It’s that time of year when weight loss companies and fitness tracking vendors are flooding the market with advertisements. Our diet-focused society has made obsessing over scales and counting steps a way of life. Both are promoted and supported in workplace wellness programs. Believed to be the gold standards for wellness programs, but it’s now backfiring.
Studies demonstrate that people are resenting physical activity since movement has become a focus on counting steps instead of enjoying the experience. And it’s been known for a few decades that weight loss attempts are harmful in many ways (guilt, depression, stress, social isolation, body image issues and much more), but also the loss of pleasure when eating enjoyable foods.
Not only is the obsession harmful, but it also doesn’t work. No diet leads to sustainable weight loss, at least not for more than 95% of those who ‘go on a diet’. What research has shown repeatedly is that dieting leads to weight GAIN, which is the main documented outcome of dieting. This includes “Biggest Loser” competitions and even individuals having bariatric surgery.
For these reasons, wellness experts have been advising to stop focusing on weight loss programs and fitness competitions in the workplace. That hasn’t stopped the ads from coming and many workplaces implement these initiatives as the main components of their wellness programs. There are better, healthier, and more sustainable options.
Cultivate well-being and the 7 Essential Stakeholder Experiences. Consider focusing your wellness efforts to encourage,
- Reframing messages about movement and nutrition to ones promoting well-being, positivity, and self-care and self-compassion.
- Avoiding weight loss programs and competitions for good. Weight isn’t a good measure of health, anyway.
- Eliminating guilt from eating ‘bad’ foods. There are no ‘bad’ foods, ‘illegal’ foods or even cheating. There is no diet to cheat on!
- Working to abolish the dieting mentality. Instead, consider a nourishing approach to well-being and developing a healthy relationship with food.
- Feeling that the purpose of physical activity is for enjoyment, relaxation, and pleasure. It is NOT required to ‘earn’ or ‘burn’ calories. Physical activity should be encouraged for many other reasons, but not these!
- Practicing mindfulness for well-being, and to be better partners, co-workers, and leaders.
- Being more kind, generous, compassionate, and empathetic.