Thursday, July 26, 2012

Decoding the Plans: Part four

Wow, part 4 already?! I keep thinking I am done and then someone comes to me with yet another plan that they are considering trying. This week, I will be discussing It Works Body Wraps and ViSalus.

Body wraps have been around for thousands of years, dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Body wraps at that time were utilized in body sculpting practices and primarily worked to stimulate circulation.

It Works sells body wraps and claim that they remove "toxins" from the body, resulting in inches lost. Unfortunately for them, there is no scientific evidence that this works. The toxins they speak of are undefined, making the validity of such this technique questionable.  Toxic accumulation is rare, as the liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials including metabolic wastes. I am all for letting my organs do their job. So, let's say that it *really does* remove toxins in the short time that you are wearing this wrap well. In that case, from everything I have learned, if toxins are too rapidly released without being safely eliminated (such as burning fat that stores toxins) they can damage the body and cause malaise.

"But, Motivational Mom, I have seen it work...", "I just invested a bunch of money into this business...", "I lost 6 inches in an hour..." the distributors of this may cry. (Note that pretty much any good review you see online is by someone who is trying to sell you on this product) Let me tell you that if you understood the way the body works, you wouldn't have bought into such a product. You need to learn about water retention, sodium, glycogen stores, hormones, and a bunch of other things that cause crazy weight fluctuations. While body wraps may temporarily tighten your skin, it's not permanent. You see, it's not really taking off fat. It's simply water weight, and water retention. So, basically, it's not reducing your WEIGHT at all, it's just reducing your inches. Water makes you bloat, feel fat, and slow. Ever see a wrestler drop 10lbs in a day? It happens but when they do, it's not fat or toxins - It's water weight and they feel like crap because it messes with their organs and dehydrates them. A loss like this is not likely to last.  A body wrap is also not going to shrink your fat cells in any permanent fashion. It's just like when you get dents in your ankles after wearing tight socks all day. They go away shortly after you take the socks off. 

All this wrap is doing is pulling water out of you so if you'd like to do them every 2 weeks or so, be my guest but I can tell you right now that it wouldn't be worth the money to me. Diet and exercise are FREE, people....FREE!

ViSalus Sciences sells a series of health pills and products that are supposed to help you live  a healthier and better life. Ranging from weight loss pills to anti aging pills, the system is claimed to be a proven solution to help everyone but yet is not sold in stores? A great solution that would make millions if sold to the public, but it's not available in stores? That’s interesting that even a health store like GNC or Vitamin World wouldn't carry such a miracle cure but let's keep going and see if we can figure out WHY this is the case. (Red flag! Red flag! Red flag!)

ViSalus, like other MLM (Multi Level Marketing) companies, asks you sell, sell, sell. Not only do you have to sell, but if you don't sell for a month, you can't continue. Be prepared to buy extra products just to stay in the game when you have no buyers.  One of my friends got involved in this company because of the promise of a BMW for their top performers.  If you read the small print, you will see that all you get is the right to go lease a BMW yourself and be paid $600 a month towards your lease. The caveat being that you must remain in the program at that level to keep it. Be prepared for this financial trap. Let's go with the scenario that you get to the regional director level and get to pick any BMW up to $600 a month. You are limited to a 3 series as the other ones cost more or require lots more money down, even though they show the 6 Series on the site. (Another red flag anyone?) If the following month you don’t make it in sales, you must pay your own payment. The better part is that if you don’t really qualify for a BMW lease, you can’t even get one, since the lease agreement has nothing to do with ViSalus Sciences but rather is with you and BMW. Visalus Sciences simply pays the $600 monthly allowance as long as you make them a ton of money but what happens if you quit or have to move? Well ViSalus Science has nothing to do with you, and therefore enables you to continue carrying your own payments unless you sell. There is one more element to this and its quite simple, you must sport all types of advertising for them on your car and there are many restrictions as to which car since they want others to believe in the myth. ViSalus Sciences executives do drive BMWs because of YOU selling their products, and are paid by the corporation, not by some product scam.

I think it's safe to assume that you probably learned enough to not want to get involved with the company as a distributor but what about their products - Do they work? Sure, they do. With their products, you will be taking in presumably less calories than you were before and since they ask you to exercise, it's a simple calories in/calories out calculation. Anything in conjunction with diet and exercise is going to help you to lose weight. The thing is, if the products were really any better than other brands, they could sell them retail and make a fortune. Anytime a product has a whole complicated distributorship network, that means the network is the real source of income because the product isn't special enough to make it in regular retail. These products probably aren't bad, but they're not much different from Slim-Fast or other meal replacement shakes that you can buy for half the price at your Wal Mart or Giant Eagle. (Note: For my opinion on Slim Fast, click here)

When you buy it retail, you can quit if you don't like it and no one will know or care, unless that cute stockboy chases you down in the store to see why you aren't buying this week. When there's a distributor involved, you are going to have to deal with phone calls or even visits where they'll make you explain why you don't want it anymore. That is such an embarrassing and unpleasant thought where you are going to have to explain that you lost your job or you're moving or you're trying for a baby, or something personal like that. Sorry but I don't think anyone is going to want to explain their life story to their powdered shake distributor....

My opinion - steer clear. And for the last definitely not the last time, DIET AND EXERCISE = Success!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Decoding the Plans: Part three

Time for part three of my blog about the workout/diet plans that are out there. The past 2 posts have focused a lot on food plans, but this one will highlight three popular workout programs out there. I have done all three so I can provide my personal thoughts on these rather than researching them. Today's three picks are the 10 Minute SolutionJillian's 30 Day Shred, and P90X.

The 10 Minute Solution is a series of DVDs that are designed to be used in conjunction with the Special K Challenge. I can see why people would choose this plan because "heck, it's only 10 minutes" and "Special K is pretty tasty - I suppose I can handle eating it twice a day" What is important to remember is that each DVD contains 5 different ten minute segments, which you can do individually or mix them up for a 50 minute workout. It's not *just* 10 minutes.

As for eating Special K twice a day, I can tell you that I lasted a whole two days on this plan before I was ready to eat my own arm. It's just not enough calories. Since that time, I can see that they have added in a collection of protein shakes and bars but honestly, I wouldn't try it again because a plan that asks you to eat processed food like that just doesn't seem ideal to me.

The cost seems low with just $4.99 per DVD but with 45 DVD's available and a Wii game to boot, it could really add up quickly. I would steer clear of this one if you are looking for some real results.

Any Biggest Loser fans out there?! I am a HUGE fan of this show, though the past few seasons haven't been as good as previous ones due to stupid drama. I do adore watching the transformations of these people - both physically and on every other level as well. It's amazing. Due to my love of the show, I tried the 30 Day Shred DVD that is lead by Jillian Michaels. At this point, she has added quite a few other DVDs to her lineup but this one is still a favorite of mine.

There are three different levels. The idea is that you start with level one and move to the next level after 10 days and then on to the next 10 days later which is supposed to help you "lose 20 pounds in 30 days". Losing that amount of weight was not my experience but if you are a non-exerciser and a lot heavier than your goal weight, I suppose it is possible...maybe...if you *really* reduce your calorie intake too. Suffice it to say that, in my opinion, this workout isn't enough for the quick weight loss that it claims but it is a GREAT option for beginners.

I think that if you would like a nice introduction to workouts, this would be a wonderful way to get started. Then, you can move on to the B.A. workout that is the next one I'll be reviewing...

P90X is just one of the many programs offered by Beachbody. P90X is a collection of 12 workouts. In addition to the workouts, there is also a detailed 3-phase nutrition plan, specially designed to help you lose fat; a fitness guide, and a calendar to set your workout goals, track your progress, and stay motivated. I'm sure by now you probably know someone who is a Beachbody coach as they seem to be popping up all over the place, especially with Facebook being such a great marketing tool. Have you taken a look at their before and after pics? Here are just a few that I found in a cursory internet search:

So, does it work? Heck yes, it does. Some of my weight loss can be attributed to P90X and its program. The DVD's are designed to be done in a specific order which confuses your muscles and keeps them growing while shedding fat. The nutrition plan is realistic in that it takes a lot more into account than some plans that just say "eat 1200 calories a day and work out for an hour". On this plan, you actually get to eat - and good food too!

One of the things that I found challenging about this program was that there are a few workouts where you are supposed to use a chin up bar. I don't own one and I don't have a good place in my house for one. Instead, I had to use resistance bands for those parts and never really felt like I was getting the maximum workout.

P90X IS a lot of work. You will be pressing play on your DVD player six days a week. The shortest workout is about 55 minutes and the longest is 90 minutes.  The cost is high but cheaper than hiring a personal trainer (Ohhhhhhh, maybe I shouldn't say that - hate to drive away clients...) so if you are REALLY committed to weight loss and feeling better in your skin, this one is worth every penny.

I'll give a quick shout out here to my friend and a great inspiration for me, as well as others. Go visit Fit With Jo if you want to give this one a try.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Decoding the Plans: Part two

This is the second post in my series of blogs about workout/diet plans. Today, I will be reviewing the following three plans: Sensa, HGC, and  Paleo.

Sensa sells these shakers of a powdery substance that you are supposed to sprinkle on your food before consuming. It is supposed to work by triggering your "Sensory Specific Satiety" and making you feel full faster. That means Sensa is supposed to enhance smell and flip your "I feel full" switch sooner, so theoretically you will stop eating sooner, thus eating less and losing weight. Wow, that sounds too good to be true! Do you remember what your Mama used to tell you "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is..." This is definitely accurate for this product.

In doing my research for this product, I discovered that the developer of this product, Dr. Hirsch, claimed there was a peer reviewed study supporting the claim that subjects lost over thirty pounds using Sensa (versus the control group that lost only 2 pounds). The claim is that this study was peer reviewed by the Endocrine Society. Well, guess what?! The Endocrine Society says they did not review the study. On ABC’s 20/20 news they stated that, “they were surprised and troubled by the promotional nature of his presentation”. In fact, none of the internal “studies” are confirmed by any respectable body.

In addition to being liars about their study, they admit on their website that the following side effects are possible:

• Upset stomach
• Dizziness
• Hives
• Gas
• Loose bowels
• Difficulty breathing
• Dizziness
• Swelling

Sorry y'all, but this is one of which I am going to have to give a big fat "NO"! Don't think about it. And certainly don't waste your money to try it.

Next up is the HCG Miracle diet. HCG stands for Human Choriogonadotropin, the hormone produced by pregnant women in the early stages of pregnancy. This diet is based on research that suggests a small, daily hCG injection (approx. 125 IU to 200 IU) results in a weight loss of 1 to 2 lbs per day, and often more, when accompanied by a very low calorie diet of approximately 500 calories.

I'm pretty sure you are seeing a HUGE red flag already but just in case...

<<<when accompanied by a very low calorie diet of approximately 500 calories.>>>

You've got to be kidding me. Anyone who eats 500 calories a day is going to lose weight and more than likely, their metabolism, and pretty much guaranteed, their mind. And to top it off, the HGC diet recommends that you do not exercise while on this plan. <Insert insane amounts of laughter here> Like you'd have enough energy to work out anyway... You'll be lucky if you can get out of bed and get dressed on just 500 calories a day.

Waste of time!

From the Paleo site: "The Paleo Diet, the world’s healthiest diet, is based on the simple understanding that the best human diet is the one to which we are best genetically adapted. It is supported by documented scientific evidence and by real-life improvements, even triumphs, of people winning their personal health battles." You may have heard it referred to as "the caveman's diet" and from everything I have read, that seems to be accurate.

First of all, Paleo is not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle.  Like becoming a vegetarian, this "diet" takes a huge amount of commitment to a new way of looking at food. Basically, if the cavemen didn't eat it, neither should you. That is going to cut out all sorts of processed foods, especially sugars. Your fat intake may increase as well as your fiber but that will give you the "I'm full" feeling that keeps you from snacking during the day and evening. 

This paleolithic way of eating is 100% correct in the fact that we should be eating more unprocessed foods, similar to the way our ancestors ate. Truthfully, I don't think we have to dive into tons of research to draw the conclusion that hunter-gatherer diets are healthier than takeout pizza and cans of Coke. This is not rocket science, right? My only issue with this plan is their disdain for grains and dairy. In my opinion, both have nutritional values of which I am not willing to give up at this time.

 There doesn't appear to be much evidence that you will lose weight on this plan, but with anything, if you build a “calorie deficit”by eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max, or burning off extra by exercising, you should shed some pounds. How quickly you lose and whether you keep them off is up to you.

I've been listening to tons of speakers through a Real Food Summit that has been going on this week at this site and I have to admit that I am intrigued.  I will take 2 weeks at some point to try this out and will report back to let you know what I find.

So, for this one, stay tuned. I'm not as turned off as I thought I would be initially....


Monday, July 9, 2012

Decoding the Plans: Part one

This is the first of a series of posts where I will be reviewing the workout/diet plans out there to help you decide what is right for you. In this post, I will be talking about three of the most popular ones out that are very diet focused: Atkins, Slim Fast, and Weight Watchers

The Atkins Diet is a popular diet that focuses on reducing your intake of carbohydrates in favor of consuming more protein-rich foods. It requires strict attention to the amount of carbohydrates in the diet, particularly during the first few weeks. I've heard it joked about saying "Have a double bacon cheeseburger but hold the bun".

You go through four “phases” of the Atkins diet, starting with very few carbs and eating progressively more until you get to your desired weight. Keeping carbs at bay isn’t as simple as saying "No" to sugar and baked potatoes. You’ll keep acceptable foods lists handy and do a lot of counting. In phase 1, for example, you are allowed 20 grams a day of “net carbs” <<<pull out the food list>>>, 12 to 15 of them from “foundation vegetables” <<<pull out another list>>> high in fiber. But as for fat, you don’t even have to trim it off your steak.

By reducing your carbohydrate-intake, your body will enter a process called ketosis. Ketosis is the state in which your body burns fat as fuel. Dr. Atkins also says that ketosis will affect insulin production, which will prevent more fat from being formed. He also says that once you enter ketosis and your body begins efficiently using fat as fuel, your cravings for carbs will subside and you won't miss the foods you are doing without.

Sounds great, right? Ohhhhh, so WRONG! The build up of ketones can cause a myriad of symptoms. The Atkins Diet acknowledges that drastically cutting carbs in the early phase of the program can result in some side effects, including:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
That doesn't sound too pleasant, does it? And for those "bacon cheeseburger, hold the bun lovers"... sorry folks, but eating foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which are now established as major culprits in heart attacks and strokes, isn't a good idea at all. This diet plan is not a safe one, in my opinion and in the opinions of many leading medical professionals.

Remember those old commercials... "A shake for breakfast. A shake for lunch. And a sensible dinner"?!

I thought they were B.S. back then and I still do. As I sit here trying to come up with *something* good to say about Slim Fast plan, the only thing I can come up with is that it is mind-numbingly easy to follow. A healthy shake for breakfast, one for lunch, and a healthy dinner, and a couple of small snacks in between - doesn't get much easier than that, does it?

Nonetheless, the Slim Fast diet pretty much encapsulates what's wrong with the state of mainstream dieting and weight loss today. In a Slim Fast shake, the four main ingredients are skim milk, sugar, fructose, and cocoa. In other words, milk, sugar, sugar, and sugar. Other ingredients include various vegetable oils, emulsifiers, and a vitamin blend.They contain about 150 calories each so with 2 shakes, a snack and a sensible dinner, you are looking at 1000-1200 calories a day into your body.

Of course, if you limit yourself to 1200 calories a day, you will lose weight but you'll also lose muscle mass and the will to live. Ok, maybe that last part is an exaggeration but on that amount of calories, you ARE going to be hungry - *really* hungry. Assuming you've got excellent willpower and can keep from eating, you should also know that these is so much sugar in these shakes and so little fiber, your blood sugar levels are going to go through the roof. Can you say "crash and burn" because that is what you are going to do....

Nope. This plan doesn't fit the bill for anyone. Sorry. Not going to waste any more of my precious time on this one.

 Weight watchers is a popular program that specifically assigns food values, in the form of points that are given for different types of foods. You are assigned a maximum amount of points based on your height, weight, activity level, etc that you can eat throughout the day. In order to be successful, you are supposed to aim for this amount of points or less each day. The points system works very similar to counting calories, so it is similar to that in the fact that it is tracking energy in versus energy out. The one major difference is that it helps you to make better food choices by assigning large number to the unhealthy/white flour/sugary items and allows you to eat tons of fruits and vegetables throughout the day for little or no points.

The Weight Watchers plan tries to cut down on the number of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates are your first energy source for anything you do whether it is walking to the mailbox or running a full-fledged marathon. This plan works so quickly at the beginning because when you cut carbohydrates from your diet, your body will begin to use an alternate form of energy. This second form of energy that your body uses after carbohydrates is the fat that is stored in your muscle and tissues.  Once you begin using fat as the main energy source, this is where you begin to burn fat calories and start losing excess fat and lose weight.

If you learn HOW to eat while on the Weight Watchers program, you CAN maintain your weight afterward. It's not ideal for the people who just want to "diet" for a short time and then go back to eating the way they did before. 

I am actually a pretty big fan of this program. My only issue with it is that they don't promote exercise much except to say "Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day". As I have wrote about in other blogs, in order to keep the weight off, you MUST incorporate weight training into your routine. Muscle boosts your metabolism and makes you burn more calories in every single activity you do.

In my opinion, this is a great program for a newbie in the world of healthy eating. It really does start to teach you more about what is healthy for your body and what is not.  If you decide to start this program, just be sure to pair it with an appropriate workout plan.

More to come in my next installment of "Decoding the Plans"

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's my birthday and....

I'm eating cake! Not just any cake either...a HOMEMADE cake. Since I have been trying my hardest to adhere to the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge, I thought it would be best to avoid the bakery cakes and mixes and go from scratch. I know most people wouldn't *want* to make their own birthday cake but I'm a control freak little bit different than your average girl, so it's all good.

As I am sitting here, writing this blog, my cake is baking. I followed the whole wheat chocolate cake recipe found on the blog. I am not a fan of cream cheese, which is what she suggests for the topping so I searched online for a different icing recipe and stumbled upon this one.  Sounds fabulous, right?

So, happy birthday to me. At the ripe old age of 35, I have finally figured out how I want to live my life and it's as cleanly and as healthily as possible. Here's to another 35 plus!