Skinny Daily Post


I look over a new diet program, and find two words that chill me down: “Quick Start.”

I understand the psychology behind these words. I just don’t think it’s good psychology to use them. In fact, I think it’s bad practice, disruptive, harmful, and possibly even immoral. Not to put too fine a point on it. I fall for these two words myself because I am a schmuck. But you don’t have to be one, too. Let me caution you.

Quick start, jump start, induction, intro programs are often intended to boost your confidence and pique your interest. They might be well designed to pull your blood sugar into normal ranges, prepare your digestive system for new foods, help you learn to work with new tools or theories. But above all they are designed to help you drop water weight and clear up any constipation as quickly as possible. These two bits of work alone can help most people drop 10 lbs. or more pretty quickly. With 10 lbs. gone quickly, the theory goes, you fall in love with this new diet, commit yourself to it, and feel motivated to go on to the next phase. That’s the theory, anyway.

In practice, we don’t go on. In practice we reason that if two weeks on “Quick Start” is good, then 4 weeks is better, six weeks will get us into that tuxedo. Certainly 30 lbs. looks better to you than 10, right? Only a quarter of us bought the book anyway. Most of us are trading this “Quick Start” diet through scratchy 10th generation photo copies traded hand-to-hand. We don’t even know there’s a next phase of the diet at all. Or a third or fourth phase, either.

Unfortunately, the quick start diets were not designed for long-term sustenance. Soon you feel weak, tired, cranky, bored, and you drop the whole idea of dieting. You wouldn’t consider exercising, because you’re now too weak and dehydrated to walk very far. You’re actually suffering from malnutrition. You may have endangered your health.

It’s so dull, losing a pound a week. Or two. Or just a few ounces this month. It’s desperately dull. It makes those coveted jeans feel very far away. But it’s really the only way to be sure you’ll stay in those jeans once you get there, and have the energy to go anywhere in them.

I just know in all of our hearts we want to be stronger and more healthy for the long run, smaller over time, not just lighter next week.

Right? Then don’t start quick. Start smart. Pick up new lifelong habits, not short-term ones.

I’ll avoid the quick start hype if you will. Let’s take good care of ourselves.

7 thoughts on “Beware of the Quick Start

  1. Megan says:

    At a recent family get-together my aunt said “He’s on south beach, I’m on Atkins, she’s on protein power, what are you on?”
    I said “I’m on the Megan-lose-one-pound-a-month-plan” and got a blank stare.
    My sister translated “She’s making gradual life changes.” My aunt retained her blank stare.

    I tell anyone who desparately wants a “plan”:
    – Eliminate transfats
    – Eat 7+ servings of fruits and vegetables a day
    – Exercise vigorously for 360 minutes a week
    – Eat only when hungry, only until sated.

    So far no one has taken me up on it, but I do consider that to be the “plan” I’m working toward. (with some additional nutritional goals of increased fish/beans intake & decreased white flour/white sugar intake)

    Thanks for the reminder that slow and steady is the race!

  2. Kirsten says:

    As always, this message came at just the right time. I’ve lost 75 pounds in the last year — pretty great, right? But now it’s getting slow, and hard, and boring, and those “jump start” words start to look appealing again — even though I know that I’m doing it right — smaller portions, healthier foods, more exercise. But then, that high school reunion starts looming ahead, and losing more than 5-6 pounds a months starts to look tempting. But I know it’s not for me. Slow and steady wins the race every time.

  3. Donna Cook says:

    I’m having a hard time getting the Post. When I open it it’s blank.

    Help – I love it!!!

    BTW – I’ve lost 205 lbs and kept it off 5 years.

  4. StarPrincess says:

    Thanks for posting this! I follow Atkins, and find it terribly annoying that people are always looking for a quick and easy solution.

    For me, induction was a way to break me of my habits and addictions so that I can make good choices for myself. Not a way to drop a quick 20 pounds so I can go back to my ‘normal’ life and gain 30 back.

    I never can stress LIFE CHANGES enough to people.

  5. colane says:

    I agree with StarPrincess, that we look for quick and easy solutions, but doesn’t this reflect the times we’re living in? Our lifestyles move at such a faster pace than our parents and grandparents, and we’ve come to expect instant gratification! It’s taken me years to accept that good things come to those who wait (and develop patience along the way). A weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week feels healthier than a quick fix – and the weight is staying off instead of coming right back. When I get anxious because the scale doesn’t seem to move for a week or so, I tell myself, “baby steps” – just do the best that I can today and don’t stress about tomorrow.

    Good for you Donna! What plan did you follow in order to lose 205 pounds?

  6. MaryLou says:

    JuJu and all. My husband and I just started going to Weight Watchers and have chosen that method because the people I know who have been really successful have followed WW. We each have close to 100 lbs to loose. Looking at that number seems daunting but remembering it’s one day at a time will help. I am so impressed and grateful to find a place that is down to earth common sense. Like many of you, in my lifetime I’ve lost and gained myself several times over. Thank you, thank you for your wisdom and encouragement. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to take me and the greyhounds for a walk. They don’t need it nearly as much as I do.

  7. seahag says:

    Oh, thank you so much for this entry!!! I’m struggling right now. It has gone so slowly, and now it’s worse. Those quick starts are so tempting. But I KNOW what works; I KNOW what to do. I just needed to be reminded. How do you always know what I need to hear? THANKS!

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