Have you ever wondered how participants of weight loss shows make such great progress in such a short amount of time? Well, the main reason is that the people on television have a lot of help and support when learning how to make major lifestyle changes to reach their goal. To find out more about where they get their help, HBS spoke to Lauren Merek, a registered dietitian at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus, where the participants of the ABC show Extreme Weight Loss: Destination Boot Camp go to better their fitness and eating habits.
The center is located on the campus of CU Anschutz and offers a plethora of wellness services provided by its large staff. For those apart of Destination Boot Camp, as many as fifteen to twenty people can be involved in their transformation. For others just looking to try one of the center’s multiple packages (which include services like working with a personal trainer, meeting with a dietician, and working out in the gym), they can get the help from as many as five different professionals. Pricing starts at $66 for a fitness membership and $129 for weight loss programs and other services.
Merek-who splits her time as Program Director for My New Weigh( a 25-week-long weight loss program) and counseling clients on weight loss and sports education-explains what happens when someone visits the center. “If they haven’t been sent by a referral they’ll visit with the front desk to find out what their needs are. They might need a physician-directed weight loss or to consult a dietician, personal trainer, or all of the above. They also might do testing in the bod pods before meeting with a clinician.”
What sets the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center apart from the rest is their dedication to sustained results. “I’d say a big thing that we focus on isn’t just weightless it’s a mindset change,” says Merek. “That’s what makes these programs very successful. We’re not just preaching about exercise and nutrition. It’s about the mindset. Weight loss, that’s the easy part, it’s the maintenance that’s tough. Clients are very successful here.”
Anschutz is not just a fitness center, though. It’s also a research facility. Research is a huge part of the center’s identity. They research everything wellness related from weight loss to nutrition and have made discoveries on such things like the effects of water vs. diet beverages on weight loss and maintenance(they actually found that those who drank diet beverages lost significantly more weight than those assigned to water).
The center offers almost everything you could imagine in its 94,000 square foot facility. From consultations with registered dietitians, personal trainers, physicians, clinical social workers, and counselors, to group classes, one on one programs, special equipment, and testing, clients have many useful options for losing weight at their fingertips.
(Images provided by CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center)
For those too far outside Colorado to visit the center, there are other, digital options. The CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center is currently running a “Maintain Not Gain” challenge over the holidays. It’s $25 to sign up and those who join receive recipes, a workout of the week, tips to avoid stress, and access to live webinars and Q&A sessions with medical experts. The content of this 6-week long program is all delivered through email.
It’s not surprising that this wellness center is where so many people( like those of Extreme Weight Loss: Destination Boot Camp) decide to begin their weight loss journey. If you don’t have the time or money to make the trip, don’t worry. There are plenty of other resources for you as well. If you’re just starting your own weight loss initiative, here are Merek’s tips for getting started and successfully reaching your goals.
Plan ahead. “If you don’t plan ahead, you plan to fail. Plan meals, workouts, things you know will be stressful before you get started.”
Load up on veggies. “We love to eat large amounts and eating veggies allows you to eat a larger volume without the excess calories.”
Track calories. “Track calories in versus calories out. It’s really eye-opening and keeps you accountable. There are plenty of apps to help you do this.”
Exercise. “We know that diet alone can help you lose weight, but you’ll lose more muscle than fat if that’s all you do. Exercising helps you lose more fat.”
Other Quick Tips:
-Get enough sleep
-Manage your stress level
-Eat out less
-Weigh yourself regularly
-See a registered dietitian. “This is probably the absolute best way of getting started.”
For someone wanting to lose a large amount of weight, the same tips apply. “But for them it’s even more important to get the help of an RD to get help with nutrition and setting up meal plans to transfer away from ‘normal’ foods,” says Merek. Another thing is to see a physician first. “Depending on their health they may need to avoid exercise or something. If they just need to lose five to fifteen pounds, I’m not worried, but for those looking to lose more, it’s important to see a physician before getting on a regimen.”
Anschutz Health and Wellness Center
12348 E. Montview Blvd., Aurora, CO 80045