Thankfully, weight-loss resorts offer a middle ground that gets you out of your typical routine, provides plenty of pampering, and still offers the resources and structure to help you build healthy lifestyle habits.
All weight-loss resorts are not created equal
You can find weight-loss resorts all over the world, each one with its own approach. But there is a huge variation in quality among them. On one end of the spectrum, you have programs that are outright scams promising one-size-fits-all rapid weight loss; on the other you have programs that follow an integrated approach to lifestyle change that is backed by science and monitored by medical professionals such as board certified doctors, behavioral health specialists and nutritionists.
Although most resorts recognize that successful weight loss is much more than restricting calories, the degree to which different programs emphasize factors such as fitness, nutrition, sleep habits, and overall physical and mental health varies widely. When comparing programs to find the one that’s right for you, always read the fine print to see if the approach takes the full picture of your health into consideration.
Some programs’ primary strategy for weight loss is either a highly restrictive diet or an intense fitness regimen. However, this approach is like truing only one spoke of a bicycle wheel. For a transformative lifestyle change that you can sustain once your resort stay is over, all of the spokes must work together.
“It has been such an amazing journey. I’ve lost weight, I feel stronger, I learned so much about nutrition and fitness. It’s really cool to see the results happen so quickly and how much change you notice in your body,” said Taylor, a Pritikin guest.
Research shows that weight-loss resort approaches based primarily on diet are the least effective over time. In fact, 95% of diets fail, with most people regaining the weight they lost within five years. While dietary strategies such as reducing sugar intake and eating whole foods are undeniably important, slashing daily calorie intake to almost nothing is neither healthy or sustainable. You may be able to slash your calorie intake to a fraction of what you normally eat while you’re being monitored and encouraged, but will you be able to keep it up once you’re back home?
Many programs don’t include specific recommendations for an exercise regimen, such as those recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. In contrast, the doctors and physical trainers on staff at a resort with an integrative lifestyle approach will help you develop a regimen, customized to your own strengths and limitations, that combines aerobic activity, stretching, and resistance training.
Also keep in mind that some weight loss programs focus on metabolic control, and don’t necessarily align with dietary recommendations established by regulatory bodies such as the Centers of Disease Control.
Finding a program that teaches you to eat smarter rather than deprive yourself tend to be the most effective over time, especially when they promote a holistic approach to wellness. All-inclusive programs such as Pritikin don’t require you to commit to dramatically cutting your calories; instead, they offer classes with world-class chefs that teach you how to cook nutritious, satisfying meals at home. As you learn what different programs have to offer, be sure to consider the likelihood of your being able to implement their recommendations over the long haul.
Programs that focus primarily on intensive fitness regimens also fail to take into account other health factors that are critical to lasting weight loss. Without a focus on diet or other factors related to healthy weight reduction, people undertaking these programs must exercise a tremendous amount to see results. Research has proven that over the long term no exercise regimen can overcome a poor diet; what’s more, extreme fitness regimens may not be safe for those who don’t already have a baseline of fitness.
Weight-loss programs that center on fitness only tend to be the least successful in the long run. In a study examining 5,000 long-term weight loss success stories, only 1% used exercise only to shed pounds. This is in part because programs overly focused on fitness don’t pay enough attention to diet, sleep, and other lifestyle factors. Another culprit is the incompatibility of intense fitness routines with many people’s daily routine. You may be able to do three workouts a day when you’re at a resort focused on that one aspect of your life. But will you be able to keep it up once you’re back home, navigating a busy work and social schedule?
Lifestyle change approaches
To use the Goldilocks analogy, programs that offer an integrative, lifestyle change approach to weight loss are the ones that will fit “just right.” A weight-loss resort with a healthy lifestyle change approach will promote a nourishing diet, moderate but consistent exercise, social support, adequate sleep, and monitoring of existing health conditions. By attending to each aspect of your physical and mental health—as well as how they work together—you will set yourself up for a transformative experience that can last for years to come.
When you stay at an all-inclusive weight-loss resort like Pritikin, you will benefit from easy access to a team of professionals—chefs, nutritionists, doctors, fitness trainers, and behavioral health specialists—who are dedicated to optimizing your health. These types of health resorts focus not only on the weight you have to lose but on what you have to gain: improved blood and cholesterol levels, strength, and flexibility; skills such as meal planning, strength training, and meditation; and renewed positivity, confidence, and vitality.