The Final Fifty











{April 3, 2013}   For My Sister

My sister posted this link on my Facebook and asked me what I thought of it. I looked at it and knew I was going to end up writing a novella about it, so I figured I may as well just post it, because other people might find it useful. Here’s a screen shot of it as it first displayed in my browser window:

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 8.31.09 AM

Note the pixelation in the magazine’s logo, and the alignment of the lines on the logo with the other lines in the top of the page. Now, this was put together by a novice at best, and you can bet money that a reputable magazine, or really, any mainstream magazine, would invest enough money to pay someone who can actually build a professional looking web page. All of the pictures are terribly pixelated.

The URL for the page starts with “www.womenshealthtrends.com”, whereas if I Google “Women’s Health”, I find their actual website at “www.womenshealthmag.com/“. Using the search feature on their website, I searched for “green coffee extract” and “colon cleanse” and was unable to find any articles about either of these products. Finally, I searched for the author’s name, “Helen Hasman”, and came up with nothing.

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 8.31.58 AM

Finally, the writing and editing on the original page is terrible. No magazine would publish an article with such terrible grammatical errors, erroneous word choices, and even an entire portion of the article repeated. An editor would catch those things even faster than I did, and even a poor one would never let that through. So this article fails the first test of legitimacy. They’re trying to usurp any trust people put in Women’s Health Magazine to sell them these products. Strike one.

There is so much bullshit on the internet about getting rid of toxins in your body. So lets address that first. Yes, there are toxic compounds that we encounter, in and on our food, in products we use around the house and on our bodies, in our local environments, and lots of other places. Your body is actually really damned good at dealing with them, but yes, some of them do end up being stored in the fatty tissue in your body.

This is actually one of the reasons why you either want to lose weight really slowly, at 1-2 pounds per week, or why you need to be under the supervision of a doctor if you want to lose weight faster. If you are losing fat slowly, your body is more than capable of dealing with any toxic compounds that are stored in that fat in a way that will keep you from getting sick from those compounds.

BUT EVEN IF that were not the case, the first thing you need to ask before you shell out money for any of the crap advertised on the internet is if there is any reason to believe that this product will make that difference, not to mention looking into what risks it might also carry.

For green tea extract, there are some studies that indicate it might help with both weight loss and blood pressure. I found this article in the Los Angeles Times. Read it all, though. The study only had 16 people in it. That is an incredibly small sample size, and the researchers, rightly, say that it suggests that further study may be warranted. That is not an endorsement of it just yet. The study has to be repeated with more people, not to mention the long term effects of the supplement have not been studied, so, for my part at least, I don’t think it’s something I would try until I know that it’s safe.

The second product, I have no way of knowing what the actual ingredients are. Oh, I clicked on the link and looked at the bullshit on the page talking about how some people carry up to 30 lbs of toxic waste in their colons!!!!! And it tells me some of the “all natural” ingredients it contains. But there is no complete ingredient listing on the page so that I can actually know what I’m buying. And the claims are sufficiently hyperbolic that there’s no way I’d buy it. If it were really that miraculous, they’d be going through proper channels that would enable them to make a hell of a lot more money off of it.

Finally, I want to address claims of things that will make you lose weight without changing your lifestyle. When it comes to losing weight, for most healthy people it comes down to basic math. Are you burning up more energy than you are taking in? If you are, you will lose weight. If you’re not, you won’t lose weight, and depending on how much you’re eating, you may gain weight. It’s not rocket science.

Yet so many people are looking for an easy way out, and that enables these snake oil salesmen to make a killing off of a combination of body shaming, laziness, people’s inability to face their own food issues, and our societies general obsessions with convenience and whatever the “next big thing” is.

If something promises that it is going to change your body without you having to do anything different, you should be asking what the hell it is doing to your body to make that happen. They all seem to attribute it to “boosting your metabolism” or something like that, but your metabolism is carefully regulated by your body to get enough nutrients out of your food. Amping it up, even if you could, isn’t really a good idea. Metabolism of food, which involves cellular respiration, tends to create free radicals, which cause cell damage and are thought to be partially responsible for aging (and not just visible aging – back away from the skin cream commercials.)

You should also be wondering what will happen to that change when you stop taking the product. Because, if you still haven’t changed anything in your eating habits or activity levels, if you stop taking the supplements, you will put the weight right back on.

There are no quick and easy ways to lose weight, and even some things that worked in the past that lead to really bad consequences (Fen Phen, anyone?) Even weight loss surgery requires HUGE lifestyle changes. If you want to really change your body, for the better and forever, you must must must change your habits permanently, or it will never last.

If you’re interested to learn more about toxins and your body, this article is thorough and has some great sources linked within, and here is another. The doctor’s website seems pretty credible. He does sell some “natural health products” that I haven’t looked through yet, but the article doesn’t contain any mention of them. He also recommends a full-body cleanse that  involves just eating fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of water, getting good rest, and minimizing your exposure to potential sources of toxic compounds. It’s probably not necessary to do anything to cleanse your body at all, but none of the advice he gives is dangerous or counterintuitive to good health and weight loss. If you decide to try it for very long, please keep in mind that if you’re cutting out all meat and most other sources of protein, you’ll need to find a way to get complete proteins into your diet.

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