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 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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SNUZYQ2 5/31/2021
I have found that doing it the old fashioned way seems to be the least popular diet plan out there. But it works!! I just keep on doing what I know works here on SparkPeople anyway. Great article! Thank you for sharing! Report
FISHGUT3 5/6/2021
thanks Report
Slow progress Report
Thanks! Report
thanks Report
DEE107 1/20/2021
EVIE4NOW 1/20/2021
Before you can accomplish anything, being fit, quitting smoking, quitting drinking, getting organized, whatever, you must be ready to do the work. That's what most don't understand. Report
ELRIDDICK 8/29/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
It's sad how much intolerance of others is in these comments. All the eye-rolling and head-shaking - from us? When we've been there and had the same struggles? People are scared or lost in self hatred or are post trauma. Some have diseases which cause weight gain. And every one of us deserves compassion. Report
If there was a pill available do you think our country would be filled with overweight people? Report
Definitely have this experience. I've lost about 90 lbs & kept it off - when I first lost the weight got a lot of "what did you DO?" My answer: tracking food, staying at a reasonable calorie level, making healthy choices most of the time, and exercise didn't excite anyone. For years I too looked for a magic pill. Luckily I realized that there wasn't one! Report
thanks Report
The comments to this article are more enlightening then the article itself. I gather we all have run into the same roadblock when all we have to offer is determination, and hard work coupled with a real desire to change our life. Report
Losing weight does take committment Report
Yes, the same thing has happened to me with friends. They tell me "oh, I do not want to join teams and do challenges or read a lot, I just do not have time". The thing about that is that the support is so wonderful and I feel...if have time to be on Facebook for an hour or MORE, you have time for Spark. Report
I am a PA. I deal with this every day. Thanks for writing this. Report
thanks Report
Like so many others, I too am constantly asked by others how I lost 60+lbs in the past year. And like everyone else, I too get the same uninterested responses when I tell everyone that my "secret" is eating smaller portions and exercising regularly.

I alwalys let everyone know that I still eat the same things I've always eaten (and I actually do eat the same foods as I've always eaten - I don't do diet food) but that I now just eat smaller portions. But most people don't want to hear that because they do want to continue eating these humungous portions and still lose weight. ROTFLMAO!!!

My family is the worst though because they see me all the time getting leaner and leaner and every time they see me, they just refuse to believe that I'm not doing something else because they still see me eating the same food as everyone else. Once again, I just try and point out that having smaller portions (which I do) is a must to losing weight - that and regularly exercising is all I did to lose the weight. Yes, it took me a year to lose 60+lbs but so what! When I remind them that it took me nearly 10yrs to gain the weight, losing it in one year is pretty !@#$%^& fast!

Anyway, while I lost my weight the old fashioned way, I most certainly don't negatively judge people who choose surgery to jump start their weight loss program. Some people have some pretty serious health problems that require that they have more immediate results and for those folks, surgery is a life or death decision. So don't be too quick to judge those folks because after surgery, they have just as much hard work to do as anyone else. There is nothing wrong with someone who is more than a 100lbs overweight getting surgery.

We all have the right to work our programs in the way that best suits our needs and we all have different needs. What works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. Becoming healthier is the goal that I think we all share and it's ok if we all have our own journeys. It's all good. :) Report
So true. There is no magic pill to losing the fat! Report
"They would rather take a pill or get gastric bypass surgery and still "pigout." I am small now, but it came through hard work, discipline, measuring portions, exercising, keeping a food log, etc. to shed the unwanted weight. I still have to work at maintaining my weight, maybe not as hard as I used to but it must be done consistently in order to not gain my weight back. I still measure portions, keep a food log and exercise every chance I get, not only to look better but to stay as healthy as I possibly can."

So sad that you cannot respect thse of us who have struggled with every task you list-- hard work, discipline, measuring portions, exercising, keeping a food log-- because we chose to use weight loss surgery as a tool to reach a goal. That view is so incorrect as we WLSers must put in every ounce of effort as anyone else. The statistics show that WLS is effective. All the internal changes must accompany the procedure to maintain the weight loss! Report
So many people tried to help me and encourage me to lose weight, but I had to come to that place where I myself was ready to do what it takes. No one else can exercise for me. People still encourage me (I'm on SP!), but I am the one who has to make the healthy choices. Report
Sounds very much like my husband. He knows what to do and he sees me making changes but isn't really ready to commit yet, so I keep my mouth shut and know that he is where I was a few months ago... Report
Everyone must do things in their own time, they must be ready to begin the first step. I knew I had to do something months ago, but something clicked in February, so that is when my new journey began. Report
The things worth having take work and dedication. Report
I have had a few people ask how i lost weigh, when i tell them about SP they say well i don't have time for that. Others say OH its just like weigh watchers except you count calories instead of points. Report
Not with a friend but with myself. I used to do Slimfast and lost about 28 lbs in 2 years but then I gained it all back and more. Before I started SP I was also looking for the wonder pill that would make me skinny overnight. Haven't found it. But I found SP and I am doing the the right way this time. Report
I had a very similar experience with a relative. She remarked about how good I looked and questioned how much I had lost. Then the all important "How did you do it". I started telling them about SparkPeople. I didn't get a chance to say too much when she interrupted to ask how long it took. When I said that I had lost that amount of weight in 4 months, she said - Oh that is too long! I think at the time, I had lost 25 lbs so I responded that I didn't think that was too long for that amount of weight loss. She then sort of waved me off and the conversation was over. I was disappointed by her response but still very pleased with my own progress. I realized that she was not ready to tackle the task and I know myself that your mind has to be ready to start the journey and be successful at it. She did join SP but she has never mentioned anything more about it. Maybe some day she will really be ready and like you, I will be more than happy to support her. Report
It seems to be more than true, that even-though ALL of my friends are astonished to see me way leaner and healthier than before, when I try to explain them about the Miraculous SPARKPEOPLE Heaven, and only if they ask, they try to avoid the responsibility of getting into action and face their own problems and eventually themselves. I've stopped worrying about not being capable of helping other helping themselves, it's not their "right moment" apparently...
put it perfectly: "I think it's fear, fear that they might actually have to face themselves and their emotions and their bodies. I might not have the best track record and may back slide. But I am growing secure in who I am, what I want and where I am going."
And YES, the magic pill exists...
Trust me on this girls and guys
:-D Report
I have a grown son who must be at least 100 pounds overweight. I've tried for years to get him to lose weight, to no avail. He continues to eat the same way he did when he was an athlete in school.

I recently tried the same approach he used on me years ago to get me to quit smoking. He asked me to do it for him--at the time he was about ten years old. I promised him I would quit for a year. It was one of the hardest things I ever did, but I quit. I asked him to consider his two young daughters, and make sure he will have every chance to see them grow up.

Whether this will work or not, time will tell. I'm also going to tell him about SparkPeople. Report
Yes, I have tried to get so many of my friends that need to lose weight the proper encouragement and offered to help them in any way that I can. But, people do not want to work at it or expect the weight to fall off overnight. They would rather take a pill or get gastric bypass surgery and still "pigout." I am small now, but it came through hard work, discipline, measuring portions, exercising, keeping a food log, etc. to shed the unwanted weight. I still have to work at maintaining my weight, maybe not as hard as I used to but it must be done consistently in order to not gain my weight back. I still measure portions, keep a food log and exercise every chance I get, not only to look better but to stay as healthy as I possibly can. Report
Oh boy, reading these comments are like going to group therapy!

EVERYONE I tell about Sparkpeople and my gym membership, are just like: look bored, say um yeah, I'll check it out, or I don't have time. Yet they have a myspace and a facebook page! I consider Sparkpeople my second social networking site, but it's the main one I'm on. My myspace is just to keep in touch with family from out of the area. NONE of them want to join Sparkpeople. I talk about how great Sparkpeople is and what it can offer you and they say oh yeah, (in the same breath) wanna join Weight Watchers (or any other plan) with me? Um, no, I don't want to pay someone to weigh me every week, when I can step on the scale at the gym for free. My gym membership is $22 a month and I'm not crazy about that except I don't have the room or budget for the items I would need at home, besides there is a point of motivation that you better use what you're paying for!

I think it's fear, fear that they might actually have to face themselves and their emotions and their bodies. I might not have the best track record and may back slide. But I am growing secure in who I am, what I want and where I am going. Report
I too have had many people ask me about my weight loss and when I say I did it through diet and exercise using Sparkpeople they always say "oh". A sad, tired, "oh". That's right, no magic diet pills to gobble up...just a lot of hard work and perserverence on my part....I don't say it, but I sometimes think it. I've had numerous people sign up for the site, but they typically don't last a week. It is no different than someone who says they want to quit smoking, until they are really ready, they can't do it. Dieters are the same...they can try this or that fad, but until they are really ready, it won't happen. Report
I actually got my daughter and brother to how much they are on the site is another story! But I have told a lot of friends about it, and you know how they are, lets wait and see how you do! Report
Fortunately, most of my friends and family are excited for me. But my friend's daughter doesn't get it yet. She's been on WW or Jenny Craig forever and can't seem to lose 2 lbs. so she can be under 200 lbs. But at the 4th of July party, I saw that she filled her plate with fried chicken, pizza, kielbasa and the like. "It's my day off from dieting" she said. A few days later I told her about SP. She said, "yeah, I know about it but I just don't have the time to do it". She is a nurse and works 12 hour days. But if I were her, I would buy myself an iTouch/iPhone or Blackberry which would give her the freedom to do it anywhere. It's all about desire. For me, it was an epiphany or Divine intervention - I just want to do it. Report
It's a relief to hear someone else say this. I thought I was just not a very good salesperson because I can't seem to convince others of the greatness of this site. After all, I have been "dieting" for 60 years and finally, I am successful - because I found SP. But very few others really want to listen. On the other hand, there are several million of us who do realize the value of SP and we keep each other encouraged. Report
Pure and simple. It takes determination and the willingless to do something that you haven't been willing to do before in order to reach any goal!! If is was easy and quick , the US population wouldn't be so overweight and disease laden. Report
That's what it's about - going back to the basics. Track what you eat. Weigh & measure your food. Eat whole foods and stay away from the drive-throughs. Find something you like to do and exercise. My husband is a good example. He was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes some years back, well before we ever met and never really controlled it. In January, just shortly after we were married, he came down with pneumonia which progressed due in large part to his immune system being compromised and went into respiratory arrest, had sepsis, renal failure, CHF, etc. It was shocking how sick he became and how rapidly. Now, after 5 months in the hospital, he's finally walking and has begun taking stairs and is back at work. My task is to try to help him with his diet, but I already know he's starting to hit the fast food and the catering truck...even though he's on an even more strict diet due to the combination of diabetes AND renal disease! I've decided that I will need to pack his breakfast and lunch, make dinner and try to help that way to keep him on track. Oh, and get him to the gym.

There are too many people that think that there's still some magic bullet out there or on the horizon, whether it's a pill or surgery and that's very sad. The only way to do this is to change lifestyle. Report
I've learned that when 99.9% of the people say "What have you done to lose the weight?!" what they really mean is, "Please tell me something quick and easy so I don't really have to change my way of life."

It's the rare person who _really_ wants to know the "right" way to do it (aka slow and steady, changing habits, changing attitudes, sometimes changing associations). Report
My mother in law is one of those people. I swear she has been on every diet plan, diet pill and everything else imaginable since I married her son and I can't tell a bit of difference in her weight. It makes her really mad when someone who is actually dieting and exercising the right way loosing weight. I just can't seem to get it through to her that nothing is magical and weight loss is not the same for everyone. Report
We live in a pill oriented "fix it" society. We are brought up to believe that a pill can cure everything. I get angry with the way the companies and the media are allowed to continue this kind of brainwashing of the public that allows us to think we don't have any real responsibility in making the changes in our own health.

Thanks so much for sharing this article. It's good to know that we are doing what we have to do and we are surrounded with exactly the right support and help - as it should be done. Report
I really appreciate you posting this blog. I have been where you friend is now and at times I still am looking for the "magic pill or potion". I know what I need to do to lose weight and be healthier and most of the time I follow through on this advice, but then there are times when I am feeling down-hearted and sabotage myself by overeating and snacking late at night. That being said...when your friend is ready she will remember your conversation and most likely step through the open door and join you. Right now I am struggling myself, but decided today that I will begin again and use SparkPeople the way it was intended to help me reach my goals, motivate me along the way, and support me when I have fallen off track.

Wishing you much success on your journey. Report
I really get tired of people assuming that I've had gastric bypass to lose weight. I've lost a considerable amount of weight; 270 pounds, but I've done it over 4+ years.

Slow and steady wins the race! Report
I have a friend who knows all the ins and outs of loosing weight but just doesnt care. She is a beautiful woman and wants to loose the weight but doesnt want to do the work. I go and walk with her sometimes and she doesnt have the desire to keep going, she will go the once around but then wants to be done. I say lets add some more and she wont. so I work out with my other friend who is willing to get out and go and doesnt complain about doing it. Sorry she is being left behind but she knows what to do. I think most of her problem is that her husband naggs her all the time and tells her to go, she resists because she doenst want to be told what to do. Report
Indeed, been there. I just try to remember the steps I had to take to get to a point where I was ready to do the work of tracking food intake, starting to actually exercise, and becoming interested in caring for myself... in that order! Report
I've told people about SP. Some outright talk about 'another gimmick', others say "Cool, I'll have to check it out" and others look bored. One can present information, but individual willpower and true desire will determine which people run with a solid idea when it's handed to them on a platter. Frankly, most of the people to whom I've talked want the quick-fix... but don't want it badly enough to even stick with it.

So. I give the information and encouragement; am available to share, to help. But in the end, only a person who really wants his/her goal will truly make full use of what is offered. And I'll gladly help anyone I can. Report
Thank you for all of the honest responses to their weight loss because, after many years of trying everything out there in hopes of a quick fix and then finally having an educated revelation one day....there is nothing but me, food, and exercise that can fix this and when I realized that it made it easier to focus on each day's goals. I also had to stop trying to see too much of the big picture and focus on right now and what I am doing right now and this day only. Sometimes if I try to look too far ahead it overwhelms me and I am sure this happens to others who have 100, 200 or more to lose, and it does take time to get it off. Report
I recently met with people I hadn't seen in a while, some of which have struggled with their weight as long or longer than I and they asked me with the same expectation - wanting to know the 'magic secret'. They didn't want to hear there wasn't one and dismissed all that I told them. It was very disappointing. I know it's hard work, but it's worth it! Report
I understand perfectly not wanting to do a lot of hard work for something I don't really want. I think that's the difference. When you really want something, all of you wants it, and you're ready, then it won't feel overwhelming. It will still be hard, you may still struggle and have set-backs, but when you want something badly enough, you work through those.

I've learned to really listen and be choosy about whom I share my energy/ideas with. I've accomplished a lot of really difficult goals in my life, and overcome a lot, so people are always asking for advice/ideas. If someone is actively working, but struggling, then I'll go out of my way to help. To those who seem mostly to want to complain, whine or only talk about things without acting on their desires, well I respect where they are; it's a waste of both our times to try to 'help' because I can't give the help they want.

Most people need to talk about their desires for a time before they are ready to ACT on those desires. A friend who likes to listen, be supportive by just hearing them out, is what they need at those times. I aspire to be a better listener, but by my nature I'm a fixer, a do-er. I much prefer to dig in, get my hands dirty and fix things, brainstorm and start on the changes. So I try to evaluate where that person is, what kind of support they need now, and then decide if it's anything I can offer. If not, I respect both of us by finding other things to talk about.

I have experienced this alot since I started sparkpeople. A few co workers asked me what I was doing to lose weight. When I told them sparkpeople and just eating right they completely lost interest. My mom keeps using the excuse that she just doesn't have time to get on the computer once she gets home from work. I know how they all feel though. I was there myself not so long ago. Report