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There is No Magic Potion, for Real?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I recently had lunch with a friend whom I haven’t seen in years. While we have kept in contact via the annual Christmas card, our lives were just too busy to get together before last week. When we met at the restaurant she was shocked to see how much weight I had lost, even though she knew I was running and working for SparkPeople. She immediately asked what I did to lose the weight, as if I had lost it overnight. Keep in mind it had been a good four years since we last saw one another, so I could understand her curiosity. She wanted to know what supplement, food replacement drink, commercial food or program I used.

When I told her about SparkPeople.com and all the hard work and sheer determination I had spent the better part of 4 ½ years doing, it was as if I had burst her bubble. She told me how she had tried Slim-fast, other commercial programs, and even the diet pill Meridia, none of which she actively pursued for more than a few months. She did lose weight, but she did not keep it off. She proceeded to say she was so tired of wasting money and time dieting and was feeling hopeless that being overweight was her destiny.

Oh boy could I relate. That was precisely the position I was in when I decided to give up dieting in February 2005. I had reached the point that I just didn’t want to keep dieting for the rest of my life.

But how do you convince others that there is no quick fix? I am not too sure if I was convincing enough, though. I really don’t think she wanted to know or hear how to do it—you know, the old fashioned way of tracking nutrition, getting in some good ol’ cardio and strength training exercise, and most importantly ridding oneself of the diet mentality that can hold many of us hostage to the scale or jean size.

I truly believe she was hoping I was going to say take this special pill or drink this special potion every night and voilà she would be transformed into a skinnier version of her current self. She was so deflated that she just didn’t want to hear another word. That is when I knew it was not my place to convince her otherwise.

What saddened me was her quick dismissal of everything I had to offer, but I also know that I have walked in those same shoes myself. You know, when you know in your heart what you must do to lose the weight and get fit, but the journey just seems so overwhelming. She did visit the SparkPeople site and I hope one day when she is ready she will take that all important leap of faith to reclaim her health and when she does, I will be there ready with open arms to guide her along the way.

Have you had an experience like this with a friend? How did you handle this? Do you feel frustrated or sad that you cannot convince your friend to see that there is no quick fix?

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You have described EVERYONE'S reaction in the very same situation I find myself in when I see friends who haven't seen me for awhile. They are first astounded at my weight loss, then they ask "how" and then I watch their face fall with oodles of disappointment at my answer which is usually, "Well, I stopped eating so darn much and started moving a bit more." And yes, everything I have to offer, like hooking them up with Spark or little tidbits of info seems to fall on deaf ears. They are all still looking for the miracle pill. It's sad, really, because this losing weight thing isn't rocket science. Report
A friend just told me this week (email) that she doesn't care anymore - even tho she has a daughter's wedding coming in the fall. We've had the 'you wanna be around for your grandkids' conversation, etc., but she has given up and that makes me VERY VERY sad. (she has 6 kids and 5 grandkids already) I just planted seeds and told her if she ever changed her mind, I'm here to help her succeed in this area. Report
I can relate. When I told a dear friend about Sparkpeople.com, her reaction was that she wasn't like me (analytical? geeky? number-oriented?) and that she had to do it her way. I think that meant no food logs, and possibly no exercise. She's got enough on her plate (figuratively speaking), so I don't push it, but I just continue to show by example. Sometimes I get frustrated that it takes so much time, but I know that I am making progress, and that I am a lot happier than I would be if I weren't doing this. And I am also incredibly grateful to the physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist who made it possible for me to engage again in all the activities that I currently enjoy. I recently wrote to him and offered to wear a publicity t-shirt for his practice to all of my races, if he has one. Report
I just tell people exactly what I did - I say, "I LITERALLY ran my a$$ off!" - that and portion control! And I too get the same reaction from most..."What?!? No pills? No diet book or meal replacement shakes?" Report
Anytime someone asks me about my weight loss (28 pounds so far) and "what did you do?" in that awed voice that your friend probably used... everyone seems to expect that I've learned some magic trick. It's invariably followed by "did you use some program?" I always say simply "I ate less and exercised more." I mean, at the core, it really is as simple, and as difficult, as that, which is what I'm trying to say when I tell them that. Of course, if they seem further interested I do always rave about SparkPeople... but I've learned to temper it. In nearly 2 years at this, I've learned that a friend's enthusiasm about MY weight loss does not always translate directly to their enthusiasm about losing weight themselves. Everyone has to be ready, has to come to that place on their own. Report
Even people at my YMCA have asked me what diet I'm on! Report
Sometimes I will ask, "How did I get SO fat?" One bite at a time. It did not happen overnight. I have trouble convincing myself that the weight will have to come off the same way--in little increments. Report
I believe there is a magic portion. That portion is our attitude about our true desires. Believing is achieving. Of course, with belief there comes action...however, the truth is, if you don't take that first step (literally, and figuratively) nothing will happen. My magic pill is my power that I control my body..not the fast food joint down the street. Report
I have this happen often. Customers will come in the store and ask how I've managed to lose so much weight. When I tell them "eat right, exercise and SparkPeople.com", they're disappointed. I think we all know what it takes, but until that lightbulb goes off for us, we'll continue to look for that magic pill.

I finally realized I can't force people to be healthy...all I can do is lead by example. When someone is ready, I'll be there for them every step of the way...until then, all I can do is keep taking care of myself. Report
What do you do when it is your husband? He can't understand how I eat that "diet food". It is not diet food-nor is it fried breaded or swimming in butter. We joined out local gym and I have been taking full advantage of it-he had once to step in the door for himself. Even when I cook him the right food and he does not notice he just eats what he wants at lunch and after I go to bed. He knows what has to be done by watching me, just will not put forth the effort. Report
You know, it amazes me that, with all the research out there that proves weight loss fads and restrictive diets are just...well...gimmicks...that people are still hoping someone will come up with a quick fix for what ails us. Burning more calories than you take in sounds so unglamourous! But, hey, it's what works, and a lot of times we have to try a lot of things that don't work before we're ready to accept this simple truth.

It's all about readiness. You've planted a seed in your friend, given her the information she'll need, pointed her in the right direction. The rest is up to her. When she's ready to change, she will. Report
I've had a lot of people ask me how I did it. I tell them I watch what I eat and I exercise, but I am quick to say that I started out with something as simple as cutting back on pop and walking 10 minutes a day and it grew from there. It's my hope that offering up that simple kickstart will make them think "hey, even I can do that!" Report
This experience is a regular part of my life. A lot of people just don't want to put the "work" into it, and are waiting for the Motivation Fairy to sprinkle them with some magic dust. *sigh*

One thing that has kept people from shutting down, for me, is to say that SparkPeople is "like Weight Watchers, but FREE." For some reason, comparing it to one of the known, "commercial" plans, and then noting that it doesn't cost money, seems to impress people. Go figure. They still may not want to put in the work, but they don't shut down on me. LOL! Report
For 30 years, I tried every quick-fix out there, till I took Fen-Phen and got heart damage and other medical problems from taking diet pills. The next 10 years, I spent gaining another 100 pounds. Finally I was diagnosed with diabetes which I ignored for 2 years. I got serious, lost 30 pounds and then I found SparkPeople. I have lost an additional 32 pounds and am on my way to a healthy, thinner me. My life has been forever changed.

Mentally, I have always known how to be thin, but I was not psychologically ready to do the work. Better late than never. Report
Having lost over 114 pounds since I began this journey on October 24, 2008, yeah, I can relate. When people find out how much I have lost and in what time period they immediately ask if I have had surgery. I am pleased to tell them no. But then I tell them that I found a doctor who has a radical new approach to weight loss called diet & exercise. That makes them stop and think. Then the questions begin and I try my best to educate them. Quite often I give them one of his cards. He is a bariatric specialist who has no gimmicks, just healthy foods and exercise. If you need medication he will prescribe it but only if you need it. The late comedian Jerry Clower (who was overweight himself) once said "Fat people will do anything to lose weight except diet. In fact we love to eat cookies while reading the latest diet books." Report
Magic potion? Patience, commitment, dedication, consistancy, motivation, discipline, determination and acceptance....all available for free herfe on SP!! Report
Hmmmm! Not only a friend but many spark people ( I think they may be new?) just don't seem to get it. They ask me how I have been losing my weight and I can almost hear their computers saying blah blah blah blah blah!
I was just like them until one day the emails I was reading from Spark suddenly made sense! Report
it is easier to wish and want than it is to actually do.
The difference between intent and result is ACTION
These people are looking for a quick and passive process
In my experience it doesn't matter what I say until they are ready to accept it Report
I have a friend who flatly states she doesn't want to do the work.... Then, she constantly complains how she is not losing any weight and actually ridicules me when she is lying on a float in the pool and I am doing water aerobics or jogging while we chat. She accuses me of trying to make her feel guilty by exercising! Can you imagine? I told her I don't have the power to make ehr feel guilty and that my exercise has nothing to do with her at all.... I do wish I had that magic pill, but I odn't. I've only lost a mere 19 pounds over the past year, but I feel so much better already and look better too! I figure it is not my job or responsibility to teach her or anyone else how to truly make a lifestyle change.... so, I will do as others here have said and simply lead by example. BTW, I plan to blog tomorrow about the latest weight loss fad in my town! It is a pill.... Report
Thank you for your blog! I was like your friend. I tried everything or at least wanted to find that magic pill. I soon realized that it's going to take time and I'll have to do things I don't like (food diary). However, I couldn't force myself to do it because if I did, I would fail. My "A-ha" moment came when my I was having my med check with my Dr. She suggested this site as homework and said it was free. That was motivation right there. I want to have good results for our next med check appointment not only to show her but to prove to myself that I can do it. Give your friend time to digest, she'll come around when she's ready. Thank you! You are an inspiration to me to be able to keep this going for 4 1/2 years! Report
health management is a three pronged stratagy. 1. lifestyle, 2. nutrition 3 .exercise. Balancing all three only can help achieve good health status. Total calorie intake restricted to a person's BMR plus calories needed for daily activity including exercise minus 500 calories for weight loss and save 200 calories for occational feasting. Nutrition: 30% calories or 1 gram/lbs of lean body mass from protein, 10% calories from unsaturated fat and rest from carbohydrates. Exercise: do exercise to burn atleast 500 calories in order to keep all parts of your body in good condition. this is all about maintaining good health Report
When people ask me how I have lost my weight I tell them about the site. If they aren't ready yet they aren't going to be willing to put forth the effort but the seed is planted. With my family, I just send them some of the Spark emails that I think they might be interested in to keep the site familiar to them. One of my sisters finally decided she was ready and signed up and has lost 20 pounds in less than a month and is feeling much better about her ability to lose weight.

My husband is getting a much better response from his co-workers and many of them who have tried various company sponsored methods to lose weight are signing up and trying SparkPeople. Report
Well it looks like I am on the other side: I do not count calories ans do not truck my food, and do not use diet. I am person who never can keep it for very long period of time so I do not start it. I take drink TAIslim and I will see if I can break through without all this points. Will see if it will work for me. Report
My husband has told this story numerous times, so I feel he won't mind my repeating it here. He always starts with "Would you like to hear a really funny story." This past April we flew home to New Jersey to visit family. At the airport in St. Louis, while going through the metal detector, he set off the detector and was asked to step back and raise his hands. When he did, his pants fell to his ankles. When asked why his pants fell down he replied he had lost weight. The people working the detectors all around him wanted to know what he did to lose so much weight that his pants fell down. He motioned them all close to tell them his secret - "diet and exercise." Everyone returned to their stations very disappointed with his secret. I am so proud of him. He weighed over 270 pounds, now down to 206 AND he is a 5 time stroke survivor with no use of his left hand and arm and little use of his left leg. He doesn't let anything stop him from doing what he can do on the treadmill and with weights. Report
My husband is that person. He wants to take a pill, or go on a 10-day fast, and have the weight disappear. He's not ready to commit to daily exercise or food tracking or anything.

When people ask about my "secret", or how I did it, I tell them it's the food tracking. Not as magic as a pill, but it's the one thing that made the biggest difference: it got me paying attention, and thinking about what I ate and how much I exercised, and those thoughts led to actions and now 25 lbs lost. I can completely relate to folks being not ready though; I'm not at my goal but I've been at my current weight for over a year and haven't gotten up the drive to tackle those last 10lbs. Report
I have had this reaction too many times to count. They are all excited for you, that you lost the weight, and they ask how you did it. When you tell them by Logging my food and fitness their eyes glass over and stop processing what you are saying. I have even had people tell me "oh ya I've heard of SparkPeople" while turning up their nose! It really makes me mad! People do not want to hear about all the hard work that goes into weight loss they just want it to happen overnight. I told my co-worker that for me weightloss has been like another full time job. All the food prep, calorie counting, exercising, and water drinking is hard at first but the more you do it the easier it is. Slow and steady wins the race!
When I go to the track to walk/run I want to tell everyone I see about SparkPeople. But, I don't want to get the reputation of the crazy lady that hangs out at the track ranting about counting calories.LOL Report
I have lost 50 lbs and still have 10 to go to meet my goal. When I see people that I haven't seen in a while there reactions are omg you look so good, so what did you do to get rid of the weight? The thing that shocks them the most is when i say I just started eating healthier and working out. It definately isn't the easy route, but it is what has worked for me and its keeping me healthy! Report
I belong to a gym and work out with a trainer. I know several of his other clients via the gym. There is one gal who has lost about 80 pounds in a year. She works really hard and eats healthy. Her twin sister has been at it for several months now and hasn't lost much. We were stretching one day and complaining about our workouts. We were joking about how we pay someone to torture us. She said, "I should just spend the money on liposuction." I was stunned. With her sister's success and knowing what she has done to lose weight, this gal is still looking for the "quick fix." The quick fix is a myth. Report
I have a younger cousin who is very much overweight. While she too has visited SP and signed up, I am not sure that she really gets that this takes work and determination. It doesn't just happen overnight. It doesn't just happen by logging into SP. I hope one day she gets it but until then I'll keep praying. Report
I've had the "quick fix" talk with a lot of people although I haven't lost enough weight to lead by example.

Every month, the same person is telling me about the new pill he's taking to lose weight. This month's pill is Super-Slim, a chinese herb/fruit mix pill that helped him lose 14 lbs in two weeks. I can't help but smirk at that fact that up until last month it was Alli, until he could no longer afford it. I can't wait to see what next month is going to be.

I think it comes down to people not wanting to do the work necessary to achieve the results they want - I know, I struggle with it daily. Yet everyday, I get up and attempt to do something good for me - drink water, stay away from the vending machine, walk a little more. Report
Most of my friends are trying to lose weight. One is pregnant and is going in for a c-section tomorrow. But she had been "eating like a bird" and not losing more weight. She's got an almost 3 yr old, so I know she's not sitting around. Her doctor gave her something for her metabolism and it's helped already. I just hope she can keep it up after the baby comes and she's off the stuff.
Another couple is on Weight Watchers and go to a personal trainer. They go to the trainer once a week and I'm not sure they exercise more than that. He might be dishonorably discharged from the National Guard for his weight, despite the amazing amount he's already lost (he's one of those guys that saw weight melting away after deciding to not drink pop). And they wonder why they aren't losing more weight.
The friends I live with have a treadmill, a Wii Fit, and a Bowflex. I use the latter two in my workouts. Seeing me use their Bowflex seems to inspire them, but not all that often. Then again, they don't seem to watch what they eat all that much.
It's so frustrating watching my friends trying/wanting to lose weight, but not getting anywhere. I just wish I could turn them all on to SparkPeople, so they can see that it's not as hard as you think it is! Report
A couple of things came to mind while I was reading your blog and I haven't read any other comments so please forgive me if I am duplicating others...
1 - You opened the door. When your friend is ready she will walk through and come to you for help. But she will have to be ready.
2 - YOU are a GREAT example. She knows it can be done...even if it is the old fashioned and hard way. You can't ask for better than that.
As for the easy way out, I know that would sure be easier but it doesn't work. I think we all know that...if any of those magic pills or diet's worked, we wouldn't be such and obese country now would we?

Thanks for sharing. Report
I'm haven't lost enough weight to get those comments yet but my sister has.

Losing weight and getting fit is bloody hard work. Even after you've developed the habits of healthy living, it is still hard work. There are a lot of excuses for not doing the work but there are also some legitimate reasons to not WANT to do the work. I, myself, have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. The reason I gained all this weight was because I didn't have the energy to even go into a restaurant much less cook for myself so I lived on drive thru for several years.

Now, even slow walking for more than a few yards is excruciating. I'm so fat that maintaining proper posture when stretching or toning is often impossible so exercise poses a real risk of injury. And even less than basic exercising can trigger a flare (see my recent blog post).

But, I am determined. I know that just dieting isn't going to work for me because my metabolism has slowed so much. The lowest calorie level in the range selected for me by SparkPoints is still hundreds of calories too high for me to lose weight or even maintain. So, I've lowered the range by about 20% and I've cut back to very beginning levels of exercise. It means any weight loss will be slow but it is the only way it will work for me.

I hope that as I improve, as I lose weight, as I gain health, the people who know how ill I've been will be able to appreciate that if *I* can do the work, they can too. Report
I really relate to this conversation. It takes structured, disciplined effort and hard work to build a strong, healthy, lean body. The results can be slow in coming and distractions (even acceptance of obesity) are everywhere. I very happy when I find someone/somewhere that provides the support and motivation I need to get through each minute of this journey. Report
This happens to be all the time. People are always so disappointed when I tell them it was just diet and exercise with the help of spark. Oh well! Report
Believe me your friend saw and heard every word you said to her. She's just having a hard time convincing herself that that's what she wants to do right now. There's a lot of people out there who are fixed on taking this pill and that pill and spending so much money for them, that they don't realize it's unnecessary. I was that person at one time, but i knew how those pills made me feel. I was convince by my sister to join this site and get educated, and i mean EDUCATED on how to lose weight and be healthy. Eventually your friend will join this site and hopefully begin her journey. Just give her time:o)) Report
I would simple give her more space and time to think about what was stated and then repeat the offer. Report
I'm seeing all these people this summer that I haven't seen in a year. They all ask what I've done. I just tell them, "Eat less calories than I burn." They usually ask what program I'm on and how much it's costing. Then I get the joy of "Oh, a completely Free program" and hand them a card for SparkPeople.com. More than one person has asked if I'm sick. That makes me giggle. I've never been healthier.

I wanted a magic pill too. Both of my parents had luck with side effect of an antidepressant. Caused weight loss. My mom lost 80 pounds that way. (gained back half of it after the antidepressant was stopped) I considered it, but didn't want to rely on pills.

My final answer to most people's questioning is, "I decided it was time." More than anything, that decision was what caused the weight loss because it was my motivator. Nothing works if you don't give it your all. It was time. Report
Oh yeah - I can relate! I have been on both sides of that conversation! LOL! In fact, I had one of those yesterday - when a friend was telling me of the new 'diet' she is on - some new program that is costing her $90 per week and has a ton of restrictions... something that I hate to say it - but I doubt will be a long term commitment! That statement right there is exactly what kept me from losing weight in the past! If you would have told me I didn't WANT to lose weight when I was tipping the scales near 250 I would have laughed at you and been insulted - but the commitment needed was just not there yet! I believe you have to be READY for change... mentally, physically, and spiritually... and that is when the commitment falls into place and you can do it! I am just so thankful that I found SparkPeople right around the same time I found my commitment to change! Report
I can SOOOOO... relate to this blog. I can honestly say, 99% (other 1% are men...they don't usually ask to many questions :)) of the people who comment on my weight loss ask "What's your secret?". No secret, simple math, I tell them. More calories out than in...and of course all the help from SparkPeople! When I tell them I went from NO workout routine, to working out 5-6 days a week, and tracking everything I ate, their faces drop, as if I had burst their bubble. They actually thought I had found an "easier" way? I believe once you realize there is no "secret" way to losing the weight, that is when you can commit to doing it! Simple math. Report
Yes I have had this and it is very disheartning cause you know the truth. When a person changes their lifestyle they know by experience what works. I think people are just not willing to put the work into it but also they have no patience and give up. I think if they would get it into their heads that it isn't a diet but a lifestyle it might help them. I think they also think you have to deprive yourself of everything. Of course we know this isn't so, learning moderation is key. At least this has been my experience with people. Report
I have lost 35 lbs and my sister asked me how i did it she used alli and lost 65 lbs.. she did not beleave me and told me so.. I have thought of useing alli but i have not i do not have the money to spend on it for one the other it is a pill not the answer!!! Report
I think everybody wants a quick fix, because having to work for something sometimes just seems too har. When people ask me how I lost all the weight (about 40 kilos) I always say that all I did was start to eat healtier and adding exercise to my daily program (I lost most of my weight before I discovered Spark People). And the usual reaction is: it's easy for you to add more exercise, since you don't have a family to care for. I remember I used to be the same way: I had all different kinds of excuses to stay in the sofa in stead of getting up and doing some well needed exercise. I guess most of us are lazy in nature. But when I finally decided to get up and move, I have found out that it really works. And I do my best to convince others that if you want you can loose wight without having to deny yourself things you like. But convincing others is hard, especially if they're not ready to put in the work. Report
People leave comments on my sparkpage all the time asking me how I lost the weight, which I always find amusing because there isn't anything I've done that isn't on my page. Clearly, they think there was some magic solution that I left out... Report
I have a friend I've tried to lose weight with for over a year. She is going through a difficult personal time in her life, which unfortunately is tied to her weight gain. I've been through weight watchers with her, she is a 4X ww user and she can never keep the weight off. With her request, I've done my best to motivate her everyday but nothing seems to work. Unless she's 100% prepared to lose weight and keep it off, I cannot help her. I decided to lead by example and hope that she will follow after she see's my dedication and results. Report
Oh yeah, also, invariably after I tell someone that I lose weight by eating sensibly and exercising, they nod with a dazed look on their face, and then when I leave the room ask my husband, "So what did she REALLY do? SlimFast? Weight Watchers? Alli?" They're convinced that there's some secret pill that I'm not really telling them about. Report
I have always said that you can't reach people that aren't ready to be reached. I was lucky that the main players in my life were ready at the same time I was. Hopefully she finds her way. Report
I wish people could understand the benefits of starting small. It is overwhelming when you look at going from a sedentary lifestyle of overeating to a healthy active lifestyle, but it's because you don't see the steps in between, where you decided to start the Couch to 5k or stop drinking soda. Report
Almost every single person that started a discussion with me about my weight loss followed this exact kind of scenario. Some of them even JOINED SparkPeople, but eventually lost interest. I think that these people are just not really ready to make the jump into changing their lifestyles. My SIL still complains about her knees hurting and is increasingly immobile, while outwardly despising my own weight loss success.

My only hope is that through my own example people that really DO want to change can be encouraged and follow through. I don't give up on my friends or family. I always refer them to the site and explain how I found my solution here. Report
You name it. I've probably tried it. I've not tried gastric bypass, but I've been tempted. Making a life style change one step at a time is the best way for me. Report
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