Science Daily reported on a University of Missouri study comparing Weight Watchers to gym membership weight loss programs. While the WW participants lost about 5% body weight, this was mostly comprised of lean muscle mass. The gym participants, in contrast, did not lose much weight, but did lose significant amounts of intra-abdominal fat. While this makes the gym program sound more successful, they researchers also found that without support, the gym participants quit, while the support of meetings from WW kept it’s participants in the program.
“These results imply that overweight, sedentary women joining a fitness center with the intent of weight loss or body fat change will likely fail without support and without altering their diets,” Ball said. “Nearly 50 percent of people who start an exercise program will quit within six months.”
“This study attempted to discover what takes place in the real world when overweight women attempt to lose weight.” Ball said. “I think the outcome of the study speaks volumes about the necessity for a multi-pronged approach in order to lose weight, body fat and gain health benefits. I hope that this will be the first in a series of studies investigating commercial weight-loss programs.”
I undertook my weight loss and fitness program on my own. Quickly, however, I accepted the partnership of working with my trainer as a key component in my success. If a multi-pronged approach is necessary, I’m wondering if the gym’s offering “weight loss” programs (hello 24-Hours Fitness’s Biggest Loser program!!) should try to build a social/team-building component into their gym offerings? It seemed to work for the tv show (where they have teams competing). Or suggest that people combine gym memberships with a social program like WW?
I’ll admit I found the food part of the weight-loss program at 24-Hour totally worthless; though I know other people benefitted by it. They made me do a whole “I will eat these foods/ I will not eat these food” inventory, and asked a whole lot questions. I told them I am allergic to cow’s milk. Their “food plans”? Had milk at each of the 6 meals/day. And a note: “You mentioned you had a food allergy. Please make adjustments to this to accomodate your allergy.”
So after saying: I will not eat milk, cheese, cottage cheese. I am allergic to milk, cheese, cottage cheese. What did they do? Told me to eat them and “make changes as I see fit.” Great plan, guys!
It was also a plan that relied heavily on their own products (not that that’s a surprise) and convenience foods that I was eliminating (instant white rice?). It did not emphasize clean, simple foods. While this was probably because they were aiming their service at people for whom these were still going to be big changes, it was the most frustrating part of the program for me.
However, when I belonged to WW several years ago, I did not find that program any more helpful.
I’m just saying, that eating healthy has been a long, slow, painful journey for me. I’m still not “perfect”, but I’m getting better. And perfection is really a road to self-destruction, so I’m not taking that detour either.
So I appear to be among the lucky rarity: that person who joined a gym to lose weight and get fit, who kept it up and became a success.
Guess I can say it: Yay for me!