Top 6 things to watch out for when shopping for a weight-loss program

While the bulk of the professional athletes in the world, (including professional body-builders), are all using the methods I talk about most here in this blog (IIFYM / Flexible Dieting), I fully recognize that this approach may not be for everyone. So, I thought I’d share 6 things to avoid when you’re shopping for a weight-loss plan (even if you don’t opt to go with the one(s) I’ve used).

So here you go.. the top things you ought to be thinking about when you’re shopping for a weight loss plan.

1) Don’t take advice from anyone who doesn’t look the way you want to look

During my weight loss journey, I can’t count the number of overweight / out of shape people who were all too happy to offer me all of their best tips and tricks on how to shed pounds.  Looking back on most of those tips, it’s pretty clear to me why those people were in the shape they were in.  If someone who’s out of shape is trying to tell you how to get in shape — run. Fast.

2) Don’t buy products from MLMs

Nothing (and I mean nothing) gets my blood boiling more than people selling over-priced, over-hyped products such as Beachbody, Thrive, Herbalife, and others.  The formulas in these products are incredibly controversial, completely unproven, possibly dangerous, and (despite their lies to the contrary) are NOT tested in lab conditions OR in real peer-reviewed scientific studies.  Furthermore, the products are INSANELY expensive for what you get.  Those who find success with these kinds of products have also found success with regular, cheaper, and BETTER protein powders and products that you can buy over the counter or online. Furthermore, these pyramid-scheme MLMs position their reps as “coaches” who, frankly, have ZERO qualifications to be handing out health advice to ANYONE. (See #1 above).  Stay away… and anyone trying to sell you this stuff is NOT YOUR FRIEND.

3) Avoid “cleanse” diets

These aren’t healthy. In fact, they can do pretty serious damage to your metabolism. Yes, you’ll lose weight. (But you can lose weight in a variety of crazy, unhealthy ways — such as not eating anything at all). When you start eating healthy and exercising, your body will naturally cleanse itself.  Put simply, these kinds of extremes are dangerous, at best.  (Although I’m a big fan of the proven taco-cleanse diet…)

4) Avoid any weight-loss plan with an end-date

“Whole-30”, “21-day fix”, “24-day challenge”, “hCG”, and other such programs are designed to give you a weight-loss kick-start by putting you on a very restrictive, very tight regiment for a short period of time. Yes, you’ll lose weight on these programs, but the fact that the program is designed to end is a good indication that two things will happen. 1) You will probably end up damaging your metabolism due to the yo-yo effect, and 2) You aren’t building a healthy, long-term plan. Remember, your goal should be to start acting the way healthy-people act — and healthy people don’t do programs like that. They eat well, they exercise, and they avoid extremes. While it may be temping to launch yourself into a crash-program to jump-start your plans, the potential for long-term damage to your body and your metabolism probably outweighs the short-term benefits of the program.

5) Avoid any program that’s not focused on calories-in, calories-out

Sure, they’ll tell you they are “scientifically proven”, or show you case studies of all these people who lost weight some OTHER than than eating less food and exercising — but if you peel back the onion, it’s all garbage. If there was such thing as a magic pill, magnet, or tea that could make you skinny, we’d all be skinny.  If the program you’ve found says “don’t worry about calories”, your B.S. alarm should be bleeping like crazy. Calories-in, calories-out is the foundation for successful weight loss.

6) Avoid any program that hides the details from you

A lot of programs try to take weight-loss and dumb it down to a point where you actually have NO IDEA what you’re doing or why it works. (*cough*Weight Watchers*cough*). While this isn’t a bad idea, in principle, for people who genuinely feel overwhelmed, this approach has two key problems:  (1) It keeps you addicted to their program. Because you don’t know how to do it on your own, you’re stuck writing them a check every month for something you could be doing yourself, and (2) Not knowing how to make healthy choices for yourself isn’t a recipe for long-term success.  You can’t stay on the regiment forever, and if you don’t understand why or how it works, how can you be expected to continue living a healthy lifestyle when you’re off the program?   This is why well over 90% of people who successfully lose weight with these programs end up putting it on again.   Long term weight-loss success means being a grown-up and taking responsibility to learn a little about your body and nutrition.

Remember, you’re not going on a diet, you’re changing the way you eat!