A Sincere Apology From a Weight Loss Consultant

By Ted

This heartfelt letter is from a former weight loss consultant at an un-named weight loss clinic. It was originally published on YourFairyAngel.com.

I feel it’s very well done and worth sharing to get the message out to more people. Please show your gratitude and visit her blog.

Sorry

Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are):

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I’m sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn’t put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damage you were doing to your body. I’m sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body.

I’m sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I’m sorry because I never told you that. I’m sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren’t sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a “stepping stone.” I’m sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I’m sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn’t touch that food, yet I still sold it to you.

I’m sorry because it’s only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1200-1500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches…oh and gluten intolerance that seemed to “kick in” after about a month of eating the pre-packaged food. Was it a coincidence? Maybe.

I’m sorry because you had body dysmorphic disorder, and it was so painful to hear the things you said about yourself. You looked like a model, and all of my other clients were intimidated by you, asked me why you were there because clearly you didn’t need to lose weight. And yet you would sit in my office and cry, appalled that a man might see you naked and be disturbed by the fat that didn’t actually exist. I’m sorry because you should have been seeing a therapist, not a weight loss consultant.

I’m sorry because you were young and so beautiful and only there because your mother thought you needed to lose weight. And because there were too many of you like that. Girls who knew you were fine, but whose mothers pushed that belief out of you until you thought like she did. Until you thought there was something wrong with you. And the one time I confronted your mother, you simply got switched to a different consultant. I think I should have made more of a stink, but I didn’t. I’m sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren’t screwed up by that 1500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she’s a runner and is happy with her weight…but her mother says she’s fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don’t stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain’t nothing right about that. Nothing.

I’m sorry because every time you ate something you “shouldn’t” or ate more than you “should,” I talked about “getting back on the bandwagon.” I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I’m sorry because I get it now. If you’re trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it’s going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I’m sorry because I wasn’t trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did.

And it wasn’t just the company feeding them to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients. A palm-sized portion of lean chicken with half a sweet potato and a salad was PLENTY. No matter that you had “cravings” afterward. Cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Yeah, sure they are. I’m a hypnotherapist with a past history of binge eating disorder. I KNOW cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Except when they’re not. Except when they’re a sign that your body needs more food and you’re ignoring it. Then they’re a sign that your 1200 calorie diet is horseshit. Then they’re a sign that you’ve been played.

And that’s mostly why I’m sorry. Because I’ve been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you’ve been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society’s norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture. And even then, it is still a work in progress.

I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that’s what happens when you put someone on a 1200 calorie diet. But I didn’t know. If you’re reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.

And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good? When I left, you all wrote me cards and sent me flowers. I still have those cards, the ones that tell me how much I helped you, how much I cared. But I’m friends with some of you on Facebook now, and I look at your photos and you look happy. And beautiful. And not because you lost weight since I saw you last. But because I see YOU now. You. Not a client sitting in my chair, asking for my assistance in becoming what society wants. But you, a smart and lovely woman, who really doesn’t need some random company telling her there’s something wrong with her.

So I’m sorry because when you walked in to get your meal plan, I should have told you that you were beautiful. I should have asked you how you FELT. Were you happy? Did you feel physically fit? Were you able to play with your kids? There were so many of you who never needed to lose a pound, and some of you who could have gained some. And maybe sometimes I told you that. But not enough. Not emphatically. Because it was my job to let you believe that making the scale go down was your top priority. And I did my job well.

I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense.

9 Comments

  1. O.

    My true story…

    In the fall of 2009 I joined Jenny Craig. Two months later I found out my mother who lived with me, had cancer.

    I decided to go ahead on with JC because I paid for it and didn’t know how my moms condition would go.

    Through a hectic several months, as I split my time between hospitals, nursing homes, and getting 2 hours of sleep when caring for my mom when she was at home , I was glad I had JC prepackaged meals that required no work and no thinking. I often stashed them in my bag as I rushed out the door and ate them cold at my mothers hospital room.

    Thanks to JC I managed to loose 30 pounds through that ordeal….
    ….. as an emotional eater I had never LOST weight during a crisis.

    Reply
    • O.

      I would say that people are going to put as much importance on the consultants as they want to. They are salespeople or representatives of their companies “formula” for loosing weight, not dietitians themselves.

      If you feel really uncomfortable, try the remote version of the program if you can afford it. Talking on the phone with the consultant, I could easily tell her I didn’t want to buy the breakfasts or pass up memberships I didn’t want to buy.

      Reply
  2. Kelly

    I love how her letter is 99% everything she said that is wrong and the ‘right’ bit is one line. I think that sums up her advice. Get back to the basics. Keep weight loss simple.

    Thanks for posting this letter!

    Reply
  3. Maria

    I have a colleague who has lost a lot of weight , Her recipe is: Close your mouth and get moving!

    Loosing weight is all about learning – what to eat, what to do, how to cope with stress. Making mistakes is a part of learning. There is no TRUTH about keeping slim,. You have to find your own way.

    Reply
  4. Michelle

    Okay, look at her blog and you realize she’s just trying to sell her new program. Apparently she was wrong before but knows the way now, and you can too for a price! For shame.

    Reply
    • Ted

      Oh wow and for a premium. Looks like she is focusing on emotional reasons for overeating. Perhaps her services will work for people who need that type of support and work. I don’t think making money is wrong as long as people are getting what they are paying for and not being deceived.

      Reply
  5. Michelle

    This made me really sad because you know those lies are still constantly sold to people and it won’t stop anytime soon.

    Reply
  6. John La Puma MD

    I think this is a sad letter, but it points out that for many corporations doing this work, the revolving door is intentional, and part of the business model.

    That’s sad too, because peer-to-peer health care (and I think that’s what people helping people with diet and lifestyle can be) is a future technology that is slowly changing the world.

    HealthTap and Sharecare are trying to do this with patients and caregivers; patientslikeme is doing it among patients themselves. But 8 in 10 go to a general search site like Google, Bing, or Yahoo for health info, and diet is front and center in that search.

    I think a local clinician is still the person who can actual provide personal medical accountability, teach self-monitoring and begin to individualize diet and fitness (physicians’ training in this area is seriously deficient, but not so dietitians, nurses, therapists, PAs).

    Just this morning I spoke with a patient who has lost the weight she needed to lose over the past year while becoming fit, and she said “So, I guess I’m going to stay on this and live like this…I can’t believe how great I feel.” We’ve talked a lot about that, and the year has given us that space, but the verbal confirmation was one that she gave to herself.

    The best intervention is conversation, education, accountability.

    Reply
  7. Spectra

    I should forward this to a friend of mine who is doing Jenny Craig. I wonder if that’s where this weight loss consultant worked because it sure sounds a lot like the things they tell their clients.

    Reply