We’ve all heard the expression “consider the source!” Usually we think of this when it comes to someone complaining or ‘having issues’ with something or someone, but when it comes to your health, it is extremely important!
This is the time of year when weight loss gizmos and potions go into high gear, along with all those other gadgets “guaranteed to give you a rock-hard six-pack in fifteen minutes a day!” This is when you need to consider the source before you buy anything! This goes for any kind of gadget or machinery and especially any kind of potion, pill or weight loss plan. Some of these can hurt you or make you ill!
I don’t mean to be a scare-monger, but trying out some equipment that you saw on a tv commercial when you’ve never or seldom used any kind of workout equipment can be tricky. You can pull or tear a muscle or ligament; in other words, you can end up seriously injuring yourself. The same goes for trying some kind of weight loss pill that’s guaranteed to make you ‘burn body fat’ without really changing what you’re eating. I know giving up brownies and popcorn and soda can really be hard and a major pain in the butt, but eating healthier and getting fit isn’t about the rock-hard six-pack (okay, it’s about more than just the six-pack): it’s about you actually being healthier and stronger! That means being more active and eating nourishing food, and that means work! It also means not depending on a ‘magic pill’ to get you there!
Most of these gizmos and super diet pills have great testimonials from ‘actual customers’ who swear that whatever it is they’re using was the only thing that helped them lose weight or get that awesome body. They may not tell you that they were using the item for sale in addition to something else, like a diet plan or a workout schedule or trainer. In small print, most of these items have some kind of disclaimer (“results not typical”) or some other advisory, like a diet plan or workout schedule.
Obviously, when it comes to source material, tv is not your best option. I know it’s fun to think you can get great abs by ‘twisting’ the muffin top away on a mini surf board, but seriously, you need to be serious when it comes to exercise and eating healthy. Your doctor may also not be your best bet, although talking to him or her might not be a bad idea. The only reason I hesitate referring you to your physician is because unless he or she has done more research into nutrition, most doctors have grand total of 24 hours or less in nutrition. In class time, that’s about one hour, five days a week for a month- less than a semester! So unless your doctor is really into eating well and nutrition (some are), then you should look into other options. If he or she is willing to give you a referral to nutritionist or anther specialist, go for it! If not, then heading to the book store isn’t a bad idea. Google isn’t a bad place to start, but before you jump whole-heartedly into whatever happens to be trending (right now it’s keto), go to a library or bookstore and take a look at the actual books that advocate whatever eating plan you’re looking for. FYI: if you have a kindle or kindle app, you can usually download the first few chapters of a book as a sample for free!
It’s also not a bad idea to look at more than one book even if it’s the same eating plan. There’s about a hundred books on the Paleo diet, the keto diet, Whole Foods/ Whole 30 and others. Take a look at what they have to say; you want something that will work with you and your personality. Many of these authors also have websites designed to help you out and some of these authors are very accessible via email. Just remember that just because something is popular and works for all your friends and family does not mean that it’s right for you! My mom loved Jenny Craig, had boiled eggs every day and lost weight, although she put it back on every time. No offense, Jenny, but your food and your diet plan grossed me out (I prepared all my mom’s food).
You need to remember to choose something that you think you can stick with for the long term. Healthy eating should not have an expiration date; the same for working out. If you are going from eating the Standard American Diet full of processed foods or lots of quick processed grains (breads, cereals, etc), then jumping into something a little more extreme like keto or even Paleo might be a bigger jump than you think. Take a look at some books that offer a more gradual transition, like Wired to Eat (Robb Wolf), The Keto Reset Diet (Mark Sisson), Always Hungry? (David Ludwig) or even The Whole 30 (Melissa Hartwig). If none of these speak to you, they have many other books as well as many other authors covering similar eating plans.
Don’t forget that choosing an eating plan and/ or book doesn’t mean that you’ve permanently signed up for that plan. I know a lot of people from MFP (My Fitness Pal) who have tried to stick with a keto or low carb eating plan and no matter how hard they try, it’s still very hard and frustrating for them. Sometimes they end up giving up on losing weight and if they don’t, they usually raise their carb intake, which is a better option in my opinion than giving up. Not everyone can eat the same. The goal is finding something that works for you long term. Like my mom’s example above, unless you’re going to keep eating Jenny Craig and boiled eggs forever, you’re going to put the weight back on. The point is to change your eating habits to a healthier diet than what you ate before and to make this change gradually. Once you’ve adjusted to that healthy change, then if you think you can make more progress, then do it! This is the kind of transition Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf and others advocate: something sustainable long term.
Not to sound like a commercial, but one of the best resources I found was Elizabeth Benton’s Primal Potential website and podcast. FYI: I learned about her from My Fitness Pal, another great resource! (It’s like fitness oriented Facebook.) Elizabeth has a lot of free information on her website in addition to her podcast and her philosophy is pretty much what I’ve said here already: we are all different so do what works for you! She’s easily accessible via email and has paid coaching programs available, although most of what she offers is free. She has some great advice she calls The Golden Rules of Carbs & Fat Loss. This January 2018 she also has free workshops available to help participants structure a workable sustainable weight loss plan for the new year. All the registration information is available at her website. (I signed up for one!) Even if you don’t opt for a workshop, she is a great resource (she has a degree in nutrition and lost almost 150 lbs herself!)
Whatever eating or exercise plan you decide on, you need to consider the source and who is recommending it to you. Again, if you’ve been sedentary for the last few years, jumping into a Beach Body workout video can be painful! But if you think that a plan might work for you, do some research and see what options are available. You don’t have to go cold turkey and give up bread or meat all at once if that’s too hard for you. When I decided to go Paleo, I did it in stages, giving up one or two things a month until I made the adjustment. I didn’t worry about ‘doing it fast’ because this is how I want to eat for the rest of my life. Eating this way makes me feel healthier and better overall, and I’ve discovered that I really enjoy what I eat (not making me feel cruddy is a bonus!) If the eating style you’ve chosen isn’t working for you, then change it, (it’s not a catastrophe!) but if it is working then stick with it! FYI: I encountered some resistance from family members when I made this change, but in the end, we all have to do what’s best for us, even if others don’t like it. What changed their minds was how much better I felt, how much weight I lost and how much more I was able to do. There’s just no arguing with success!