Essential Components to a Successful Weight Loss Program
We’ve all come across the advertisements promoting the next great diet, supplement, workout, or piece of equipment that will give you amazing results. The common thread each of these things share is a disclaimer that is just as familiar as the ad itself, “Results Not Typical”. They show you astounding before and after pictures, and maybe someone’s testimonial about how they did it, and you can to. The sad truth for the majority is, no you can’t. It’s not your fault, it’s a limitation of the program. Few diets are fundamentally nutritionally sound, so you can’t follow it indefinitely. There are not support systems in place to seek help or promote adherence to most programs either. The extreme fitness craze works with a select few that can stick to it, but classes aren’t for everyone, nor is the discipline to pop in a DVD every day at home.
The message that is being sent by those promoting these products is that only one approach will work for the majority, and that is simply not true. They majority of people aren’t getting abs in 8 minutes, or getting ripped and lean in 90 days. The truth is most people fail, and that people who purchase diet books, workout DVDs, exercise equipment, or supplements have tried 3 or more approaches/products, and are no closer to their goal weight than before they tried them.
Most people don’t know enough about nutrition or supplementation to lose weight outside what has been advertised to them. They don’t know enough about how to work out, or which exercises to do, other than 3 to 5 moves regurgitated by this months fitness magazines. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can do this by yourself. No matter what you are doing, in order to be successful, you need a coach or mentor to help you get there.
There needs to be a more comprehensive approach to a truly successful weight loss program. There should be 5 elements present to be a high quality program.
1) It needs to include education in nutrition. Not only what to eat, but also when and how much to eat. Advice about what supplements to use and what to avoid. This should preferably be done by someone who is not selling you the food or supplements.
2) There needs to be an evaluation of your current fitness level, and baseline measurements need to be taken. This needs to be done so you know where to start in terms of intensity of your exercise to avoid injury and maximize your results, and to have something to compare yourself to in order to track your progress. A sample of some of the measurements that should be taken are your weight, body fat percentage, and body mass index (BMI). Others could include, circumference measurements, cardiovascular tests, body water percentage, percentage of muscle mass, and others.
3) There must be prescription of exercises to improve lean muscle mass. This is done to pump up the metabolism to help burn fat faster. These programs should be created by a licensed professional, not just a two week on-the-job-trained personal trainer.
4) Flexibility. Because there isn’t just one program that fits everyone’s life-style, there needs to be options. For example, if you already have a gym membership, you shouldn’t have to pay for a program that has you exercising in their place too. You can have the option of learning the routine, and taking it to a gym you like. Or if you need that extra push, to have a comprehensive program so that someone is there to guide you every step of the way.
5) There should be accountability meetings and checks of your progress to re-motivate you can keep you on track.
Very few programs that I have reviewed meet this standard, because there is such a wide demand of skills to fulfill all of those components listed. Psychologists can help with daily behaviors, lifestyle modification, and motivation. Dieticians and nutritionists can assist with the food aspect of the program. An exercise physiologist can devise a program that will meet the needs of the participant based on their current condition. But there is one specialty that has education in all of these aspects of health, and create a personalized program to meet your needs, and that is a physical therapist. So if you are struggling with your weight, or just need to look better in swim wear in the summer, seek the help of a PT.