NOT EVERYONE IS AN ADDICT!”
Okay. I got it. Not everyone is an addict. But why so much anger about it?
I understand that there is not a lot of scientific evidence that the “addiction model” works. I have read articles on it. One claims that the addiction model of treatment has “shockingly low success rates.” Another claims “compelling support for effectiveness.”But I don’t do what I do because science tells me it is effective or not. I do it because it is effective for me.
So, I am not claiming anything scientific at all. I am saying that by identifying as an addict and giving up my addictive substance, I have had my weight and eating under control for 10 years now. 10 years. And I personally know people who have maintained huge weight loss for 20+ and even 30+ years. Not a person. I can think of 10 people right now who have maintained a weight loss for over 20 years. Most studies about long-term weight loss use 2-5 years as the benchmark for “long-term.” I can literally (and I mean literally literally, not figuratively) think of 60 people off the top of my head who would be considered successful. (No, really. I took a moment to tick them off on my fingers.) From all racial, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds. From all over the U.S. and the world. And that’s just the ones I can think of right now.
And yes, I can think of even more people who tried the “addiction model” and it didn’t work for them. I can think of people who tried and quit. I can think of people who struggle and have struggled for years. I can think of people who used the “addiction model” and lost huge amounts of weight and then put it right back on, like any other diet or weight loss program. And that is just the people I can remember. I have no scientific evidence that says what I do is effective in general. I don’t know what that success rate percentage is. It may well be “shockingly low.” Sometimes it feels like a revolving door. Perhaps for every person like me there are 100 who fail. Perhaps it’s closer to 1,000. But I am looking at 70+ people who have lost weight and maintained that weight loss. Each of those 70 people is a human being who feels like they have been set free.
Here’s the other thing that I find fascinating. Study findings (actual science) in 2011 said that maintaining weight loss was “nearly impossible.” The human body flooded with hormones that made people hungry and kept very low levels of hormones that suppressed hunger and increased metabolism. In other words, your body was going to make you suffer, and unless you were willing to suffer for the rest of your life to maintain what you had done, you were destined to gain back your weight.
Suffer? For the rest of my life? Seriously? If you think that I could do that, you don’t know me very well…I don’t know why my experience is different than this 2011 study. And I don’t care. All I am is grateful.
I got it. People don’t like the addiction model. Anecdotal evidence is not science. I hear ya. But why are these people so angry that the only treatment is “addiction treatment?” Maybe it’s because they are waiting for science to come up with an answer for them, and all it can offer is eternal suffering. (What? You guys aren’t going to jump on that?)
Let me be very clear here: I believe in science, technology, and medicine. I believe in facts. I do not believe in “praying” your cancer away. I believe in chemotherapy. I believe in vaccines and antibiotics. In fact, I think that people who don’t believe in science should have their technology taken away. (Do they really not see the irony of “liking” anti-science propaganda on Facebook with their smartphones? Ahem, I digress…) I absolutely believe in medical treatment. But I also believe that not every problem is a problem for science. Just like I don’t believe science has a cure for your crappy relationship with your brother, I don’t think it has a cure for your crappy relationship with food or your body.
I believe in attraction, not promotion. If you look at me and see that I have maintained a 150 lb weight loss for over 10 years, and not only am I not suffering eternally, but am truly happy, joyous and free, then you should maybe try a totally unscientific “addiction model” for yourself. And if you can’t get over the word addiction, or the idea of giving up cake forever, or anything else about what I do, then you do you.
I’m not mad about it all…