Weight Loss Shakes: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truth

Today I hesitantly joined a workout class that I have always been inconsistent with going to. I take insane amounts of mental preparation before I step foot in that door. I look for excuses not to go. Oh, it’s started 5 minutes ago. I’ll be too sweaty. What if I fart?  Then today I realized something, I am awesome at this class. I love this class. I hate cardio, but I love this class! It is an hour strait of cardio kickboxing moves and I thoroughly enjoy every second of it! So naturally, during some kicks and punches I started wondering why if I like this class so much, does it take so much for me to get psyched about it? Then I started thinking about weight loss shakes.

It brought me back to a skinnier time, when I just started attending this class; the time I was drinking weight loss shakes. It all became so clear to me that I just knew I had to share the wicked truth with anyone willing to listen. Now, I’m not going to just full on bash weight loss shakes, I will give it to you strait. Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the harsh reality that it took me a year to accept (and still keep working on.)

The Good News About Weight Loss Shakes

weight loss shakes before
11 months after Madden was born

When I started doing a particular weight loss shake (I think we’ll just keep it off the record) not too long after I had my son. I just made the full leap into being a promoter for the product. Purchased my starter kit and stared by supplementing two of my meals a day for a shake instead. Everyone I knew who had done the shakes raved of the healthy qualities it possessed; the vitamins in it and how it was packing a bigger punch than 50 fruits and vegetables all rolled into one. You know, all those great marketing strategies that we all know and trick ourselves into believing.

The good news? I lost weight, I had a CRAZY amount of energy and was seeing my abs for the first time in…my entire life…only a year after having a baby! Talk about easy fitness! Getting people involved was easy just by snapping pictures of my progress. Being sneaky or sleazy had nothing to do with it; the truth was, I was seeing results and I so badly wanted other people to know how great of a thing these shakes were! I had people joining my team and seeing huge results as well! Eventually Tom got on board and he was feeling the same as I was. He had more energy to run, he was able to work his way around the weight room quickly and he slimmed down instantly while still enjoying whatever junk food he felt like! While I did my best to eat healthier as well, I was definitely indulging as well.

weight loss shakes after
6 months on weight loss shakes

Not only were we looking better than ever, but I was bringing it about $600 extra bucks a month simply by sharing my results with my Facebook friends.

To top it off, the shakes were delicious! It was like getting to have ice cream for my meals in place of actual food. After 2 weeks I started just supplementing one shake for one meal instead of 2. The second one I used as a post workout protein shake. You could make them so many different ways, mint chocolate chip, Butterfinger, cherry, strawberry, double chocolate, even Oreo. Some of these different combinations involved additional ingredients like cocoa powder, powdered pudding mix or fruit. No big deal though, all the fun ingredients were relatively inexpensive and the shakes were totally free!

How amazing right? Because I had so many people signed up to lose weight themselves, the product was totally free to me! Tom eventually signed up to promote so his were free too! Plus we got protein cookies, pre-workout mixes and vitamins! It was awesome and we were loving it. The shakes almost became like an addiction. We took them with us on vacation and made sure we had at least one every day. We were thinner than ever, making money and were able to power through every single part of our day.

The Bad News About Weight Loss Shakes

We all live and learn, right. What did Maya Angelou say; “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

How fitting for the predicament I found myself in after a year of drinking shakes and raking in the dough. Because I had been a health and fitness inspiration to so many people, I really started getting into working out, trying to help people with their workouts and really learning more about healthy eating. Little did I know that the thing that started my health was actually depriving me of living a completely healthy life.

I started to learn more about the benefits of eating whole foods. I began learning that when certain parts of a food are extracted from the rest of it, our bodies don’t actually absorb all the vitamins and minerals the way they are supposed to. Kind of like juicing, extracting all that fiber actually deprives your body of soaking up all the goodies. It needs to eat the food as a WHOLE.

When it comes to vitamins, taking them in pill form should only be used to fill in small gaps left from our diets, but our main source of vitamins and energy, for best results, should be supplied through our food. Pure, earth grown foods. How obvious is that? Of course God supplied our earth with everything we need! So why do we keep trying to re-invent the wheel? We got crafty and impatient and tried to come up with all these different ways to get what we want physically without actually taking the time and energy to care for our bodies the way we’re supposed to.

I’m not judging, I was looking for a quick fix myself. I wanted that baby pooch gone. I wanted to be that perfect body I had always seen in magazines and on TV. It felt awesome to have it too. I’m not going to lie to you. Everything looked good on me. No outfit was off limits. Except those requiring cleavage. My always busty chest had been MIA during this thinner time of my life.

I also started learning more about processed foods and how important it is to sticking to only eating things if you can read what is on the label. I sure couldn’t read all the stuff packed into my shakes! There was so much of it too. How does a body respond do all those man made, hard to pronounce names? It responds with total shock! Our beautiful bodies were designed to eat food, not something claiming food nutrition in powdered form. To top it off, on top consuming highly processed shakes, I was adding scoops of pudding mix? Gross! Sugar, corn syrup, oils and acid. None of those things she be promoted as healthy. Yet, there I was thinking I could sip Oreos guilt free.

The alarming fact was that the first time I drank a shake I was jolted full of energy. While I have never done speed, I can only imagine my body would respond in a similar way. I don’t do good with caffeine either, I tend to get headaches if I drink too strong a cup or get almost tired. This was similar yet way different than coffee. I was wide awake, couldn’t slow down, almost a jittery, non-stop momming machine! At the time I figured I just needed to let my body adjust. Now that I have researched and developed a deeper understanding of how my body works, I think back and see that as an extremely alarming warning sign. The energy wasn’t natural feeling it all. It was stimulant energy. Anything that would make my body respond instantly like that has got to be up to no good.

On top of that, Tom and I had to avoid public situations often times after drinking a shake because the fart situation was horrifying. The worst I’ve ever experienced. Now, this could easily be pointed to the colon cleansing power of the shake, but it was a downside non-the-less. He’s going to kill me, but the truth has to be said! Haha.

Finally, back to my fitness class. I was drinking shakes when I first started the class. I was the smallest I had ever been, and had more energy than ever but when it came to this fitness class, I would be gasping for air the entire time. Brushed off as asthma induced exercise (which I had as a kid) or just the fact that I’m not made to do cardioConsidering that my body was really struggling never entered my mind. I would often leave after only 30 minutes of an hour class and it would hurt to breathe. It’s annoying to me how I didn’t read these as warning signs. My experience with veganism. was similar. My head should have sounded the alarms a lot sooner. I wound up just making up excuses for why everything in my body seemed to be struggling. 

Tom was experiencing something similar. He had been weightlifting for the last 15+ years and for the first time found himself struggling with heavier weights. This could be brushed off as just getting older. That’s how it goes old man. Tom felt like something wasn’t right and was super frustrated with this decline in strength. Like he did with the vegan diet, he felt like the shakes were to blame. Yet, it was so hard to stop when you love the image in the mirror so much.

The Ugly Truth About Weight Loss Shakes

The ugly truth is so many people are looking for a quick fix these days instead of taking the time to truly make changes toward how they treat their bodies. The beauty of it all is that we have everything we need already in ample supply. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, grains. Whole foods that we need to really thrive. We also have beautiful, perfect bodies and if we treat them well, they will reward us immensely.

If you decide to give any quick fix a try, please do your thorough research first. Don’t just listen to the people selling the product (which is usually what you’ll find doing a quick Google search.) Dig into the ingredients, research them and know what you’re getting yourself into. I know that isn’t fun and really understanding what exactly our bodies need can be confusing. Also remember that the tools you need are readily at your finger tips every time you stroll the isles at the grocery store, as long as you’re walking down the right ones!

The Beautiful Part of it All

weight loss shakes gone
No shakes, just food.

The beautiful part from this journey is that I truly learned a lesson. I learned to let go of my need for instant gratification, especially at the expense of my body. I learned to start researching more before I make the leap into something so drastic.

After starting a plant based diet with a side of animal protein and holding the gluten, I have found the best health of my life. Eating in moderation, enjoying different ways to eat my fruits and veggies and letting go of any desire for a body type that really isn’t mine. 

I have learned to embrace what it feels like to be healthy instead of just what I think health should look like.

Most of all, I learned that I need to let go of my post traumatic fitness class experiences, because that’s not me anymore. I can do cardio, although I still have a love/hate thing with the treadmillI can kick and sucker punch and booty slap my way through an entire hour long class. Now, if that isn’t success, I don’t know what is.