No, Thank You (or Why I Don’t Participate in Fitness Fads)

The purpose of this particular post is to have a destination where I can direct people (the majority of whom are friends of mine) whenever they suggest that I try out a health, fitness, diet, and/or supplement product… and/or program… and/or system… and/or approach. Usually, I receive that suggestion online (via social networking), so it made sense to me to create an online response.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a friend, so I want to be very careful to say what I want to say in a polite, non-offensive, non-judgmental, and friendly way that has zero risk of jeopardizing our friendship. But if I offend you anyway, I’d like to apologize in advance, as that is not my intent.

So while the primary purpose of this post is to provide a polite “no, thank you,” I’d also like to provide an explanation as to why my answer is “no, thank you.”

And the thing to which I’m saying “no, thank you” is your invitation to try out a health, fitness, diet, and/or supplement product… and/or program… and/or system… and/or approach.

Before you stop reading, however, there is one exception. There is one condition under which I will say “yes,” but you’ll have to read through to the end of the article before I tell you what it is. 🙂

Let me begin by saying that I do believe in supplements. In fact, I’ve kept a current list of the supplements I take (which I update from time to time) on this blog since 2013. Feel free to check them out here. But I’d also like to add that I don’t believe there’s anything “magic” about any of those supplements… or any other supplements for that matter.

My Facebook feed (like many others) is periodically punctuated with personal testimonials of friends who’ve experienced awesome results using a variety of supplements, or programs, or other products. More often than not, those friends stand to gain financially if they can encourage their friends to “jump on the bandwagon.” That’s part of their motivation in posting their experiences on social media in the first place.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those bandwagons, or with the shakes, or wraps, or programs, or supplements, or pills, or injections, or creams, or products, or systems, or anything else. If something truly works for someone, and it makes them look, feel, and/or perform better long term (and that “long term” part is important), then I am sincerely happy for my friends who’ve found something that works for them.

I’m also not saying there’s anything wrong with selling to one’s friends. My emphasis when I studied for my Masters in Business Administration degree was Marketing. I love marketing. I appreciate good marketing. And I never think negatively toward anyone hustling to make a buck. I think the world needs way more hustle.

Network marketing gets a bad rap sometimes. And although I’ve yet to find a network marketing program in which I’ve wanted to participate, they’ve been around in one form or another for centuries, and they’re not going anywhere soon. I have very good friends who’ve been extremely successful in network marketing, and I’m very happy for them. Because of my association with those friends, I’ve seen first hand that network marketing programs are not automatically “scams” or “pyramid schemes.” Again, if something works for any of my friends (or for anyone else), I’m happy for them.

That said, I don’t believe in magic or miracles when it comes to fitness. When examined closely, any of the products or programs that actually work are effective only because of the science behind them. And that science generally takes the form of one or more of the following three things:

  • a decrease in putting unhealthy things into your body
  • an increase of putting healthy things into your body
  • an increase of physical activity beyond the baseline to which your body is currently accustomed

Any program that omits any of those steps is, in my opinion, unsustainable.

I have friends who tell me that they take certain pills every day, and they’re losing weight without exercising while eating whatever they want. I’ve watched these friends lose weight, so I know they’re seeing results. And if that product is part of an approach that’s working for them, that’s great, and I’m happy for them.

But I have yet to find anything like that to work for me. Even if I did, it would not by itself help me reach my fitness goals, because my goals also revolve around physical performance benchmarks in addition to reaching certain numbers on a scale or tape measure.

So, as a rule, I do not participate in fitness “fads,” even if they are working for my friends.

My personal belief is that hominids have been around for at least 6 million years, and that our bodies have existed in their current homo-sapien form for around 100,000 years. I also believe that the “rules” for achieving optimal performance with those bodies haven’t changed much over that period of time. Of course, vaccines have advanced to the point where certain diseases are all but wiped out, medical procedures and technologies have advanced to overcome sicknesses and injuries that would have previously been fatal, and nutritional availability has “advanced” to the point where it’s no longer difficult to absorb the amount of calories and nutrients to extend and enhance our lives. In fact, perhaps we’ve advanced too far in that final respect, to the point where excessive calories (though not necessarily nutrients) are too readily available… and where we get angry if that pizza isn’t on our doorstep in less than 30 minutes!

I believe that the “spec” for what our bodies need has been stable for at least tens of thousands of years. I also believe that everyone is unique, and therefore what works for one may not (and probably won’t) work for all. My personal genetics, metabolism, nutritional choices, activity level, and other environmental factors are unique to me, and therefore it’s up to me to experiment to find an approach to food, exercise, rest, and supplements that works for me. As Westley says in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, “Anyone who says different is trying to sell you something.”

(By the way, I just referenced a movie quote about “selling you something” that included a link to purchase the movie on Amazon… where I’ll made a few cents if you buy it, or anything else on Amazon within a day of clicking the link. I told you the world needs more hustle!)

But what I don’t believe is that the vast majority of fitness fads provide anything truly unique. Those three core principles of less unhealthy stuff, more healthy stuff, and pushing oneself physically are the only things that will ever work long term.

If any fitness fad helps you improve in any or all of those three aspects, then that’s awesome, and you should keep doing it. But my personal belief is that any results they can achieve can also be reached through other, and generally more generic and less expensive, means. Any of the products and/or supplements I currently use can be replaced by many other brands and still be as effective (assuming comparable quality and manufacturing approaches).

Because of that belief, as a rule, I never participate in fitness fads or commit to one specific brand.

Which is why I say to you, in as polite a manner as I can to protect our friendship, “no, thank you.”

However, I did mention above that there was an exception. One condition under which I would say “yes.” And here is that condition:

If you can provide to me, free of charge, without requiring from me any form or commitment of future payment (even if it’s successful), a sufficient amount of the product, service, or program to properly evaluate whether it can provide sustainable and superior long term results to a generic or less expensive approach, I will gladly accept it. I will then honestly test the product, service, or program and publish my results here on my blog.

I don’t mean “risk-free” as in I’ll get my money back if it doesn’t work, I mean 100% free of charge.

And by “sufficient amount,” I mean that if the product takes 90 days to produce results, then I’ll need a 90 day supply. If it’s a three-month  program, then two months isn’t long enough for me to evaluate it.

That’s the one condition condition under which I’ll say “yes.”

Otherwise, it’s “no, thank you,” and I wish you nothing but health, happiness, success, and our continued friendship!