Don’t waste your money on this garbage.

Every time I see a new scam for weight loss, I shed a tear for the people who are taken in. But when I see major retailers pushing snake oil, the tears dry up and are replaced with fiery heat under my collar.

Saw this at Walmart the other day – absolutely nothing new here, they’ve been doing this for a long time, but this is the latest example.

Scam 3

There’s no excuse for this. It’s taking advantage of people who are trying to release weight, selling them something that is just as valuable as the gravel in their driveways.

There is no magic bullet.

The large print giveth, but the small print taketh away: “Kelli used C. canephora robusta with diet and exercise and has been remunerated. Average weight loss with C. canephora robusta was 10.95 lbs in 60 days with a low-calorie diet and 3.7 lbs in 8 weeks with a calorie-reduced diet and moderate exercise.”

Scam 0

Do you happen to detect a trend here? As I mentioned in an earlier post, reducing caloric intake and increasing caloric consumption (i.e. exercise) will cause you to release weight even if you:

  • Take HydroxyCut
  • take homeopathic drops
  • sing an aria from “Aida”
  • stand on your head and spit nickels, or
  • eat a spoonful of Portland cement with each meal.

If  you weren’t sure, C. canephora robusta is also known as “robusta coffee,” a cousin to arabica coffee, and is often used in espresso because of its stronger flavor and increased bitterness.

Coffee. Trying to recycle the “green coffee extract” scam. Let’s look at all the ingredients:

Scam1

You can see that what you’re getting is basically caffeine and some other random herbs. And for weight release, it’s junk. It doesn’t work. And they know it.

To release weight, eat less and/or exercise more, preferably both. If you set up a consistent caloric deficit, you’ll gradually release weight in a healthy way (unless you really have a medical condition preventing it, in which case see your physician.) Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s hard; as I saw posted by a Facebook friend just today:

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And that’s another conversation. But don’t waste your money at Walmart or elsewhere on this worthless garbage.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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Some thoughts on weight loss from a redditor

Every now and then I stumble across something on reddit that I think deserves a wider audience; there are a lot of folks out there who don’t have any idea what reddit is, or what to do with it.

In the CMV (Change My View) subreddit, people post viewpoints and ask others to convince them that they’re right or not. A recent position: “Any fat person can lose weight by simply adjusting their diet and exercise.”

I’ve posted about releasing weight before, usually in the context of the scammy nostrums people sell to take advantage of those who want to give up pounds but can’t seem to. Redditor /u/eavc posted the following response, which is cogent and relevant. I share it here for your consideration.

It is true that any person will lose weight if diet and exercise are properly adjusted. The important part of your question is whether any person can actually make the adjustments to diet and exercise to produce (and sustain) weight loss.

People are not robots. We are subject to forces of emotion, motivation, willpower, bias, and so on.

That which seems objectively simple to accomplish in isolation can be exceedingly difficult in practice. I believe that everyone can directly observe this to be true with a moment’s reflection on their own shortcomings and struggles.

  • “I’m not going to procrastinate anymore.”
  • “I won’t yell at him anymore.”
  • “I’m going to go running every day.”
  • “I’ll never again drink until I throw up.”
  • “I’m going to stop spending so much money.”
  • “I won’t let sports make me this angry again.”
  • “It’s irrational for me to be so jealous.”
  • “Why should I care if I’m not invited to some party?”

Pain, sadness, boredom, loneliness, routine, socially embedded temptation, fatigue, stress, cognitive biases, competing demands, family crisis, fear, money issues, disease, social learning, etc. — all of these are capable of derailing sincere efforts at personal change.

If there anything in your life you have decided to change and yet have not been able to change, then this argument should ring true.

A person has become fat because they are not good at regulating diet and exercise for whatever reason (biological, psychological, social-cultural, environmental/circumstantial, etc.). Almost by definition, these are people who struggle to adjust diet and exercise. It is therefore like saying “Any depressed person can be happier by simply adjusting their thoughts and feelings” or “Any anxious person … by caring less about the future” or “Sex addict … by choosing not to engage in sexual acts” or “debtor … by earning more and spending less” or “smoker .. by not smoking.” These are true but useless statements, because the person in question practically lacks the abilities required given their current set of circumstances. Advice for all of these kinds of problems centers on how to change psychology or circumstances rather than on the simple idea of the end goal (eat less, smoke less, yell less).

That is why there are books and communities and medicines and science and billions of dollars centered on these kinds of personal change efforts. What’s required is a change in the environment/circumstances or in the psychology – and that’s not easy to do at all.

Let me flip this around. Can you imagine a scenario where a person cannot successfully accomplish the needed adjustment to diet and exercise?

Go over to a place like /r/progresspics[1] and read comments on how people were able to accomplish their transformation. Generally, you’ll hear about some fairly specific set of factors that helped them start and then persist in their journey. New ideas, supportive friends, emotional growth, frightening experiences, a definite system, a change in life situation, regular efforts to stay motivated, and so on.

Now while reading something like that, start mentally deleting the factors that they are crediting. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my wife” – take away the wife. “I found boxing and that was what clicked after years of nothing clicking” – boxing was never a sport. “I finally decided to prioritize my self and take care of myself” – they were struggling to make it day to day due to environmental stressors (small kids, money problems, work stress, emotionally abusive person in life) and couldn’t focus on personal growth. “The doctor said I would die before I was 50” – the complications of overweight not being as present for them and the doc never delivering that warning.

Then, there’s the reality that most of us are flawed or face challenge in many ways at once. It’s not just being overweight – it’s being overweight and poor. It’s not just being fat – it’s being fat and depressed. Fat and short-tempered. Fat and failing some classes. Fat and an emotionally absent father. Fat and financially irresponsible. Overweight and socially anxious. And generally the list is much longer than just two problems. Many people who want to be better people are pouring a lot of energy into working on something other than being overweight, and it leaves little for the other problem. Conversely, many who successfully lose a lot of weight do so by streamlining and focusing their attention on that specific problem at the expense of other things they could have focused on instead.

All this to say, personal change requires work, and some forms of personal change require so much work as to be practically impossible given the resources and energy available to accomplish that work. That’s why successful weight loss often requires much much more than just the idea of eating less and exercising more. And until the person finds that other thing that is required for their situational factors to shift enough to change the behavior, they are unlikely to be successful in adjusting diet and exercise over the long run.

EDIT: I want to add something to speak to the other side of the coin because some comments have rightly pointed out that this may come across as fatalistic. I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility and personal growth.

If you have something in your life causing problems or holding you back, I would encourage you to look for solutions and – if it’s important enough of a thing – to not give up. I have worked with a lot of people with mental health issues, for example, who say, “I can’t” to things that they absolutely are capable of doing and do go on to do. An attitude of pessimism is often a self-fulfilling prophecy and certainly limits the chances we have to get lucky with the solution to the puzzle or simply to break through due to persistence. The synthesis of my views would be this: we are shaped by many forces but are also capable of ingenuity, resiliency, and change. If you attempt something critically important and fail, either try again, try a new approach, or try something else.

Change is not as simple as ‘eat less’ because behavior is largely the product of a network of causal factors. And for the exact same reason, change is also rarely impossible – there are many factors that can be tweaked up and down the causal chain, though it can take A LOT of effort and probably resources and external support as well. The right small shift can alter the overall set of circumstances and tip the outcome in another direction. And sometimes, it’s something as simple as time or trying again.

To lose weight, take these drops (oh, and eat a 1200 calorie diet…)

homeopathy-debunked-because-its-just-water

It’s not good medicine for a representative of one nutritional product to bash those who rep for another. In my world of ethics, it’s just not done. As a result, I won’t mention any product names in this post, but I want to make a general comment about the way many weight-loss products are advertised and hyped.

Below you’ll find an example, using a homeopathic product as the teacher in the moment, which claims to flush fat and toxins out of your body.

The product concerned contains a panoply of things like Nux Vomica, Ignatia Amara, and about 8 others at 6x and 12x dilutions; the instructions call for placing 10-15 drops under the tongue three times a day.

Oh, yes… and also to eat a 125o-calorie diet while using the products (which cost $150.00 for a bottle of each).

The science behind homeopathic dilutions guarantees that at dilutions of 6X and 12X, there is virtually *no* active ingredient whatsoever in this product – no molecules are left. The physics of Avogadro’s number is incontrovertible.

If you consider the instructions for use of this product, and completely eliminate any reference to the product being referenced, any patient who faithfully complies with these guidelines will have success with weight loss.

Given the average caloric intake of 2,000 KCal for a female, a 1250 calorie diet will result in consistent weight loss, especially when combined with water intake and regular exercise. This weight loss will occur whether or not the patient

* takes homeopathic drops
* sings an aria from “Aida”
* stands on her head and spits nickels, or
* eats a spoonful of portland cement with each meal.

If you are a person of science and reason, you owe it to yourself to take a hard look at the scientific reality of what is going on with homeopathic or other similar weight-loss products, instead of being dazzled by all the marketing weasel words.

The Old Wolf has spoken.