When the diet industry markets a weight loss program, they usually focus on the end result or comparisons between what the person was like before and after they went on the program. For example, they will show a ‘before’ picture of a person looking miserable, with no makeup and wearing daggy clothes with an ‘after’ picture of someone looking happy, dressed well and all made up, who has lost weight. This often comes with a testimonial from the dieter who may typically say something like “I’m feeling more energized, I can finally go to the beach and I’ve met a new man and we’re about to be married”.
While weight loss may have its advantages, I have to question how much the emphasis on the benefits of losing weight, are giving people the impression that the achievement of other life goals are dependent on the successful achievement of reaching a ‘goal’ weight. What concerns me about this is that research demonstrates that diets generally aren’t successful in the long term. People may get to their goal weight but end up putting all the weight back on. That’s if they get to their goal weight to begin with! You never see any weight loss program advertise their statistics on how many people have actually reached their goal weight on their program. They probably have only advertised the one person who has achieved their ‘goal’ weight (yes, I am a bit skeptical!).
While it can be helpful to know your reasons for wanting to achieve any goals, telling yourself, “I’ll find a new partner or job once I’ve reached my goal weight” or “I’ll be more confident once I’ve lost weight” or “I’ll have more energy once I’ve lost weight” etc is not helpful. Certainly the marketing of many weight loss programs might make you think you have to be a certain size to achieve these things in life, however the truth is you can achieve these things regardless of your weight (unless perhaps, your dream job is to become a supermodel).
There is a real danger in making life dreams and goals dependent on your weight. If the diet doesn’t work (as diets often don’t), those life goals that have depended on attainment of a ‘goal’ weight, may end up as collateral damage. Are you prepared to put off important life dreams until you’ve reached a goal that may not have been realistic to start with? The ‘real’ reasons for people wanting to lose weight are not weight loss per se, but what can happen as a result of the weight loss. That is, to feel healthier, look better, fit into ‘sexy’ clothes, feel more confident, attract a new partner etc. All of these are independent of being at a ‘goal’ weight. So if weight loss is your goal, perhaps a healthier approach might be to ask yourself, what your reasons for losing weight are and determine how you can act on those reasons now, rather than making them dependent on a number on a scale that might not be realistic or achievable in the long run.