Week in Review: DASH Diet, Gwyneth’s Cleanse, and More

At the start of the new year, the world’s buzzing with talk of shaping up and shedding pounds. Here’s what’s new in the diet and fitness world this week

January 6, 2012
Week in Review
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It’s January 6—almost a full week into 2012—and by now you’ve likely discovered that the gym is crowded, dieting is no fun, and Jenny Craig is expensive. (Search: What's the most successful weight loss plan?) While the hype about resolutions has passed its saturation point, we thought it would be useful to take a look back at the week that could be considered Black Friday of the health and fitness world and recap what dominated discussions this year.

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Maybe generating the most buzz, U.S. News and World Report released its second annual diet rankings. The DASH Diet—which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was designed to combat high blood pressure—came out on top, winning the title of Best Diet Overall, as well as The Best Diet for Healthy Eating. Weight Watchers nabbed recognition for Best Weight Loss Diet, Best Commercial Diet Plan and Easiest Diet to Follow. The Biggest Loser Diet and DASH Diet were named the best diets for diabetes and the Ornish Diet—Professor Dean Ornish’s plan that groups food into five categories ranging from most to least healthful and restricts fat to 10% of daily calorie intake—received acknowledgement for being the most heart-healthy.

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In other national news, the New York Times Bucks blog made a splash with its review of GymPact.com, a service that charges people each time they skip the gym. Here’s how it works: Users commit to a number of days a week that they will exercise and the monetary stakes, which must meet a $5 minimum. Each time they go to the gym, they use the app to check in. If they don’t meet their obligation, they’ll be charged. However, committed exercisers will be rewarded with cash for each week they fulfill their pact. The money paid by people who didn’t keep their commitment is pooled together to be used as the incentive for the more dedicated gym-goers.

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The Today Show is doing its part to keep resolution-makers accountable—the program’s nutritionist, Joy Bauer, has challenged viewers to drop a collective 10,000 pounds by the end of the month. Participants can log their progress and find daily tips from Joy on Today Health, where they also may become eligible to win prizes. The Wall Street Journal took a less earnest approach to resolutions season coverage with Jason Gay’s 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym. (Rule #1: A gym is not designed to make you feel instantly better about yourself. If a gym wanted to make you feel instantly better about yourself, it would be a bar.)

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The USDA unveiled its online SuperTracker, a free service on its website that people can use to receive recommendations on eating and physical activity, track their eating and fitness habits, and measure their progress toward their health goals. Other product releases include a new weight loss system called Mobanu (which stands for motivation, balance, nutrition). It’s based on the glycemic threshold and teaches individuals what they need to eat and do to stay below their threshold, which, according to the site, is supposed to reduce cravings and boost energy. Denny’s also got on the “new year, new you” bandwagon with the just-released calorie calculator on its website as well as some new “Fit Fare” items.

In books, The DASH Diet Action Plan landed among Amazon’s top five overall best-sellers this week, and 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal topped the Amazon charts for health, fitness and dieting titles. Physique 57, a popular fitness program that combines principles of Pilates, interval training, and stretching, released its first book, and The View’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck debuted Deliciously G-Free, a gluten-free cookbook. Last week also marked the release of a number of fit-minded tomes, including Jillian Michaels’ Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body; The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook: 200 Simple and Delicious Low-Carb Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less; and Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by acclaimed science writer Gary Taubes.

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It’s not just us mere mortals who have vowed to get fit in 2012. Several celebrities are stepping up and making an effort to shape up in the coming year. Jennifer Hudson is no longer the sole soulful singer representing weight loss plans. Janet Jackson has signed on as a new spokesperson for Nutrisystem and Mariah Carey has recently shown up on commercials for Jenny Craig. Carey has reportedly shed 30 pounds of baby weight with the program.

On January 1st former Dancing with the Stars contestant Kirstie Alley launched her 100 Days of Dance program. She intends to dance for at least 30 minutes a day for 100 consecutive days in order to encourage Americans to get healthy. Organic Liaison is sponsoring her nimble-footed endeavor.

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In other reality-star news, Jersey Shore’s Snooki recently reached her goal weight of 98 pounds, and she’s now contemplating enhancing her cleavage. In an interview with Fox News, Carnie Wilson, of Wilson Phillips (and more recently of Celebrity Wife Swap), said that she intends to work on losing weight this year. The singer underwent gastric bypass surgery in 1999, but has continued to struggle with her weight—as well as addiction—in recent years.

Finally, Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her notoriously aspirational website, goop.com, that she’ll be starting her year with the Goop Cleanse by Clean. For $425 you could subscribe to the same 21-day eating plan as Paltrow. The plan involves a shake for breakfast, a solid meal from a list of foods suggested by Dr. Alejandro Junger, a shake for dinner and supplements throughout the day. According to the star, 50,000 people have already coughed up the cash and successfully completed the cleanse (if you ask us, we’d rather put our wad of benjamins toward a new gym membership).

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