What is stopping you quitting the diet club?
While I was sat on the sofa in a world of dental pain this week (it wasn’t that bad, but I’m going to drag it out as long as I can!) I started thinking about what is it that keeps people at their diet groups. Ask yourself now – what is stopping you from quitting the diet club?
Do you remember the scene in Friends where Chandler wants to quit the gym but can’t? Please tell me you have! If you haven’t, you can watch it here.
Well, for me, that’s similar to how diet clubs work. They sell you the dream. The dream of what you could look like, what you could have access to, and this is what you’ll miss out on if you don’t attend anymore.
What is it with that word anyway? Quit! It reeks of failure. When you quit dieting it makes you feel like a quitter, like you failed, and that’s simply not the truth. You haven’t failed at anything. You have just quit something because you’re not capable of doing it. You’re doing yourself a favour and you’re getting yourself out of there.
The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became to me just how clever the setup as a business these diet clubs are. How clever their marketing is, how clever their consultants’ coaching is, how clever the dream that they sell is. You have to buy into all of this stuff to such a degree that it feels like you can’t let it go. They keep you trapped there.
I was considering my time at the diet clubs. Have you ever realised that there are certain types of people that are common to every single slimming group that you go to? There are five or six key types of person there. You want to be all of these people! These are the people that as a member you aspire to be. I’ve given them all names!
By the way, if you would like to listen to this one as a podcast episode you can do that here…..
There is always a group of ladies that I call The Elders. There’s usually a group at the back of the room somewhere. Older ladies, fifties and above probably, maybe even retired. This is their Tuesday morning social. They always sit in the same seats.
These women are no longer losing weight, let’s face it. But the consultant’s not bothered. She’s just happy that they’re walking through the door paying their fee each week, for absolutely nothing now!
The Elders are there for the free cup of tea, a snack bar from the shop, and a social. They are there for the community, and that’s what these diet clubs sell – a community that you can feel a part of. People with similar experiences to you. You’re going to keep going because who else is going to understand you like they do?
The tweaker is the person in the group who, if there is a shortcut to be found, they will have found it. They are really clever with making the ‘free foods’ taste like other foods that are not free foods.
You know, like making crisps out of lasagna sheets and making fake nuts out of chickpeas and that sort of thing. All the rubbish that we don’t really enjoy but because the rules are so rigid, in these diets that we always strive to find the thing that’s going to replace the stuff that we’re restricting.
The Tweaker has also figured out how they can maximise their alcohol intake at the weekend. The girl who can work the diet in such a way that she can have a whole big bottle of vodka each weekend and still be on plan. The way she navigates that diet through the week so that she can have the alcohol at the weekend is insane.
But that’s what these diets make you do. They make you cheat the system. They make you find ways to get that stuff in your life that you’re missing because you’re having to take it out, because the diet says so.
But the problem is that The Tweaker’s life is so consumed by knowledge of points that when she leaves, if she ever quits the diet club, she won’t know how to eat. She won’t know how to navigate real life eating.
Diets don’t teach you anything about your relationship with food, your hunger and fullness levels, or your own eating behaviours?
The Lifer has got to goal weight, and as a reward does not pay any more as long as they stay within, you know, X amount of pounds each side of that goal weight. Brilliant! They get the social, the kudos of being a lifetime member, and don’t have to pay.
However, The Lifer is then stuck. Every week they are coming to class, standing on the scales with a “please, please don’t have put any weight on”. What’s even worse than the whole trying to stay in that weight bracket for me as well, though, is that you have to live your entire life on that same restrictive diet.
There’s no longer something to aim for, just staying at this set weight. The future, if they don’t quit the diet club, is this lifelong, boring, restrictive diet.
This is the person that has been going for a while. They get on with lots of people. They get on with everybody so well that they are now recruited to a team member.
This means that they get to man the shop, or check people in, and maybe even weigh people. If you’re trusted that much you get to do the weighing, write the numbers in the books, write the certificates and things. That’s exciting. What a valuable person you are.
You know what that means though? Firstly, it means that the business model is in full flow, because now they’ve made you invaluable.
The consultant has got you right where she wants you, because you are now a confidant. What would they ever do if you left? How would they cope?
They would cope! But you feel like you can’t quit the diet club because you’ve got this sense of duty. You have to help. If you didn’t do the weighing, who would? If you didn’t do man the shop, who would? I’ll tell you who would – the person who does it when you’ve been on holiday!
And then finally, The Star. This person has been in the magazine. She has lost so much weight on this diet, and the consultant put her forward for the magazine, because she’s an inspiration to everybody, and sure enough, the magazine published her.
The Star spent a day getting all glammed up. Clothes, hair, makeup, photos. Everybody had a copy, and then it was blown up and took pride of place in the group as a shining example of what you could achieve if you did well.
But now what happens is the poor Star has lived this diet and preached it for so long that she can’t just walk away. What if she quits the diet, the group, everything she stood for?
To do that is a really difficult thing to do.
So many reasons why you're not quitting the diet club
Can you see that there are so many ‘reasons’ to stay? So many aspects of the group setting that make it so hard to quit the diet club. So many ways that this business model makes you stay put.
You hand your money over week in, week out. You queue up like lemmings for the scales week in, week out. You explain yourself, excuse yourself, week in, week out.
The business model is perfect. The consultant is coached perfectly on how to work that business model, and retain you.
But there are so many more reasons to leave, aren’t there?
Listen back to all of the podcast episodes. Follow me on social media. Read my other blog posts. You’ll see, and I hope you’ll start to question what is stopping you quitting the diet club.
Remember, your worth is not in your size. It’s not in your weight, it’s not in your shape. You can just go and quit the diet.
So ask yourself once more – what’s stopping you quitting the diet club?
And if you are looking for that social, some similar experiences, if you’re worried about stepping away and having no one to share your journey with, if you’re worried that you’re going to step away from diets and you’re just going to lose the plot, come and join the Eat From Within membership.
Find your new community there. Come on in. I’d love to see you.