Oh, the beginning of the year. For many of us, it signifies a renewal of promises we’ve made to ourselves. Maybe you said you would stop spending so much money on “stuff” and more on experiences. Maybe you said you would spend less time on social media and more time in real life. Or maybe you said this is the year you get healthier. Admittedly, this is something I personally focus on every year – improving my health. And why not? Our health is extremely important. Move more, eat better. Simple, right?
But health looks completely different for everyone. What I need may not be what YOU need. What works for you may not work for me at all. And what works today may not work a year from now! Nowhere is this truer than in the world of nutrition and wellness. I’ve spent the better part of 12 years trying to help people stay healthy or get healthy through nutrition education. And the biggest thing I’ve learned? There is no “one size fits all” approach. Sure, there are general guidelines – we all know them: eat your fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, cut back on bad fats, etc., etc. But is there one diet that is the best thing ever for all human kind? Nah. It just doesn’t exist.
As a result of our quest for wellness, we are losing the point. We throw billions (yes, billions!) of dollars into the weight loss industry. Even worse? TRILLIONS are thrown into the wellness industry. It’s great that people want to be healthy. What is not great are the gimmicks and fad diets that have become rampant, increasing those dollars thrown at that quest for a quick fix. And for what? Our waistlines continue to grow, our legs move less, and our bank accounts get smaller.
So, what’s the point? Simplify. Life is complicated. What we eat shouldn’t be. How we eat shouldn’t be. And getting healthier shouldn’t be a drain on our bank account or time. Am I saying that out of all the diets, programs and products out there, there is nothing good to be taken? Not at all. Many of them may have at least one good take away. But here are some things to ask yourself before buying into anything that can cost you not only money, but also time:
1. What is being sold? Do you have to continue to buy in (time or money) in order to be successful?
Note: This does not apply to someone you may be seeing to help you start a plan or program or a nutrition professional you choose to continue seeing. As a dietitian who saw patients regularly for follow-up, I tried to set my clients up for success from the beginning, with or without my future help. And if they chose to come back to see me for accountability, then that ball was in their court!
2. Who is selling it? Do they truly stand behind their service or product? Are they reputable? Do they have an ulterior motive?
3. How was the product or program developed? Is it science-based? Science helps us better understand our environment. It’s the movement forward toward a better understanding based on past and current research and principles. And nutrition is a science. Be sure the programs or products you choose are based on sound science.
4. How much time, effort and money are you willing to spend in order to be successful? Whether you are following a wellness trend or doing your own thing, this is always a great question to ask yourself. You get what you put in. But that doesn’t always mean the same thing for everyone. Baby steps may seem small but yield large results over a greater amount of time and usually cost less money!
Making an effort to eat better and exercise doesn’t have to come with expensive price tags, fancy food, crazy programs, silly supplements, cutting your favorites out, and spending loads of time (that, let’s face it, none of us have!) at the gym or just exercising in general. It can start with the SIMPLEST changes (see our 30 Days of Baby Steps for Your Health calendar). So simple, in fact, that you don’t even feel like you are changing anything. These changes create new habits (or break old ones), and these habits can make or break your goals.
So this month, as we celebrate the beginning of a brand new year, Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day, and Women’s Healthy Weight Day, let’s have a toast to simplifying. Real Food. Real Life. Real Simple.