Our friend Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop has made headlines yet again for publishing a Q and A with Tracy Mann, a PhD psychologist who admittedly has done quite a lot of great work in terms of the psychology of dieting.
In the interview, Mann makes a few great points, and a few huge missteps. Like, huge: the biggest one is when she said that we should aim to be at our ‘leanest livable weight.’ Of course, Goop put that phrase right in the title of the article, because why wouldn’t they? It’s pure clickbait gold, even when the blog page it’s on is called ‘Busting Diet Myths.’
How do editors think it’s a good idea to publish a piece about not dieting but also about being your ‘leanest livable weight?’ Absurd, even for Goop.
The interview first caused outrage in 2018 when it was published, but for some reason it’s on the front burner again.
What Is The Leanest Livable Weight?
Mann says that our leanest livable weight is at the low end of our individual set weight range: a weight that might be heavier than we want, but the leanest one that we can maintain without dieting and setting off the cascade of reactions that our body initiates with severe caloric restriction.
She isn’t outwardly promoting dieting in the article and in fact speaks out against it, but the entire piece is contradictory. She claims that our bodies can be healthy at any size *within our set range,* which is confusing, because she’s essentially advocating for the thinner, the better. And our set point range may be up to 20 pounds, which makes her advice incredibly tough to follow. For example, the idea is that I can be 140lb or 160lb and still be perfectly healthy, but I should really aim to be 140lb even though I’m just as healthy at 160lb. What? So skinnier is better, right?
Mann also says that willpower isn’t really the reason why diets fail, but then goes on to admit that maybe if your “willpower is perfect,” you’ll be able to avoid eating cookies.
Which one is it, then?
PS: Willpower when it comes to dieting is bullshit. Read my post about it here.
People on social media are going absolutely wild. Their comments range from “Irresponsible and dangerous,” to “Eating disorders for $500, Alex!”
Everyone is piling on because this is far from the first time that Goop has published something controversial regarding weight. A few years back, Goop trainer Tracy Anderson gave an interview recommending what can only be called a starvation diet to ‘jump start’ weight loss and lose 14 pounds in 4 weeks. It was outrageous to say the least, especially because it was essentially an advertisement for Anderson’s own protein bars. Gross. (Read what I had to say about this diet, and other celebrity diets, here)
With this and all of the other shockingly bad nutrition and diet advice it gives, Goop should probably just take several seats and stay in its lane now.
An RD’s Take on Leanest Livable Weight
So what do I think of the “leanest livable weight” suggestion?
As much as I agree with some of what Mann talks about in the article, I don’t buy what she and Goop are selling.
First of all, I hate the phrase “leanest livable weight,” because the connotation is incredibly harmful. When the majority of people see that phrase, they’ll take it to mean that you should be aiming for a weight that straddles the line between starvation and, well, almost starvation. The demarcation between just barely sustainable, and not sustainable. In theory, being at your lowest livable weight isn’t a place to strive for, because the word ‘livable’ connotes ‘bearable’.
The fact that this person says that bodies can be healthy at any size but then appears to glorify thinness is a fucktangle of messaging that’s incredibly confusing and feels backhanded and disingenuous.
But maybe it’s all just semantics. Even so, I wouldn’t want my daughters reading that shitty headline. Talk about easily misinterpreted. How do you even know – or find out – want your leanest weight is?
Instead, what you should be aiming for is your most comfortable weight.
Your comfortable weight is one that allows you to enjoy life instead of picking every single thing you eat down to minutia. It’s one you can be active at, where you feel healthy and strong. It’s not teetering on the edge of any arbitrary ‘range,’ and it can change from year to year and decade to decade.
Like Mann says, don’t focus on diets, just focus on health.
I say, your weight will fall where it’s supposed to when you nourish your body physically and emotionally. It’s not about being the ‘leanest’ anything.
It’s about being the happiest, most comfortable YOU.