Now in addition to shilling for Weight Watchers, Oprah is shilling for Deepak Chopra’s new weight loss gimmick, a 21-day meditation challenge called “Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit.”
Chopra told ABC News
Meditation is a way of progressively quieting the mind. We are also introducing the idea of shedding emotional baggage, which frequently is the cause of weight gain.”
Let’s try that last part again: “…which frequently is the cause of weight gain,” he said with absolutely no evidence to back it up, but he seemed pretty sure of himself so we’ll go with that. Also, there is no reason to believe that even if people are able to shed emotional baggage, their bodies will then become smaller.
“Meditation decreases the levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. When you have stress, then you accumulate belly fat.”
This is a gross oversimplification of the research the explores connections between stress, cortisol, and body size and, again, there’s no conclusive research that meditation will lead to long-term weight loss. And if we’re going to have this conversation then I would like to talk about the health issues that are correlated with raised cortisol (most of the same health issues that are correlated with larger bodies are also correlated with prolonged stress, possibly due to this cortisol connection.) Then we can talk about how the stress of being constantly stigmatized is a health risk, so maybe people who stigmatize fat people and wage “wars on obesity” are the ones who need to meditate on how to knock that shit off.
I’m sure Deepak Chopra has helped a lot of people with a lot of things. I actually met him once years ago at an event I helped coordinate and he was a low-maintenance joy to work with (especially compared with the local people who weren’t nearly as famous but were twenty times more demanding.) I’m sure he’s well-intentioned. I doubt that his program will have any greater success than any other weight loss method (which is to say, virtually none.) But on the plus side, at least it’s way less likely to kill you than some other weight loss methods.
But this has got to stop. There isn’t a single study that exists where more than a tiny fraction of people are able to lose weight long term. People believe that everyone who tries hard enough can lose weight because we are being constantly lied to by people and companies who profit from those lies. And consequently, people spend their entire lives focusing a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money chasing something that is never, ever going to happen (especially since the more we try the less likely we are to succeed.) Further, this focus on weight loss is often to the detriment of people’s health, and is completely unnecessary, especially given the many options that exist to focus on health and living the lives we want outside of weight loss. Enough already!
I find a mantra helps, so that every time I see someone claim that they know how to help people lose weight I think “Hey, that’s bullshit!” It helps me keep things in perspective. Feel free to modify to suit you.
The Body Love Obstacle Course
This is something I’m super excited about. Jeanette DePatie and I (along with some amazing people who we will announce soon!) have been working on a new program called The Body Love Obstacle Course (BLOC.) It’s about how every aspect of our lives is affected by the way we feel about our bodies, and how we can use that fact to create the careers, relationships, and lives we want, and handle the obstacles that the world puts in our way. As a preview we’ve released a free video that includes some information about the BLOC as well as an exercise to help you get more body love right now! You can check it out here!
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Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!