You Asked: What's the Best Diet/Fitness Program for Weight Loss?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There are thousands of diet plans available these days, and there are just as many different workout programs. The trendy diets and workout plans of the past couple of years (think Paleo, Dukan, the 17-Day Diet, hCG, PINK, P90X, Insanity and more) will rise, peak and fall just like the popular diet and workout plans of the past. There will always be a new, trendy diet or workout plan. As different as they all may be, they all have one thing in common: They promise to be "the program" to help you take off the weight. But can they all be telling the truth?
As a health and fitness professional, the question I get asked most often revolve around my opinion on other diet or fitness programs.

What do you think about the [insert name here] diet?
Does [insert workout program/DVD] really work?
What's the best diet (or workout program) for weight loss?
My answer to these common questions may surprise you.
The real truth is that you can lose weight and tone up by following just about any diet or fitness program.
As simple and honest as that answer is, here's another truth: It will only work if you consistently follow the program exactly as it is prescribed. That's right: Any diet will work if you actually follow it. Any workout program will help you get results if you're doing it day in and day out.
Trouble is, few of us really do that. We get enticed by glossy infomercials showing how "regular people" just like us "finally" got the bodies of their dreams! They look and feel great now! They followed this plan and it worked and nothing else before ever worked for them! This has to be the answer! If they could do it, so can you!
It's enticing. It's believable. It's (mostly) truthful, too.  
But the reason those people became success stories featured in a magazine or on television isn't because there was something special about that particular diet or this specific fitness program. It was because, for whatever reason, this was the time that Martha from Florida finally stuck with any program long enough to get results.  It worked for her—just like other diets or fitness plans worked for others—because she simply did something consistently. She was highly motivated to stick it out this time.
The point I'm trying to make is that while any program can work for you, it will only work if you are actually following it. Raise your hand if you've bought a book, a DVD, a product "as seen on TV" to help you get fit or lose weight. Probably most of us have our hands up (myself included). Now keep your hand up if you actually followed the program you purchased exactly as it was outlined…for more than a couple days or a few weeks. Most hands are down, I'm guessing.
When it comes to weight loss, eating less and moving more are the keys. It really is that simple. But the consistency factor is where we tend to fall short. What works for your co-worker might not work for you if you're not as motivated as she happens to be. Or if your brother-in-law is transforming his body with some new workout, it's probably because he enjoys the structure of the workout enough to stick to it, which may not be the case for you. Which plan will work for you? Whatever plan you are motivated and excited about enough to stick with for the long haul.
Now comes my preach about lifestyle change. While just about any diet can work, the more restrictions you place on yourself, the harder it'll be to stick with, so it's best to make simple, healthy changes that you can live with. (Oh, and avoid weird or extreme diets that go against the widely accepted basic principles of nutrition.) In terms of exercise, I tell people that the only exercise that will ever work is something that you will actually do. I stand behind my recommendation to find something that you think is fun and also fits into your lifestyle. For most of us, extreme workout plans aren't the answer. Know yourself. The only plan that will ever work is one that you are willing to commit to.
This is what SparkPeople is all about: finding the eating and exercise strategies that work for you, and getting the motivation to stick with them. We give you the ideas, support and tips to get moving and eat better in a healthy way, but it's up to you to choose the strategies that appeal to you and put them into practice.
No single diet or fitness plan works for everyone—but everyone CAN get results if they are willing to put in the work to make it happen.
Do you agree? What works for you?

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Cycling to work works for me. I've been doing it for 7.5 months now. Report
Consistency is definitely the key. Report
Very good blog! Consistency is the key, period! The only key to consistency is your own motivation, whatever that is. I have found that the accountability of Spark People is what I needed. I went from 192 to 167 in 4 months and lost 4 inches off of my waist, all from following the Spark People plan. Report
Well said, last year i developed artrithis in my lower back which came with severe pain. I was going to the gym 2-3 times a week, following a sensible diet. I had to do some therapy and stop the gym. Now for the new year i got Nicole 10 minute workout (i won it) and in addition my down time I play two cds and dance to that. I can follow that long term and be consistant. With these trend diets if it sound too good to be true it probably is. Report
Heartily agree! Very good blog!

I personally don't see anything wrong with trying out and following the latest diet or fitness program for fun and experimentation, as long as they are healthy programs. There is one, especially, you mentioned in your blog that I don't feel is healthy at all and just commenting on that, not meaning that you said it was healthy. Most of the others would work, at least for awhile. The only thing that really works though is consistently working on a healthy program and I know this is controversial but for me that boils down to eating less, moving more, forever. Report
I know I personally get the greatest benefit from something more strict. Nothing crazy, but setting up my meals for a week makes me grocery shop for only those meals- meaning I don't buy as much unhealthy stuff. I use a combination of Spark meal plans and ideas from Fitbe (MSN's health page). The variety keeps it interesting and the structure keeps me honest. Report
AMEN ... this certainly is the truth and well written. Thank you. Unfortunately I haven't found the consistency part yet to anything ... exercise, diet, healthy living, work, play, etc. But I must at least keep trying. My bad news is that I didn't lose any weight while my good news is that I didn't gain either! Hopefully I will find some consistency in my life sooner or later!?