What you Need to Lose Weight

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I know this post is long, but hear me out.

One of the biggest things that has helped me get back on track is the fact that Matt is currently participating in a "Transform Your Body" competition at a local gym. As part of his participation he has a free gym membership and a personal trainer for 12 weeks. He's been on track for almost 4 weeks and has lost 25 lbs. (Yes, irritating, I know) However, this has become a huge lifesaver for me because I know I can't really keep sweets and snacks around the house and I can't justify cooking him a fattening meal. Its easier when I put him first. I may want pizza, but my husband needs a meal that will fill him up and won't be too high in calories. (More on this later)

As part of his participation he needed to attend a seminar at the gym. His personal trainer, who is also trained as a sports nutritionist, was putting on a seminar on nutrition and told him she wanted his wife to attend. At first I was hesitant because, I'll admit it, the people at the gym intimidate me. Most of them are very healthy and I just know they're judging me. Ok, ok, they probably aren't, but I'm still working on the self-confidence thing. I finally agreed to go because I thought they might give me some information on how to better feed my family and provide some fun recipes or insight that I hadn't previously considered.

The meeting was nothing like I had imagined. It started out with a manager introducing the 5 levels of fitness which are:
1. Nutrition
2. Supplements (along with a shameless plug to purchase their specific brand because it was the best)
3. Cardiovascular training.
4. Resistance training.
5. Professional Aid

I was annoyed that I was already trying to be sold something, not only their supplements, but also the idea that I needed professional help to be fit.

Then Matt's trainer stepped in and began with a quick true or false nutrition quiz designed to make class members feel stupid. One question was "Muscle weigh more than fat." The trainer proceeded to tell us that the statement was false because a pound of muscle weights the same as a pound of fat. Well, duh. A pound of anything weighs as much as a pound of anything else. We're talking about density and yes, muscle is more dense than fat.

Another question was "You can lose weight by doing cardio only." The trainer then again told us the statement is false. That is so not true. I lost weight for months by doing only cardio because I was scared of the weights. Is cardio only the best way to lose weight? No. Does it work? Yes. If all you can fit in is a walk around your neighborhood, you're still making an effort to be healthier and that will pay off. For each person that answered one of the trainers questions correctly she would give them a protein bar. (I made sure I got my hands on one of these so that I could check out the label and see what she thought I should be eating. Apparently this trainer's idea of a healthy food involves corn syrup, vegetable glycerine, sorbitol. maltitol, palm oil, and margarine)

The rest of the seminar consisted of complicated formulas to figure out your target heart rate and how many calories you should be consuming. I glanced around the room and saw a lot of confused faces. The trainer also mentioned what portions of our diet should come from carbs, protein, and fats but failed to mention complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, or the right kind of fats we should be eating.

The presentation then ended with an overview of an expensive website ($13.00 a month plus a $30 set up fee) where users can track calories in and calories out with the help of a calorie counter and a devise similar to a "body bug." There was a lot of interest and a lot of questions being asked about the website. I had to use some serious self control to not just stand up and say, "There are free websites out there that do the exact same thing!" However, I was a guest and my mama taught me to have manners.

It makes me sick how companies prey on the overweight, waiting to sell them the miracle pill, or exercise machine, or magic workout that will instantly make them thin and happy. They don't empower people to make the healthy changes themselves. Rather they tell people that they NEED all these products and services in order to be healthy.

So let me tell you what I wanted to tell my fellow classmates.

You don't need any supplements to help you lose weight. (I would however recommend a multivitamin but whatever one you buy is completely up to you.) If you eat food, real food, something that comes from the earth and not a lab, you'll be getting relatively good nutrition. You don't need expensive, chalking-tasting, highly processed protein bars.

You don't need a gym membership to lose weight. A gym membership can be a wonderful thing to have and I myself have one. But I believe that people can lose weight with a simple resistance band and some willpower. You can walk or run your streets (weather permitting). You can do jumping jacks until your heart wants to pound out of your chest. Don't let not having a membership stop you from taking steps to be healthy.

You don't need a personal trainer. These can also be wonderful help to you on your journey, but I've never had one and I don't know that I ever will. It simply does not fit in my budget. I believe that with some research you can figure out what exercises are right for you and you can see proper form for weight training in countless DVDs. Can a trainer help? yes. Do you need one to be "fit"? No.

I guess the thing that bothered me the most about the whole meeting was that I walked away feeling completely unmotivated. I wanted to be empowered. I wanted to be given tools that I could take with me to improve my life. I felt like all I was given was a list of things I needed before I'd ever be successful. I understand that gyms are businesses, they need to make money however, I believe a gym could be successful simply by empowering their members.

You already know how to be healthy. You know what foods, fundamentally are best for you. You know that sitting in front of the TV for hours is unhealthy and that going for a walk, swimming, or playing a basketball game is healthy. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you don't know how to be healthier. You know how, you just need to put your own common sense to use.

Note: This post is not a gym hating, personal trainer bashing post. I simply want you to know that there are other ways. The only thing or person you should depend on to make you healthier is yourself. Also note that I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist and I've had no formal weight loss training. I'm just a girl who has found a way to become healthier and I want to share it with you.


Lara said...

I completely agree! some gyms are completely greedy! I avoid supplements, i eat better. idk just drives me insane some times.

PlushBelle said...

This post is so freaking legit! :)

Celeste said...


Plump Nonfiction said...

People are so willing to believe anything they are told when they have a problem. Great Post!

journey said...

I agree with you. People need encouragement not the thought that there is even more that they have to do before they can get healthy! Good luck to your husband! It does make it so much easier if your significant other is trying to be healthy as well!

Jen said...

I heart you bunches, lol! I completely agree with everything you said. While I do have a gym membership, and a personal trainer, I know that I don't need them. And before I joined said gym, I went a visited to see if I felt hugely intimidated. I didn't! Actually, the workers there are great. I've never been pushed into buying/doing something I didn't want to do, and if I ever had a question about how to use something, they were really nice about form and what I should feel if I was doing it right. I had an experience like yours and that was why I refused to go back to a gym until my bf talked me into it. Thanks for sharing.

Jessie said...

Hi! Your blog is super inspirational...I just started tuning in...thank you for putting it all out there!

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled across your blog. Great blog, totally agree with this post. I remember going to a gym once and saying to myself after the first 5 minutes of this "personal trainer/nutritionist" pitch that if I did sign for the gym membership it wasn't going to be with him. I had already successfully lost 35 lbs on my own at home by eating right and exercising. Before he even asked any questions, he proceeded to tell me that people can't be successful losing weight at home (oh wrong you are buddy). It is said that anybody can call themselves a nutritionist and just mead out horrible information about you need to buy this $50 powder of whatever or you won't be healthy. Oh please!

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