Weight Loss Programs – Do They Work?
In having conversations with my clients who set out a goal to lose weight, we often find that there are aspects about one weight loss program they love, but certain things about it that don’t work for them. Then, as we investigate other options, they realize many of the other programs are the same – some things they love, and some things they don’t.
Through that process, we end up creating a customized plan just for them that applies an approach that works best with their lifestyle, according to their goals, personality, and preferences.
I call this their “unique wellness plan”.
What is a Wellness Plan?
I refer to this as a “wellness plan”, because it’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle plan that usually incorporates other aspects of a client’s overall lifestyle, like body movement, stress management, and all the other things that affect weight gain that we might not realize.
So, am I anti-diet?
That’s actually a loaded question, and one I choose not to have a stance on (as of now).
Here’s the reason – some people do really well with a structured program to help them get started on a path to better health. It’s kind of like when you’re learning to ride a bike. You would never just hop on a two wheel bike and ride off into the sunset.
If my 5 year-old tried that right now, he would definitely fall over and I’d be bandaging up some scrapes. Instead, when we’re learning to ride a bike, we start with training wheels to help build the skills and the balance. Then, when we’ve built up the skill, we go to the next step of riding without the training wheels.
If you’ve ever been through the process of teaching a kid to ride a bike, you know that at this point, they will still fall down, because it takes time to get used to the next step, but eventually, they learn how to ride their bike confidently without falling over.
“Diets” and structured programs should be thought of in the same way. With the right program, it can be a great set of training wheels until we’ve built the skills to do it all on our own.
With that being said, the next most common question I get is, “which diet or program should I start with?”
The Ever Growing Weight Loss Program Industry
The health and wellness industry is one of the fastest growing industries, which means it seems like there’s a new product or plan every time you look that promises to give you the body of your dreams. And with statistics coming out that show a person is 80 – 95% likely to gain all the weight, or more, back than before they started the diet, it’s becoming more and more obvious that there is a big part of the process that is missing from all these programs. We’ll talk about that a little later.
If you’re thinking you need a set of “training wheels” to help you get on the right path to feeling your best, here are some pros and cons to consider when it comes to starting a diet or structured plan:
Pros to diets and weight loss programs:
- Provides an easy to follow schedule and system so you don’t have to spend extra time creating meal plans
- Help to educate you on the basics of how our bodies metabolize energy and which types of food contribute to certain body reactions
- Generally, people can experience success from these programs in weight loss.
- They may save you time over doing your own meal planning.
Cons to diets and weight loss programs:
- Contributes to the diet mindset problem that is prevalent today – (the feeling of always needing to be on a diet, or start a new diet, causing yo-yo dieting effects).
- Fuels negative body image by posting pictures of unrealistic results for the average person to achieve or maintain.
- 80 – 95% of people who lose weight on a diet will end up gaining all the weight back, or more.
- Often doesn’t teach you lasting habit change or approaches to long-term success, which results in having to go back to a diet later (again, yo-yo effect)
- Some programs are just outright unhealthy and recommend dangerous nutrition practices that can have negative implications on your health. (I recommend consulting with a dietitian or your healthcare provider before starting a new program.)
- May not be personalized to your activity levels and body type, which means you may be eating too few calories for what your body needs, which may require you to override your body’s natural signals that let you know when it’s time to eat and when you’ve had enough to eat.
- Can contribute to anxieties about food and our health and create disordered eating behaviors.
So, is starting a diet right for you? Maybe. It all really depends on your goals and if it will work with your lifestyle.
Before Starting a Weight Loss Program:
All in all, here are some things to consider when deciding to start a structured plan, or diet:
- Make sure it has an exit strategy and teaches you how to maintain your results once you’ve achieved your goal.
- Be honest with yourself if the changes it wants you to make to your diet are realistic to your lifestyle.
- Consult with a dietitian or healthcare professional to find out if any of the changes are concerning to your personal health.
Wellness Plans for Creating Lasting Results and Long-Term Habit Change
Diets and programs for weight loss are great for giving you a specific list of instructions to follow to achieve your goal, such as weight-loss. But, what happens once you reach that goal? Or, what happens if you find certain aspects of that program are not a good fit for you? This is often where these programs fall short.
No matter what kind of lifestyle change you’re looking to make, you need to find a way to do it so that it’s sustainable for the long-term. Otherwise, you’ll end up falling back into old habits and starting back at square one, or even farther back, which can be a really defeating feeling.
If you’ve been through the ups and downs of weight-loss before, a certified wellness coach who is specifically trained to help you identify a personalized plan that will work best for you can help. They will also help you overcome roadblocks and slips along the way so you can stay on track, make adjustments as you realize what is working and what’s not, and turn your plan into life-long healthy habits that feel like a natural part of your day.
Interested in creating your own unique wellness plan? Schedule a 15-minute breakthrough call and let’s talk about the health goals you’d like to reach.