To Your Health
April, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 04)
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If you find it difficult to identify these quick-fix solutions to getting in shape, ask yourself the following questions, based on The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (3rd ed., Wiley 2006). If your answer to any of these questions is yes, the product is likely a quick-fix that's just too good to be true.

  • Does it make claims of "revolutionary" or "miraculous" results, or use scare tactics, emotional appeals or a money-back guarantee to lure you in? Is there science to support these "proven results"?
  • Does it use nonscientific terms like "rejuvenate," "detoxify" or "balance your body with nature"? Does it claim to increase stamina, strength or immunity?
  • Does it offer "proof" based on personal testimonials (often by paid actors) rather than sound science?
  • Does it recommend taking supplements as "insurance" for everyone or encourage taking very large doses of nutrients? Remember, supplements can be highly beneficial, but taking too much may be harmful. These decisions should be made with your health care provider.
  • Does it claim that this one product can cure all that ails you, from arthritis to cancer to sexual dysfunction?
  • Does it make unrealistic claims such as "reverses the aging process" or "cures disease," or does it promise to be "quick and easy"?
  • Does it blame the food supply as the source of health problems, disparage government regulations or attempt to discredit the advice of recognized medical authorities?
  • Does it boast a "secret formula" or fail to list ingredients or possible side effects on the label?

An honest evaluation of these questions should prevent you from buying into a misleading quick-fix. To all of our dismay, there is no magic pill that makes you thin and healthy. A long-term fitness plan, tailored to your interests and health needs, is the only sustainable way to get and stay in shape. The concept is complex in its simplicity: eat less, move more.

You Deserve It

In our celebrity-obsessed culture, we have been brainwashed to believe long-term success requires having a personal trainer, personal chef and personal nutritionist at our beckon call. If you aspire to be a swimsuit model or the latest pop music icon, perhaps these things, plus five hours a day in the gym, would be necessary. But for most of us, all we really need is a plan and some motivation. We don't expect family, friends or jobs to change overnight, and we should give ourselves the same latitude. It's more important to take a moderate approach to a long-term plan than to achieve remarkable, but unsustainable short-term results.

There's no way around the fact that diet and exercise are essential for a healthier, longer life. Making decisions you are proud of can change your self-image and your entire perspective on life. Most Americans are overbooked, overtired and overextended:working, running children to various events, doing constantly for others. Your body is one of the few things in the world that is uniquely yours. So indulge - and give yourself the gift of good health.