Short term weight loss? Part 2: Why short-term?

I was recently asked if I would recommend the Ideal Protein diet for short term weight loss. I want to tackle this question in two parts, the second part dealing with the idea of “short-term” weight loss.

Weight loss is a tricky subject. It’s very complicated (can we all please stop spouting “eat less, move more” as if that’s going solve anything) and requires a lot of effort and change. It also does not, necessarily, make a person healthier by simply weighing less. Futhermore, health benefits that are observed after weight loss only remain so long as the weight loss remains (but again, not necessarily). Thus, if weight loss is a goal for an individual, the goal should be long-term maintenance of a lower body weight.

This is why I was so puzzled by this question about losing weight in the short-term only. We know that weight cycling (a.k.a. yo-yo dieting) does not make a person any healthier that not having lost any weight at all, so why would a person go through the process at all if they don’t intend to maintain the lower weight?

There are a handful of reasons why a person may need to lose some weight in the short-term, generally relating to very specific medical tests/procedures. In these circumstances, you would (or SHOULD) be monitored by a medical team.

Barring this, why would someone want to lose weight for just a little while? Most of the reasons I can think of are purely aesthetic: an event, fitting a particular item of clothing, seeing people from their past, being able to say that they “hit” a certain weight. Perhaps there are other reasons out there, but none have come to mind during the week that I’ve been mulling over this question.

Let’s reframe these scenarios. Would you enjoy the event less if you weighed 10 lbs more than you do now? Would you be unwelcome at a size 12 but not at a size 8? Do you view the size on the clothing tag as a defining characteristic of yourself? Is it worth the effort and ultimate futility to mold a body to fit some pieces of cloth; could you be just as happy if you chose some cloth that molded to the body you have? Would the person you’re seeing love you less if you’re not the size you were at your last encounter? What if some weight gain was a sign of the joy, the challenges, the knowledge you’ve gained since your last encounter?

Let us be kind to ourselves and each other, and ask ourselves these questions before we embark on weight loss regimes that are ultimately unfulfilling to body and mind.

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