You Asked: What's the Best Diet/Fitness Program for Weight Loss?

48SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/5/2012 10:00 AM   :  38 comments   :  26,216 Views

There are thousands of diet plans available these days, and there are just as many different workout programs. The trendy diets and workout plans of the past couple of years (think Paleo, Dukan, the 17-Day Diet, hCG, PINK, P90X, Insanity and more) will rise, peak and fall just like the popular diet and workout plans of the past. There will always be a new, trendy diet or workout plan. As different as they all may be, they all have one thing in common: They promise to be "the program" to help you take off the weight. But can they all be telling the truth?
 
As a health and fitness professional, the question I get asked most often revolve around my opinion on other diet or fitness programs.

What do you think about the [insert name here] diet?
Does [insert workout program/DVD] really work?
What's the best diet (or workout program) for weight loss?
 
My answer to these common questions may surprise you.
 
The real truth is that you can lose weight and tone up by following just about any diet or fitness program.
 
As simple and honest as that answer is, here's another truth: It will only work if you consistently follow the program exactly as it is prescribed. That's right: Any diet will work if you actually follow it. Any workout program will help you get results if you're doing it day in and day out.
 
Trouble is, few of us really do that. We get enticed by glossy infomercials showing how "regular people" just like us "finally" got the bodies of their dreams! They look and feel great now! They followed this plan and it worked and nothing else before ever worked for them! This has to be the answer! If they could do it, so can you!
 
It's enticing. It's believable. It's (mostly) truthful, too.  
 
But the reason those people became success stories featured in a magazine or on television isn't because there was something special about that particular diet or this specific fitness program. It was because, for whatever reason, this was the time that Martha from Florida finally stuck with any program long enough to get results.  It worked for her—just like other diets or fitness plans worked for others—because she simply did something consistently. She was highly motivated to stick it out this time.
 
The point I'm trying to make is that while any program can work for you, it will only work if you are actually following it. Raise your hand if you've bought a book, a DVD, a product "as seen on TV" to help you get fit or lose weight. Probably most of us have our hands up (myself included). Now keep your hand up if you actually followed the program you purchased exactly as it was outlined…for more than a couple days or a few weeks. Most hands are down, I'm guessing.
 
When it comes to weight loss, eating less and moving more are the keys. It really is that simple. But the consistency factor is where we tend to fall short. What works for your co-worker might not work for you if you're not as motivated as she happens to be. Or if your brother-in-law is transforming his body with some new workout, it's probably because he enjoys the structure of the workout enough to stick to it, which may not be the case for you. Which plan will work for you? Whatever plan you are motivated and excited about enough to stick with for the long haul.
 
Now comes my preach about lifestyle change. While just about any diet can work, the more restrictions you place on yourself, the harder it'll be to stick with, so it's best to make simple, healthy changes that you can live with. (Oh, and avoid weird or extreme diets that go against the widely accepted basic principles of nutrition.) In terms of exercise, I tell people that the only exercise that will ever work is something that you will actually do. I stand behind my recommendation to find something that you think is fun and also fits into your lifestyle. For most of us, extreme workout plans aren't the answer. Know yourself. The only plan that will ever work is one that you are willing to commit to.
 
This is what SparkPeople is all about: finding the eating and exercise strategies that work for you, and getting the motivation to stick with them. We give you the ideas, support and tips to get moving and eat better in a healthy way, but it's up to you to choose the strategies that appeal to you and put them into practice.
 
No single diet or fitness plan works for everyone—but everyone CAN get results if they are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
 
Do you agree? What works for you?





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Comments

  • 38
    When my sister asked me how I lost 50+ lbs in 8 months I told her I "moved more and ate less." And that is really all I did. I only did exercises I wanted to do and only restricted the foods I knew I could live without. The others I modified to make healthier or just watched portion sizes more closely. It isn't always easy to get up and move when you don't want to and resisting the fatty foods you are used to eating isn't easy either! My determination came from a desire to extend my healthy life as far into my life span as I could. If I'm going to live into my 80's or 90's, I still want to be healthy, vital and active as long as possible. - 1/29/2012   5:01:37 PM
  • 37
    I totally agree with this article. It is always about our daily diet and exercise When we eat too much we gain weight and if we don't move we gain weight. So making the lifestyle changes that encourage a better diet and being conscious of how we move each day will enable us to healthier. This if a wonderful goal! - 1/29/2012   11:41:44 AM
  • PLAYFULJAS
    36
    Agreed. If you don't like it, you won't do it and it won't work. No matter what the "it" is you have to love it to use it. I am guilty of starting a work out routine just to find I don't have the time commitment or I am uncomfortable doing some of the moves, needless to say I didn't have good results. Time to do what works! - 1/29/2012   11:38:39 AM
  • HPSANDDOLLAR
    35
    I agree completely. - 1/29/2012   10:03:26 AM
  • DENNYDD
    34
    Now that you mention it and because I've never thought about that before, that's exactly what I need and exactly where I fall short. Now I know what I need to work on. Thanks! - 1/29/2012   9:10:09 AM
  • 33
    This is very true. And I think that in addition to being consistent, finding out what works for you takes time and is very individual. - 1/29/2012   8:50:54 AM
  • 32
    I think Nutrition Tracker is work on me. I think about before eating. - 1/9/2012   10:29:05 AM
  • AZURE-SKY
    31
    The diet and exercise program that will work for you is one that you can stick with for the long term. Several years ago, I participated in a diet study run by my local hospital. The women were put into 1 of 2 groups. One was low-carb & low calorie, the other was low-fat & low-calorie. Each of us met with a nutritionist and told how many calories we should eat, based on our BMR - Basal Metabolic Rate. Mine was 1350 calories per day. We did not change our exercise habits, as the test was strictly for diet. At the end of the 6-month period, both groups lost about the same amount of weight, regardless of which plan they followed. I was on the low-carb and it was doable, but required a lot of work to keep both the carbs low and to stay within my calorie limit. In the long run, for me, it was not sustainable - I started craving things like oatmeal - lol. I found a balanced diet worked better for me. - 1/8/2012   2:38:23 PM
  • 30
    Boy isn't this the truth. Everyone is different and what works for you may not work for someone else. But Idoubt there is anyone who couldn't drink 2 shakes a day and a sensible meal and not loose some weight. It always makes me chuckle to hear the person say you will get your money back if in 2 weeks you haevn't lost some weight. LOL - 1/7/2012   10:02:41 PM
  • 29
    When someone new joins a team I am on, I always welcome them and say they have come to a GREAT SITE that works IF you work it. - 1/7/2012   8:36:20 PM
  • SBNORMAL
    28
    All of them are wonderful if you are following the plan. Most of us do not last to complete the task. - 1/7/2012   5:18:46 AM
  • 27
    Nicole - I was hoping that the message you sent was going to be that message. You are correct - any "diet" will work and any "exercise program" will work as long as we work the program. When the diet becomes the norm and the exercise program becomes the norm, then we have made a lifestyle change. In reality that is what we are aiming for whether we know it or not. - 1/6/2012   7:38:28 PM
  • 26
    This is an excellent article - really hits the nail right on the head! Losing weight IS that simple and consistency is the key. I, too, have tried many, many plans over the years but................................
    ............. This is a new year and I really think SparkPeople plan is the way to go, so I am going to commit to this way of life. - 1/6/2012   10:13:03 AM
  • 25
    I'll tell you, Spark dovetails so perfectly with what I have been paying for at Weight Watchers ... I mean, why pay even that much? I am on the Spark daily, even though I am at Free Lifetime. It is a really lively community. - 1/5/2012   5:23:16 PM
  • WHEELS54
    24
    Two simple rules: Avoid processed foods and exercise daily. - 1/5/2012   5:05:34 PM
  • 23
    So TRUE.........eat less, move more (for me, a lot more), be mindful. Somehow the timing was just right for me this time around! - 1/5/2012   4:43:49 PM
  • 22
    I definitely agree! Anything will work so long as you are committed to it and regularly exercise at least 30 minutes a day (whether broken up or at once), AND are mindful of what you're putting into your body at the same time (fruits/veggies and meat compared to frozen meals or fast food). - 1/5/2012   4:24:43 PM
  • ANDREAMETCALF
    21
    When it comes to diets I used a broad approach to the one I wrote in Naked Fitness... moderate carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In my experience with helping clients losing weight, most of us are doing a horrible job in eating fruits and vegetables... we eat carbs that have little or no nutrient value. Secondly we don't move the national average for regular exercise is only 30% and that's not DAILY LIKE OUR SPARK! - 1/5/2012   4:09:12 PM
  • 20
    THanks Coach Nicole - your simple no nonsense approach is such a blessing to us all - 1/5/2012   4:08:05 PM
  • 19
    I find if I put exersice in my life on purpose I get better results. I just got home from a nice long walk. I had to go to town and pay bills and I was gone for 3 hours. I got my bills paid and my cardio in. I am a big believer in consistency because the longer you do it the more it becomes a habit. - 1/5/2012   3:48:10 PM
  • 18
    This couldn't be truer! I have tried and failed at numerous diets over the years. I found that the extreme diets were just too extreme. I have since taken a nutrition class and read up on healthy eating and exercise. This time I am armed with knowledge and motivation. Rather than be extreme I am nurturing my body and listening to it. - 1/5/2012   2:48:55 PM
  • 17
    The most successful balanced diet plan is the one you actually follow.
    Nutrisystem worked for me because I followed it and after 3 months learned enough to only order for weekdays and then two months later went off of it.
    I had lost 46 lbs in those five months and lost another 31lbs using my own cooking in the following 5 months.
    So, whatever plan that actually provides nutritional education as a part of the plan so you can follow what you learn. Plans that advertise specific food groups or promote some drug/supplement which only allows you to lose weight while taking the supplement and doesn't teach you anything about what your daily diet should comprise will not work if you haven't changed the diet that brought on the excess weight to begin with.
    [NOTE: you'll notice I don't follow the commercialized definition of 'diet'. EVERYTHING we eat is our diet. so we either have a healthy balanced diet or we have a unbalanced / unhealthy diet - 1/5/2012   2:19:45 PM
  • 2012LKNGD
    16
    Consistency has always been a problem with me. Go on feelings, rather right or wrong, with my eating and motionless life! But as long as I have breath in this body, and I am able to change, I will not give up on myself. Need to make better choices and talk to myself everyday on being positive. Reminding myself that my past choices have not made me happy, and if I keep doing the same thing, those regrets will remain. Concentrate on doing what is right, and may be at first, feeling deprived or I have no energy, but press through that and have no regrets at the end of the day! - 1/5/2012   2:11:36 PM
  • 15
    Awesome, love this blog. - 1/5/2012   2:07:57 PM
  • 14
    100% true. Consistency is key. Someone may find jogging 5x a week works for them, someone else may find P90X works like a charm... do what you need to do and love to do to make it stick. If you hate it, you wont follow the program. - 1/5/2012   1:52:04 PM
  • 13
    No argument from me on this topic. A few years ago, I did lose quite a bit of weight over about 6 months time using a specific "healthy" eating plan. But injury and family issues caused me to give up at the time. Note that - I GAVE UP.
    This past year, I decided enough was enough... the injury had healed (though I notice I still tend to avoid trying some things for fear of re-injury) and I had put back on about 20 of the 50 I'd lost before. This time, it was a total lifestyle change - more walking, regular strength training, and eating healthy foods (but allowing myself to indulge if I really wanted to - knowing that I was choosing to do that, not just doing it and then beating myself up emotionally for it).
    It has been an amazing transformation. Sure, I'm a healthy weight now. Of course I am more active. But even how I face life in general is different - healthier attitudes; making better choices about things other than food and exercise. The very best part is when something out of the ordinary happens... Like this morning when I was talking with someone who observed the past year of my life. She said "you know, I think it's so great what you've been able to do this past year. And knowing that you did it in a healthy way... and you're so much happier all the time..." To have someone 30 years younger than I am take note of the changes in my life and tell me? Excellent feeling and great way to start my day as I enter the 3rd month of maintenance! - 1/5/2012   1:37:32 PM
  • THEMOTIVATOR1
    12
    eating less, moving more. great advice. But I simply worked hard to get where I wanted to be. Then the rewards take place - 1/5/2012   1:14:07 PM
  • 11
    In my younger days the diets I've been on have been to gain weight when I strength training. For that you needed more calories that contained more protien with the assorted amino acids. I could not consume all the food to acquire the calories needed for a heavy workout and resorted to supplements for added calories. They worked fine overall as their were no garbage fillers in them that you see today in many processed foods. I'm six foot tall @ 177 Lbs with a BMI of 24.2. Using the nutrient reports, I still find that the healthy foods I eat still do not meet the nutrient requirements for my work load.

    After a prolonged illness I'm back to using weight lifter supplements for the proper nutriton. The moral? Use the food tracker nutrition reports to monitor your required balance of the food chemicals to stay healthy. I'm looking forward to the cookbook. - 1/5/2012   1:12:27 PM
  • 10
    TRUE: We can succeed at any plan we choose! The key is consistency.

    TRUE: Lasting success can only be acheived by making those small changes we can live with.


    This makes sense. How many new diets have we tried and lost for the initial interest period only to backslide into old habits?
    - 1/5/2012   12:54:53 PM
  • 9
    What's not to agree with here? Consistency is definitely key to any weight loss effort. I've been pretty good (could be better, though) with exercise consistency. My diet, however, is the main culprit keeping me from being a 'Loser.' I'm working on that this year and I will try different strategies to keep me going. My old strategies weren't working--yet I kept trying them over and over. It's time to try something new! - 1/5/2012   12:39:37 PM
  • 8
    Totally agree. As so many people have said before, it's a lifestyle, not a diet. For me, the bottom line is to consistantly eat less and move more! - 1/5/2012   12:32:31 PM
  • 7
    Cycling to work works for me. I've been doing it for 7.5 months now. - 1/5/2012   12:24:47 PM
  • MOVING4WARD2012
    6
    Consistency is definitely the key. - 1/5/2012   11:21:10 AM
  • GRANDAD09
    5
    Very good blog! Consistency is the key, period! The only key to consistency is your own motivation, whatever that is. I have found that the accountability of Spark People is what I needed. I went from 192 to 167 in 4 months and lost 4 inches off of my waist, all from following the Spark People plan. - 1/5/2012   10:48:02 AM
  • BATISTE1
    4
    Well said, last year i developed artrithis in my lower back which came with severe pain. I was going to the gym 2-3 times a week, following a sensible diet. I had to do some therapy and stop the gym. Now for the new year i got Nicole 10 minute workout (i won it) and in addition my down time I play two cds and dance to that. I can follow that long term and be consistant. With these trend diets if it sound too good to be true it probably is. - 1/5/2012   10:38:52 AM
  • 3
    Heartily agree! Very good blog!

    I personally don't see anything wrong with trying out and following the latest diet or fitness program for fun and experimentation, as long as they are healthy programs. There is one, especially, you mentioned in your blog that I don't feel is healthy at all and just commenting on that, not meaning that you said it was healthy. Most of the others would work, at least for awhile. The only thing that really works though is consistently working on a healthy program and I know this is controversial but for me that boils down to eating less, moving more, forever. - 1/5/2012   10:18:57 AM
  • 2
    I know I personally get the greatest benefit from something more strict. Nothing crazy, but setting up my meals for a week makes me grocery shop for only those meals- meaning I don't buy as much unhealthy stuff. I use a combination of Spark meal plans and ideas from Fitbe (MSN's health page). The variety keeps it interesting and the structure keeps me honest. - 1/5/2012   10:15:12 AM
  • LJ1225
    1
    AMEN ... this certainly is the truth and well written. Thank you. Unfortunately I haven't found the consistency part yet to anything ... exercise, diet, healthy living, work, play, etc. But I must at least keep trying. My bad news is that I didn't lose any weight while my good news is that I didn't gain either! Hopefully I will find some consistency in my life sooner or later!?
    - 1/5/2012   10:07:30 AM

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