We place a lot of pressure on ourselves as the new year rolls around to get off to a flying start with our resolutions and goals. For many people physical health and fitness is high on the list, if not at the very top, and the desire to overhaul our routines and improve ourselves is at its peak, along with our motivation to invest in these goals. This is very well understood by the multitude of weight loss and fitness organizations desperately competing for your attention at this time of year. To help you set off on the right foot for your health and fitness goals for this year, and the years to come, we’ve compiled a short list of things that can derail good intentions when selecting a weight loss or health program, and which will also enable you to discern and reject programs that won’t truly benefit you.

1.  Choosing A Program That Promises Fast & Easy Weight Loss Results

It may seem like an obvious one as it seems pretty easy to spot a dodgy or flash-in-the-pan weight loss fad, but each year companies find new and creative ways to market weight loss solutions. This may be through advertising a variety of new “scientifically” supported methods for losing weight that you’ve never heard of before, nor can you research the efficacy of the program simply because it’s so new! 

A review of numerous weight loss studies found effective diets for clinical weight management need to be established over years to decades for meaningful changes and weight management. The huge issue with the way in which we have come to understand weight and weight loss is that immediate results are attainable and that this is what we should aim for. Even though some short-term weight loss programs can provide markable weight loss, the reality is that these programs rarely support long-term change and focus too heavily on shedding kilos rather than overall sustainable health routines (of which weight loss is often a natural byproduct).

2.  Choosing A Program That Doesn't Encourage Exercise In Conjunction With Its Eating Plan, And Vice Versa 

To achieve weight loss goals and, most importantly, overall health and wellbeing, diet and exercise need to be considered synergistically. As we consume food as fuel for the energy required for each day’s tasks and challenges, our diets need to be suited to the level of activity we perform. Too little food or too much exercise will leave you fatigued, starving and struggling to follow through with goals. When diet and exercise are out of balance, your metabolism can even be affected, making it even harder to lose weight!

3.  The Program's Food Plan Is Too Restrictive Or The Meals Are Unenjoyable

Nothing makes a program more difficult than when the food plan is not only challenging but includes bland or unappetizing meals. Healthy eating that supports weight loss does not have to be boring nor too restrictive. Diets that are altogether too restrictive will most likely put you off your program, and it is far better to gradually adjust to a new diet or new ingredients rather than overhauling what you eat and hating it. 

Many weight loss programs encourage radically restrictive meals cutting out specific food groups and nutritious foods, but it has been found there is often insufficient evidence to support these restrictive diets and they are incredibly difficult to manage long term in a healthy way. Specific foods containing fats, salt and carbohydrates have been demonized by specific weight loss programs even though they may contain vital nutrients and may well be important components of a perfect diet, in the right balance.

 4.  The Program Relies Only On Weight Loss Supplements Or Untested Or Dubiously Supported Weight Loss Pills

In the search for fast and cheap fat-shedding solutions, people often opt for weight loss pills and supplements. While carefully considered supplement choices can support your health and fitness goals, no program should rely solely on supplements for weight loss. Specifically designed weight loss pills usually contain a form of appetite suppressant and caffeine to boost energy, but can negatively impact healthy bodily functions significantly .  

There are a variety of weight loss supplements on the market, particularly in the USA, and troublingly, dietary supplement firms do not need FDA approval prior to marketing their products. While the FDA will remove products once they have been investigated or found to be dangerous, supplement products on a store shelf should not automatically be assumed to be safe or effective. Dodgy weight loss supplements have even caused heart palpitations, stroke, seizure and even death in the past - so take great care when considering a weight loss supplement.  

 5.  Expecting Too Much From A One-Size-Fits-All Program

The best and most sustainable weight loss or health program is one that is designed specifically for you. Whether you create your own program or seek out some assistance from a health professional, a personalized program will give you the best shot at achieving meaningful change. The trouble with one-size-fits-all programs is that they don’t account for the limitations of each individual's lifestyle and what is achievable for them. This can lead to people dropping out and failing programs early on, and consequently feeling as though they will never reach their health goals. When considering different health programs, factor in your current routine and give yourself the leeway or time to adapt to increased exercise and an adjusted diet. It is incredibly important to be patient and gentle with yourself and aim for long-term healthfulness above everything, especially beyond minimizing your waistline. 

We’d love to hear from you! How have you adjusted your lifestyle to achieve your health goals?