Since the dawn of time (or at least the beginning of having enough food to get fat) we've wanted a quick way to lose weight. Desperate for something easy, we'll even suppress our usual skepticism.
Think about it. If you read about magic beans that grow into money trees, would you buy them? No, because you know how to acquire money and foliage isn't it. What about a commercial for a car that runs on tap water? You wouldn't run out to buy one - you'd think, "If it's so great, why aren't they all over the place?"
Yet, dangle the phrase "weight loss" and watch us throw our hard-earned dollars at just about anything. Sure, those commercials, books and advertisements can be quite convincing - but I assure you, with little effort, access to the Internet, and about 30 minutes of your time, you can debunk most of them.
I'll give you an example.
Hormone solutions (injections and homeopathic drops) are hugely popular - touted in clinics, day spas, etc. Advertisements are everywhere - radio, print ads, Craigslist, the Internet ... you name it. Tales of 20, 30, 50 pounds lost abound. You can't help but be intrigued. Right?
Do some quick research. I prefer credible websites like the National Institutes of Health's PubMed Central (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/), the Food and Drug Administration (http://www.fda.gov), the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov), etc. When reviewing the efficacy of diet aids, you want peer-reviewed research. If you don't feel up to slogging through scientific jargon, stick with reputable sites like WebMD or the Mayo Clinic. Whichever site you use, pay close attention to who owns the site, is extolling the product's benefits and stands to gain a profit. Any conflict of interest should signal trouble.
Briefly researching the popular weight-loss hormone will likely find you scratching your head. You see, none of the current science supports any claim that it helps people lose weight. Some studies found hormone solutions no better than placebo. That's not to say people aren't losing weight on these popular programs - but it's the "very low calorie diets" that are doing it, not the hormone. You'd be better off saving hundreds of dollars following a low calorie diet for free.
Another hugely important question for assessing weight loss support (whether a service or product) is: Can I maintain this change for the rest of my life? If the answer is "no" then chances are you will regain the lost weight. Your previous lifestyle will re-emerge.
Remember, the only way to lose weight is a daily, caloric deficit. Period. The most common recommendation is to cut 250-1,000 calories per day (depending on lifestyle, age, gender). That deficit will result in about 0.5 to 2 pounds lost per week - over time.
Do your research; listen to your skeptical voice and save your money. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit www.azphysix.com.