Sarah McMahon joins the 28 by Sam Wood team



BodyMatters Director Sarah McMahon is thrilled to have the opportunity to join online fitness program 28 by Sam Wood as their resident psychologist. “There are so many great things this program offers participants, particularly in terms of promoting health giving behaviours”, stated Sarah. These include:

  • Encouragement of regular body movement at any level of fitness;
  • The opportunity to move your body joyfully and trial different types of body movement;
  • Appreciation that moving the body regularly will become more enjoyable with increased fitness;
  • A well moderated and supportive online community;
  • Structure around meals, including lots of “everyday” foods, sometimes “sometimes” foods and occasionally “occasional” foods;
  • Nutritional support that promotes eating real foods and provides education and capacity building (eg cooking skills!) in participants;
  • The promotion of many valuable principles including mindfulness, mindful eating, self compassion and optimalism (rather than perfectionistic thinking);
  • And the desire to work with a Psychologist who operates from a health based paradigm!

“Coming to this program with extensive experience supporting people to improve their body image and relationship with food, as well as having significant awareness about eating disorders and unhealthy weight loss practices, I am excited about the value I can add. I am particularly delighted to have the opportunity to work from the health centred framework that I so deeply agree with”.

“I do want to be very clear I do not endorse dieting for weight loss. There are a number of reasons why”, stated Sarah.

  • Weight loss is a multi billion dollar industry. There is a lot of money invested in making us feel bad about our body- and prescribing “solutions” for weight loss that don’t work;
  • Approximately 98% of diets fail after 2-5 year follow up. Most people can lose weight, but not many people can keep it off in the long run;
  • Dieting also promotes a “thin at any cost” mindset which is not only unhealthy, it is simply dangerous. We live in a misguided society that equates thinness and health. The fact is there are a lot of thin people engaging in very unhealthy weight loss behaviours (such as smoking, diet pills, illicit drug use, laxative abuse, restricting essential food groups necessary for body and brain functioning and exercise abuse);
  • This is certainly not to say all thin people are unhealthy, indeed, we can not judge any person’s health simply by looking at them;
  • Ultimately most of us don’t know where our natural body weight lies (often because of years of dieting). Our natural body weight is determined by a complex cocktail of factors including genetics, epigenetics and environment;
  • Accordingly, we need to better promote body diversity. We all come in different shapes and sizes, that is OK!;
  • About 95% of research into obesity is funded by the weight loss industry- including pharmaceutical giants that stand to profit from convenient research findings… and even then these demonstrate that dieting for weight loss does not work in the long run;
  • Furthermore, dieting encourages a vicious cycle putting people at significant risk of weight cycling and binge eating;
  • Weight cycling itself has been demonstrated as more harmful than maintaining a higher but steady weight;
  • Many weight loss companies deliberately adopt a “we’re not a diet” approach, when in fact they are. Adopting healthy eating and lifestyle approaches does not necessarily lead to sustained thinness or weight loss;
  • Research suggests that fitness is a far better predictor of health than weight.

“Despite the fact that some people will be joining 28 by Sam Wood with the goal of losing weight, I do hope I can support them in learning to enjoy the benefits of engaging in health giving behaviour irrespective of where their weight falls. Chronic dieters are the people who, in my mind, most need to learn about the health centred framework. It provides an alternative paradigm to dieting that is paramount for sustainable health”.

The solution is to encourage health-giving behaviours, irrespective of weight. The health based paradigm establishes health as an ongoing, multidimensional process that involves behavioural, psychological, intellectual, spiritual and social elements. We need to look beyond the number on the scale for an understanding of health. A summary of these principles is available here.

28 by Sam Wood was developed by Sam Wood, Australian 2015 Bachelor who fell in love with (and subsequently proposed to) the winner Snezana Markoski. They recently created the first ever Australian Bachelor baby! Sam is one of Australia’s leading fitness professionals and a regular media commentator on health, fitness and lifestyle. He is known for his pioneering work within the field of children’s sport and fitness. His online fitness program, 28 by Sam Wood, is extremely well regarded, particularly because of it’s holistic and sustainable approach to health. Over 100K people have completed the program to date. “I consider it a privilege to be involved” said Sarah.

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