Monday, August 15, 2011

Who to Trust?

Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach Diet, Body For Life, Biggest Loser Workout, The Firm, PX90. There are more weight loss plans and exercise program options than calories in my bowl of Snelgroves. How do you know which one is right for you?
We each have a different body type, metabolism, and genetic background. Jenny Craig might have saved your neighbor, but it may not work for your body, lifestyle, or emotional health. You need to evaluate what your health needs are and how you can most effectively meet those needs without wreaking havoc on the other aspects of your life.

I love chocolate. If I try to go on a diet plan that cuts out all treats I get irritable. It's not worth it for me or my family to have me lose a couple of pounds and be no fun to live with.

I don't advocate "dieting." I've seen many friends and family go on diets and lose weight then gain it back. Because of that I would be careful when signing up for a specific diet program, especially one that costs a lot of money and/or promises quick weight loss. If you do feel one of the diet plans is what you need to stay on track, do your research. Talk to friends and family who have used the program. See what kind of research is behind the program. Discover what real people's results were (not the ads the company produces) and find out if participants were able to stick with the program long term to stay healthy instead of just a quick weight loss which is not only a waste of time (and money) but can be harmful.

The best dietary programs are going to focus on healthy, whole foods. I would discourage spending a bunch of money on the program's food. Not only can it be very expensive, but nobody is going to do that for life.

I would encourage you to talk to a registered dietitian before signing up for any program. A dietitian could also help you write a plan and counsel you on sticking with it, helping you avoid shelling out money for a diet that may be a scam or harmful to your health.

What about exercise?

Again, every person's body is different. I have a good friend who teaches Pilates and looks fabulous. My sister-in-law is a cardio girl (bike, swim, run, crawl, you name it) and she also has an amazing shape. I love strength training and focus most of my time in the weight room and running.

Variety is the key. It's easy to get stuck in a rut, I do it myself. Varying speed, intensity, and duration can help. It's also wonderful to try new things out, though not always practical.

But what if you want to do a certain exercise program like Crossfit or PX90?
Research. Check out the qualifications, experience, and success rate of the program designers. See if they have research to back up what they're selling (I like to see a few different research studies because sometimes the study is small or paid for by the group it benefits). Talk to people who have used the program or trainer.

Try it out. Make sure you like it before you invest too much time or money into something. Most local gyms/exercise programs should have a trial period so you can see if you enjoy the exercise and the group. Exercise machines should have a money back guarantee (within a certain time frame). You're sampling the program to see if you like it, but you shouldn't expect immediate weight loss or shredded biceps. Becoming fit takes time. Give the program at least six to eight weeks. You can tell if the program is going to be effective by how you're feeling. You should be tired by the end of a workout and slightly sore the next morning, but you shouldn't have pain in your joints or a feeling of tearing a muscle or ligament.

It's extremely hard to wade through all the different options for diet and exercise programs. It really comes down to trusting your own instincts. Don't buy into quick weight loss schemes, they may work initially but will always let you down long term. Also, as a Christian I turn to the Lord when I'm making a decision. He cares about you in every aspect of your life. He doesn't want you wasting time, money, or becoming irritable.

Your health is important. Make sure your decisions regarding your health are not taken lightly.