Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Nutrition Session

Earlier this week I wrote about my latest fitness endeavor, courtesy of a little Groupon-buying problem I have. Now that I’m nine sessions in (four to go), I’m enjoying the workout and think it’s just about the perfect solution for my current fitness struggles.

But there’s a catch. Get in Shape for Women (GISFW) isn’t just a workout plan—it’s a whole program that includes a nutrition component. My Groupon included two nutrition sessions, which I planned to completely ignore. But, when pressed by the owner to schedule the first session, I figured what the hell, I am interested in this stuff anyway, and I don’t mind hearing what they have to say.

For the nutrition session, I sat down with the owner who handed me a worksheet with three days of approved meals (in theory, you’d eat each meal twice during the week, and you get one cheat day). The plan is simple enough: High in lean protein, moderate amounts of whole grain carbohydrates, fruits and veggies. You eat six times a day. Nothing earth shattering, pretty straightforward.

The breakfasts and lunches listed were actually pretty close to what I regularly eat anyway: turkey wrap, peanut butter on whole grain toast, Greek yogurt, banana, grapes, hummus with carrot sticks, etc. In other words, healthy stuff that is easily packed for work. But the dinners… eh… Here’s the thing: I’m not going to eat a plain chicken breast every night of the week no matter how badly I want to lose weight. It’s not going to happen, and if it does, it will happen for a day (or two?) before I crack, order takeout food, and eat an entire large pizza. Oh, and one more thing: The plan also requires that you eat between 1,300 to 1,600 calories a day.

Then, the owner told me to go through and write out a full day of meals for myself complete with the nutrition information (basically copying from the already filled out sheet that was provided to me). When I was done, she told me, “There you go, eat that for six days.”

And that was it.

Well, I didn’t go that quietly. In fact, I did voice my concerns with the plan even though I had no intention of actually following it anyway. First, I cannot do this unless I am ready to stop breastfeeding. That’s simply not enough calories to sustain myself and the babe. I told the owner this, and while she didn’t really provide me with alternative options or tell me how to add in extra calories, she seemed somewhat understanding.

Second, when I told her that grilled chicken breast every single night was not realistic for me when I was cooking for myself and my husband (and freezer meals, yo!), she kind of just stared at me blankly. She told me “could not guarantee results if I did not follow this plan.” I realized then that it probably wasn’t worth trying to explain all the issues I had with the plan, so I made a decision--I would lie, “OK! I’ll give it my best shot.”

Look, I have no doubt people see results with this plan, provided that they can stick to it. You know, those people who have rock star willpower. I am not one of those people. I could not do this for any length of time. Oh, and I guess I wasn’t really looking for her to “guarantee results.” I just want to workout.

I get it, this is part of the gimmick. But the problem with this is that, while the fitness trainers are certified trainers, I’m pretty sure that no one is a nutritionist. My guess is that these meal plans are handed out to the GISFW franchises, and they are told to dispense this advice. There’s no ability to modify the plan to an individual’s unique needs, much less answer any questions that weren’t specifically addressed in the FAQ document that I’m sure was given to owners of these franchises as well.

In general, I think if people want to follow a diet plan like this, fine. Godspeed. But it is extremely calorie restrictive (even for the non-lactating), and my guess is that it’s not a long-term solution to a healthy diet. When I do find out exactly how much this place costs, I’m interested to know how they work in the nutrition part and if nutrition sessions are something you are required to purchase.

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