Effective vs. Commercial Diet and Exercise

I’m a skeptic by nature. That’s especially the case when it comes to any things health- or fitness-related. I don’t trust anyone trying to sell me a product that makes me stronger, skinnier, or better in bed. In fact, if you have to advertise for a product with these claims, either it doesn’t work that well or it’s being done already, because the profit margins would be insane. This is all abundantly clear when you look at the difference between commercial health and fitness and effective health and fitness.

Commercial Fitness

The most prominent example of mainstream commercial fitness today is spin classes.

Disclaimer: Biking is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise that, when done in conjunction with strength training, can help you sculpt a healthy body. Spin classes in particular create a fun environment that people clearly enjoy and have helped many people lose weight.

Companies like SoulCycle can be caught touting spin classes as the pinnacle of health and fitness for the “reasonable” price of only $34 per class (not including shoe rental). And, as you might imagine, spin classes have only increased in popularity since the market noticed the appealing margins for this new fitness pastime. A popular spin studio can expect at least 20 participants per class; let’s say for sake of discussion that the average participant’s class costs $20, all-in. So, that’s $400 in revenue per class. The cost of leasing a single-room workout facility and 30 bikes isn’t prohibitive, and those happy-go-lucky instructors generally are not well compensated. Let’s imagine for sake of discussion the overhead is $500 a day for the roof and the instructors.  Most classes don’t even last an entire hour, and a popular studio will do upward of six classes a day. Look through this lens and you can see the same thing fitness professionals did: dollar signs.

Effective Fitness

It isn’t really up for debate: the most effective fitness practice involves strength training at least three times a week and a little cardiovascular activity daily.  Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or simple feel better, the prescription doesn’t vary too much. It works for damn near everyone.

If you are just starting off, you can learn six exercises from a knowledgeable fitness professional and proceed to do those until you stop seeing results. Of course, that will never happen if you regularly change the tempo, volume, and weight of those exercises. (However, you might get bored, so mixing it up always helps.)

Luckily, you’re reading an article by a knowledgeable fitness professional at this very moment, so I’ll provide you with six exercises you could do until you die.

1)   Push-up, push-up variation, or press

2)   Pull-up, pull-up variation, or row

3)   Squat

4)   Deadlift

5)   Lunge

6)   Farmer’s walks

Once you’ve mastered those six exercises, you can mess around with the fancier stuff. But until that day comes, bicep curls and calf raises can wait.  

As I said, in order to have a complete fitness program you’ll also need some cardiovascular activity to do regularly without risk of injury. Let’s start with walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day, every day.

If you follow these instructions, I promise you it will prove far more valuable (and more affordable) than any spin class.

Commercial Dieting

Commercial dieting is an interesting beast. Your diet is the most important factor in influencing your body composition, and nowadays it’s hard to know what diet information to follow. There is an unbelievable amount of bullshit out there. If it weren’t enough to have “experts” writing new books every day about whether carbs are the devil or why cavemen were super good at losing weight, you also have people you know telling you how effective the newest diet trend is.

The first and most important thing to understand about dieting is that every diet works. Any net positive change in the way you eat or consume calories will result in weight loss.

Second, other diets like veganism, paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, low-fat, and the ice cream diet are all just boxes. There is evidence that supports all of them helping people lose weight—yes, even the ice cream diet. You don’t need to join a camp to lose weight.

Third, if you have to pay for it, it isn’t a long-term solution. Meal services, frozen dinners, and supplements are not part of a long-term weight loss plan. Learning to cook is; otherwise, you could learn to enjoy raw vegetables as a more beneficial use of your time and money.

Here are some examples of commercial dieting and their flaws:

Meal services. What if you leave town? What if you aren’t home that night?

Whole 30. What happens if you keep living after 30 days?

Paleo. You are not a caveman.

Effective Dieting

Effective dieting boils down to two main points: consume nutrient-dense foods and lower your overall calorie consumption. That’s all.

Start with these three tips:

1)   Make vegetables 50 percent of your food intake.

2)   Drink more water.

3)   Limit yourself to one plate of food per meal.

If you successfully implement those three things into your life, you are almost guaranteed to lose weight. If you implement these three things and still are not seeing results, revisit this paragraph and start keeping a food diary. Most people don’t realize what they actually eat in a day, and the best way to get an accurate picture of what you consume is to write it down. Once you’ve done this for a week your behavior may have already changed. (After all, you want to feel good about what you write in your diary.) If it hasn’t, you’ll know exactly where to start and what to eliminate.

Here are some examples of effective diet tools and their benefits:

Caffeine. One of the few weight-loss supplements that isn’t total bullshit, caffeine is an appetite suppressant and a diuretic. We are more interested in stopping the excess food from going in than we are the liquid coming out.

Sleep. If you don’t sleep (and sleep well), your metabolism can start functioning more slowly.

Leafy green vegetables. The single greatest weight-loss tool in the world. You can’t eat too many.

There will always be a new workout or diet fad on the horizon, and some of them will be really fun or intriguing. Just remember that you don’t need to spend money to lose weight. Spending money can be an effective accountability tool, but there is nothing you can buy that will do the work for you. That being said, I encourage you to try any new workout trends you think you’d enjoy! Just please hedge your expectations. Those crazy results that happened for Obese Joe in the commercials won’t happen for you—there’s a good chance the “before” and “after” pictures were made with Photoshop, anyway.


Do you need help holding yourself accountable? We write custom strength and nutrition programs catered directly to your needs. Send me an email: jderme2@gmail.com

Jake Dermer