The other day someone told me that they were only eating 1200 calories each day to lose weight. I didn’t explore the details of this plan, as this person is not a client of mine. I did feel a sense of concern and compassion toward this person due to my understanding that losing weight by a drastic cut in calories is not a sustainable method. Typically this kind of plan causes yo-yo weight loss and weight gain, unless a person were to use this method as a short term plan and also make a long term plan to transform multiple domains of wellness.
When I say, “multiple domains of wellness”, I am commenting on the need for a holistic approach for lifestyle change. Though there is a relationship between calories and weight gain or loss, it is not helpful to reduce calories as the sole intervention in trying to lose weight. I think most of us know this by now. There are so many sources of information that encourage eating well, getting more exercise, getting better sleep, and taking time for deep relaxation of one form or another. I also emphasize the importance of an increased connection to spiritual awareness in whichever form is acceptable. This is to say that so many of us seem to be “anti-religious” lately, that I encourage a spiritual experience based on what is relevant to each individual, be it religion or not religion.
All this said, it should be clear that anyone who is seeking an increase in wellness, and specifically to lose weight (which can increase wellness, and sometimes not), would be best served by approaching the concept from a “long view”. The drive to lose as much weight as possible, as quickly as possible is not only counterproductive to the overall goal of increasing wellness; it can also be potentially harmful. The yo-yo effect or weight cycling can be very damaging. Not to say that there won’t be times when a rapid decrease is desirable due to an acute medical risk. Once again, without the long term plan layered with the short term plan, it will be less likely to sustain any change over time.
In the most general terms, approaching weight loss from a “medical” perspective without applying a more holistic view will be lacking. The holistic approach to wellness will address change from a multi-domain orientation and will develop both a short term and a long term plan. Please note: wellness is more than just losing weight. It should be clear that if just losing weight was a key to wellness, all the diets that produce short term weight reduction would work for everyone and no one would be struggling with the issue. Increasing wellness, which can include weight loss, will produce long term sustainable change. The point is – weight loss is one of the products of a holistic wellness lifestyle, not the goal.