I get it. When we make healthy changes to our diet and start a new exercise program, we want to see results. Sooner rather than later. Next week not next month. And certainly before we go on that beach vacation 😉
As a society, we’re all looking for the ‘quick fix’.
An integral part of my job as a personal trainer is to educate my clients as to why these quick fixes don’t ultimately work.
Notice the word ‘ultimately’.
By ‘ultimately’, I mean ‘over the long haul’. As in for the rest of your life.
Sure, drastically cutting calories for a week or three might jumpstart your weight loss.
Likewise, joining an online exercise challenge that has you progressing from zero to 100 pushups, pull-ups, squats and crunches in 30 days might be just the incentive you need to head back to the gym.
But what happens at the end of the diet-cleanse-detox-challenge?
Do you maintain the weight loss? Do you stick to your new exercise schedule? Have you suddenly become the type of person who loves to plan and create healthy meals and brags about their PR’s in the gym?
Probably not. (But if you are, CONGRATS! You don’t need to read any further.)
Most of us go back to the exact same pattern of eating and exercising (or not exercising…) as before (and often times before we’ve even finished the challenge…). And sometimes we fool ourselves into doing it all over again because ‘it worked’
Note: if you’re trying the same quick fix over and over again, it’s clearly NOT working for you; it is, however, working for the company or person that you purchased the quick fix from…
That’s because quick fixes may be quick, but they certainly don’t ‘fix’ the underlying problem; our often distorted and unhealthy mindsets around food and exercise.
The best ‘quick fix’?
Starting tomorrow, make one small change in your diet or exercise routine. See if you can sustain it for a week. If so, make another small change in your diet or exercise routine. See if you can sustain both for a week. Repeat over and over and over again until the changes become habits.
It’s not sexy, I know.
But it works. Time and time again.
5 reasons quick fixes don’t work
- Quick fixes require extreme action. It takes a daily deficit of 750 calories to lose just 1 1/2 pounds a week. Products or programs that promise much more than this require severe caloric restriction. Similarly, going from 0 to 100 pushups/pull ups/squats/crunches requires you to perform pushups/pull ups/squats/crunches daily. More and more pushups/pull ups/squats/crunches as the challenge continues. If you can’t find the time or motivation to make small changes, how can you expect yourself to commit to the extreme action typically required by a ‘quick fix’? Not to mention the metabolic slowdown associated with a low calorie diet or the potential for injury that comes with such a poorly progressed program.
- Quick fixes prey on insecurities. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about fitness and nutrition. Put three specialists in a room and they’ll all tell you something different. It’s not surprising that many of us feel insecure about our ability to feed and move our bodies in a healthful manner. Quick fixes recognize that we’re unsure of ourselves and love to use emotionally charged ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos to convince us that they know our bodies better than we do.
- Quick fixes aren’t personalized. We are all unique. A fitness and nutrition plan that works for one person won’t always work for another. That’s why people pay the big bucks (wink, wink) to hire personal trainers and nutritionists to help them achieve their own, unique solutions. Quick fixes are often about making money for the company or individual selling them. Customization takes time and isn’t easily scaled up.
- Quick fixes don’t educate. I’m a huge believer in education. Want to really change people’s behaviour? Make them understand how current choices are affecting their health and keeping them from reaching their goals. Arm them with information. Explain the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. Sometimes these lessons need to be repeated several times before the message sinks in. I’ve yet to see a quick fix come with a manual or citation list.
- Quick fixes aren’t sustainable. While a quick fix might just jumpstart your new fitness and nutrition routine, by virtue of it’s extreme nature, it’s unlikely to be something that you’ll follow for years (or even months) at a time. Taking the time to ‘be your own detective’ and truly figuring out what works best for you is the best way to move towards a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain for the rest of your life.
Have you ever tried a quick fix diet or exercise program? Did it work? Did it help you move forward towards your health and fitness goals? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments section below.