Lose 21 Pounds in 7 Days

Lose 21 pounds in 7 days….is a great big fat lie.

Unfortunately…it’s the kind of lie that the almost every successful health & fitness business uses to sell their products & services.

Because, as the saying goes, “if you want to succeed in business, it’s better to sell aspirin instead of vitamins.

Vitamins are fine; they’re healthy…they’re good for you. But aspirin cures your pain. Aspirin isn’t a nice-to-have kind of product, it’s a must-have kind of product.”

And if you’re selling health, fitness, weight loss, longevity, etc…. selling aspirin means selling:

  • Diet books that promise amazing results with little effort
  • TV shows like The Biggest Loser that promise amazing results in a very short time
  • Subliminal audio programs that will re-program your self-conscious mind to melt body-fat while you sleep
  • Health Club memberships that are big on promises and small on results
  • Cheap fitness equipment peddled on late night tv
  • Exercise videos starring ex porn stars
  • and, my favorite….supplements & drugs that promise amazing results with absolutely zero effort

And this brings me to my question o’ the day.

Is it possible to sell Health Habits as aspirin?

Because, right now…for most people….selling a healthy lifestyle is exactly like selling a vitamin. A great big horse-pill of a vitamin that reeks of vitamin B.


  1. Unfortunately people only want a quick fix and don’t want to have to put any hard work into getting results. After they try several of these items above, they give up. We wonder why there are so many overweight people today. The reason is they are all trying this junk.

  2. To me it’s all about results.

    If you’re going to push a diet pill, it better work.

    If you’re going to push a program, it better work.

    Regardless of how controversial something might be, our job isn’t to choose what’s right or not, but to educate people on the how and why in health. So if that means we push a diet pill, like I said, make sure it works.

    Just my opinion.

  3. As much as it would be nice to think you could sell a healthy lifestyle as a must-have, that’s not how humans are wired… at least most of us. We look way too much in the short-term and often forget about the long term implications. Look at how many of us are smoking… driving recklessly, or eating junk food.. or drinking alcohol… or doing drugs.. all short term pleasure. Even outside health, like cheating on your spouse, and ignoring the long term guilt.

  4. I have fought with this a lot over the years. It’s not so much that I need a quick fix, as it’s been such a struggle (5+ years) I am ready to have some success or perhaps just give up. So when something promises fast results it piques my interest.

    The reality is diet is about 60-80% of the success you will find, and only through caloric restrictions. The key to caloric restriction is finding a way to do this that is comfortable with your day to day. However in my experience strict calorie counting fails also, because you have to be insanely rigid and it’s not even possible sometimes to be that rigid. Serving sizes can be deceiving, you have to weigh everything, nutrition facts can be just plain wrong on packaging and so forth. I find pure calorie restriction also pins me more to processed foods as it’s just easier to know, or think you know, how many calories you’re eating. You can guess if you’re on track by watching your weight closely, but I find this is also problem-some because weight can fluctuate by several pounds day to day just due to water, especially if you have very strenuous workouts. It can be morale destroying to see the weight move in any fashion upwards, no matter how rational you are or how informed you are about it not being weight, but fat to be concerned with. You can’t do a DEXA scan every morning to see what is going on with fat, but when you lose fat you typically lose weight and that is easily measured daily.

    So what is the solution? I am not the one to ask as I am still battling my weight, but the most promising thing I have seen so far are two routes:
    1) Medically assisted (appetite suppressants, food provided, hormonal profiles, etc…) – I did quite well on a diet like this as it was structured and some of the pain was taken out by appetite suppression. I got within about 20lbs of seeing my abs before work screwed up my life and I was shipped out of country.
    2) Intermittent fasting – I have recently taken this up; it seems to be working well. I lost 5.6lbs my first week on it, hunger is not that hard to deal with and there is a definite structure. Not only is their structure but it is in many ways what I would call a “Firewall” between me and food. Before I was trying to eat 6 times a day, that means 6 times a day I was trying to figure out what the heck to eat, I was essentially FOCUSED on food for the entire waking time period. With intermittent fasting I have a block of time to eat, outside that I don’t have to think about food and just tell myself it’s not time to eat when food pops in my head. This not only allows my body to balance out during the fasting periods, but when it becomes time to eat I get full faster. It is easier to recognize when I have eaten enough and I actually ENJOY food more. Right now I feel like this is a silver bullet, but I am scared of silver bullets.

    The solution is also not to be more active, I have been quite active for a long time, sometimes more than others but always more than the average person. You cannot exercise more then you can eat, I think exercise helps and if applied correctly can make your results go higher then without diet, but the reality is if you eat more calories a day then you need you’re not going to lose any weight. You have to find some way to do this, for some it may just be eating less of their plates, avoiding snacks, or changing their foods to healthier ones but whatever it is you have to be able to do it comfortably.

  5. Hey Doug, I missed this post on your blog, oddly enough, I used the same snake oil salesman in my blog post today. I was unaware you had used the same image recently.

    I think some people want to be duped or believe in quick fixes which would explain why crappy gym equipment sells on late night TV etc… These types of get fit quick with zero effort products peddle the hope that undo a lifetime worth of damage with zero effort and in a short time span. It’s an appealing thought, just not reality unfortunately.

  6. Yeah I’m absolutely fed up of the nonsense that’s being thrown around the internet about fat loss and quick-fix results in 2weeks etc.

    Whatever happened to consistency, hardwork and determination!?

  7. I think that those of us who have studied and worked hard in our respected professions, be it fitness, diet/nutrition, public health, medicine, whatever and/or those who HAVE achieved great looks, health, and balance through a healthy lifestyle — we need to go on a world tour together! We need to show the world what healthy lifestyle looks like. We need to market the RIGHT approach as cleverly as the snake oil salespeople. It seems the entertainment/celebrity/over-‘media-ized’ public needs some sort of dazzling blitz to get them to ‘get it’. Alternatively, I do know that in the US, based out of Colorado, I believe, is kept a register of people who have attained and sustained fitness by healthy lifestyle. Perhaps, it’s time for the keepers of this information to blast it public.

  8. I would like to dispute your claim that vitamins don’t reduce your pain. I used to have migrain headaches often until I started taking high quality (pharmaceutical grade), complete and balanced supplements. I have since thrown away my extra strength Tylenol since I never use them.

  9. Great post! No such thing as a quick fix in life. If you want good health you need to work on it. No secrets, we all could do it. Many of us just work really hard on all the excuses that keep us from being healthy. Health is a lifestyle, life is a long time! That means quick fixes are crap!

  10. Ha, I agree that vitamins vs. aspirin in literal terms is up
    for debate, but that’s not the point, as it’s obviously a metaphor. I DO completely agree with the point of this post. As much as we want to believe our brains are not “wired,” for slow, healthy changes that are good for us, it’s more like we are likely to respond to constant media assaults by special interest groups who are driven by personal profits. There aren’t that many advocates out there for just patients/people. Broccolli doesn’t get a billboard, asparagus doesn’t have P.R. so we become ingrained with the messages from the industries that do have major marketing on their side. Some ways to help diffuse the effect of these ads is to turn off the TV, put away magazines, and embrace social or outdoor activities. Please let’s not chalk this behavior up to human nature though.

  11. Great Blog Doug

    It must be hard for for those who are looking to tell the honest truth, to survive (business wise) with so many fakes. Fitness scams exist throughout this industry, supplements, prepared food, 5min per week workout videos, exercise equipment, personal trainers etc. All are playing to the fears, and life long dreams of a vulnerable group of society. As someone who, after turning 40, broke away from a life of morbid obesity, became a member of the “half my size” club, and has embraced a life of excerise, I can tell you those “snake oil” claims do make their mark on a certain demographic. Maybe the answer is government regulation of health claims; the pharmaceutical industry has to meet this standard an we know they are still very successful. People do need to take responsibility for their own choices, however need the full and honest story in order to do so, even it the truth hurts.

    Doug – as usual a great message!

  12. True, quick fixes don’t exist. More people are coming round to that fact – and when they start looking for better ways to get in shape I hope they find your website useful, like I did.

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