We all say, “once I have lost weight I will be happy” but is that necessarily true?
Thousands of people buy into this weight-loss game, spending huge amounts of money of diet pills, diet plans, exercise DVDs, gym subscriptions etc. Television programmes such as The Biggest Loser and My Big Fat Diet Show are watched by millions and everyone loves a story of dramatic weight loss journey. Oh and the media loves it! But really is it all worth it?
A 2014 University College London study found that people who lost at lest 5 per cent of their body weight were actually significantly worse of psychologically than those who had maintained their weight.
For instance, I lost a significant amount of weight but suffered from great fatigue and felt extremely low, all the while isolating myself from friends and family. My exercise routine and calorie-watching was obsessive and extremely unhealthy.
I slimmed down so low to 35kg, yet I still dread looking at the number on the scales. Yes I may have been ill, but many Britain’s who lose weight actually experience this. You reach your goal weight, yet worry if he number on the scale rises by a pound or two. Yet people see you as an inspiration and having such great willpower. But all you feel is misery.
Researchers look through the medical records of people who have lost weight to see if there is a correlation between weight loss and mental illness and often find that weight loss can have a negative effect on a person’s mood. However, such studies do you take into account whether a person has lost weight because they wanted to or due to illness.
Clinical studies, on the other hand, may show that weight loss improve quality of life, a person’s mood and self-esteem. And it seems the more weight people lose, the more benefits in terms of quality of life there are.
However, if someone is restricting their calorie (kilojoule) intake to lose weight, this causes changes in the brain – an increase in stress hormones and dynorphins. Endorphins are what make you happy – when you are in love, eat chocolate and exercise – but dynorphins are the complete opposite. Dynorphins create a feeling of dissatisfaction and can lead to depression and anxiety disorders.
Despite this, some of us still really do need to lose weight. If you feel losing weight is making you sad, fight the dynorphins with endorphins – exercise. Exercise is good for your mental health, losing weight and keeping weight off and regulating your appetite!
Moral of the story: exercise (something of which I need to do more of!!)