I saw an ad on Facebook the other day offering a supplement that helps drop 20-50 pounds by Christmas, with no diets or exercise. The ad stirred up lots of comments as well as a bit of controversy from multiple local health coaches and trainers. While I chose not to comment, I was deeply discouraged and disheartened as I counted how many people were interested in what product this woman had to offer.

Everyone wants fast, convenient results without putting in the time and effort. They think that somewhere, there must be some secret formula that allows people to shortcut science and allows them to … well … cheat.

While some extreme diets, diet pills and ridiculously excessive exercise may help you lose weight temporarily, cheating the process can result in not only some intense side effects, but some potentially life-threatening issues as well.

Diet Pills

Diet pills are considered supplements, and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That responsibility is left to the manufacturers, who may not review their own products for safety or effectiveness. And like prescription medication, supplements can have mild to extreme side effects that can be dangerous. Some supplements may even cause complications or negate the benefits of medication prescribed by a doctor. TIP: Always do your homework when considering a supplement. Research the product and its ingredients to make sure the benefits outweigh the risks.

Extreme Dieting

Extreme dieting can do more damage than just making someone miserable, grouchy and lethargic. The consequences can be staggering. The body’s metabolism will slow (trying to preserve energy) when it realizes it isn’t being fueled with food. Our bodies do not know the difference between diet and starvation. When a diet becomes unsustainable and a person returns to a normal food intake, they gain back all the weight lost plus some more.

Extreme dieting will cause a physical (as well as mental) breakdown of the body. Ask anyone who has become “hangry” while dieting. Trying to function on such a low-calorie diet is like asking your car to keep running without putting gas in the tank. At some point your body (like your car) will quit.


Many people believe that if some is good, more must be better. Taking exercise to extremes can have the opposite effect on our health goals. Exercise is necessary for a healthy, happy body. But overdoing it can void the benefits, and cause injury and a breakdown of the body. To achieve healthy results, exercise should be practiced with moderation and specific goals in mind.

When setting health goals, realistic expectations should be set. Results are best achieved when true effort is put forth, and not reliance on a “secret formula,” unhealthy diets and radical amounts of exercise. Health is a lifestyle that shouldn’t be considered temporary. It’s not how quickly you can take it off— it’s how long you can keep it off. And you should feel good doing it.