How many people do you know say around the end of the year, “I’m going to lose some weight”? How many people do you know that have been on a diet? And are off that diet? And are now heavier than they were before the diet?
We live in a society consumed by the ever-increasing desire to be physically smaller. We have low-carb, no carb, low fat, and no fat. There are infomercials screaming that they have the solution to regaining that high-school figure, and magazine articles explaining how to trim unwanted inches in your midsection.
There are pills, machines, creams, drinks, and even electrical devices all touting their weight-reducing abilities. The vast majority of these products and programs will not work because overall health is not their objective. What can you do to get a better sense of what works?
To evaluate different programs and products, dispassionately evaluate them with the following ten-question rubric. If a product or program adequately satisfies all ten questions, then it’s worth the investment for your future health.
1. How many calories do I need? If the product’s answer is based on a hypothetical person, rather than you, then be skeptical. Each of us is different and has vastly different nutritional needs, so look for products that take into account your weight, age, gender, and activity level.
2. How many pounds of fat can I loose in 7 days? If the program promises more than three pounds per week, be wary. Programs that predict drastic weight loss often do so through eliminating essentials such as protein, water, and important nutrients.
3. Why do women live longer than men? This loaded question finds its answer in the fact that men tend to carry their excess weight around vital organs while women carry it towards the hips and buttocks. The body has to work harder when the fat is around the vital organs, so it’s more prone to “breakdowns.”
4. What third party verification exists for the product or program? If it can’t be verified by another credible researcher and isn’t published in a related science journal, then question its legitimacy.
5. What cream do I need to apply to remove the fat? If you have to rub a topical lotion on your body to lose weight, wouldn’t you have skinny fingers? Don’t expect good results from these products.
6. Does the product contain caffeine? If so, it’s likely a starvation diet. Many manufacturers include caffeine to mask the effects of insufficient caloric intake, such as fatigue.
7. What accountability protocols are in place to help keep me on track? There are times when you just don’t want to be healthy, and this is acceptable in moderation. However, if there is no viable impetus to get back on the program, it will be less successful.
8. Is weight loss the most important factor in the program? If you only want to lose weight, you are missing the point. The goal of nutrition is to ingest precisely the amount of energy that is expended.
9. How does the program measure success? If the answer is in pounds, walk away. Scales are often the most harmful devices in the house since, with a few exceptions; they do not give a sense of your overall health. Look for one that measures body fat so that weight is not your sole concern.
10. Is a behavior modification program offered? After a major life change or traumatic event many people gain weight due to using food as a mental drug. If dependency develops, a good counselor, life coach, psychotherapist or support group can be invaluable to ending impulsive eating. Even without a major change, these professionals can help you understand better the difference between psychological and physical hunger. There is a big difference.Many programs work very effectively. There are probably ten times as many that do not work in the long run because their goal is simply to make money. Be smart and use the above questions so that you can focus on living a healthy life instead of just the number on the scale.