FITNESS CORNER: The big secret about losing weight

SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAPHAll good weight loss programs require the same thing -- hard work.
SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAPHAll good weight loss programs require the same thing -- hard work.

Lean in close for a moment so I can fill you in on what might be the biggest secret about losing weight. Ready for it?

Here it is: There are no shortcuts to losing weight.

In this world, you don't have to be too observant to notice that there are a lot of advertisements for weight loss shortcuts. From meal replacement shake programs and "eat whatever you want and still lose weight" diets, to abdominal exercise contraptions and ultra high-intensity exercise programs that make grown men cry, the market is saturated with products that promise to help you lose weight faster.

I'm not here to say that you shouldn't use any of these products. Now, I would definitely steer clear of meal replacement shake-based diets, as well as the abdominal exercisers in the late night infomercials -- since doing ab work is not really the key to "getting abs."

But to be honest, a lot of diet and exercise programs work. Whole 30 works. Weight Watchers works. Paleo and other low carb diets work. On the exercise side, walking, running, weightlifting, boot camps, Zumba, P90, CrossFit and a whole host of other programs actually produce weight loss results.

The point that I am making is that all of the best diet and exercise programs out there have no shortcuts and operate by the same base principles. As cool and trendy as they might be, they all can be boiled down to the following two concepts:

They focus on reducing energy intake.

They increase energy output.

What this means is that the weight loss program that you choose is largely up to your preference, and the effectiveness of that program depends on your willingness to stay committed. Some programs, like walking programs for example, might call for you to do moderately hard work over a period of several months to see results. Other programs require you to do very hard work over a period of weeks (think CrossFit or Insanity) to see results.

Just because the results show up faster, however, doesn't mean that such programs are shortcuts. You still have to work hard on reducing your energy intake and increasing your energy output, it's simply condensed into a shorter time frame.

With all of this said, it is up to you to choose your weight loss program, whether it be one that I've mentioned in this column, one recommended by your physician or personal trainer, or even one that you've concocted yourself. They all require consistent hard work.

As a final thought, I do recommend that in choosing any weight loss program, you ensure that the program is fashioned in the following manner:

The diet program is based on whole foods -- not supplements, shakes or pills.

The exercise is challenging, yet realistic for your fitness level. (I will be writing more about these two concepts in my upcoming columns.)

Do you have a health/fitness question that you'd like to see me write about? Feel free to send me an email with your questions, and you could likely see it written about here in The Telegraph.

Peach County resident Shawn McClendon is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of the health/fitness blog Contact him at