Monday, January 9, 2012

Brain Food: What weight loss programs can teach us

Weight loss commercials abound this month: they're all trying to get us on the hook for a slimmer waistline by summer all while eating brownies and cheeseburgers. But look closely! Even the commercials have fine print, gently reminding us that the results of the celebrity spokesperson are not typical, and that success is contingent on a reduced calorie diet and exercise.  Save your money and learn what these programs are really teaching us:

1. Weight Watchers: Keep a food journal. Weight Watchers is great at teaching accountability, practicality, and the importance of writing it all down. Tracking your points is the same as tracking your food, and research has shown that those of us who record our calorie intake - even to a crazy-insane-detailed level like me - have greater success than those who do not. So, spend money on Weight Watchers if it helps and you enjoy it, or just find a free online tool like and track it yourself.

2. NutriSystem: Portion control. NutriSystem takes the guesswork out of preparing meals by making it for you, but take a close look at the plates in those commercials. They're teeny tiny. That food is way small. What NutriSystem is teaching us is to manage our portions, which you can do at home with a food scale and some honest accountability with yourself. Then, of course, log it all. There you go: Weight Watchers and NutriSystem for free!

3. Food delivery programs: Be prepared. Success favors the prepared mind, and that means having a healthy snack at the ready when you are ready for it. We've all been that ravenous beast foraging for anything remotely edible in a fit of hunger because we either waited too long to eat or just didn't plan ahead. What happens? We eat the first and easiest thing we can find, which is usually something in a wrapper and pressed into a bar, held together with sugar, eaten in about 15 seconds flat and leaving us wanting more more more. Frozen meals claim to make it easier to eat healthy, if you define healthy as eating up a preservative-laden and tasteless bowl of mush. Preparation does take time, but it's worth it. Get yourself some oranges and almonds and make yourself some 100 calorie packs already!

It's a great time to get out there and get healthy, and I would much rather see you spend your hard-earned cash on a great new pair of jeans than on a company to tell you something you already know: log your food, watch your portions, and prepare meals and snacks before you need them. It's just as easy as the commercials promise. 

Promise. :)

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