I’m passionate about linguistics, and so I thought that I would share with you an excerpt from my recently released book “How to do Low Carb, UK Style!” about how the words “weight loss” do not serve our long term success.
Key 6: Linguistics – how our use of language holds us back
“Your words shape your world” – As you can guess from the introduction, I have very strong opinions about our use of the words “weight loss” to indicate progress towards a healthier and slimmer body – I believe that these words are entirely counterproductive.
Firstly, weight is a very non-specific term, and how much we weigh on its own does not equate in any way to how healthy we are or much body fat we are carrying around.
Take for instance BMI, which is a statistic purely based on weight and height and puts most athletes in the “obese” bracket – our weight is all of our body, not just our fat. It’s fat, muscles, bone, viscera, blood, hormones, lipids, glucose, glycogen, water & the content of our stomach, bowels & bladder
Our body weight varies massively on a day-to-day basis. We can weigh one thing in the morning and easily be a kilo or two heavier or lighter at bed time!
When weight is literally the worse measure we can choose to measure progress, why are we emotionally tied to the weighing scales? Because that’s the way we have been doing it for the last 2500 years or so, and it’s the measure that the medical and diet industries use.
We are told to value this measure beyond all others, even though it is nonsensical to do so.
To obtain an optimal body, we really don’t want to think about “weight” as a non-quantified thing, far better linguistically to target what we want to reduce – fat. This is the reason why I strongly encourage you to start using the word “fat” rather than the word “weight” – get specific, it gives better results.
Secondly, the word “loss” is linguistically a terrible choice of word for success – in all spheres of life, if we lose something it holds negative connotations; a business deal, a house or a game, small things such as our keys, one of our gloves, or a £5 note, something valuable, like jewellery or our smart phone, something tragic, such as the death of a loved one, child, parent, sibling – the strength of our emotion around loss can range from mild annoyance to total devastation.
Loss also implies that we want to find what we have lost again at some point in our lives, even when we rationally know that this is impossible. Losing something is always a negative thing, and we mourn deeply the things that we have lost forever.
So, when losing can be such a traumatic experience, why do we want to lose weight? Looking at dieting through the lens of loss and deprivation, rather than as a positive change in lifestyle sets us up to fail at the outset.
People “losing weight” even call themselves “losers” with a happiness that now deeply distresses me (I know, I called myself a loser in my youth) because linguistically, I know that people “losing weight” are usually going to find it all again, and then will be unhappy when they do (which with a low calorie, low fat diet, is an endocrinological certainty).
This is the reason why I advise choosing to describe the process using words such as
- getting rid of,
- melting away
- dropping or
Use a word that implies permanent removal to describe what is happening.
Things that are ditched, dropped or burnt are knowingly gone forever, and the choice we make to actively remove fat is a positive one, we want what we are removing to be gone from our life for good. It’s a positive choice, made with purpose.
Put these two words together, and you can see that it makes an empowering statement. Rather than losing weight, we are getting rid of fat. Rather than losing weight, we are gaining muscle and bone density. Rather than losing weight, we are rebuilding an optimal body. Rather than losing weight, we are becoming an optimal me.
Yes, it’s not quite as snappy to say “I’m shedding inches” or “I’m getting rid of my fat” initially.
It doesn’t trip off the tongue as naturally our habit of saying “I’m losing weight” does – however, and I trust that you agree with me, I feel that this small and simple re-framing is one of the vital pieces of maintaining a healthy body, as we are sending positive and happy vibes to the amygdala, rather than resentful, guilt-ridden and hungry ones.
Where can I get the book?
This book is available now at these retailers:
- Amazon (https://amzn.to/2Nfuyvg) Paperback and eBook
- Waterstones (http://tiny.cc/7n33yy) Paperback
- Blackwells (http://tiny.cc/to33yy) Paperback
- Kobo (tiny.cc/bp23yy) eBook
- Barnes and Noble (tiny.cc/wy23yy) eBook, USD
- and Google Books (http://tiny.cc/ub33yy) eBook
Or, go ask your local bookshop to order you a copy!
Paperback Edition ISBN 978-1-9164409-0-6
and for completeness, the eBook ISBN:978-1-9164409-1-3