When I was in my late teens I tried Weight Watchers. I thought it was awesome that I could still eat cookies, chips and ice cream and was told that I could “lose weight” (I didn’t).
I don’t like to complain (😳) or to diss other programs out there – but since then I’ve always had a sour spot for mainstream weight loss programs. My sour spot got even deeper when I became a Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Coach and eventually a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, because it was then that I not only understood why mainstream programs don’t work longterm from a “dieting” perspective – but from a HEALTH perspective as well.
(Note – if mainstream programs feel RIGHT for you – by all means #doyou. I am only sharing my opinion and viewpoint as a Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach/Weight loss expert and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner).
Here’s why mainstream diet programs DO NOT set you up for long term success and why I urge you to consider other methods to reach your weight loss goals.
If you take Weight Watchers for example – they have you counting points (indirectly counting calories). WW essentially allows you to eat whatever you wanted so long as you hit your points for the day. This means you could snack all day on their 100 calorie cookie packs (which mind you are full of junky ingredients), and not pay too much attention to micronutrients (i.e. veggies, fruits, and other healthful foods).
If you look at Jenny Craig – they have you buying their food which again is full of some less than ideal ingredients (i.e. soybean oil, cornstarch).
Now it comes as no surprise to me as a coach that people who go on these programs experiencing yo-yo dieting/chronic dieting for YEARS once they “lose the weight”. For one thing – WW isn’t teaching you HOW to eat – they are just teaching you how to count points. And heck – I have nothing against a cookie, pizza or ice cream – but if you aren’t teaching people how to hit their micro nutrients which will ultimately make them feel satiated and be able to actually maintain their results long term.
JC has you buying their food – again teaching you WHAT to eat but not HOW to eat. What will you do once you’ve reached your goal weight? Will you buy their food forever?
These programs teach you how to be “on” their plan but not what to do when you go off the plan. In my opinion – this isn’t on purpose and contributes to the on/off mentality which perpetuates chronic dieting.
Bio individuality. Everyone is different. Therefore everyone needs a little something different when it comes to reaching their goals and feeling their very best. Unfortunately most mainstream programs out there DO NOT offer much outside of giving you the same run of the mill meal plans or point allocation that they do for thousands of other people.
Many of my clients deal with hormone issues like PCOS and Hypothyroid – and following a plan like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig could make weight loss more difficult in certain situations.
Additionally, these programs don’t always take into account the wellness aspect of nutrition – in other words – what about heathy fats and how they are essential for hormone health? What about digestive function? While portion control is VERY important when it comes to weight loss, if hormone balance and/or digestion is compromised – weight loss can be VERY difficult (if not impossible) for some people. This can leave people feeling as though “nothing is working” for them despite them following these plans to a T.
Additionally – if you take a look at some of the ingredients that are in Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig food items, you are going to find a whole host of garbage (vegetables oils, corn syrup etc). It’s not that I am opposed to these food additives 1000% of the time – BUT if you are a WEIGHT LOSS company – don’t you think that your meals should include healthful ingredients?
So if mainstream “weight loss programs” are generally NOT a good idea what is? IMO – finding a plan that WORKS for you AND teaches you how to sustain your results is key.
When it comes to weight loss – the MAIN foundations are to …
1.) Create a safe calorie deficit
2.) Eat MOSTLY nutrient dense foods (& pair them together for optimal satiety)
3.) BE consistent.
I lay all of this out in my FREE guide to Eating For Optimal Fat Loss which you can download here!
If you have more specific goals or are dealing with digestive/hormone imbalances – I recommend working with a practitioner who can help your specific situation 🙂