Science Or Snake Oil

As a writer, there are many paths my mind goes when it comes to sitting down and deciding what I want to let out of my head. Sometimes I just feel like talking about life and things going on. Other times, because my blog is about health, fitness, living well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, my focus is zeroed in these areas.

One of the topics I haven’t written on lately is the ongoing, ever present, collection of products to “help” people lose weight.

Ya know, gimmicks and what not. People happily, willingly, fork their hard earned money over for the latest smoke and mirrors in an attempt to unload fat magically overnight.

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I hate to break it… but it just doesn’t work…or maybe for awhile they are encouraged and see some initial water weight loss and that can spur someone on to keep going… but it’s rare.

Most of the time they just have lighter bank accounts once the novelty has worn off.

So I’m on my soapbox again….

in the mega million dollar “health and wellness” industry, there’s always a new kid on the block. There’s always some productĀ that makes people hopeful that maybe this time, this new thing, will do the trick.

There’s one that recently caught my eye and of course I’ve started digging and reading on it.

I love when the … what do I call them? the sellers? business people? distributors? boldly post the ingredient list as if to proudly say “SEE this is what’s in it. All good and natural ingredients”

It just helps me so much. It helps my research to ferret out all those magical ingredients that lead to sweet dreams of health and being goal weight thin.

Gosh one ingredient, I do not exaggerate, has as many letters as the entire alphabet.

For real.

It should also be noted that the person writing theĀ review and nicely breaking down all the ingredients ( they obviously sold product X) first off mentions (that this productĀ that contains all the letters of alphabet) is chemically demonstrated….

SoĀ there’s that, whatever that is.

Let’s establish this….

Just because a product tells you it’s made of “all natural ingredients”Ā  doesn’t really mean squat.

The term “natural” is common in the supplement industry, but doesn’t always mean it’s safe. In fact there is no legal definition for natural. Often many plants that grow in nature can be deadly and natural supplements can still have added unnatural ingredients.

All naturalĀ  supplements don’t always mix well with other medications we may be taking. be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any.

Pay attention boys and girls, the “all natural” thing is a huge marketing and selling gimmick designed to make you feel comfortable and good about using their products. It encourages you to buy them because, well gosh, it’s all natural so it’s gotta be super good for me, right?

Don’t buy the hype.

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Other things to consider..

Do you know the FDA ( food and drug administration in the U.S.) has actually banned many Ā “natural” substances that were being put into diet and weight loss aids and products?

Why you may ask?

Oh because of pesky little problems like accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath or even heart attacks from the stimulants ofĀ these “natural” products.Ā  Many of these natural ingredients are actually mother natures version of “speed”. They can accelerate your heart and breathing, leave you feeling jumpy, nervous or agitated or provide an upset stomach and headacheĀ as well as (maybe) have effects of curbing appetite ( most likely from other said issues it causes)

In the US, herbal products and food supplements are largely unregulated.

That is, the products are not screened or subject to FDA approval
prior to their going on the market.Ā  Rather, it is the product
manufacturer that has the responsibility to make sure that anything
being sold as a food supplement is safe… or to determine how much of what to put in the mix of everything.

For that reason, you will often see statements on herbal products or weight loss supplementsĀ sold in the US to the effect of:Ā  “This statement has not been evaluated by
the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or
prevent any disease”.

Let’s look at a current example….

one of the “natural” products on the market today that everyone is jumping on is green coffee bean extract derived from unroasted coffee beans. It is currently among the worlds most popular weight loss supplements.

Basically, keeping it short, it’s claim to fame is supposedly to cause more fat loss by increasing body heat.

Green coffee bean extract comes from coffee beans that haven’t been roasted. Coffee beans contain compounds known as chlorogenic acids. Some believe these compounds have antioxidant effects, help lower blood pressure, and help you lose weight. Roasting coffee reduces chlorogenic acid content.

It’s interesting to note in all the articles I read it stated it “may” help with weight loss or lowering blood pressure etc.

There isn’t much testing or proof done on this topic to be totally conclusive and because of this there is always a lack of evidence on it’s safety. Studies are small, not long term and for the most part poorly designed.

Because there is no regulation on this manufactures can use the amounts they choose in their products. As mentioned previously, the jury is still out on the fact there isn’t enough evidence to support the claims for this product.

Speaking of evidence ….

As I read this glowing report on this particular product, she indicated “studies” had been done on the effectiveness of it. Well, of course I wanted to see who had done them and what some of the results were.

I mean, in all fairness, let’s see what they revealed. Maybe I was being a bit unfair.

Well, it turns out the studies were actually done by the company selling the product. I might be a wee bit cynical here but, I don’t see that as some kind of scientific, conclusive proof.

And of course the contestants who used said wonder product, were losing all the weight.

A company doing their own testing, to me, is not the most compelling evidence.

In summary….

not just this product but thousandsĀ  of others are not well tested, have limited evidence for their claims, and are not regulated by food and drug administration on any level.

It’s important to be mindful of what you take, especially if you already take medications.

Also understandĀ that as sweet, good or well intending your pedaling neighbor or family member is, they are simply regurgitating the company driven info that comes to them in their sales packets. The majority most likely know nothing of the effects of ingredients that Ā are in products Ā beyond what they’ve been told.

And of course there is the simple truth that you will not find a magic formula to help you quickly knock off the weight to get your dream body.

You just have to get that the old fashioned way. Sensible, healthy eating, the right amount of calories for your body and purposeful exercise, that andĀ  that alone is your key to success.

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Detox Me!

Hand writing Time to Detox concept with blue marker on transparent wipe board.

 

Eat this! Don’t eat that! This food is bad. This food is good. Eat 6 times a day. Eat one meal and drink the rest. You need this supplement. You shouldn’t take that one. Drink this potion and it will cure all your ills. This tea will make you thin. Ā Wrap your fat belly in plastic wrap and get 6 pack abs. Drink this to “cleanse” your body. Follow this crazy regimen to get “clean”.

Have mercy. For the love of all things chocolate. Help me.

Help. me.

The times I have to keep my eyeballs from rolling outta my head.

As I’ve gotten older I’m more likely to call out nonsenseĀ Ā when I see it. Or maybe it’s not as much being older, perhaps wiser and simply paying attention and wanting to be intelligent in the ways of caring for myself.

I guess in some ways, it makes me sad when I see people buying ( literally) into hype when they could use their money for a lot of other things…. like you know… good food.

But we’re in a desperate world and people want to get fixed up “fast” and marketing companies know this and prey on those weaknesses.

Sadly, we don’t get fat overnight therefore, we won’t get thinner and more fit over night.

It’s a process that we have to go through one day at a time. Slow, steady, forward moving steps to losing the weight that has crept on from becoming more sedentary and careless with what we put into our mouths.

So among the snake oil and smoke and mirrors things that I’ve heard more about recently although it never goes away is this thing called…

Detox.Ā  Detox teas, drinks, cleanses and blah, blah, blah.

Use this drink or this combination of things to “detox” and clean your body. Lose lots of weight fast! Get healthy! Feel great!

Something about losing 21 lbs in 21 days? Like… if you’re still alive and not fogged over from starving….

Can I be blunt?

It’s bird poop. Awwww look how nicely I said that šŸ˜›

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If you missed science class back in the day, your body has a God given, built in detox system. If it wasn’t working, you’d know it.

The take away I get from people who decide to tough out doing a detox? They are miserable. They are hungry. They want food. They don’t want to drink everything that goes in their mouth. They would give their right arm for a steak. Or a donut.

Or coffee. Who willingly goes into some program that takes away coffee????

Any weight they “lose” will be easily gained back once they start on a normal diet again.

How frustrating must that be?

In all of these things, my heart really hurts for people wanting to be successful. They want to reach an ideal body weight and they want to live a healthier lifestyle and are willing to be a guinea pig in the hopes it will work.

More hocus pocus. Poof and nothings gone but your money… or your even temperament ’cause you’ve been a hungry bear.

Can I make a couple helpful suggestions?

Why not begin adding one or two new healthier foods into your daily diet? If you feed your body real, healthyĀ food ( and by that I mean as close to how it’s supposed to be naturally…or maybe 5 ingredients or less) you will be giving it lots of wonderful vitamins, nutrients and minerals it needs.

Want to clean your body? Eat plenty of fresh veggies and Ā fruits and drinkĀ adequate water. I can assure you a daily diet high in those things will move stuff through you šŸ˜›

Practice leaving some on your plate. ( really, you don’t have to clean your plate…you don’t. And you don’t need seconds either)

Make sure each meal contains an adequate amount of protein to satisfy hunger ( about 30% at each meal)

Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not. The meal bell chime going off doesn’t mean you have to put food in your face.

Eat enough to satisfy your hunger and stop… even if you have food still on your plate.

If you need a snack, be mindful of what you are snacking on. Sitting down at the computer with a bag of chips is a recipe for disaster.

Get out and move. Sounds simple and it is, but really, the hardest part is moving yourself out the door. Daily activity will not only help with weight loss but it’s also a tremendous mood booster.

Focus on the day you are in. Live it. Make good choices. Accept the bad ones when they come and move on. Don’t quit.

With a steady, practical approach you can have your cake and eat it too without ever havingĀ  to do a detox with the hope of getting “healthy”. Instead you’ll build a healthy lifestyle each single day.

 

The Biggest Loser And The Biggest Lies

weight loss

 

Weight loss. It seems to be on almost everyone’s list. Whether it’s those last nagging 5-10 lbs or 100lbs.

There’s one thing everyone probably feels the same on… they want the weight gone and they usually want it gone fast.

Instant gratification. Instant results. Look lean overnight. No flab. Fit. “Toned”.

It just doesn’t happen. You don’t get fat over night and you won’t get thinner over night.

Enter shows like “The Biggest Loser”.Ā  A game.Ā A competition. Winner takes all prize money and the claim of winning… not to mention a smaller body than what they started with. Shows like this tell us lies about healthy living. They tell lies about what youĀ need to do to have a level of success in becoming more fit.

Sadly, I’ve always viewed it as a show gambling with peoples lives. I always wondered what the real health effects could be to those who participated.Ā  Some of these people are well… huge… and they have them doing so much hard work and doing it like… a zillion times a day with a huge calorie deficit. What consequences could they suffer ?

The show also shows us some lies I believe we’re led to believe about weight loss.

Well interestingly enough an article just came out this week that I’ve been following…and can I say …. I have a lot of thoughts on it? Perhaps you’ve seen it on TV or the internet.

I mean… my two cents worth… but some of the things trouble me.

I’m certainly no “expert” or “professional” but I do view weight loss in a sane and practical manner. It’s worked for many and also people I know and have worked with.

The article overall was pointing out that the contestants metabolisms had slowed because of the extreme process they put their body through losing weight ( no surprise there) and that nearly all had gained their weight back ( and a few gained back more weight) the article cited that their bodies basically fought to get back to an ideal weight and that’s why they were gaining the weight back.

Ok… I do believe that we all have a weight “zone”. That is a place where our bodies are naturally, and biologically meant to be. It explains why you might think you want to weight 150… and you’re at 155… and you work like crazy to achieve that number… but without constant, rigid, determined discipline… you will go back to 155. YET…. it’s probably easier and more sustainable for you to stay and hold that weight than it is at 150 because your body might be naturally designed, biologically,Ā to be at the 155 weight.

Personally, I’ve found that to be true. As an athletic person I’ve realized I have a weight that I see when I’m in heavy training. I’m super lean and don’t ever have to think much about what I’m eating ( no, I don’t eat whatever, I still eat healthy) I realized when I’m not in heavy training ( like running 40-50 miles a week) by body naturally went back to where I was before heavy training. It’s a weight that I stay within 5 lbs of one way or the other. I don’t stress over it and I don’t think much about it. It’s pretty sustainable for me… meaning I don’t have to rigidly control my eating or exercise in unhealthy ways to stay there.

There is no way I can sustain the heavy training I do for a marathon or when I was ultra training, all the time. No matter how much mentally I might want to do it. Naturally, that kind of exercise will keep me pretty lean.

Same with contestants on this program. They worked them out 3-4 times a day. They worked out forĀ 7 hoursĀ a day, every day. One man reported burningĀ Ā 8,000-9,000Ā calories a day.

Do you see a problem here ??

Without this high level of calorie output, something will give.

Then, you take people who have been in a pretty deprived environment of all things they’ve loved… involving food….. you restrict them in crazy ways… they are hungry all the time….

then when the show is over…. they go back to their life… and here is what I believe ( and again, just my own thoughts and opinions)

you can put someone through the paces of losing weight by exercising them hard and drastically cutting calories, but if there isn’t a mental change with food… we’ve got problems boys and girls.

If they haven’t learned to build new positive habits to replace the negativeĀ or if they don’t have an understanding of WHY they eat… we’ve got problems.

People don’t weigh hundreds of pounds without there being deeper issues and problems that need addressed.Ā  If there hasn’t been behavioral changes they will go right back to what they know and what feels comfortable.

Yes, they all probably have some metabolic issues now due to what they put their bodies through. But when you gain back hundreds of pounds, that is an eating issue. There is no way someone’s “ideal” weight is 400 lbs. or 300 or whatever. You don’t get to that weight without eating food…and a lot of it.

So when they go back to old eating habits, and aren’t exercising in the insane way they did during the show… the writing is on the wall… and when they’ve been taken so far in the rapid weight loss direction ( because it’s so fast and crazy) their body will respond and start adding weight back on. Call it our bodies survival mode kicking in.

The article does say they are encouraged to exercise at least 9 hours a week and monitor their diets to keep the weight off. This is certainly sane and practical advice…but they have to do it.

This now becomes their responsibility…. and if they have the same negative habits in place or aren’t strong enough in new ones… they will slide back.

One contestant talks about how two treats can turn into a 3 day binge.Ā  Binge eating will obviously lead to a return of weight.

One man is only eating 800 calories a day in the “real” world. 800! Talk about messing with your metabolism.

Ok.. I will just say the whole article kinda left me with my mouth hanging open. One mans workout “routine” after the show….. was nothing short of brutal… workouts all through out his day…hours…Ā and with hardly enough food to support all of his exercise. No wonder his body didn’t want to give up fat.

I’ll tell you what troubles me most over this whole thing….well there’s a couple things….

First, I’m worried that overweight/obese people will see this and say… “well, see I’m just meant to be this way because it’s natural, biological” and try and justify it…kinda like the new “I have a thyroid disorder” reason for not being able to lose weight or being heavy ( and for the record… I have thyroid issues so I can say that.) I’ll say it again… no one is biologically meant to naturally, and in a healthy way, weigh hundreds of pounds.

The BIGGESTĀ  thing that got me in that article?

this line….”the only way to maintain weight loss is to be hungry all the time.”

Really? Really????

Why on earth do you think people fail at it? They hate being hungry! I hate being hungry. We aren’t meant to walk through our days miserable, hungry, and constantly thinking about food. The next meal. The next thing we can put in our mouth.

That is disordered thinking.

We have a life to live and it shouldn’t be focused on when we can consume our next meal, or being so hungry it’s all we can think about.

I lost weight slowly and steadily over a period of a couple years. I didn’t starve myself. I ate food. I learned to eat the right amounts of food. I didn’t walk around hungry ’cause I’m not into that kind of sick pain šŸ˜‰ It’s what has kept me successful… and others too who do this… you eat to lose weight and you don’t live in a state of being hungry.

Again, I’m certainly not some expert but I think this article and the show in itself reveal a few things .

  • Slow, steady weight loss is what is required for it to be sustainable and lasting.
  • Fueling our body with adequate and healthy foods with purposeful exercise is really the only way to achieve those goals of weight loss.
  • You are not on a time frame to make it happen. Live your life one day at a time, seeking to make good choices, forgiving yourself for not so good days and continuing to take steps forward.
  • Don’t quit. Know that things are going on even if you can’t sometimes “see” anything.
  • Without changing our negative habits, and understanding our relationship with food and why and when we eat it, lifestyle change will be hard.
  • More isn’t always better. This is a huge lie. Ā The extreme measures people went through show us that exercising for hoursĀ  during the day and drastically reducing our food will contribute to metabolic issues and our bodies will fight back against these things.

If you are working to lose weight remember there are no quick fixes or extreme measures to permanent success. There are no magic pills, potions, drinks or elixirs to make you thinner. (use that money to buy good food!) Putting on weight takes time, and taking off weight takes time. Don’t buy into overhyped lies that try to tell you any different.

So dear readers, have you read the article on The Biggest Loser contestants? What do you think about it? Do you ever think such extreme measures are successful? What has helped you be successful in weight loss?

 

 

Hocus Pocus Weight Loss

Hey boys and girls =)

So as life goes, and as I mentioned to you in yesterdays post on Motivation, I get inspiration and ideas from you, my 1.5 readers, and as mentioned, I love the fact that through my journey I’m able to motivate and hopefully inspire others to make lifestyle changes.

Yesterday, it presented me with a perfect opportunity for a new post.

But first, this disclaimer on how this inspiration occurred.

I’m gonna have to reveal I was in a store, in pursuit of a dress, I had seen the day before and I was back after it.

Like a hunter pursuing it’s prey.

You see when I’m not in full blown athletic mode, I delight in being totally feminine and have a weakness for cute dresses šŸ˜‰

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How cute and summer fun is this ?? I don’t usually care for orange…but it’s the right…orange… and plays up my tan. Not to mention the style is a homerun in my opinion =)

Hubby will now know I have a new dress šŸ˜‰ Oh well…. I’m confident he will like it too haha šŸ˜‰

Now….on with the show…..

After I had apprehended the dress and was ready to legally wed it, I wandered to the counter to make the transaction that would make usĀ a permanentĀ couple. The sales lady was one who has waited on me often and she is around my age.

She has often asked me what I “do” to look like I look. I’ve freely shared with her… and when I led a fitness challenge last Fall with 4 people she kept up with my stories I wrote in a little local magazine that tracked everyone’s progress.

I haven’t honestly seen her in awhile… till today… and I noticed she was remarkably thinner.

Of course I commented and told her I hadn’t seen her in awhile and noticed that she had really lost some weight.

She told me…. “when I talked to you during the time you were leading that fitness challenge it made me really think about things. I saw everything you had been doing and what you were doing with those people and I decided one morning that today was the day. I was going to do it!”

I commended her and said she looked good… and she responded “well I’ve lost more than…. a little weight… I’ve lost 42 pounds in 15 weeks.”

Ok… so at that point…. I kinda paused a bit……

That’s a good bit of weight to drop in such a short time…

One red flag showed up in my lil head.

She proceeded to tell me her doctor ( one locally in town) had this “diet” through her spa clinicĀ  and she had decided to follow that .

I listened as she rattled off things like no fruits, only certain veggies, “high” protein (8 oz. meat a day) Ā using “their” products, no natural or refined sugars, ( limited artificial sweeteners??) no breads, no carbsĀ etc…

( red flag 2 is going up in my head)

Till I finally blurted out…. “What do you eat??”

She pulls a small bag of chopped cucumber out of her drawer.

“well, I snack on things like this” (like….there are almost zero calories in that)

Ok I’m all for veggie snacks…. but I wanna eat whatever the heckĀ kind ofĀ veggies I want….not only certain ones.

She tells me she has “their” oatmeal for breakfast, one of their protein bars for lunch (eek that’s it ??)Ā and some chicken and veggies for dinner… “and then there’s some supplements…..those….help. It’s amazing how little food you need.”Ā  ( I feel my breathing getting shallow….)

Now…. that third red flag is up.

Hey, I get that. I’ve learned it doesn’t take tons of food to deal with your hunger and satisfy your bodies needs. But then there is a point where you’ve crossed that line of not enough food.

Then she deals the final blow……

“Well, they really discourage exercise for awhile”

I am pretty sure at this point……. my eyes…..were bugging…..out.Ā  Ā In fact, I know they were.

All the bells and whistles Ā were now going off in me. I wondered how many more warning flags were gonna fly before my head exploded. I was kinda chewing on my tongue at this point….

I guess I was looking a bit blankly at her and she said….. almost whispering….Ā “well, the calories are so low, they want you to conserve your energy”

Seriously. The times I deserve an Oscar. Or an Emmy .Or some kinda statue for keeping control of my face… or the things that threaten to fly outta my mouth.

I hear myself ask…. “How many calories a day are you eating?”

To which she responds…… “I was afraid to count them in the beginning…. I’m not sure it was even 1,000.”

WHAT? WHAT?

I felt my head getting light just imagining it…. I said…. ” How did you manage to work? or do anything?”

She admitted in the beginning it was difficult…Ā  I cannot even imagine.

I couldn’t help it…. I told her to be careful dipping her calories that low it didn’t mess with her metabolism.

She looked kinda blankly at me…. maybe it was the lack of carbs to supply energy to her brain…. and I knew she didn’t get it.

She said she wanted to get to exercising but that she hadn’t had the energy to do so.

I bet…..

With calories that low I’m surprised she could work and think all day long. Actually she probably couldn’t. Your brain can get very foggy with a serious lack of carbs.

She did look good. She probably doesn’t need to lose anymore weight. I hope when she comes off their “program”Ā  she keeps it off.

Can I say this ?

First, I’m surprised a doctor would honestly put someone on such a restricted, low calorie diet. This lady was not horribly over weight, or into the “obese” range where they sometimes do drastic things for quick loss. I think of this as hocus pocus weight loss… now you see it… now you don’t.

Please hear me that I’m not shooting down her efforts. I applaud her for wanting to make changes. But if you’ve learned anything about me at this point it’s how much I hate this stuff.

Things that cost people money…a lot of it. Losing weight shouldn’t cost you a lot of money. Go buy honest food.

She also paid for the privilege to starve and buy their “supplements” and “food”.

I do hope when she’s off the program she will be able to keep her weight off eating normally again. This is the BIGGEST problem with these types of “diets”. Once you start adding real food back in, your body responds accordingly, especially when it’s been deprived.

This ( to me) falls into the category of those weight loss hype things. You pay big money, for their stuff, and yeah she lost weight, but she could’ve done it safer, and been more comfortable doing it ( not starving and dealing with all the consequences that come with drastic food deprivation)Ā even if it took her a little longer to reach that goal.

Along with this program, they’ve not taught her about sane nutrition or allowing exercise to be a part of her fitness regime. I’m assuming as she is allowed more calories, she will have the energy to exercise.

Please….please tell me… I’m not the only one horrified that you aren’t taking enough food in during your day that you can’t even workout???

Hocus Pocus weight loss programs abound right now in this country. Most are simply after your money. Lots are sold by your next door neighbor….who knows nothing of nutrition or weight loss….or what’s in the products she/he is selling you.Ā  In this case, a doctors office offered up this great program….yikes.

Anyway, I’ll save my rant on Multi Level Marketing trends for another post.

Weight loss….slow….steady…sane….eat real food….toss in some physical activity… the only way to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

Have you ever participated in a rapid weight loss program? What were your results? Did they last ?