If you've known me as a trainer, you've heard me say that eating foods as close to natural form as possible is a great way to stay healthy and to lose or maintain weight. You've heard me criticize magic pills, meal replacement bars, cookie diets, and the like. You've heard me write my concerns, based on reading legitimate fitness source material (i.e. textbooks in my field, not supermarket tabloids) that quick weight loss diets can even be defeating in the long run because (a) the weight you lose is muscle, not fat, and (b) when you lose muscle, it screws up your metabolism making it even harder to keep weight off and (c) super-low-calorie diets don't teach you how to live real life.
Wow, I summarized in just a few sentences what I've been preaching for years!
So, now I'm eating pre-packaged, low-calorie meals on a "5 and 1" plan. Am I crazy? I must be crazy. Or at the very least, inconsistent. Bear with me a bit as I try to explain why I'm doing something I vowed never to do. It took a huge leap for me to get here and I'm still mid-air, but this is what got me to jump.
There are three different places where I work, and I enjoy them all for different reasons. The underlying common factor of them, however, is that I believe in my management teams. Who I work with / for matters. I have worked for management teams I don't respect and shall never do so again.
Last January, I started working for a company called Tri-D Fitness. It's a high-end personal training and therapy facility with state of the art functional training equipment and amazing trainers. I'd admired them from afar for several years, but never had the guts to apply there until Bally went out of business and I wanted to find a home for my classes and clients. When I met the owners, Brad and Scott (brothers), we clicked in many ways. They're both passionate about their business, about helping people, and people I'm proud to know. They trusted me very shortly after hiring me with an equipment investment and a training investment that's been beneficial to all of us and to their staff.
In late 2012, Tri-D merged with another of its businesses, Bootcamp RDFT, a business specializing in large group bootcamp fitness. The united team is now RDFT, Results Driven Fitness Training. The business model is to have a smooth-flowing team of professionals providing client service. It's an elegant business model; I won't bore you with more details except to say that I trust the individuals behind the model and I believe in the model itself.
Wasn't I going to talk about TSFL at some point?
Part of the new business model of RDFT is to bring in some of the successful facets of both Tri-D and Bootcamp RDFT. That's where Take Shape For Life comes in. The folks up at bootcamp have been using TSFL to help their clients for a couple of years. I was isolated from that part of the business.
Now that we're all RDFT, we will be offering TSFL as an option to clients for whom it may benefit. It's a tool in the toolbox. It doesn't suit every client's needs, and it won't be on every client's roadmap. But for this who it could help, RDFT will be offering it. We aren't all required to be coaches. No one's making me eat it. But all of our trainers are required to have the same base product knowledge about the program so we can refer clients to trainers who are coaches. That's it. That's all I was required to do. Attend a training to learn about the program.
There's a lot I didn't know about TSFL
Yes, they're low calorie, pre-packaged meals. You eat 5 of their "meals" (bars, shakes, soups, oatmeals, pancakes, eggs) a day and one of your own "lean and green" meals. That much, I already knew. Super-low-calorie diet, ends up being about 1,200 calories a day, depending on what you eat for your lean and green meal. And what happens when you stop eating 1,200 calories a day?!? Poof, you gain it all back. That's why I have been against these plans.
BUT, they're also a coaching program. This is what I didn't know. The meals are a "catalyst," a way to get people started on a program that will lead to their overall health. Sometimes you have to give people what they want first (a jump-start at weight loss) so they'll trust you enough to teach them what they really need. So as I'm munching away at the decent-tasting bars and choking down the horrible tasting faux-pamesan puffs, I've also got a health coach. The purpose of the health coach is to guide the individual through their lifestyle change, gradually transitioning from the pre-packaged meals to normal foods, by adopting small lifestyle changes one at a time. Healthy habits.
Coaching healthy habits, that I can possibly get behind. But what kind of healthy habits? How much coaching and support? Does it really work? Will what I learn make a long term difference in my eating habits? And am I losing fat like I intend, of will it be just muscle and mess me up further?
The only way I can answer these questions is to try it for myself. The only way I can stand behind a product is to try it. I'm not going to sell or support something I don't believe in. So, here I am eating bars, shakes and parmesan puffs. Note to self: omit parmesan puffs from next order.
I didn't become a believer in this overnight. Quite the contrary. I almost left a job I loved. Two things kept me from quitting. (1) Learning that there is a habit coaching piece behind the food and (2) Scott's telling me that his mother has lost over 100 pounds on the program. If you recall a while earlier, I wrote that who I work for matters, and that I trust my management teams or I don't work for them.
Scott and Brad took a leap with me in January 2012. I'm taking a leap with them in 2013. I hope to lose 20-25 pounds through the coaching process. I may, or may not, become a coach myself. But I have to at least give TSFL enough of a chance to learn about it and get some experience with it.
Whether it works or not, you can bet I'll be blogging about it. I've got my first week's results in, but that's a subject of another post.