If you’re falling into this category, you’ve probably skimmed over tips on how to get in shape fast. Real fast. Almost too fast. So fast in fact that why the hell does anyone even go to the gym anymore? They can just take a pill and lose the weight.
There’s a lot of junk out there floating around in this industry. Fasten your seat-belt, kids; here are five things you need clarified.
1. Light exercise every other day.
Every single person who has ever heard a “health tip” has heard to “move more.” This is entirely true. It’s recommended that “light exercise” be done several times a week to maintain longevity. This is also great advice when you’re 80.
“Light exercise” is supposed to come off as supportive and sound easy. Because changing your life should be easy, right? No. This sensitive phrasing covers up the fact that if you want to make something happen with your body, you have to work hard at it. This particular verbiage sucks you into believing that you can put forth a little effort and it’ll go a long way. There are benefits to this of course, you know, as opposed to sitting. But the reality is there’s a point in everyone’s biological history that walking accomplishes only enough to get you from point A to point B every day until you die. And that’s a pretty lackluster way of going out.
2. Fat-loss pills.
If I had a nickel for every “lose weight, fast!” pill advertisement I’ve ever seen, I’d have enough money to start my own craptastic fat-burning pill manufacturing company. Then I’d wile my days away counting my money. So much money that I could skim by the Food and Drug Administration approval and make all the claims I want to, like: “Joel’s Fat-Eater 8000 is probably the most important thing in my diet besides food and water!” or “I don’t skip a meal without first gobbling my Fat-Destroyer-Jiggle-Assaulting-Weight-Melting Serum 2.0.”
The secret? If you’re buying them from a supplement store, they’re loaded with stimulants. Enough stimulants to force your body into getting off your ass and running until you puke because you physically can’t continue sitting on your ass. It won’t let you. Besides the jitteriness, focus, and unshakeable impatience, it convinces you you need more. It’s legal cocaine in smaller doses.
Unless you receive a pharmaceutical grade prescription from your doctor you can’t buy anything that will actually “burn fat.” All these supplement pills amount to is an indirect pathway; you increase your heart-rate with stimulants, and the longer your heart-rate stays higher than normal, the more energy your body uses. It’s induced exercise without the exercise. Adding exercise increases its efficacy. There’s your key word; adding exercise.
I can only spend a little patience on this subject because of how insane it is. It’s the embodiment of laziness. The textbook definition of cutting corners. It’s the packaged version of trying to rub a bottle and wish on a genie.
There are products out there that claim to help you “lose inches” from your waist, and “tone” stubborn fatty areas just by coating yourself with herbal goop and wrapping yourself in plastic. I’ll even highlight “It Works!” http://www.myitworks.com/shop/product/111/
Sure, it doesn’t claim to “burn fat.” What it does claim is that in 45-minute applications, you can “tighten, tone, and firm” and “minimize cellulite appearance.” You know what else tightens and firms and minimizes cellulite appearance? Time, and a constructive diet and exercise regimen in that time. The difference between these two methods is one of them can have near-permanent results, while the other lasts 72 hours and gives you a temporary tingly feeling.
You also want to know why diet and exercise is better than applying herbal Preparation-H to your body? Because I don’t think you running outside and eating fruit supports a thinly-veiled legal pyramid scheme.
4. “Weight-loss" shakes.
Meal-replacement shakes have been around at least 30 years, and in that time they haven’t gone away. If anything they’ve just found a way to make the shakes taste better.
The logic behind this product is if you drink the calories you need, you force yourself to not overeat by just… not eating. That’s like snorting cocaine to prevent you from smoking meth. Sure, you don’t smoke meth, but you’re still doing drugs.
Weight-loss shakes are a liquid form of sugar, protein, and fats. Some brands are better than others, either in taste, or in “cleanliness.” As in, some brands have a whole lot less sugar in them than others. Most people have no idea what’s in food, so they’re depending on the claim that a weight-loss shake will do exactly that; help them lose weight. The problem is they don’t teach you how to incorporate changes in your diet, nor do they explain exactly how they work. They’re a lot like the fat-burning pills we discussed earlier. You’re going around your elbow to get to your ass.
These shakes give you all the nutrients a meal should give you. With that, you’re expected to only have that shake, don’t eat, and you’ll begin to lose weight under the assumption that the shake is less junk than what you currently eat. However, most people can’t drink something and alleviate the activity of eating. Eating food is not only an enjoyable event, but a social one as well. When you drink one of these, it’s almost like having a liquid snack, despite the fact that it contains enough calories to sometimes replace whole meals. When you drink these and then eat, you’re doing the equivalent of eating twice.
Protein shakes are great if you’re on the go and can’t make a whole meal. They’re also great to get easily digestible nutrients post-workout. They’re not liquid miracles.
5. Eating in moderation.
WOAH! Joel, you just said that? You’re a personal trainer, health nut, and you’re telling me that “eating in moderation” is bunk? Yes, imaginary internet friend, I am definitely saying this.
It’s humorous because I tell people who ask for quick tips that you should “eat in moderation” and “stop when you’re full.” It’s a quick solution, because they asked me for a quick tip. It only works to maybe keep reinforcing discipline you already have. For those who don’t have the discipline to have maintained a constructive exercise and diet regimen, this tip works to jump-start better eating habits. However, take a look at this nifty example of food portions that are all the same number of calories.
This usually blows peoples’ minds when I help them learn what’s in food. Not only are all those foods not made of the same nutrients, but they’re also in wildly different portion sizes. I can eat a whole tupper-ware container full of chicken and rice for the same “calorie cost” as 3 tablespoons of peanut-butter. And if you’re like me and can eat peanut-butter with a ladle straight out of the jar, this is heartbreaking.
You can’t always trust portion sizes. Sure, I’ll give it credit where credit’s due; one slice of pizza is much better for you than eating the whole pizza. But as anyone knows when eating pizza, you can’t just eat one slice; you have to eat until you hate yourself.
When you know what’s in food you can roughly gauge how much of what foods you want to eat. A handful of almonds is going to do drastically different things in your body than a handful of chicken, or a handful of sweet potato. And a can of soda is so going to be different, despite the fact that it has as many calories as two tablespoons of peanut butter.
The end result of all this ranting is to continue hammering home that it’s not easy making drastic changes to your lifestyle. It’s like quitting smoking, drinking, or any other vice. It’s scientifically proven that it’s 100% easier not doing something than it is to do that thing. Take a little time to learn about what you’re eating and doing when you exercise; the information is out there and available. However, sometimes this can be intimidating. That’s one reason why I even have a job; to help you. So if you’re willing to spend money on shakes, wraps, and diet pills, maybe reinvest that money into a personal trainer you can trust that can help steer you in the right direction. Not all personal trainers are created equal, but neither are fat-burners and shakes.