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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weight Loss Programs - Are They Really Successful?

Since its the beginning of a new year, I know that there must be many people out there who have made a resolution to lose weight. The first thing we all do is jump at a reasonable sounding weight loss program, hoping to lose the weight fast and without much effort on our part. But do you know the reason why all these programs fail in the long run? The moment you have lost all the necessary weight and are out of the program, you will promptly put them all right back!

Yes, it's happened to me twice already. And both the times, tried two different weight loss programs. And now I am on to my third weight loss program, again a different one. I am now asking myself the question, "Will this program help me to maintain my weight after I have finished with the required sessions?"

I have tried to analyze why the weight loss programs do not succeed in getting you to maintain your weight long after you have lost weight. I came up with the following reasons:

1. Their main focus is on "weight Loss" :-

For them you are a customer who is there to "lose weight" and so their main goal is to do just that, by hook or by crook. Their success rate depends upon how many people have managed to lose weight effectively and fast with their program, so that they can then advertise their so called success and get more clients. Its a "business" for them. They are not really concerned about whether you will maintain the weight after you leave them or not.

2. No "Customized" Diet plan:-

In both the weight loss programs I realized that the nutritionist had a "set" diet for each and every client of theirs with just a few minor variations here and there depending upon the medical condition of the person. The nutritionists do not bother about finding out what you are comfortable with eating and your habits. So, you will realize that you will be making "drastic" changes in your diet and eating things that you would have never ever tried before in your whole life. They will also name a lot of "exotic" sounding foods that probably are imported from somewhere else and which we (Indians) are not used to having in our daily diet either. So, you will end up spending double the money on your grocery bill which will only make you feel even more "guilty" (this is for women). You must realize that "guilt" plays a major role in why women do not like to spend money on themselves and most of the cases, that would be the main reason for her condition. Making such women spend more money will make them only feel worse and wonder whether they did a wise thing by signing up for the already expensive weight loss program.

3. No consideration for the "money" Factor:-

Again like I said in the earlier paragraph, as your diet plan progresses you will realize that the nutritionist is only making you spend money on extra things that may not be really necessary in the long run. Everybody has money constraints these days and we do need to watch our budget for the grocery bills, leave alone the fact that you have just paid 10 grand for the weight loss program. So, listen to the nutritionist and decide carefully what you really need and what you can do without. There are many cheap and effective substitutes for all kinds of diets, specially in India where we have so much variety in foods of all kinds.
Here, we should also remember that traditional Indian food that is home cooked in itself is quite healthy enough and so one doesn't really have to make many changes except to our pattern of eating and choosing the right combination of ingredients for a balanced meal. Therefore each time you need to spend money on something new added to your diet, ask yourself if you are willing to add this ingredient in your diet for the rest of your life? If you are not comfortable with it then simply look for a replacement that would be good enough and with similar properties.

For example;- The nutritionist told me to have lime water everyday in the morning. Now, Its not a big deal to have lime water, it's cheap and easy to prepare. What bothered me was that my teeth become very sensitive if I have lime water everyday and being a dentist I also know that lime gradually erodes the teeth which causes the sensitivity. ( So, I told her that I couldn't have lime water every day. Couldn't I just have a glass of warm water instead? That's what I used to have in the earlier diet plan. She says, no, have "barley water" instead.

Now, I have to admit that here in India we don't as a habit drink "barley water" and I can't see myself drinking it in the future either. Besides, "Barley water" needs to be prepared before you can drink it. Agreed that Barley is a good source of proteins and it does help in weight loss and reduce cholesterol too. But so does Oats. And I have already added that to my diet. So, I don't see why I need to add "Barley water" to it too! I shall stick to my glass of warm water in the morning, thank you!

4. "Unrealistic" Diet plans:-

The nutritionists will tell you the foods that will make you lose weight and add extra proteins and fiber to your diet. But, at times they can be "unrealistic". Like for example, a person who is used to eating rice as a staple diet (which is a case in India) will not be able to switch to eating rotis and stop eating rice completely. If they think that you will, then they are not addressing the real issue. It is but obvious that the person will go back to eating rice once the program is over and the weight will be right back.

So, if you want to lose weight effectively and be successful in maintaining it for a lifetime then there are some changes that are required in your diet and some that can be slightly modified to suit your needs. It is very important for you to recognize the changes that you think you "will" be able to bring into your diet and those that you absolutely "cannot". Strike a balance between the two in order get a more "realistic" diet plan. But, don't expect the nutritionist to do that for you because they measure success with a different yardstick.

Remember, every person is unique and we each have our own way of living life. Each person has a different body clock and degree of metabolism according to how active we are in our daily lives. So, our nutritional requirements will vary from person to person. Therefore, it is very important for you to figure out what kind of person you are and how many calories you could burn in a day effectively with the kind of exercise you are willing to do in the day. All these factors will determine your success in managing to maintain your weight once it is lost.

So in the end I have come to the conclusion that weight loss programs are a failure if they have not "taught" you how to maintain your weight in the future. Admit it, that was the main reason to go there in the first place.

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