We're going to start this post off by going on a shopping trip. I'm in the market for a new weight loss fitness product - maybe there's something out there that can motivate me to do some cardio?! (probably not) So, what are some of my top options here?
Eh...on second thought I don't really want to commit to spending any money yet. Is there anywhere that will give me the secrets to washboard abs and fast weight loss for free?
Buuuuttt then I have to go out and find the magazine. I'm really not looking to leave the house today. All right internet, what have you got for me?
Man, options really abound for how to lose weight and get toned (and/or firm and/or sculpted) fast without dieting! Diets have always been the hard part for me when it comes to weight loss, so I can just add in some more exercise to compensate, right? Sadly, exercise alone hasn't been found to be that effective for losing weight. (1, 2, 3)
...But I completely get how it can seem like that's the case. Every month both men and women are marketed quick exercise fixes to their physique woes. Any of these sound familiar?
- Get bigger biceps with this one new curl variation!
- Get a flat belly fast with this killer core workout!
- Drop 1 size by summer? Yes please!
- Pack on 10 pounds of solid muscle in 30 days - no bullshit, just hard work.
You hear all over the place that there are no short cuts to weight loss. That it requires hard work and a lifestyle change. Well, going from doing nothing to doing vigorous exercise with Jillian Michael's yelling in your face is hard work and a lifestyle change. Does that not count?
No fitness routine will get you drastic results without a change in diet.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear the critiques now: "Psh, everyone knows that Kat. You're beating a dead horse." And you're right, I am beating a dead horse. And I'm going to keep beating a dead horse until everyone understands that these kinds of headlines are inherently misleading.
But I also want to talk about something odd I've noticed with many potential clients who have sat across my desk over the years...
We'll go over a realistic timeline for results and what it really takes to get there. Some topics we cover often include:
- Slow and steady changes win the sustainability game
- It takes a lot of hard work to build enough muscle to be considered "bulky"
- You must change your diet habits to see significant physique results
- There is no such thing as spot reduction
- Cleanses are basically bullshit
Almost always, my potential client will nod along and affirm they're familiar with these common myths. Fast forward a few sessions, and my now current client will turn and ask about what we can do to get rid of their belly/saddlebags/arm flab/etc. Not even two weeks ago, we affirmed they knew spot reduction was not a thing.
What happened between then and now?
Most of my readers probably already know most of the above if you've been following my blog for any length of time. But have you ever found yourself doing any of the following:
- Running despite your intense hate for it because of some vague notion you'll lose weight if you can run a 5k?
- Tacking on 10 minutes of intervals at the end of your workout because you know you're going to be drinking this weekend?
- Getting through a grueling workout and immediately following it up with a large pizza with a side of garlic knots to "refuel"?
- Trying a yoga or dance class in hopes you'll get a "yogi's" or "dancer's" body?
- Find yourself doing a lot more direct abdominal work as swimsuit season approaches...despite the fine layer of marbling above them?
- Going on a cleanse after the holiday season?
I mean, I'm guilty as charged on a couple of those myself.
I know that the 100 calories worth of intervals aren't about to make a dent in the 10 beers and 1:00 AM cheeseburgers I'll be indulging in over the weekend. Sometimes it just feels good to do something illogical. And hell, can be a good enough reason to do something.
So yes, we can logically "know" that spot reduction isn't a thing, but we're still compelled to glorify planks and do a zillion Russian twists whenever we feel down about our stomachs. Because it feels good.
Because it feels like we're in control of how we want our body to change if we can, ever so briefly, believe spot reduction works. It's the same thing that draws us to ridiculous magazine headlines or over-the-top weight loss promises on Fitness products or DVDs. The lie feels good.
Eating less than you were before doesn't feel like you're doing something proactive. It's a passive action. But exercise? Exercise feels so much better than a diet. You're DOING something, which is what we're compelled to do when we want to change anything in life.
Unfortunately, for weight loss the best thing you can do is put the fork down and wait a few months.
...All right the above paragraphs are just me bullshitting, but those are my personal experiences. (Maybe they're yours too - I'm not sure, so you should let me know what your experiences are in the comments)
Equal attention and emphasis must be given to the diet and fitness portion of products
Criticism number two I'm predicting is: "But many DVDs come with diet plans. And articles often talk about the importance of diet." Sure, but they're throwaways, just a token "oh yeah, and diet" line to placate people like me:
- "Of course, diet is also very important. So make sure you're eating healthy."
- "It's important to eat a lot during this program as well. Gallon of milk a day should do it."
- A 10-page booklet on diet telling you all the things you already know that is barely mentioned in the infomercial.
Take this Insanity commercial for instance. (Don't even get me started on "Max Interval Training") Yeah, Insanity comes with a DietPlan, but it's not even mentioned in the commercial! The Diet Plan is absolutely, 100% necessary to get results on this program. One would think that would warrant at least a small mention, no?
The product is the workout. The result promised is weight loss. In real life, that's just not how these things work.
But fitness is sexier than something like, EAT 10 VEGETABLES IN 10 DAYS, or ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH TO COOK SALMON, or EXTREME 21-DAY FRUIT FIX. It's harder to make a real attention-grabbing infomercial with that, I guess?
These mindsets hold us back
Logically we know that exercise and diet changes are necessary for weight loss. But we tend to buy and act with our emotions - probably why cop-outs like Snackwell cookies or sugar-free gummy bears get more sales than canned vegetables.
Be honest, is a lack of a diet plan or workout regimen what's keeping you back from results? Come on, you could Google "fat loss meal plan" right now and get some decent diet plans that would get you results. There are more than enough free workouts online to last you a lifetime.
So what's stopping you from making those changes right now? Why does the prospect of doing it on your own for free seem unappealing, but you're motivated to get started now when you see a well-done infomercial?
Does that intense and schnazzy DVD infomercial compel you to buy because they seem to make it look so attainable? Because it's completely planned out for you? Does it feed into that small logical part of you that knows magic pills don't exist, but completely ignores the part where changing your diet is required, but fucking hard to do?
I don't know the answers to these questions, but you should ask them before you click "add to cart" next time you find yourself browsing for motivation on Amazon.
You will NOT be losing 10 pounds in 2 weeks from a fitness DVD or workout program without some changes in your diet, no matter how convincing an infomercial is.
This shouldn't keep you from exercising or moving in general, especially if you want to lose weight for health reasons! Walking for 30 minutes a day is one of the easiest things you can do to drastically improve your health. ...You just won't lose 20 pounds in 30 days.