It’s that time of the year when people start to frantically search for the latest diet or weight-loss program. Our feeds are dominated by tag lines and ads: “Beach body blast.” “Lean and tone for summer.” “Join my bikini body challenge.”
I envy those who ignore it — those happy in their skin. The truth is that many of us struggle with body image. We want to lose unwanted weight and look for quick fixes as summer inches closer. Even though a diet, supplement, challenge or accessory may seem like the answer, it’s not. There’s something better.
When trying to slim down for summer, most people turn to the newest diet trend. These diets entice us with promises of “losing that belly fat,” “magic foods,” “feeling better than you’ve ever felt,” and my favorite, “dramatic results.” Most of us have probably fallen for one or more along the way. With those kinds of promises, it’s hard not to give into them.
But fad diets aren’t sustainable. So many people hop from one to another or crash diet constantly. The quick-fix diet train is easy to spot when considering the following characteristics.
Of course, some medical conditions require special eating plans. In these cases, recommendations from your doctor or certified nutritionist should be followed. But if that’s not the case, fad diets can be harmful to your health. They often cut out key foods and could cause dehydration, weakness and fatigue, nausea and headaches, digestive issues, mood swings, and inadequate vitamin and mineral intake.
The answer is a balanced eating plan without omitting food groups. To do this successfully, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean meats and whole grains. More importantly, drink plenty of water and limit sugar intake. A balanced diet is a long-term, sustainable plan that leads to a healthy lifestyle — one you can stick to it and obtain better results.
Another scheme is the highly marketed realm of supplements, treatments and accessories. According to PRNewswire, the weight-loss supplement market is an over $80 billion industry. This is a result of high costs and target marketing. It seems every fitness influencer is offering a discount code to their “favorite” supplement company.
The truth is, they’re making money off you, and most likely from that company, by promoting products you probably don’t need. Please stop wasting money. This is the least effective thing to invest in when it comes to weight loss. No supplement is more effective than simple lifestyle changes.
You think you need a pre-workout because you’re exhausted? No, you need more sleep. You think you need green powder? No, you need to eat more whole fruits and vegetables. You think you need BCAAs? No, you need to eat more protein. You think you need fat burners? No, you need to be in a caloric deficit and stop overeating.
Purchasing weight-loss accessories can be just as wasteful. For instance, the waist trainer doesn’t help you lose belly fat. You will never achieve that result no matter how long you wear that uncomfortable corset. A waist trainer only makes you sweat more. You’ll lose water weight, not fat, and that water weight comes back the instance you rehydrate.
Another popular approach is the “summer body challenge” promising the results of “getting toned.” Six- and eight-week challenges are great for short-term commitments and results. The problem is that most people who have success with them almost always gain all the weight back as soon as they finish the challenge. You cannot do these challenges and sustain results or expect to achieve another fitness goal if you don’t keep going. The key is to adhere to a long-term program. Make a lifestyle change. Incorporate some fitness into your weekly routine consistently, for life.
Moreover, the term “tone” is a misunderstood word and a made-up marketing term. People often use the word to describe areas they’d like to change on their bodies (i.e. “I want to tone my arms”). I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t work like that.
First of all, what you mean by “tone” is to lose unwanted body fat in those areas. Second, it’s impossible to spot treat fat loss. Fat comes off where it comes off. Third, the “toned” look is achieved by having muscle in said areas. You must first build that muscle before the look is achieved. It’s a process, and you can’t skip over steps to get to the end goal.
To build muscle, you should be in a caloric surplus over a long period of time and incorporate weight training at least three days a week. This step is called bulking. During this period, the extra food you’re eating helps build the muscles you’re working on. During this time, you will accrue extra fat on the body — it’s necessary and temporary. This is the step most people want to skip because it can be uncomfortable. Well, get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you are dedicated to building muscle and achieving that “toned” figure.
After bulking, comes the cutting phase. You should be in a caloric deficit in this phase, consistently weight training at least three days a week and can add more cardio if desired. Being in a caloric deficit allows you to lose the extra unwanted fat and reveal the hard work, aka muscle, you’ve built over your bulk. This is the “toned” look. A single six- or eight-week challenge cannot promise this look unless you’ve put in work prior to the challenge.
Drop the fad diets. Stop purchasing costly supplements. No more short-term fitness challenges. It’s time to start eating a balanced diet and adopting a long-term, sustainable fitness plan. No matter how much a company or individual promises a “magic fix” to get fit quickly, it’s not true. There are no quick fixes for long-term results. There is only one answer: healthy lifestyle changes. You have one body and one life. Make the commitment to yourself.
About the Author
Meagan is an athlete, model, published author, certified personal trainer and interior designer. She is passionate about supplying people with the right tools and knowledge to reach their health and fitness goals. Meagan currently runs her blog/website Megs Body Shop and works professionally as an interior designer, providing people with healthy living spaces.