Setting Realistic Expectations
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image by Lee Carson

I have another new nickname. I call myself Slow Burn.

It’s because my methods are slow and steady. I never promise anyone quick weight loss or dramatic overnight transformations. This can be a challenge when competing with the unrealistic expectations set by weight loss TV shows and advertisements for fat burning pills, fad diets and weight loss centers.

Clients say they understand that when we first meet and they start their programs. Yet sometimes, at that first weigh in, she may step on the scale and sigh that she’s “only lost 3 lbs”. Meanwhile I want to jump for joy, “That’s awesome, you lost 3 lbs!”.  In her mind the weight should come off faster, she should see these dramatic results showcased on reality TV.

Despite its name, “reality TV”, the results and process are anything but realistic.  Participants are exercising 6-8 hours per day and eating a very low calorie diet.  They are removed from family, friends, work and the responsibilities of normal life.  The reality is very few participants actually keep all the weight off. They leave the show ill equipped to make fitness part of their normal routines and the thrill of competition has long worn off, leaving motivation waning.

Fad diets and most commercial weight loss programs are no better. Most involve severe calorie restriction with little to no exercise. Diet foods with fat removed and sugar pumped up do more harm than good. Quick fix programs lead to Refeeding Syndrome and the vicious cycle of gain and loss.

I say slow and steady wins the race. The first 30 days of a program are about making small but powerful changes:

  • Establish the habit of daily and purposeful exercise.  Even 5 minutes a day can make a difference.
  • Take a multivitamin and Omega Fatty Acids. Think of them as an insurance policy to cover gaps in your nutrition as you work towards a more balanced diet.
  • Drink more water and eliminate calorie containing beverages like soda and coffee drinks. Being properly hydrated and eliminating empty calories can make a huge difference in not only how you look but also how you feel.
  • Eat breakfast. You need fuel to start your metabolic fire in the morning. It can be small and quick but eat something when you get up.

Losing 2-5 lbs in the first month of a starting a fitness journey is a fantastic start. Those first 30 days of eating better and moving more also brings benefits beyond the scale, benefits you won’t get with fad diets. With a few small changes you will have more energy, sleep better and feel happier.

I will never promise anyone that they will lose “30 lbs in 30 days” or be “2 dress sizes smaller by Valentine’s Day”. I believe you are better and smarter than that.

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