I’m a night owl. Always have been, always will be. This means I’m often up during those hours of the night, when regular TV shows give way to the flood of infomercials. That time of the night when you’re flipping channels and suddenly you realize you’re in the middle of a hardcore marketing blitz. And nothing is vended more at that hour than products to improve your appearance. There are special bras that push you up, special underwear that slim you down, special machines that hang you upside down, and, of course, special fitness programs to blast it off.
Last night when the info-hours rolled around, I hit the mother load. So, while watching the advertisements for all these exciting, “fat-blasting” systems, I decided to pay particular attention not so much to their differences, but to the similarities. And after viewing each of these products for only a few minutes, I noticed three common factors I would like you to be aware of the next time you are tempted to succumb to some late-night shopping:
- The exaggerated weight-loss tally. Safe weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. I repeat, SAFE WEIGHT LOSS IS 1-2 POUNDS PER WEEK. Any credentialed, reputable, healthcare professional won’t tell you anything different. It is possible for someone to lose more in a week, but the general recommendation is 1-2 pounds per week. (I’ve heard that repetition gets your point across.) That being said, if you’re going to purchase one of these infomercial products, do not be romanced by the idea of losing “11 pounds in 3 days” (I heard that on one of the infomercials). Rapid, unhealthy weight loss is often gained back later…or sooner. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race.
- The well-conditioned, already-in-shape models, posing as satisfied customers. I’ll let you in on a little secret — the models with the fantastically ripped bodies in the infomercials train like beasts. You know those women with the flat abs and the tight round glutes? Their training regimens involve more than sexy dancing, shaking phallic-shaped objects, and using light balls for resistance training (notice a theme here?). In fact, two of the models in one of the infomercials that I saw last night have competed in the same shows as me. These women dedicate some serious sweat, time, and hard work to looking the way they do. Don’t beat yourself up if you purchase one of these infomercial products and you’re not doing your laundry on your abs by the weekend.
- The barely-visible, nearly-transparent, ‘Typical results may vary’ disclaimers. It’s like the fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, print, on your cell phone bill. After you cut through the barrage of superlatives inserted into the cleverly worded script, and the enticing visual fireworks, you’re left with the disclaimer, which drills down to the core — “Typical results may vary. Results are achieved by following a regular fitness program and a balanced diet.” So you’re telling me regular exercise and a balanced diet will get me in shape?! No way! I know you are so sick of hearing it, but one does not work without the other. Exercise and a balanced diet need each other to tango; after all, it does take two, right? Next time one of these infomercials comes on, step a little closer to the TV and read the fine print (don’t worry, it isn’t bad for your eyes).
I am not discouraging you from buying any infomercial fitness systems. In fact, some of the products provide a fantastic way to exercise at home. (I, myself, have purchased some exercise DVDs late at night, Winsor Pilates rocks!) I just want you to keep a realistic mindset upon beginning any of these systems, and set realistic goals so you can achieve them and keep going. It’s easy to give up on exercising if you think everyone else is getting extraordinary results, but you’re only getting modest (i.e. typical) results. One last point, always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program (especially the hard core ones)!