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This Is An Apology to the Weight Loss Industry

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This is a guest post from Matt Peacock, who designed the programme I follow. I asked him if he’d write something that gave a little bit more insight into who he is and what he does – because obviously ’tis all well and good me gushing about his awesomeness here, but, you know… It’s not quite the same, really, is it?

We’ve been utterly, completely amazed by the response we’ve had to this blog over the last few months, with you guys proving to be a never-ending source of downright awesomeness. But we’ve also noticed a few unscrupulous individuals trying to cash in – and that’s just not cool. Not at all. So with that in mind… Over to Matt.

This is an apology to the weight loss industry.

I wish to offer my sincerest regrets for any confusion that individuals – particularly in the leisure sports industry – may have when reading this blog. This blog is about health and wellbeing. It isn’t about amateur sports or part-time athletes – it is about making real differences to real people’s lives.

This industry can be a pretty closed group, looking to self-serve and perpetuate myths that unfortunately offer unrealistic expectations to the most vulnerable in society – those individuals who recognise they are unhappy about their shape or their health. The fitness industry is flooded with get-thin-quick fixes and dubious ‘pyramid style’ marketing techniques to claw money away from susceptible people who are desperate to learn how to make themselves feel better.

Over the years I’ve personally met a lot of fitness professionals who aren’t interested in really “helping” people – for them it’s a vanity project, selling crazy (and often downright unsafe) ideas to people who are just desperate for change. These people, to my mind, are what’s wrong with the fitness industry – and it’s important that we recognise these people for the sham artists that they are.

I started working in health and fitness quite late in my working life after successful careers in IT, Legal & Regulatory, Broadcasting and Business Consultancy. With this in mind, I’ve got a pretty objective view of the industry. In my previous jobs, what helped me the most to achieve was my honesty, congruence and my ability to really listen to what people were telling me; skills which have helped in the various counselling courses I have studied and the peoples’ lives I have helped change. Perhaps that’s why I was recognised at the recent Sports Awards 2012 for Contribution to Physical Activity.

But I was recently asked a question by a special friend who asked: ‘Matt, why do you do this? Why health and fitness?

And you know what? I paused and reflected on it.

As a child I was quite poorly and spent a lot of time in and out of hospital. I wore a calliper for nearly a year, and one of my earliest memories was looking up from my hospital bed to see my distraught mother crying and a priest preparing me for death. I also saw my mother struggling with her weight, trying every single diet available in the hope of being thin – and when I was a young man, my father died. It’s not these sad events that make me do what I do – on reflection, it’s simply that some of these things could have been prevented, or at the very least made easier.

My father didn’t die because he was ignorant of the health implications of his lifestyle – he just didn’t know any better.

So to answer the question… Why do I do this?

I do it because the programme Katie and I have developed together is not revolutionary – it uses established, peer reviewed health advice which is promoted and accessible from health bodies like the NHS, British Nutrition Foundation, The British Heart foundation and follows ACSM (American College for Sports Medicine) guidelines. At no point have Katie and I been paid for the work and time invested in this blog, aside from the minimal advertising which doesn’t quite cover the hosting costs – we contribute our spare hours on top our studies (my bachelor’s degree and teaching diploma, and Katie’s PhD) – and we’ve also got day jobs to balance on top of that.

We’re both so inspired by the comments and emails we receive which helps us assess the differences we make in people’s lives – and that’s why, true to the spirit that information should be free, we’re going to publish the full exercise programme in the next week, and the meal plan before the year is out.

I truly believe the difference between success and failure, happiness and sadness is not necessarily the access to knowledge or materials – it is the support of people who really care, who are passionate and knowledgeable about what they believe in: that is what makes the difference. That’s not just about us – that’s about using the Facebook page, and the comments areas, to support each other. We can all do that together.

We really do hope this blog really can help you to make changes to lead a healthier, more balanced life – and find happiness along the way. It’s not a quick fix, it’s a lifestyle change – but it’s something you can do yourself. For you.

So once again, my sincerest apologies to the weight loss industry – but this is about life, and about all-round wellbeing. Both things no amount of money can buy, and no-one else can ever, ever give you. We both hope this blog can help you to achieve that – and that we’re able to make a difference. The weight loss industry can be a dangerous place, but as Katie says – it’s not just about weight loss. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Patricia 5 November, 2012

    Thank you so much for putting in the time and effort, both of you. I found out about this blog a couple of weeks ago and so far loving it, and wanted to share my appreciation. This blog, for me, is motivational without any condescending tone (which tends to happen in my experience). Looking forward to the upcoming posts!

  • comment avatar Paul Flint 5 November, 2012

    This is a brilliant post. As someone who struggled to lose weight and get healthy I have constantly searched for answers to help me. It would be nice to believe the fast weight loss schemes would work but they don’t. It isn’t about weight loss, its about life changes that leave to permanent results.

    I managed it by hard work and persistent and devising something that works for me.

    I love this blog, and I hope it helps and inspires others. Please keep it up.

  • comment avatar Toodles 6 November, 2012

    Oh my God! Seriously? Matt! I love you! You two – please keep changing the world. Thank you for helping all of us who are desperate for honest help and a legitimate, understandable, path to a healthier life.

  • comment avatar Nichole 6 November, 2012

    Katie & Matt,
    Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your expertise and experiences with us! I personally LOVE the blog and when I get my email letting me know a new post is up… it is literally the HIGHLIGHT of my day! I absolutely love reading your blog and finding inspiration in your words! I can’t wait for your program to be published; I really hope I can get my hands on it so I can read it cover to cover! Thank you again for inspiring me and all the other lucky people who read your blog!
    ~Nichole

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 11 November, 2012

      Thanks Nichole – that’s really kind! Can’t wait to get the programme out – and I promise I’ll make sure it’s accessible wherever you are :)

  • comment avatar AG 6 November, 2012

    This is a lovely post, encouraging and honest and human and wise. I’m looking forward to next week’s posts, besides.

    Though I’m a longtime reader, I’ve never posted — but I thought this might be an appropriate time to volunteer my testimony as another life you’ve touched. I’ve struggled with body image issues since I was 13, suffering through bouts of anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating, binging, self-flagellation… Food has long been a canvas for my rage and depression. Today, I find myself a college-educated, 22-year-old who’s about 15 pounds overweight and still wears clothing from high school. I’ve spent the past two years feeling betrayed by my body and helpless in the face of its ballooning shape.

    This is all to say: This blog has been a welcome refuge. Thank you, both of you, for the work you do to demonstrate the importance of nutrition, wellness, and emotional growth. Thank you for confirming that “mistakes” don’t mean failure, and that “success” is little more than a day lived with joy and intention and self-possession.

    Because that, for me, is what is missing most from weight-loss messages. It’s not just about measurements — it’s about taking ownership of our whole self. This includes an understanding of how food is transubstantiated into flesh (and, often, emotional memory). It necessitates learning how we move through the world. And most of all, it means accepting our bodies as an extension of our wellbeing, not a symptom of our failure or an opponent of reform.

  • comment avatar ladyhalakost 6 November, 2012

    There is nothing that the previous commenters haven’t said that isn’t right. This is a safe place for me. I feel like it’s a brilliant example to all of us of how to live, really, truly live, not just exist. A way to stave off the guilt of that ‘oops’ with whatever food we’ve eaten that we probably shouldn’t have. Thank you for your encouragement and your uplifting (and often funny) advice on how to go about living and enjoying our lives! <3

    Thank you Matt for sticking with Katie and Katie, thank you for sharing with us so we can learn not only from our mistakes, but from yours.

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 11 November, 2012

      Your words are so awesome to me – thanks to you and everyone here for keeping me inspired! You’re all AMAZING!

  • comment avatar Melissa 6 November, 2012

    Just keep on keeping on, you two! I’m looking forward to your future posts :)

  • comment avatar Charlotte 6 November, 2012

    This blog is amazing, after been directed to it from Matt, I feel more motivated in
    Exercise regime and changing my lifestyle in the way of exercise and eating more
    Healthy. Thank you both for being so inspirational.

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 11 November, 2012

      Aww, thank you Charlotte! Come say hi if you see me at the gym – would be great to meet you!

  • comment avatar Florie 13 November, 2012

    Thank you both of you for the time and effort you put for the rest of us on this website. It is very inspirational and is a great motivation to follow the same healthy path. Thanks a lot! :)

  • comment avatar Lori Bookout 28 November, 2012

    Just found your blog TODAY and I am so excited, to say the least! I love hearing others tell about their journey to a healthier, happier lifestyle and I have spent the past 9 hrs enjoying all (almost all) of your posts. You are such an inspiration to anyone regardless of gender, age or weight and I just wanted to say THANK YOU! Thank you for being so honest and open about your journey and I can’t wait to continue following you. Best wishes to you in ALL you do…..keep up the great work! Matt too!

    • comment avatar fatgirlphd 29 November, 2012

      Nine hours!? Wow! Thank you so much for the comment! And best of luck with your journey – high five! x

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