April 9, 2014

In this week’s Woman’s Weekly there is an article about TV personality Madga Szubanski and her second attempt to lose weight on the Jenny Craig program. The Jenny Craig program is designed to cause weight loss by restricting calories (down to 5,000 kJ = 1,200 calories) based around pre-packaged meals.

Let’s start with the big picture. Australia and New Zealand face an out-of-control obesity pandemic with no effective solutions coming from our governments to change national behaviours or our fattening food environments. We applaud other commercial weight loss programs and celebrities like Magda, despite the criticism from the experts. Yes, we have some criticisms too – see below.

Magda said, “I’m just trying to have a go, to change what I have. And perhaps I can change some attitudes along the way. Everyone has some sort of issue. Mine is just very visible.”

This is the second time that Magda has become the celebrity endorser for Jenny Craig. She lost weight and put it back on again. Although she was paid a huge amount of money (estimated at $850,000) to lose weight she put most of it back on again. By what she said, it seems that she was not ready or committed to change. She said, “Last time, I was thinking, ‘I’ll try this, if it feels too weird, I can always put the weight back on’.”

Here are four lessons:

  1. Jenny Craig approached her offering a lucrative endorsement. The article does not suggest she approached Jenny Craig asking, “I want to lose weight. Can you help me?” Behavioural experts know that for success there needs to be “readiness to change”. Healthy Inspirations members approach us when they are ready and this increases their success rate.
  2. We’ve learnt that if a woman wants her sister to lose weight and buys her a membership at Healthy Inspirations, the chances of the sister succeeding are not as high as if the sister pays for the program herself. Getting it for free seems to be associated with a lower commitment to the change process – especially in the long term. Magda did not pay. She was paid!
  3. People like to think that weight loss is an event. They see rapid weight loss by movie stars in magazines and think, “I too should be able to lose all my excess weight in a few short weeks.” Then it will be gone and I can continue with the old lifestyle that made me put on the weight in the first place. Clearly this is nonsense. At Healthy Inspirations we work one-on-one with each member to develop a sustainable food plan that suits their lifestyle, increases their health and wellbeing, and helps them achieve their best weight as a result.
  4. Pre-packaged meals are expensive, but might make the weight loss journey easier for some, as they don’t have to think about what they are eating. But two problems occur. Some people get bored with the meals and sick of not being able to eat the same meal as their family. Then, if they are successful losing weight, they may not have developed the food skills necessary to sustain their weight loss. At Healthy Inspirations we work with members to develop and evolve their individual food plan. 

Now here’s the biggest problem about most diets and weight loss programs. Most are based upon the simplistic model of “energy balance” or “calories in versus calories out” or “eat less and exercise more”. Everybody of the same size, age and food preferences goes on the same calorie level.

We’ve learnt that “One Diet Does Not Suit Every Body“.  Specifically, we all vary in how much carbohydrate our body can tolerate per day, per meal and per snack. It varies for each person. If we exceed our body’s limit, we will have difficulty accessing our own stored body fat for energy. If we do this two bad things will happen:

  1. We’ll get hungry! Hunger is the enemy of weight loss – especially in the long term. How many people go on diets on the 1st January only to give in within days?
  2. If we simply restrict calories, without regard to our body’s individual carbohydrate tolerance, our body will not let us access our own fat stores. The body will actually start to eat up lean muscle stores and this leads to a reduction in metabolism. Go back to eating as we did prior to the diet and our weight bounces to a new high.

Although Healthy Inspirations centres offer short term 12 week introductory programs, the most successful members are those who take the long term view from the start and enrol for at least 12 months. This removes the pressure to lose weight too fast and lets them work over time with the Health Coach to develop and fine tune their food plan so that it becomes habitual and sustainable.

Added to this is the resistance-based exercise program and protein snacks to help members maintain their lean muscle tissue as they lose weight. Not only does this help protect against weight regain, it has a range of health benefits and gives them a more toned firm body.

We applaud Madga for her views and wish her every success.

If you’re reading this and you wish to lose weight, we invite you to visit a Healthy Inspirations centre for a free consultation before you decide how you’ll do it. 

Source: Australian Woman’s Weekly April 2014