Monday, January 3, 2011

Which Weight Loss Program Do I Choose?

It's a question I get a lot.  Personally, I like the exercise/eat better thing, hence my involvement with the YMCA Healthy Living Center and Mercy Weight Loss and Nutrition Center.  But I also know that everyone has their personal demons, food preferences and health issues, so I say choose what works for you - but choose wisely.

Rather than telling you what to choose, I want to point out a few things to avoid:

An Empty Promise:  "You will lose weight overnight", "Be 20 pounds slimmer in 30 days", "Eat nothing but ice cream and lose weight", "Two grapefruits and a sensible dinner strips away fat", etc.  We've all done it, I have.  We are so desperate to be slimmer, healthier, be able to breathe, we want to believe the lies.  Gimmicks don't work.

The Truth:  ALL weight loss = calories out are greater than calories in. So, yes, if you are cutting your food intake dramatically (which all of the above require) you will initially lose weight.  But you will also gain it back because none of those fads teach you what you really need to know - how to eat sensibly for the rest of your life, not just for the four weeks you suffer through endless grapefruit.

The Magic Pill:  "Pop this pill and drop 50 pounds in 3 months", "This pill will give you energy without being jittery", "Lose weight and eat all you want", etc.  The manufacturers change, the promise stays the same - "Our researchers have found a secret that has been kept from the world..."  And for that first time when you hear the commercial, walk past the supplement store or see the magazine ad, you entertain this idea.  Especially in America where we want everything yesterday.

The Truth:  (And you already know it.)  There is NO "Magic Pill".  If there was, no low-grade pharmaceutical company in Southern California would have discovered it, nor would it be some 'secret'.  If there was really a pill out there that could help you lose weight, without eating right and exercising, without ruining your health - WE would know.  That's right the obese amongst us would be forming lines.  Heck, those who need to drop 20 pounds would be in line!  The demand for the pill would make Viagra look like aspirin.

A Machine That Does the Work FOR You:  "You barely move and your abs tighten", "Just hold the weights and they work your muscles", "Stand in one place and the machine will shake the weight off", etc.  Sadly I am not making those up.  The ads bewitch you with men and women that rock six-pack abs, they draw you in with stories from 'real people who have had real results' using this machine.  They may even bring in a 'doctor' who will share how your body reacts to this moving and shaking and how that will slim away that belly fat.

The Truth:  If a machine works, it is unlikely it will be introduced on an infomercial by a B-level movie actor.  More likely you will discover it on a visit to the gym.  That's where real fitness experts have tried the machines, looked at research and talked to other facilities that have it.  The result is - they only invest in equipment that will really make an impact on the size of your butt.  Before the equipment ever makes the cut, they know whether people will stick with it - the best sign of a good investment and ultimately gyms are a business.

DVDs and Books:  Everyone seems to be an 'expert' on weight loss.  They lost weight with a guru and want to share.  They have a reality show and everyone likes their muscles.  They once looked at a package of Oreos and were able to resist.  They must all have the answer.

The Truth:  This one is a split decision, there are good and bad DVDs and books.  There are also good and bad reasons to use them.  A DVD created by a real trainer, rather than a super model, can be a great ice breaker for people shy about going to the gym because of weight.  It's a chance to get sure on your feet before you workout in front of people.  With books, again, actual experts are the key - Dr. Oz, good; your favorite sitcom star, nope.  I am a big believer in educating yourself every day about healthier choices and lifestyle tweaks you can make.  Good books and magazines are great tools for that empowerment.

What should you choose?  I won't choose for you.  I will tell you the ultimate keys to your success - have your head in the game, pick the right team and don't give up.  I'll cover those three as the week proceeds.

Yours in Health,

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