We have all seen the intriguing infomercials touting the life-changing benefits of the newest fitness gadget or weight loss formula. Many of us have called the toll free number flashing across the bottom of the screen and ordered the item with the hopes that it will be half as effective as promised by the physicians and fitness experts who testified in the infomercial. Some of us have a closet or a room in our home where we deposited more than one of these items with no real plans to ever use them again. In any case, the confusion about whether you have made a wise purchase or the embarrassment from the feeling that you have been suckered again is justified. After all, how where you to know? “Nothing else has worked . . . this has got to”, you say to yourself. “I mean they had doctors and fitness experts saying this was the best thing they had ever seen!”
The fact is that the great majority of infomercials on weight loss formulas and fitness gadgets are rife with inaccurate statements about basic human physiology and empty promises about predicted results. While this information may not be too shocking to you, what is shocking to us as fitness professionals is that these physicians and other fitness professionals either lack a basic understanding of human physiology or are willing to say anything for a buck. Both scenarios are a major problem for the unknowing and desperate customer.
Performing one activity or taking one pill is not a sensible solution to your weight management problem. Even if that one thing does help you to lose weight, it usually comes at the expense of impaired overall health and/or gaining back the weight you lost, and then some. After all, innovative entrepreneurs have been coming out with these fitness gadgets and weight loss formulas for years and we as a nation are getting fatter and unhealthier. Don't you think that if any of these gizmos was the answer that we would not have an obesity epidemic? They are all just shortcuts and when it comes to health and weight management, shortcuts don't work. The obesity epidemic will continue until we get that message.
You may be thinking, "but what about the housewife or the business executive in the commercial who's life was changed by this product? What about the Subway sandwich guy?" Remember, you are not getting the whole story. They never tell you what the people in the testimonials were doing before they tried the product. If they were doing absolutely nothing about there weight problem or their health, then beginning a new exercise activity or suddenly paying attention to what they eat is going to have a positive impact. But sooner or later, their bodies will adapt to that single lifestyle change and they will begin to gain back the weight unless they make another lifestyle change. In fact, the fine print on these infomercials will often say things like "results not typical" or "results may vary for individuals".
If you are someone who has tried many different gimmicks to address your weight problem, then one more is not going to make much of a difference. You must approach it with the intent to change your attitude toward health. The only way to manage your weight for life is to make a commitment to yourself to become a healthier person. At the minimum, this a constant awareness of your dietary and exercise habits and stress reduction — a lifestyle change. Our bodies simply need a more balanced approach. For more guidance on how to make a healthy lifestyle change, see our article The Six Most Important Steps to Making a Healthy Lifestyle Change at http://www.ingoodhealthinc.com
In the meantime, here are some things to look for in these infomercials to avoid being duped again:
1. Does the ad claim that this one product is the key to successful weight loss? – remember, there is no magic bullet.
2. Does the ad claim that other aspects of a holistic approach, such as diet or exercise, are not necessary if you use this product? – the lifestyle approach is the best way to make lasting changes
3. Does the ad suggest that you can eat whatever you want as long as you take these pills or perform this exercise? – Beware of shortcuts
4. Does the ad suggest that you throw away all of your other fitness equipment and/or nutritional supplements? – this is just another "magic pill" claim
5. Does the ad base its entire claim on one or two research studies? – nowadays, you can get a study to say pretty much whatever you want; if you are one who needs a study to believe in something, look for multiple or corroborating studies performed by independent parties.
6. Does the ad claim that using this product or formula will reduce or eliminate fat in a specific area of your body? – “spot reducing” is a myth
7. Does the ad claim that the product is doctor recommended? – Being a physician does not qualify one as an authority on nutrition or exercise
8. Do the claims made not make much sense to you? if it doesn't feel right to you, chances are something's not right – Trust your instincts