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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jump Start v. Small Stuff

The other morning, my husband told me he was considering doing something like SlimFast just to get a "jump start." Even a few months ago, this would have triggered a lecture from me about how short cuts don't work, how the only way is small changes sustained over time. (And probably lots of eye-rolling from him.) This particular morning, I actually said, and I quote - "sure that seems like it might work."

When I started out in the nutrition field, I was incredibly gung-ho about gradual lifestyle changes being the path good health.
For myself, I still am. But without my noticing, I seemed to stop judging other people if something else worked for them.
I also still strongly support small changes as the best long-term plan. However, I've begun to allow that there may be room for short-term jump starts.

The dangers in jump starts are at least 2-fold ---

  1. You quickly lose weight, but as soon as you stop, you gain the weight back.
  2. You lose weight without teaching yourself principles on sustainable healthy eating.

But, I get it, the small changes can be boring. When you decide you want to be healthier, you're excited. You want results.

I suggest a compromise. Select a sensible jump-start plan; set a limited timeframe (say 2 weeks); and go for it. At the same time, make a plan for your long-term healthy eating plans - changes that you can sustain for the long haul.

So, what's a sensible jump-start? I took a look at SlimFast, and I was actually moderately impressed. For one thing, they market themselves as a short-term jump-start. Their plan tries to teach users about long-term healthy eating plans:

  1. All snacks are fruit, nuts or one of their snack bars
  2. There are recipes for balanced dinners, each with 500 calories. They even have a lovely picture of a plate that's half veggies. Sound familiar? (

So, take a look - If you think it would work for you, give a two week try. (Two weeks, by the way is how many menus they give you.)

Let me point out though --- really any way you choose to eat 1200 calories daily will produce weight loss. SlimFast is a pretty good way. Personally, I'd probably want a little more variety.

My 1200 calories might look this:

  • Breakfast - cereal bar (100-150 calories, be it SlimFast, Kashi, Nature's Valley), medium banana, 4-6 oz non-fat sugar-free yogurt.
  • Lunch - Low-cal frozen entree (250-300 calories, be it Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Smart Ones), small apple or a couple handfuls of grapes.
  • PM snack - low-fat string cheese
  • Dinner - 500 calorie dinner 
  • Bedtime snack - 100 calorie bag low-fat popcorn

I would not be able to keep that up for more than 2 weeks personally! THEN, I'd want to go back to smaller stuff.


  1. I have not tried to stick to a 1200 calorie diet because I think it would make me mean as heck! I get a little irritated when I'm hungry. I think snacking and eating smaller portions is key for me. That and the giant bag of fresh fruit and veggies I drag to work each day. Hope the Slim Fast works out for him! I reviews Shakeology's chocolate shake and liked it mixed with fresh fruit. It is a bit pricey, though.

  2. I picked 1200 because i counted that many for a SlimFast day. I would not want to do it myself. And I absolutely think 1200 is the lowest any one can do and still get essential nutrients.
    For me the key is finding low calorie density foods - usually high fiber. And lots of water! Hmm ... Sounds like another post topic!