Results may vary…

Is the phrase familiar? It will be if you’ve ever purchased something to do with fitness, diet or weight loss. It’s standard practice to advertise a product or service, then include an asterisk, then have written in smaller font that ‘results may vary’ or ‘results not typical.’ People don’t often read the fine print though. When weight loss is involved, people prefer dramatic, life-changing, knock-your-socks-off success stories. And I agree that the more people share these experiences, the more they will buy into the idea of eating real food for long-term health outcomes, instead of relying on calorie controlled  starvation diets that cause dramatic weight loss and (equally dramatic) weight gain. Success stories  motivate and inspire and (particularly this time of year), encourage others to make changes to their own diets. This is particularly true if people can relate to the person who is telling the story. However results do vary from person to person, and while I would like to tell you that weight loss is immediate and abundant energy is there for the taking, this isn’t always the case. I wanted to share today three emails I have recently received from past clients about their progress to date.

Hi Mikki

Yes I am a new man, down 30kg since embarking on my changed lifestyle. I still want to lose another 10kg+ but am confident that I will get there.

My diet has remained pretty much unchanged from our first consultation back in March or so. I have taken bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes out of my diet. The only dairy I have is cheese. 

Pretty much everything else is the same, I definitely eat more vegetables now and have a new love affair with them as I try so many more different ways of enjoying them. Loving all the good proteins and they definitely keep me feeling full.

Still drink more alcohol than I should but have pretty much cut out all beer and any mixers. I am a bit more sensible around it now and something I will work on for next year. My only other vice is low carb protein bars which fulfills any sweet tooth needs.

I wanted to drop you a note prior to Xmas to say thank you so much for all your help, support, and guidance. I feel so much better and more confident in all the choices I make and the great thing is that they are not hard choices as I don’t miss anything and is just a normal eating lifestyle for me now.

Hope all is well with you

Jason

And, in a similar vein:

Hi Mikki,

I just wanted to give you a progress update on how I am going after seeing you a couple of times.

I have no stomach pain or gas anymore, it’s incredible.  I have not felt this good in a very long time – my energy levels are through the roof and I have lost over 10kg.  Thank you so much for putting me on the right path, it’s been life changing.

 Many thanks for everything!!!

Anne

I love getting emails like this! As a nutritionist I see it as my role to teach clients tools so they don’t need me – and that’s certainly what has happened with both Jason and Anne. Both are confident their dietary changes are long term and are really happy with where they are at. This isn’t always the case though and this email from Jo I received last week tells a slightly different story. I consulted with her and her husband on and had not seen her for around eight months. I bumped into her at a cafe last weekend. This tells a slightly different story (I have bolded sections for emphasis):

Hi Mikki,

So nice to see you last weekend, although, could you tell I was in a bit of shellshock, bumping in to you in an ‘eatery’ ,  as I started to give you a ‘report’?  haha.

Seriously, I was very much thinking, ‘really?  in a cafe?,  when I’m about to chow down with my friend here.’ Dear oh dear. You looked as lovely as ever.  We miss you a lot.   But it was my lack of focus, I was thinking I had to stop and regroup.  But also take on all the information you were giving me.

Fitness wise, I am ok.   Flowing better than before.  And we bought a treadmill.   I have given up the sugar Mikki.   It’s been five months.   I have had a few dessert treats these past few months – It feels, strangely, in control. So, I did the first three months hard out – as per the I Quit Sugar ebook we talked about.  I actually went out and bought the full book and followed recommendations.

And then I guess in the last two months I have let in blueberries on the weekend, in the smoothies.  Have started eating a few apples.  I am really quite happy about giving sugar a miss. I never thought this could happen.  That I can (and have had) treats, and that has been it.  It has not lead to 3 or 4 days bingeing after having that treat.  So…the journalist in the book lost about 4 kilograms.  And so did I.  That was about it.  

I have to say I was pretty disappointed that giving up sugar completely did not lead to weight falling off.  It was very slow. Then, because I gave up weighing, another 2 kilos came off without paying much attention to it all.  That was a surprise.   But really, five months to lose 7 kilo or so.  That’s pretty lame. (This is all post-Mikki self-destruction weight gain by the way). The lack of energy was extreme.   That’s another thing that annoyed me. From this end looking back though, the constant headaches ceased.  Not in the first month, that’s for sure.  But they are gone now. I was at the point where, all week long, I would just have this low grade migraine from first thing in the morning and then a spiking of pain in the afternoon.  Gone.  I just noticed one day, it was all gone. My concentration is better at work, and I generally have better sleeps.  My skin looks better.  And my energy is coming back also. 

I know you will be interested to hear how it impacted me. I never before imagined you could go without sugar. For me it was always something you’d go back to ‘once you lost the weight’ but I never had the self control.  And it is probably the fat that allows me to feel calm and not worried about sugar or dessert, or eating a bar of chocolate.

Anyway, lovely to see you and Merry Xmas from us both,

Jo

So Jo’s story paints quite a different picture to Jason and Anne. The tone itself is more subdued than the first two emails. The focus initially is on how much she hasn’t achieved, rather than what she has. While Jo is aware that there are definite improvements in other areas of her health (the headaches, the sleep, the increased energy), these were a long time coming and, in her mind, not the outcome she was pinning her success on. I read Jo’s email and see a lot of positives in it (as I’ve indicated with the italics) but it doesn’t matter what I think – it’s how Jo views it that is important. This isn’t your ‘whizz-bang-fireworks-frame-it-and-show-it-off’ client success story that you see in many client testimonials used to encourage others to change what they eat. But it’s equally important to share these to show that results do vary. Body composition changes and increased energy levels might happen in an instant, or they might take many months (as they did for Jo). Her success to date is definitely there, you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

My advice to Jo (as to anyone) is to use yourself and your changed behaviour as benchmarks of success instead of gauging it against another person’s experience. Only you know how far you’ve come, so take the time to reflect back on that. However small they may seem, any dietary change in the right direction is one step closer to where you want to be. Results DO vary, and while the results stories of others may provide motivation to get you started, it’s consistency and good habits that keep you going.

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