4 Reasons “Eat Less, Move More” is Bad Advice

Weight Loss Thoughts

I remember going for a physical when I was about 10 years old; my doctor took out a graph and showed it to my mother and I, please see mini-Gina to your right. He said that I weighed around what a 12-year-old should weigh (this was about 10 pounds’ overweight). I made light of it by making some jokes (yes, I haven’t changed at all) and my comedic efforts were shut down by both my mom and the doctor.

The doctor was curious about whether I played any sports and how active I was.

The answer to that was no and not at all.

It wasn’t really an option with my family dynamic growing up but I didn’t understand that at 10 and what I did understand of it, I definitely would never have expressed to a doctor. So, the advice from the doc was simple: “you have to eat less junk and be more active!”

In a nutshell, his advice was “Eat less, Move more”.

Now, at 10, I was intimidated by doctors and had only been stressed about my weight for a few short years, therefore, the advice of “Eat less, Move more” didn’t send an angry shiver up my spine. At 30, if I were to hear this from a doctor…well, actually, I did hear this from a doctor, in the very recent past and my response was literally me rolling my eyes and completely shutting down for the remainder of the appointment.

Here’s how I see it – as a medical professional, when the world is legit made of sugar, and your patient has an ongoing weight issue, wouldn’t one take a step back and say “hey, something is not connecting here, this may be less about normal diet and exercise and more about something mental/emotional”. Just like when a 10-year-old girl is in a doctors’ office seems to be slightly overweight, the doctor may want to discuss this with the parent privately to gauge if this is just apart of development or there’s something deeper going on.

Just my thoughts, of course.

But I digress…

I won’t go into how off base I believe most doctors and individuals in the medical field are about obesity and the struggles of those who have weight issues, specifically lifers in the overweight club. I will go into how ridiculous and frustrating the advice of “Eat less, Move more” is.

  1. Just because I’m overweight doesn’t mean I am clueless about: my food choices.

I have been saying for many years that if someone came to me and requested that I place them on a diet plan, I could figure out what would work for them and assist accordingly, likely, helping them right along to their goal weight. I am not a nutritionist, however, after over 20 years of dieting on and off, I have learned what’s healthy, what isn’t, what works best for certain people, etc. Obviously, these things have not worked for me long term because, just like with relationships, it is way easier to give advice than to follow your own. I know HOW to lose weight, I know that you need to eat healthy and usually less than you currently are. This means nothing if an individual is dependent on food, has always struggled with food, (enter 30 other emotional/mental issues here).

  1. Just because I’m overweight doesn’t mean I am clueless about: exercise.

I am not as educated about exercise as I am diet, but I do understand the basics. I’ve done the cardio, the weighttraining, the workout videos, the spinning classes, you name it, I’ve probably dabbled in something at least related. And I probably looked more legit than that picture on the right of me pretending to work out for you.

There’s this crazy notion that women who are curvy, overweight or obese do not work out. For me, this is not a stereotype but an absolute promise; unless I am also paying close attention to what I am eating, you will not catch me working out. I classify myself as an “all or nothing” individual. This basically means if I try something, I put my all into it, but I lack balance.

However, there are a lot of curvy women who excel in balancing their lives and are extremely active, whether it’s races, regularly going to the gym, or really, anything that one would think of when hearing the word “exercise”.

  1. I’ve been overweight forever – maybe I AM clueless about diet and exercise. Maybe I’ve been a fool to blatantly ignore this “Eat less, Move more” idea for so long!

Just kidding – I am not going to discuss my views on food addiction, how under-acknowledged it is and how important mental health is in the process of losing a large amount of weight. At least not in this post.

What I will quickly and briefly say about it is regarding something I read in the past, I don’t remember where I came across it, but it was something along the lines of “the diet industry is treating the symptoms of food addiction, not the addiction itself”.

This spoke volumes to me because it says a lot about why countless people are unable to succeed on the diet plans that have been created. Plans that are developed around the idea of “Eat less, Move more”. Telling someone to eat less when there are emotional and mental issues at hand (not judging because I am included in this) doesn’t make any sense. It’s similar to telling an alcoholic to stop drinking by just not going into a bar.

  1. Food is too emotionally connected in our society.

We live in the most food focused – everywhere you look, an emotion, a feeling, an event, is being tied to foods and drinks. Look at the most popular kid’s meal for children – it is called a “Happy Meal”. A child gets a toy with their fat laden, nutritionally empty food. Birthdays, weddings, promotions, you name it – celebrated with with food, specifically cake. Many office environments, family functions, social outings include people who feel the need to comment on a person’s choice to pass up a second serving, finish the food on a plate or opt out of dessert. This can be a great deal of pressure for an individual who is trying to make better food choices.

Some folks may say “pressure? Um life is about pressure, get over it”. But when you are trying to watch what you are eating, specifically if you are someone who struggles with their weight, many people feel as if they have a right to have an opinion on what you consume and that type of judgment can be daunting for such a personal journey as the one related to an individuals’ health.

To tell anyone of any size to “Eat less and move more” in order to solve weight issues is a little silly when there is this constant focus on food. Always. Everywhere.


It is important to eat less processed and sugary foods just like it is also important to move more (which by the way, getting a Fitbit really goes a long way in showing how little some of us actually move, which I will discuss in a future post).

That being said – this isn’t crappy advice overall, it’s just crappy advice for the majority of people who struggle with weight loss.

Maybe a new slogan for those struggling: “Eat less, eat mindfully, journal about why you are eating what you are eating and when, cut out sugar, do a bunch of emotional/mental regrouping/rebuilding and Move more”.

Ugh. Mine’s not as catchy.

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    AliyahBrody
    April 12, 2016 at 12:45 am

    I really like your slogan but it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?! Be great for a ‘Curvy Millennial’ tee shirt!

    One thing I’ve learned after a couple of decades of struggling with my weight (and, unfortunately, I don’t consistently put it into practice and so I’m still struggling with my weight) is that I really need to EAT MORE to bring my weight down: healthy, lower fat proteins (especially beans and legumes), veggies and fruits. Of course, we should all eat less sugar and fat and move more, too, regardless of our weight.

    What I’ve allowed to consistently undermine my weight loss efforts is emotional eating. That’s a biggie for me and I’d love for you to share more of your thoughts on the issue.

    FYI, I’ve added your blog’s url to bloglovin.com (where I follow a number of blogs) and you now have your first follower there! I’m sure there’ll be many more over time with your terrific posts. As a suggestion, you may want to let your social media followers know that they can follow you there, too (by getting all of your posts automatically shared to their timelines).

    I wish you much success with your blog and look forward to your posts! God bless.

    • Reply
      Gina
      June 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Thank you for your comment! I truly believe the eat more practice also – I think your body needs nourishment and cannot be sitting stagnant and then taking in a bunch of stuff that isn’t necessarily good for you. Thank you so much for enjoying my blog!

  • Reply
    Anitra
    July 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    I love your slogan! I think the thing about weight loss and exercise is, you have to find what works best for you, and do it. Following the “trend” in weight loss and exercise can lead to disappointing results. Keep up the good work!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 27, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Ain’t that the truth Anitra! It really is not the one stop shop people make it out to be. We have to learn about our bodies!

  • Reply
    Rachel
    July 27, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I love the way you write. It’s raw, and the message is so perfect. Your new slogan is perfect. Enjoy life.

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 27, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      Rachel, that means so much to me! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Kamie Berry
    July 27, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Food addiction is real, especially in the US! I didn’t realize how terrible our food is until I lived in Scotland for a year. Their food isn’t necessarily the best, but there is much less of a focus on processed foods. And fresh produce is significantly cheaper there, too. I lost a lot of weight living there without even trying. As soon as I moved back to the States I put it right back on. We are doing the wrong things in this country to promote lasting weight loss. Doctors and other health professionals are clueless.

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 27, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Yes Kamie! I absolutely agree. I never lived outside of the US but you are not the first person I have heard say this. It is actually disturbing what we consider staples. You would think if it was so disturbing, I would stop eating all of it. But still.

  • Reply
    Robin
    July 27, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    I think you make some really great points…particularly about food addiction. I’m sharing this post with some friends. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 27, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Thank you Robin and thank you so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 27, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I just changed up my diet this spring and went vegan. It has been very freeing actually…the cravings for junk are pretty much gone. Funny how cutting out things actually becomes liberating. Good luck in all our efforts to be healthy!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 27, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      Lisa, I have heard that about going vegan – good for you! It really is amazing the hold that certain food genres have on a person, like sugar. Once you stop eating it, you’re not as obsessed with it after a bit. Thanks for sharing and for the well wishes!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I agree with you that in my mind I know what I am supposed to eat but that is not always how it ends up.

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 27, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      I understand Lisa, it almost ALWAYS doesn’t end up that way for me! lol Thank you!

  • Reply
    Sheree
    July 28, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I totally agree that there is always an emotional component that needs to be addressed regarding food addiction. We definitely live in a food-focused society. Love your blog name and tagline!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Absolutely and not enough people focus on that aspect of being healthy. Thank you for you kind words Sheree!

  • Reply
    Melissa
    July 28, 2017 at 9:35 am

    If this isn’t complete truth I don’t know what Is! I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life too, I think we all know exactly what we are “supposed” to do, but actually doing it is the hard part!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      It’s exhausting, isn’t it?!

  • Reply
    Carmen
    July 28, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Right there with you, girl. The struggle is real…

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Solidarity Carmen!

  • Reply
    waneklychaoticlife
    July 28, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I spent years working at weight loss camp in the summer and it seemed so simple- portion your meals, exercise all day… but that’s not always so simple! Than you for sharing this post!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      How interesting! When I was a kid, while everyone else wanted to go to sleep away camp, I wanted to go to weight loss camp (let’s hold off on dissecting that thought process)! I wish it was that easy!

  • Reply
    Traci at Petite Chef
    July 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I would argue “eat less, move more” isn’t totally accurate because you need adequate fuel in order to exercise! And too many people restrict their calories too low as a result of that mindset. So, eat enough, AND exercise enough! 🙂

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      This is a VERY valid argument and excellent new slogan!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    July 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    I love you and your writing! This is a great article & your slogan is awesome!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Aw Joanne! Thank you for your kind words – right back at ya!

  • Reply
    Kiersten
    July 28, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Great read! I love your last point about the social connection – my father always says food is the one thing all people have in common, so food is always involved when people get together!

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      Kiersten – dad couldn’t be more right. Growing up in an Italian family, I felt like that is all we focused on…for everything…always!

  • Reply
    Stacey
    July 28, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Emotions really do make weight loss issues more difficult. I’ve struggled my whole life. I just take it one day at a time and try to make the best choices I can.

    • Reply
      Gina
      July 28, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      That’s all you can do. Sometimes I think that when we look at it as if “I have to do deprive myself” or what have you, forever, that is when it all falls apart. The most we can do is our best and we aren’t doing anyone any favors being our biggest critic!

  • Reply
    Lori
    July 28, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    The news slogan is way better than the old one! 🙂 I recently completed a Whole30 which helps you take a look at food habits and WHOA is there connection to food even when we don’t even see it or know it is there. Weight loss and food relationships are HARD.

    • Reply
      Gina
      August 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Lori, I never tried Whole30 but I did read the book. What did you think of it? And congrats on getting through! I totally agree!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 28, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Loved this! The other hard thing about eating less and moving more is that the more you move, the hungrier you are! At least for me, if I work out I am extra starving and that doesn’t help me when I’m trying to have good portion control.

  • Reply
    Jennifer S
    July 28, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    I totally agree with you that food is too emotionally connected in our society. I found out several years ago that I have an auto-immune disorder and that I had to cut out sugar and grain to be functional. I’ve done very well with it in recent years (although at first it was really, really hard), but I actually cry when the weather turns cooler and the pumpkin spice latte signs start going up. I have been conditioned to think that if I can’t go through a drive-through to get a pumpkin flavored something during the fall or a peppermint or gingerbread flavored something during the winter, my life is lacking.

    I loved your article. You have an engaging style of writing. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Gina
      August 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Jennifer, thank you for the kind words! And you are not alone – it actually didn’t come off as even remotely odd that you would cry about these things. It is crazy how hard wired this stuff is in us! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    AutumninAtlanta
    July 30, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Great post! Lessons learned over time with weightloss.

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