Should you focus on diet or exercise to lose weight? There’s no one right answer. We’ll compare hiring a personal trainer and using a weight loss clinic to help you determine what’s right for you.

Losing weight seems simple on the surface: fewer calories in + more calories burned = weight loss. Perhaps surprisingly, even that basic equation offers a lot of variation. How are you burning your calories? Which way will you lower your caloric intake? Should you focus on one or the other? With so many options, it can be hard to know what will work for you. Trial and error can lead to weight cycling, which recent studies have indicated could be more unhealthy than being overweight without fluctuations.

Two common methods of approaching the weight loss process are using a weight loss clinic, which focuses on the food side of the equation, and hiring a personal trainer or starting an exercise plan, which focuses on the movement side. We’ll compare the two to help you figure out a starting point on your weight loss journey.

Weight Loss Clinics

Weight loss clinics are typically medically supervised and focus on diet, often severely restricting a patient’s intake to invoke a state of ketosis. While bariatric and obesity specialists recommend Very Low Calorie Diets (known as VLCDs) they are only to be undertaken with medical supervision and typically reserved for very overweight patients. The diets are typically high in protein and between 500 and 800 calories a day, which tricks the body into thinking it’s starving. The body releases ketones which restrict appetite, and begins to feed on its own store of fat and muscle. Laxatives are sometimes prescribed due to the high amount of protein creating dehydration and constipation. For contrast, most medical bodies recommend the average adult consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, and never less than 1,200.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. While the focus is on an initial weight loss phase through dieting, practitioners also work with patients to adjust their lifestyle habits and relationship to food, including exercise and mindfulness. VLCDs are not sustainable, and once a goal weight is reached patients are transitioned to maintenance. Also keep in mind that simply losing weight or being “skinny” does not mean a person is healthy.

If this sounds extreme, it can be. Never undertake a very low-calorie diet without medical supervision. But it is an option, especially for people who have a lot of weight to lose. It can help people with mobility issues who can’t focus on exercise. If you have a history of disordered eating, speak with your family doctor before deciding to try a weight loss clinic; even though it is medically supervised, you may be at risk of relapse. And, lastly, if your tummy is your main trouble area, remember that abs are made in the kitchen.


  • Often provides quick results initially
  • Less stress to make healthy food choices due to restricted options
  • Medically supervised for accountability and safety


  • Involves sometimes severe food restrictions
  • Plan must be followed strictly
  • Can be dangerous if not supervised properly
  • Weight can come back easily if habits and overall lifestyle don’t change.

Personal Training

Personal training, overall, focuses on exercise. If you’re a foodie who can’t imagine restricting your diet, if you’re ready and able to be more active, or if you don’t have much weight to lose, you might want to consider starting with a personal trainer.

Personal trainers are a varied lot. Some are hired by the local gym to put clients through their paces. Some specialize in one type of exercise style. Others, like Paul Anthony and DreamBody, work with you to develop the best plan for your goals, and approach it holistically. Would you thrive best doing aerobic exercise like running or do you need a strength program?

Paul has created the MINDGYM to help you transition to a healthy lifestyle, not just move through one program and be done. If you want to maintain your weight loss, you need to change your mindset to a more healthful approach. We do that through meditation, visualization and more.

Just as weight loss clinics do include some exercise advice, personal trainers often include nutrition advice. Sometimes this is one particular diet style, sometimes it’s to promote a product or supplement they’re selling. Paul offers custom nutrition advice and meal plans based on thirty years in the fitness and weight loss industries.


  • Trainers hold you accountable.
  • Being active is a part of a healthy lifestyle--and it can be fun.
  • You still need to make healthy food choices, but with much less restriction.
  • Able to achieve overall healthy results, not just weight loss.


  • Results are slower to be noticeable
  • Can cause injury if not supervised properly
  • Plan must be followed strictly
  • Weight can come back if you stop being active.

Contact Us

While ultimately long-lasting success combines both diet and exercise, you have to start somewhere and picking somewhere can be daunting. Hopefully these overviews of weight loss clinics and personal training will help steer you in the right direction. If you’re interested in personal training in Calgary or online with Paul, contact us.

Share this Post:

Related Posts