But ultimately, none worked.
“I didn’t lose any significant weight,” he said.
Healthcare professionals regularly tout the same method for weight loss: balanced meals and exercise. But this advice is often ignored when fad diet advertising floods media, particularly in the new year.
Oklahoma dietician Lacey Bixler considers these plans short-term solutions that typically fail in the long run.
“I don’t believe in them (fad diets) because anytime you’re cutting out major food groups, you have the potential to not get enough calories and nutrients from what you’re consuming, and it could potentially be harmful,” said Bixler, clinical trials manager at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City.
Each year, about 55 percent of Americans try to lose weight, according to a 2013 survey from the International Food Information Council. And Oklahoma has a particularly difficult task, as it ranks low in national health comparisons.
“We’re seeing a lot of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (in Oklahoma), and those conditions can be a result of obesity, so we want to make sure we try to tackle the problem and get the correct message out there as far as being healthy and setting measurable goals so we can focus on prevention,” Bixler said.
Learning from experience
Tanya Henson, 29, of Midwest City said she has tried numerous “quick-fix” weight loss options: juice fasts, pills, grapefruit
diets and more. She also experimented with the HCG diet, in which you take the same hormone pregnant women produce (human chorionic gonadotropin) along with a strict calorie intake.
While she initially lost weight, Henson often had “yo-yo” gains and losses, never fully keeping it under control.
“You’re hungry for days and don’t feel satisfied, and then when you eat normally again, it comes right back pretty quickly,” Henson said. “It can be discouraging because you feel like you work so hard.”
Other side effects she experienced were mood swings and general irritability, especially while taking pills with ephedrine.
On the HCG diet, she felt like she had the flu for days.
It’s also popular to self-diagnose for health problems, like celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Yet going gluten-free doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight.
“Those processed, gluten-free products are often expensive, higher in sugar and can be a lot more calories, so I don’t recommend it unless your doctor gives you a blood test proving this diet is necessary,” said Mathea Ford, a Moorebased dietician.
Both Bixler and Ford agree that setting small, measurable goals is the best path toward better health.
“Some people think, ‘I want to lose 50 pounds,’ and that’s not realistic. That’s putting yourself up for failure,” Bixler said. “You should start with 10, and when you reach that, you can move on to the next one.”
One small step Ford recommends is “exchanging” rather than “eliminating” foods and controlling portion sizes. Use whole grain pasta and bread rather than white varieties. Choose low-fat milk, meat and cheese. And plan meals a week in advance, which helps prevent quick, unhealthy food choices.
The dieticians find that the choosemyplate.gov website provides a good guideline for how much fruit, vegetables, grains and protein people should consume at each meal.
Each year, about 55 percent of Americans try to lose weight.
While fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive, Bixler notes in-season varieties, as well as frozen and canned, tend to be less. But make sure the canned goods have low sodium and sugar.
Along with food, it’s also important to be realistic about exercise. Ford finds wearing a pedometer from morning to night helps with the 10,000 steps-a-day method.
“It means parking your car farther away, walking up and down stairs at work — every little bit of activity helps,” Ford said. “And if at the end of the day, you’ve completed 8,000 steps, you’re much more likely to push yourself to complete those last 2,000.”
Finding a supportive community may be a key to success, whether it’s with family, coworkers or online connections.
Henson said her husband and coworkers helped her stop fad dieting and switch to a healthy weight loss plan.
“It comes off slower, but it’s helped my husband lose 35 pounds, and I lost 25,” Henson said. “I don’t worry about being so restrictive — just eating less and exercising more.”
Harvey began a healthy path on his 40th birthday, Oct. 5, when he joined Homeland grocery store’s health challenge. So far, he has lost 55 pounds from the initial 340. But he sees his son, Mason Harvey, who received local and national attention for his “Strive for 85” campaign after losing 85 pounds, as his main motivation.
“It’s remarkable what he’s achieved, and now he’s setting the same goal for me,” Harvey said.