Dr. Oz

February 7 – [Un]Common Sense

“[Common sense] is the best sense I know of.” Lord Chesterfield

Over the years I have encountered literally dozens of schemes for rapid weight loss. The grapefruit diet, the cabbage diet, and the Stillman diet come to mind. For that matter, so does the Atkins diet, and it’s cousin the South Beach diet. All of them promise rapid weight loss, and many of them deliver…for a very short time. There is a word for most of the people I have encountered who continually search for, and try out the newest fad, “miracle” diet. The word is obese.

Ask anyone who is reasonably bright whether anything in life worth achieving came easy. Ask them about things like College degrees, professional success, excellence at a hobby, musical proficiency, and so on, and just about everyone will tell you that their success was due to hard work. (save your story about some prodigy who picked something up and was instantly great. If that were you with weight loss, you wouldn’t be reading this blog) Many times they will be happy to tell you, with some pride, about their trials and errors along the way. It is widely, and very generally, accepted that success takes work. If you told someone they could be a violin virtuoso by taking a pill every day, or that they could earn their Ph.D. if they simply refrained from reading any books printed in paperback, they would call you a loony.

Success takes work. That is just pure common sense.

So, why do so many people believe that weight loss is easy? Why do they believe that if they just stop eating one kind of food, they will melt away? Why do they believe the snake oil salesmen (like Dr. Oz), who tell them that there are magic beans that will make them thin?

The truth is that losing weight takes work, and plenty of it. And I don’t just mean the work done at the gym. It takes work to plan and execute a balanced diet that has the right nutrition to fuel your body without having a surplus that gets stored as fat.

Lately I have been concerned about the Weight Watchers commercials on TV. Seeing Oprah Winfrey gleefully talking about how she eats “everything”, really makes me worry about whether the method I have dedicated myself to, and have found success with, is being misrepresented by a long-time yo yo dieter who now owns a portion of the company and stands to profit from people signing up, who expect dramatic, immediate, easy results.

Sure, I can eat any kind of food I want on Weight Watchers, and I do believe that is why it works so well for me. But, and this is the part I think is under-represented in the commercials, I have to consciously make trade offs in order for it to work. If I go to a Super Bowl party and enjoy the goodies, I better be prepared to either spend some days being very strict, or seeing the scale tic upwards.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Weight loss is simple, but it is not easy.

Perhaps it is that people don’t want to face the reality in their life that their size and overall health are mostly of their own doing. When I weighed 350, it was easy for me to blame everyone but me. But, and I say this as literally as I possibly can, at no time in my life has anyone held a gun to my head and forced me to eat. Never! Not once! I willingly spent hours alone in my car in the back of fast food restaurant parking lots indulging in several days’ worth of food for lunch. I made excuses about why I drove off to Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, and so on rather than walking to the cafeteria and loading up on the salad bar. I convinced myself that the entire tube of Pringles I ate on the way home from work was cool. Along with the Peanut Buster Parfaits, and yes, the Kit Kats.

The funny thing about common sense is how truly un-common it can be.

I know there are some who find this blog on WordPress as they surf around looking for inspiration on weight loss and fitness. If you are one of those people, and you are looking for a fast fix, and you are still reading this far into this post, I beg you to stop lying to yourself, and to stop believing the lies others are telling you. Here are a few truths to consider (with apologies for repeating myself):

  • Weight loss takes work. Lots of it, and it is hard
  • You will have to deny yourself from indulging in everything, at the same levels that you did to get to your top weight.
  • Sometimes you will be hungry, and that is ok
  • Sometimes you will stumble along the way
  • But, and I say this with every drop of sincerity in my heart… you CAN do it!

Weight loss is hard, but it is worth it.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…Everything achievement in life worth attaining takes diligent, intentional, consistent work. And, it is worth it!

January 29 – No short cuts on the road to health

“There is no such thing as a little garlic.” – Anonymous

Today I depart from the book, Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey. The meditation with this quote goes into ideas about health food stores and holistic medicine. Personally, I think all of that is snake-oil, pseudo-science, BS.

One of the things that irritates me about the industry around weight loss is how many hucksters there are out there. There are some very notable ones, including Dr. Oz. In my opinion he uses his show to prey upon desperate people looking for a quick fix. He has been called in front of the US Congress and admonished for his pushing of “green coffee bean extract”, as some kind of miracle weight loss nostrum. Rather than apologize and pledge to do better, he stands behind this shady, non-science, referring to how he give people “hope”. I call BS. The only thing he appears to be interested in is filling his audience and lining his pockets.

I am here to tell you a hard truth. There are no short cuts. There is no miracle pill you can take, or food you can eat, that will make you magically shed pounds. The sooner you let go of that nonsense, the sooner you can face the reality that weight loss comes from hard work. It is not easy to eat right. It takes planning and forethought. Getting extra exercise is not the path of least resistance. I hate getting up at 4:00am to work out, but I LOVE how I feel the rest of the day.

Garlic is pretty tasty. I have been known to over-indulge in it, and have paid the gastric price the rest of the day. It is a great spice that adds exceptional flavor to foods when done right. But, it isn’t a weight loss miracle, any more than it is a way to ward off vampires.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…There are no miracle cures or quick fixes. Getting healthy takes work. Roll up your sleeves and let’s get to it!

Dr. Oz the Snake Oil Salesman

Most often I go to the gym after work, and arrive between 4:00pm and 5:00pm. There are TV monitors on the wall, and I could tune an FM receiver to be able to hear what’s on them. I prefer my workout playlist, but many others do watch what is on the screen. One of the screens is almost always tuned to the Dr. Oz show.

This past week Dr. Oz was called before the United States Senate’s consumer protection panel. He was taken to task for making claims on his show about “miracle” supplements that will allow people to lose weight without diet and exercise. Specifically, he was called out for his claims about Green Coffee extract, saying it was a “magic weight loss cure for every body type.”

Soon after his making that claim in 2012, a company started using a clip from his show to promote the product. Last month the Federal Trade Commission sued the makers of that product for making bogus claims and deceiving consumers.

In his defense, Oz claimed that he had never received money from or given permission to any company to use his image to endorse any such product. I wonder, though, how rigorously he elected to go after those that did.

When testifying he says that he never endorsed specific health supplements. But the tape doesn’t lie. He clearly made the statement in 2012 about green coffee bean extract. By weaseling around with terms, and saying he never endorsed a specific product, he stays clean in the eyes of the law. But, in the court of public opinion it is a different story for me.

He claimed in front of the US Senate that he is a “cheerleader for the audience. When they don’t think they have hope, when they don’t think they can make it happen, I want to look, and I do look everywhere including alternative healing traditions for any evidence that might be supportive to them.”

He also acknowledged that there are no “miracles in a bottle”, that there are no magic supplements or elixirs that will make someone lose weight effortlessly.

But, wait a minute. You KNOW that there are no miracles, but you search for things to give people hope? Hope in what? Hope that there Really is a miracle out there that if we just look hard enough we will find? I am sorry, but selling false hope, to me, is worse than actually selling the snake oil.

Somewhere along the line Dr. Oz went from being a brilliant surgeon, to a snake oil salesman. He went from presenting good, hard facts about medicine to people, and opted to go down the gimmick route. I believe him when he says he made no money from those selling the supplements, although a thorough check of who advertises on his show, and what companies THEY own might prove interesting. But, he does still profit from making these false claims. People all over the country sit on their couches and tune in, hoping that the good doctor will tell them the secret to weight loss as they enjoy an afternoon snack. When the truth is that the “secret” is to get up off the couch, put down the bag of treats, and get out and exercise.

I have long used the tired adage that “if it sounds too good to be true, then it isn’t.” The Federal Trade Commission published something called “The 7 Gut Check Claims”, to help consumers weed out false diet ads. You can read their full report here. These are the 7 claims that the FTC says should be regarded as false:

  1. causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise;
  2. causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats;
  3. causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product;
  4. blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight;
  5. safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks;
  6. causes substantial weight loss for all users; or
  7. causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

By the way, if you doubt what he said, here is a clip with Dr. Oz’ voice and image (from ABC News WPFB Channel 25, published December 7, 2012):

And here is a clip from his show where the words “The Miracle Pill to Burn Fat Fast” are emblazoned on the wall behind him as he extolls the virtues of the pill:

“You may think magic is make believe, but this little bean has scientists saying they found a magic weight loss cure for every body type.” – Dr. Mehmet Oz.

So, Dr. Oz, you can dance in front of the Senate and pull out your weasel words. But the facts are the facts. You might be able to skirt the law because you didn’t take money from the supplement makers, but you did profit from the false hope that you, and hucksters like you have heaped upon people for decades. Your show has grown in popularity, increasing ad revenues, and lining your pockets from your false, misleading and ultimately harmful claims.

Yesterday I posted that I have lost 50 pounds in the last 16 weeks. I still have a long way to go to get to my ultimate goal weight. Would I love it if there was a pill I could take that would make the fat evaporate? You are damn right I would. But, I live in the real world. In the real world the way to lose weight and become more healthy is to get up off my slightly smaller ass, get to the gym, eat a healthy and sensible diet, and put in the work. That’s it. No secret, no miracle. Just good, common sense.