Out There: No Shortcuts

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Since moving to Utah last year, I’ve taken up a new hobby of honing my BS detector.

You see, my new state is a bizarre epicenter of multi-level marketing schemes, many of which center around health and wellness. Feeling tired? My friend’s sister sells an all-natural supplement for that. Need to lose weight? I know six people on Facebook who sell various versions of magic nutrition shakes. Want to find the Fountain of Youth? It’s probably on display at my neighbor’s next gathering, where I can nosh on free cookies while learning about the latest release of RejuviWonderWow (now with extra-nourishing Vitamin XYZ!)

“This will change your life!” they all exclaim.

Every now and then, my husband will come home from work with yet another handout about the latest product to unlock the secrets of everlasting health.

“The guys want to know your take on this one,” he says as he rolls his eyes. Because I have a doctoral degree in a health field, Neil’s coworkers frequently send me details on the latest product to short-track their health and fitness goals, wondering if it will pass muster.

I’ve yet to find one that does.

Instead, what I find is that most of these fat-burning, muscle-building, age-defying wonders make a lot of assertions with very little science. No clinical studies are performed. FDA approval is nonexistent. Ingredient lists tout “proprietary blends” that could be legit elements, or they could be nothing more than ground-up houseplants (this has happened). Half-assed, biased surveys draw vague conclusions that can be massaged into claims of effectiveness:

“Burn calories without exercising!”

“Gain muscle mass in just three days!”

“Reverse the signs of aging and train like you’re 20 again!”

“Look at these before and after pictures! She is LITERALLY a whole new person!” (Literally! Look at the pictures. She transformed from your grandmother to Gisele Bundchen!)

It’s not just supplements and powders, of course. At my gym this week, I saw a woman wearing a wide belt. Thinking it was some sort of supportive weightlifting gear, I inquired about it. She said she sold them (of course!), but it wasn’t a weightlifting belt—it was a corset to “train” her waist to be smaller. Apparently, if diet and exercise isn’t your bag, you can just squish your internal organs until they take a more appealing shape.

“Would you like to try it out?” she offered. At least, I think that’s what she said—I couldn’t hear her over the klaxon of my BS detector.

It’s easy to assume this phenomenon is confined to my state, but miracles are sold all over the world. What’s more, people are buying ‘em on every street corner. This isn’t a Utah problem, it’s a dumb people problem.

Look, I get it—the idea of a magic potion is appealing. If most of us could lose weight with a magic powder to sprinkle on our hot fudge sundaes, we would. Turning back the clock with a capsule sounds phenomenal. I love running, but if I had the option of taking a cardio-replicating supplement instead of slogging through wet, heavy snow tomorrow morning, I’d pop the pill and enjoy my warm bed.

Except no such pill actually exists. We’re looking for a quick fix where there is none. If these were valid products, we’d currently be living in a world free of disease, obesity, and crow’s feet. Everyone would have the ability to spontaneously run a marathon, and pizza would finally be an acceptable breakfast food.

But here’s what does work: You get out of bed every morning and you do the workout. You eat the vegetables. You drink the water. You go to bed at a decent time, and you wake up and do it all over again. Most importantly, you stop spending your money on BS.

It’s not fast, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it’s proven. That’s more than those capsules can say.

There is no magic pill. There is no secret potion. There’s just you and the effort you’re willing to put in.

You want to change your life? Better get to work.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke.

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