Hit weight loss TV show The Biggest Loser has inspired people to get off the sofa, eat less and lose fat. And Michelle Bridges, trainer on the programme, says yes, losing weight is easy peasy and fat surgery should never be an option.

I managed to get myself into a bit of a stoush the other week with Dr John D’Arcy, who has been discussing medical matters on TV and radio for more than 30 years. Nice bloke, but we come from opposite ends of the weight-loss debate.

D’Arcy believes that for the morbidly obese, gastric surgery is the only answer, and that the medical profession should be recommending it more readily.

His philosophy is that once someone is fat, they’ll always be fat, and the only way to achieve lasting weight loss is through surgery. Behind this thinking is the theory that humans have a “survival gene” that encourages weight gain in preparation for times of famine, and that the weightier ones among us have a greater probability of carrying this gene than others.

We were at a breakfast hosted by a private-health-insurance group, where I was a panellist shamelessly espousing my solution to the obesity crisis – get your head in the right place, then embrace healthy eating and regular exercise – when we locked horns. D’Arcy took the microphone at question time and put it to me and the audience that humans are powerless to effect lasting weight loss, because it is all down to our genes. In other words, there’s no point in trying to do anything about it.

And therein, gentle reader, lies the problem I have with this philosophy. It’s not about the science (although I don’t agree with D’Arcy’s position). It’s rather that we are told to believe we are powerless. Yet, far from seeing people relinquish power, I have worked with thousands of people who have changed their lives through re-empowering themselves and taking back control.

As long as we think we don’t have control over ourselves, we won’t. We don’t re-empower ourselves by buying dumb meal-replacement shakes.

We don’t re-empower ourselves by listening to people who tell us it’s not our fault, and therefore it’s not our responsibility. We don’t re-empower ourselves by surrounding ourselves with detractors and “enablers” – those who encourage us to participate in unhealthy habits (such as drinking, smoking and eating poor-quality food) with them.

Empowerment is the key, and the great thing about it is that it’s available to all of us. Even D’Arcy admitted that he had improved his diet and exercise regimen and lost weight, only to put it back on when he went off the rails.

But the point is that he did it, the same as any of us can do it.

Taking back power is all about what is going on in your head. Commit your energy and focus to the thoughts and activities that re-empower you, and shut down those thoughts and activities – as well as people you mix with – that are holding you back.

~SMH

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