Poll: Do You Believe Fitness Magazines' Claims about Results in Just Weeks?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I am a fitness magazine fanatic. Just ask my postal carrier. Each week I receive at least two publications which are reviewed and studied cover to cover before the end of the day. I love reading everything I can get my hands on from Shape, to Oxygen, to Women’s Running, to Runner’s World, and my all-time fav, On Fitness, a magazine geared to personal trainers.

But one thing that drives me crazy is the number of ads in many of these publications featuring models who claim to drop a size or more within a very short period of time by just taking—you fill in the blank. And let’s not talk about the by-lines on the covers claiming total body transformations in just 4 weeks time. Having been on this journey as long as I have, I know it takes much longer then that.

But why is it the minute we do not see a drop on the scale we look at our actions as a failure? Trust me this is far from the reality. The change our bodies must undergo will take time and if we have the patience and fortitude to not allow the scale to determine our success or failure then we all will succeed.

We all must be aware of that every change within the body must begin within the cells themselves. While we never ‘lose’ fat cells when we lose weight, we do lose free fatty acids within the fat cell. In other words, we cannot change the number of fat cells when we lose weight; we just shrink them by the release of free fatty acid to give us fuel, which eventually makes the cells smaller. I like to equate this like a a water-filled balloon losing water slowly out a pin point hole. The balloon is shrinking, just like our fat cells, but it is going to take time for the water to be drip out of the hole.

On the other hand the mitochondria, the tiny organelles within the cell which turn our food and oxygen into energy are getting larger in size and more numerous in number. The mitochondria are what drive our metabolism and give us the energy to get through a workout. Therefore, as we develop better cardio-respiratory endurance and do some sound resistance training, the cells are forced to make these powerhouse mitochondria bigger and greater in number to fuel the new activity. Once again, this takes time for the changes to occur.

This is why when you look at losing weight you need to view this as a lifelong endeavor and not just a quick means to reach your goal weight only to go back to the way your life used to be. It takes time and patience to get results. I like to say that it takes faith and courage to start this journey and patience and determination to stay on the path.

Do you believe the ads or programs that promise results in 6, 9, or 12 weeks? Do you become frustrated if you aren’t getting results as quickly as you expected? Does it help to know that the changes must begin at the cellular level before we can see them in the mirror?

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Frankly no. Everyone's different so they can't "guarantee" anything. Depending on a person's body type and proportion, it can take 5 - 15 lbs of weight loss to lose a dress size. Also, it usually involves use of a few workout moves or making a few food choice substitutiions which always seems to me to be not enough for that "total body transformation". Report
I think the 'drop 5 lbs in 5 days' might work for someone that is just starting to exercise, but for the rest of us...I don't think it works like that. I take the exercises or food choices into consideration and might try some if I'm looking to jazz up my food or exercise routine, but that's about all. As for the supplements, no, I don't believe that stuff at all. The magazines overall keep me motivated and trying new things so I enjoy receiving them. Report
No, I sure don't believe those ads! I was glad to read about why it takes time to lose excess weight as our body adapts at a cellular level. I gotta be patient. Report
We all know the "Lose ....sizes in .....weeks" is only possible for the select few people. I never really believe it will work that well for me, but if it's a good workout, there will be a change in size, whether it's weight loss or muscle build. That's what matters. Report
GREAT subject! I always wonder why the good health mags allow such horrible ads. I do believe on claim....if you walk everyday for two weeks, you will absolutely lose weight and tone yourself right up! Report
This was an insightful article. Everyone's metabolic system is different, hence results some articles claim would vary. Normally, individuals do not gain weight all at once unless there is a medical reason. Therefore, it takes time to remove the weight through lifestyle changes (sensible diet and regular exercise). Thanks for sharing. Report
No, I don't believe the ads. Unfortunately, I did for many years and damaged my metabolism. I found this blog very encouraging about the mitochondria. I didn't know they could get bigger. Report
Honestly, I believe there is some truth to the claims, but only under very specific circumstances. I know I can drop 10 lbs in a week or two, if I spent the previous 6 months stuffing my face and sitting on the couch and spend the first week or 2 doing lots of cardio and severely cutting back on calories. I also know that programs promising quick results are not the ones that will help me get through life in the healthiest manner. I do find myself reading these claims, but with a very critical eye. Sometimes I learn something. For example, I think there's something to the diets based on the glycemic, but I'm not going to plan every bite of food around it. I take what I can and ignore the outrageous claims. Report
When I was younger I wanted a quick fix. I wanted to look like the people in the magazines with the least effort as possible. As I have matured and been part of Spark People, I have learned that weight loss occurs with sustained exercise, healthy eating habits, getting enough sleep, and drinking water. I have learned patience and how to develop a positive lifestyle. Weight loss is different for everyone. Even at my best I will not look like the people on the covers of the fitness magazines. So to answer your question, no I don't believe the claims. Report
Did you just open the door for a storm of "Mitochondrial-Booster 3000" ads?
Beware the flim-flam! Report
I guess it's still true there is a "sucker born every minute", because there must be some fools out there that buy this junk, otherwise the companies would not make the fake stuff in the first place. If there is money to be made, this country is the perfect place for it, I'll grant you that. Report
It is frustrating to see those ads and know they are lies. But there is a small piece of all of us that wants them to be true.
Thanks for this article. I was feeling what a lot of people do "I am working so hard, why isn't this working?". You reminded me it IS working. I need to be realistic about my expectations and stick with it. I will reach my goal!
Thanks for the reminder! Report
I used to. My weight started going up,my ex- hubby`s attention went down, so I tried everything in every book, until it all failed!! Then I found Sparks people on the web, some place I never looked, so I said "one more time,if it fails so what? I`ll look like a house anyway." But it didn`t fail,and I have lost 16 lbs. so far!!! Report
Not only do I get frustrated with the "too good to be true" articles. but where do they find all these muscular, cute, young women who swear by them?! ARG! Report
I never believed weight loss ads.
It is a slow, steady process towards reclaiming my body beautiful!
What frustrates me is that I get into a healthy lifestyle, begin to see results, then slowly slip back. Eg; start having a glass of wine with dinner x1 a week, all of a sudden it's every night!
For me it is all about awareness, maintaining some kind of focus. Great blog, love all your commments! Report
I never really believe the claims in magazines. I know that they're in the business of selling magazines - and I know that overblown tag lines and over-the-top ads are what sells magazines.

I have well over a hundred pounds to lose, and I do get frustrated when I don't see the results I want. Sometimes it feels like I'm trying SO HARD, and nothing happens. I eat healthy foods, exercise every day, track everything here on SP - and nothing. It makes me want to throw in the towel and just go get a big plate of nachos or a huge bag of chocolate. But I don't.

For me, it was about changing my mindset. I have to try and make it about the journey, about being healthier and not about thinner, I have to remember that I'm learning to live a whole new lifestyle and that my body is getting healthier.

I did learn a good way of thinking about a plateau this week - I think I heard this on Celebrity Fit Club - that a plateau is actually a GOOD thing because it means your body is getting healthier. It means that your body is acclimating to the food you are feeding it and the exercise you are doing, so you just need to change it up a little. I am trying to keep that in mind now as I continue on my journey! Report
I did believe in them many years ago. But then I also believed in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny and Santa Claus and the latest miracle goo. I do however, believe in SparkPeople. And since Easter's nearly here I may stretch a point for the bunny! Report
If this was the case, all of us would not need to be dieting. lol! Report
If it were as simple and quick as the magazine ads says, soon all those companies would be out of business b/c everyone would be at their ideal weight. Most folks know it's a gimmick. Report
I love buying all the health magazines for the tips on healthy eating and have learned a lot since I have started on this journey. I skip over all the "promise ads"
because in my younger years, I have tried them all & know they are only a quick fix. Report
I don't believe the claims of magical fixes. I've tried the workouts in the magazines before, and while I've gotten into a bit better shape, I have never experienced a full-figure transformation or lost more than a few pounds (darn!). I think they should tone down the claims. Report
I believe that if a person sticks to an eating plan and a workout that combines cardio and strength training, he or she will see some results in a matter of weeks, but not drastic results. Since healthy weight loss is about 1 or 2 pounds a week, a person with a lot of weight to lose can't reasonably expect to drop it all and look like a fitness model in 10 days. I only have about 10 or 15 pounds to lose, and my results are super slow compared to the people I know who have much more weight to lose. Most of them have pounds just falling off, but struggle with the last 10 or so. Results are all relative to how much weight a person has to lose or what their goals are. For example, I've been doing P90X pretty regularly for three months, and I haven't lost weight, but I can do more pushups than I could when I started, and my abs are more defined. Do I look like any of the girls in the exercise videos? Nope, but for now, I'm still happy that I'm making progress. Report
I do subscribe to many fitness magazines but never fall for their promises. I know it can take more than 4 weeks to see changes and not only that but I don't trust the images in them either. Report
I stopped buying any "fitness" magazine that had a cover photo of someone I considered skinny. thus, I don't buy fitness magazines! Report
I think we all WISH that these things were true (which is why so many pick up the magazines) and we want weight loss to be easy and stress free. But, for most of us It's not! So, they feed into those parts of us to sell a magazine... and the sat part is we buy it... Report
Oh YES...I do believe every one of those ads and claims with pretty pictures. I'm looking for the one in a million diet that will transform me over night. LOL I am kinda naive but I know better but it does feel good to dream so I do. Report
Articles and ads make me crazy in that they never show someone 200 pounds losing all kinds of weight quickly.

Usually it's some size 6 chick going down to a size 2. That's so NOT real for all of us... Report
There was a time in my life where I was indeed looking for one of these "miraculous" fixes. But, at this point in my life, I realize there is no miracle - except for those I make for myself. At this point, I find these ads to be offensive... they make prey of those of us who struggle with weight, who are subjective to quick fixes, and the idea that weight is a defining factor of the value of a human being - all the while negating the entire notion of a healthy way of life.
No more sucker here.
I don't believe I can lose weight in that short a period of time but I expect some loss after that time. I don't have as much luck as most people do on the site even though I try to watch what I eat and exercise and drink 10 glasses of water a day. I still keep plugging away though. Report
those ads are trash and I think they are just money making gimmicks. Report
I've decided to try some of the routines just to vary my workout regimen so I won't be bored as the summer approaches and I have no students to teach. I may discover something I really like. That is why I joined the "Sweatsuit to Swimsuit" team even though I'm about 7-9 pounds from my goal weight, given what I've eaten that day! :-) Variety is the spice of life. Report
The ads are falseified. My boyfriend took Hydroxycut with a healthy diet and exercise and drop 12 lbs in 3 weeks. 12lbs not 120lbs....which most people claim within that amount of time. I love Fitness rx because of their research articles they have about fat, exercise, beauty and weight loss however I skip looking at the ads mainly because they disgust me about their claims. I took Slimquick for 3 weeks and lost 7lbs....that's it. That included a 1,200 calorie diet, no cheating, cardio 5 times per week for 45-60 minutes and strength training 3 times per week for 30 minutes....after 3 weeks I gave up. I was so upset I thought I was doing something wrong. Now I'm finding out what I was doing may not have been wrong and that it takes time. I've lost 15lbs over the past year although I would love to see my weight drop a little faster. That includes skimping on exercise a few times a month, eating what I want when I want, etc. I did make a major change however, I stopped drinking sodas and starting drinking more tea and water in place of it. I also switched completely from sugar to splenda and started drinking fat free milk. I keep drinking my coffee that I love however, I don't see coffee as a problem since I have fat free creamer and splenda.

I wish I could keep up though and drop the fat around my waist and legs. I was doing so well before I got sick with bronchitis recently and haven't found the strength just yet to begin again. When it's difficult to breathe because you have mucus buildup it's not exactly safe to be doing cardio, or at least in my opinion, and probably wouldn't be as effective. Report
I think these adds are also faulse. It was quite a while before I finally started seeing some kind of results and I just don't think that losing weight that quickly is realistic. Not to mention I've heard many times that the faster one looses weight, the faster one is more likely to put it back on. It took a lot of effort for me, personally, to get where I am today and I get annoyed when I see adds like the ones discussed in this article. Report
Nope I dont think these adds are true. Report
no, I don't believe those ads
and I believe they can safely make those claims because the people who buy those products won't stick to any program for 6 weeks and therefore cannot sue them in the end when they get no results!

You cannot get something for nothing. You got yourself here you can get yourself out. It just takes twice the work! It is so much easier to put on then take off but the results are SOOOOOOOO worth it! Report
I think the problem is that most people want to believe radical change is possible with minimal effort in a short period of time. We're impatient as a society.

That being said, I do think that there are people who can commit to radical change in their lives and see improvement relatively quickly. I see a difference in just a few weeks, but am looking for the long term solution and not a quick fix.

I do not believe 3 weeks to rock hard abs kind of ads or the slim in no time pills...they're scams. Report
I don't believe it when it's attached to an ad. But 'results in weeks' is a relative term. I only had 'winter weight' to lose (i'm already an avid runner/pilates workout enthusiast) and I got my daily caloric intake down for 2-3 weeks and I lost the excess weight. The first time I did Pilates (5 years ago) my body began to change/tone within 3-4 weeks of 5x week 20-minute workouts. Our body is a wonderous machine and it reacts positevely or negatively to whatever we do to it. Report
I absolutley do not believe those kinds of claims. And when I hear people who are about to fall prey to them, I always point out that if it were as easy as those ads claim, NOBODY would have weight problems! I am what I call a "Realist-Optimist", which simply means that I always try to look for the positive side of everything, but I am no fool and also look at things realistically. And I can look at the pictures in those ads and tell you exactly how they played with them to get the before and after pics. Most of the time it involves having the models just suck it up and stand straighter or I even saw one recently where they used light and shadow to get the desired effects. It's all crazy and ridiculous that so many poor people fall victim to it. Report
No, I don't believe in diets, fads, weight loss claims. A lifestyle change is the only thing that works over time. Thank you, Spark! Report
I know that these diets do work, but I can tell you that ever magazine I see in the checkout I hope that maybe this is the one, it never is. I do find interesting info that I try to incoporate into my meal plans Report
I have learned the hard way not to believe claims for "miracle weight loss"; I have, however, learned that more exercise, cutting food portions and watching calories will lead to better health and eventually, weight loss and a more toned body. I liked this article because it reminded me that the scale is not an accurate record all the time. I have been discouraged that the scale seems to be stuck, but then when I think about how much better I feel from exercise, how much my posture has improved, and the fact that I have more stamina, I know I shouldn't complain! This article was a good reminder that sometimes it's how you feel that can be more important than what the scale says, and that it takes time and patience to really see a big difference. This difference will lead to a healthier lifestyle, and healthy habits are really what counts when it comes to being fit. Commercials such as NutriSystem seem stupid to me; if you want to lose, cut your portions and eat more veggies and grains. Why pay all that money to buy their food, perhaps lose some weight, then what? Stay on this expensive plan for the rest of your life to keep the weight off? Come on, just change your habits. No, it's not easy, but it's a good habit to start that will last a lifetime. I do admit to spending money on new DVD's or a good exercise routine, such as my new Kettlenetics system. I need motivation and new exercises give me what I need to stay on the exercise track and not get bored. This to me is a good habit--if it's what makes you motivated, then do it!! I am realistic though; I don't expect to lose inches in a matter of just a few weeks. I do expect to feel better and be challenged; and with those expectations I know I will succeed with the time and patience it takes to accomplish my goals. Report
If the ads qwere true we would not have all these over weight people. Report
I don't believe any of the claims. What they don't tell you is that if you practice portion control and eat sensible foods you can lose weight and keep it off! The magazine ads usually promote some restrictive diet or pill that once you get off of you go back to where you were if you haven't made changes to your eating/exercising habits. Report
I never have believed those promises. My motto is, "If it sounds too good to be true, than it probably is..." Report
These magazines slapping "RESULTS in just weeks" is obviously put there to sell more copies. Usually though the article is accompanied by a success story with a before and after picture. I'm sure a lot of these stories are blown way out of proportion and the pictures are photoshopped in one way or another and so they are sometimes hard to believe.

However, like NH_MOM (post 147) this will be my third time losing weight and I have no children...just a busy lifestyle like trying to make a living and a couple life changing events like moving and I'm back to square one. Everyone is also different and what worked for me may not work for you or your best friend.

I'm almost positive that any diet, exercise routine or new piece of exercise equipment "advertised" (key word) in these magazines will show some results if you just follow through. I'm not saying it's easy...it's taken me 4 months to start working out again this third time. Depression sets in and it's hard to make yourself get up. It actually gets harder each time to start my routine, but easier to lose weight. You'd think I'd jump right up knowing that I'm going to tone up quicker...nah it's harder. The word here is willpower. My willpower this time was to start exercising to eliminate my depression and stress.

I've read to hang a picture of yourself on the fridge of a time when you felt like you looked great or think about yourself in a bathing suit and make summer your goal to get fit.

My long winded point is the results in weeks they are talking about may not be that you lose weight right away, but you are gaining muscle to get rid of fat. It's still a result right?

Like I said what worked for me may not work for you but I will include the info for those who are interested. I purchased the FIRM (I'm sure you've seen the infomercials 100 times) when they were still on VHS. I've bought newer Firm sets, but till this day I go back to my original VHS tapes (Ab, Body, Cardio Sculpt), because I know that they work for me. They have one instructor do beginner exercises and I modified the hard stuff or just didn't do those parts. I also ate whatever I wanted...obviously I could have lost more and much faster if I ate a little healthier, but I stuck with it and was happy with the results so there was no reason to worry. Plus when you don't eat your body feels like it's starving and will try to hold on to the fat. The first time I lost my weight it took me around 6 months, but then I started losing about 3 pounds a week. Trust me I was getting upset, because I had to go buy bigger pants I gained so much weight in my legs before I started losing. Not the result I was looking for initially, but it was a result and all worth it in the end. I've shared this story with family and friends, but I've always wanted to share my success with other people. I hope it helps you just as much as it has helped motivate me even more by sharing my story.

Now keep up the good work with whatever you are doing it pays to stick with it.

P.S. I am in no way shape or form contracted by Good Times Inc. the makers of the FIRM.

:) Report
I believe anything is possible as long as you put you mind to it. With you sticking to drinking water, exercising and portion control anything is possible. Report
I think most of the weight loss that the subjects profess to have is the water weight... water weight that most people who start a diet lose. They stop drinking alcohol or soda, limit portion sizes and start exercising (sweating)... and, the excess water stored in their cells is lost. Five to 10 pounds gone quickly. Report
only if you don't currently work out and then you start . Report
The ads and the article titles are just a way to get someone's attention at a magazine stand. For some reason I was on an email panel to help with the choice of Shape magazine covers, including article titles and cover pictures. I don't subscribe to that one, but have noticed the articles are usually not as described on the covers of the ladies or fitness magazines. Report
There are dozens of magazines touting on their front covers on how to Lose 7LBS in so many Days, but only if eat or drink according to this diet or take this diet supplement. Everyone knows that if you cut back on your food intake and increase your exercise regime to suit your body, of course you are going to lose this weight, which in the end, the majority of which is fluid. Then there are the celebrity DVD's challenging you to use their exercise and diet regime and you too can have a body like theirs in a matter of weeks .....only you don't have the time or their personal trainer to work out 3-4 hours a day in private studio. We don't have the inducement they have in the way of a big fat cheque at the end of the 4-6 weeks for meeting the desired shape/weight.......Do I sound cynical.????
There are no quick fixes, only a determination and a persistence to incorporate new habits in diet and exercise that will change and shape your new lifestyle.

I just think of all the trees that were felled to print their nonsense. Report
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