I know. This is heartbreaking news. It’s hard to fathom how something so perfectly laid out and “simple” can not yield the necessary or desired results. Meal plans have their place (and that’s in the garbage). As someone who has worked in the fitness industry for nearly 10 years now I’ve seen first hand the major cons and constant disappointments associated with following Meal Plans. I (a considerably healthy and motivated individual) personally have paid large sums of money for these seemingly run of the mill charts and have been nothing but disappointed with the outcomes.
You’re probably wondering…”Why does this chick hate meal plans so much?!” First and foremost, I don’t HATE meal plans. I just don’t consider them solid and long term solutions to the issue you’re trying to solve (which I find is typically weight loss). I have never given out meal plans before, however, I have co-owned a gym with hundreds of members who have received meal plans from a third party nutrition consultant. Therefore, I have heard countless stories of disappointment and have seen little to no results with most people following meal plans. Here’s my professional opinion on why meal plans just don’t work!
1. You don’t LEARN what you should be learning.
Do you remember those math books in school where you could always find the answers to the equations at the very back of the book? They were meant to “check your work” and ensure you solved the equation properly, but let’s be real, most of us used it to find the answers BEFORE we knew how to solve the problem or even took the time to try. That’s what meal plans are like. They don’t really force you to figure things out for yourself so you never REALLY learn what you’re supposed to be eating, when you’re supposed to be eating it, and why you’re eating one thing over another thing. It doesn’t teach you what foods to avoid and why to avoid them. When you commit to a meal plan, you commit to following instructions and “going to the back of the book for the answers”.
2. You’re not being held accountable.
A majority of people that I know, including myself, don’t follow through with meal plans. Most people who purchase a 3 month meal plan will only use it for 1, or maybe even 1 ½ months post purchase. You aren’t getting the personal one-on-one guidance or education that is absolutely vital in order to make a real and long lasting lifestyle change. You also aren’t being held accountable by anyone. You get emailed, (or handed a piece of paper) with what to eat and how much to eat. In most cases that’s the end of the interaction. Perhaps at a few points in time you will get an email from the consultant asking how things are going, but by that time you probably stopped following the meal plan weeks ago! To add insult to injury, you already paid hundreds of dollars and you’re not getting what you wanted.
3. They’re too rigid.
If I gave you a meal plan and said, “Here, follow this for the rest of your life”, you would think I was crazy! And I wouldn’t blame you. If you’re looking for a nutrition endeavor that will get you the results you want and allow you to keep those great results for the rest of your life, then you should ask yourself this question first “Is eating like this something I can easily do for the rest of my life?” If the answer is an astounding “HELL NO!” then maybe it’s not the right fit for you. If the answer is “Yeah, I’d say so!” then move forward and get ready for some seriously epic life changes, baby! As we all know, regardless of how well intentioned we are, our days are busy AF and things come up ALL. THE. TIME. If you don’t have food prepared from your meal plan for dinner because you have to stay late at work...what are you going to do??? Unfortunately you may not be informed enough to make another healthy choice (and now even a convenient and healthy choice) because you were just given a instruction manual with no education to help you in tough/desperate times.
4. You gain all the weight back when you’re done.
You’re a champ and you followed through with your meal plan! Seriously- that’s unreal and you deserve a trophy! Although completing your meal plan is something to be celebrated, it’s also something to be concerned about. Why? Most individuals tend to gain back some (or most) of the weight they lost in the months following the completion of their meal plan. This is because they now have nothing else to follow and they aren’t versed enough in health and nutrition in order to continue to make healthy choices that will help keep the weight off.
Ladies and gentlemen. Before anyone attacks me on social media (because that’s our society today) please remember, this is my professional opinion based on a decade of experience. Do meal plans work for some people? Absolutely! Are they ideal and do they work for the majority? No, they do not. There are better ways to accomplish your weight loss goals than to follow a piece of paper. Work with someone who will hold you accountable and touch base with you as often as your bestie/mom/sister (or whoever just won’t leave you alone!).
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Love, Peace & Health Ya’ll,