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Weight-loss Promises

I recently saw an ad for a weight-loss program that promised I could lose 10 pounds in the first month. I’m sure they must have fine print indicating that this is not a guarantee, but the fact that they said it at all bothered me more than I expected.

A lot of it comes from my younger years, when I was desperate for a weight-loss promise, except they never seemed to work. And unfortunately, like many people in diet mode, when it failed, it never occurred to me to question the diet, not myself.

In reality, how can any program realistically claim that you’ll lose weight? Even if most participants have a certain amount of weight loss, that doesn’t mean it will happen for each individual. It’s tempting to believe, but that’s not necessarily the reality.

After all, what all these weight loss promises fail to take into account is the most important component: you, the person actually trying the diet.

Weight does not simply drop based on an act of will; having the right mindset can help, but only if it’s accompanied by a change in behavior. The best way to achieve that is in small, incremental steps that work for you, but diets aren’t usually structured that way. Nor do they always take into account your individual needs, how active you are, what types of food your body can work with, etc.

Besides which, why does it have to be about weight? It would be more interesting to know how much more energy people had after a month, or any changes they noticed about their relationship to food. Those seem like much better measures to me, particularly since people can lose weight for less happy reasons, such as being ill, or having an eating disorder.

Ultimately, as attractive as these ads might be, the thing to remember is that no one can make promises to you about how you’re going to change. Only you can make promises to yourself, based on what’s important to you. If some of these external sources help you get there, that’s great – and if so, it’s important to take credit for what you’ve done, and the promises you’ve kept to yourself, not just what the diet promised.

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