03 April 2008

There aren't many diets I haven't tried, Nutra System, Jenny Craig, Weightwatchers, Southbeach, and I even got caught in the Susan Powder craze (ok, maybe craze is a little strong). I never tried DealAMeal, but I was found Sweatin' to the Oldies once or twice. This list doesn't even count the hundreds of "DIY" efforts where I followed (or tried to follow) "best practices" of the day (no-fat, low-carb, low-fat, no-carb - geez). Though I am not a proponent of those that want you to eat pre-packed "food", I do recognize that even those programs will work and have some value. Today I thought I would share my thoughts as an unofficial diet critic:

*Nutra System and Jenny Craig are all about convenience. If you don't like to cook or don't have time to cook, and are not overly particular about taste (not meant as a critisism no matter how it sounds), then these programs are meant for you. You select all your meals in advance and everything comes pre-packaged (ingredient control) & pre-measured in individual servings (portion control). It does tend to limit your ability to eat out, which is not always a bad thing. I have met a restaurant or two willing to nuke the food and bring it to you on a plate so you can enjoy yourself and not look like a fool eating out of a carton.

*Southbeach is the ultimate in learning about sugar addiction! The program is broken into Phases - Phase 1 you are essentially prohibited from eating ANY sugar (bread, fruit, etc.). Phase 2 you begin adding in complex sugars (i.e. high-fiber, low sugar foods) and by Phase 3 you are essentially just following a low-fat, portion controlled diet. There is really nothing Southbeach about where you end up, just where you begin. Phase 3 is just about living a healthy lifestyle, eating heart healthy foods, and so on. I think it is a great learning experience and everyone should try this once in their adult lives!

*WeightWatchers has had many iterations (as have the others I guess), some of which used to require that you eat Liver - ick! But the new generation of WeightWatchers is a fancy smancy way of counting calories...based primarily on the age old concept ...

If your daily caloric intake <> your daily calories burned ... Weight Gain

The upside to WW is that you can eat whatever you want, you just have to manage your daily points. You can use more than 1/2 your daily points on pizza or (if you are like me and it is all about volume) then you can make the most of EVERY point and enjoy many 1-point tasty treats like VitaTops! Points are centered around fiber, generally the more fiber the fewer the points. Fiber also makes a nice proxy because foods higer in fiber generally tend to just simply be more nutrituous. You need the Total Calories, Total Fat and Total Fiber to calculate the points value, so eating out can sometimes be tricky (if faster food is your thing, there are a lot of resources for obtaining those values). WW does offer some tricks to help you estimate - palm of your hand is about 4 ounces of meat, your thumb is about an ounce of cheese, and your fist is about a cup of rice/cereal or whatever. I do think this is the most flexible plan out there.

*Richard Simmons, Susan Powder and countless others are all about motivation. They are essetially selling very simmlar concepts to WW in that lowering your caloric intake and increasing your physical activity can result in weight loss.

What each of these plans (and countless others) are really selling are different tools and strategies (built around fewer calroies, no matter how it is worded) to achieve your desired weight loss goal. At the end of the day you just need to determine which strategy is a fit for you. There really is no cure, there is no easy answer....fewer calories, more exercise - that's it (you can skip the exercise, though I don't recomend it for overall health reasons and you'll have to eat even fewer calories)! I will be tempted to try out the next miracle diet and I will be sure to give you my 2-cents!


Carrie said...

Liver! Ew! That reminds me, have you seen these old WW recipe cards? http://www.candyboots.com/wwcards.html
So nasty. My favorite is Fluffy Mackerel Pudding.

hannah m said...

This is funny. A couple of weeks ago I made the South Beach Ricotta dessert--I was craving it. Still yummy.

And thanks you to you I was introduced to the deliciousness of the vitatop--gotta get those into my freezer soon. I've been craving those, too.

I am most certainly NOT craving liver nor the fluffy mackerel pudding, thank you very much!

AmyK said...

Those cards are a crack-up! Sooo nasty! What were they thinking?! I NEED VitaTops Hannah, so let's place an order soon...will make room in the freezer!

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