Q: What’s a good diet if I want to jump start my weight loss? Same for fitness – what about these 3 week, hard core programs? I hear they really work.
A: Yes, they do ‘work’, but I wouldn’t call them ‘good’. Heck, I’m not sure I’d even really say they work without having some seriously powerful air quote action going on. I’ve been getting questions like these this week quite a bit. They’re really good questions, but they show how Americans are basically brain washed into looking for the quick fix rather than the sustainable, results-delivering path that will work today, tomorrow, and 5 years from now.
On the diet side, I hear people who are all set to commit to the Slow Carb approach (either 100% or pretty close to it), but they think they need a boost for the first couple of weeks to really shed some weight. Let me just tell you right now, if you eat like most Americans, you won’t need any boost or jump start. I’ve seen a few folks I coach drop 5, 6 and 7 pounds in the first week. If you choose to go with some shake diet, weird starvation thing, etc, all you’re doing is stressing your body, and delaying the time when you will start to adjust to the SCD and make it your normal everyday diet. The sooner you get on board with it, the sooner your results will follow, and, more importantly, endure. And it’s healthy, unlike these jump start fads, so you’re doing right by your body on top of getting the fat off your frame.
On the exercise front, there’s a popular program out there that starts with numbers and ends with an X. There are others that list a place you would want to go if you were in great shape and then the word “Body”. You know what I’m talking about. They do work in the sense that they seem to deliver results while you follow them. But they don’t work in the sense that they aren’t typically long-term followable. (What’s that? Followable’s not a word? Sure it is. Well, it is now, at least. You know what I mean.) The key to finding a fitness rhythm that will endure is finding one that works for your life. Long workouts on a regular basis are no more sustainable than shake or starvation (or any other fad) diets. It goes back to the minimum effective dose (MED). It’s not about working out for a long time, it’s about working out smart. No, instead, find something you can do that fits into your life, and make it part of your ongoing plan. As you get better at it, add resistance, or cut back on it and add something else. For me, it was the elliptical. I have been doing it forever. I did 45 minutes at a high resistance level before starting to follow the program I advise people on. Now I do 30 minutes of intervals (including warm up and cool down). I have since added some running, recumbent biking or other things in 10-20 minute blocks when I can to keep things interesting. But I do it when I can make it fit my life, not because I have some deadline or someone on a DVD is yelling at me.
So, the message here is simple. There’s no quick fixes needed, and the quick fixes you might want to start with to get ‘real results fast’ are probably going to work against you. Just get with the program – the sustainable program. There’s nothing quick or short term about it. Remember, we’re talking about changing your future, not just today. That’s what it means to enlighten.your.body.