Everywhere we look today there are promises of quick weight loss, miracle results in no time, with no effort. Many of us in our weaker, more desperate moments have fallen for their hype, and we have found ourselves conned and disappointed. Yet we still find ourselves curiously examining the next promise of a miracle fix. Some of us have become wise to their tricks and aren’t falling for it, yet without even realising it we have become influenced by their drama. So many sane, logical people have become numb to real weight loss success and jaded at their own efforts because of the over stimulation of magic beans and their bullshit results. For this week’s post I have been wondering why we fall for the promise of magic beans, and why we shouldn’t begrudge our own real weight loss success in comparison.
So Jack bought some magic beans and over-night a magical beanstalk appeared outside his house. Seriously, it’s definitely true because my friends mum lives next-door-but-one to a woman who saw it. And you can buy the beans off e-Bay, check out these amazing results from people who tried it:
- “I can’t believe the results. I was sceptical when I first saw the beans, but then this huge beanstalk just appeared overnight, I’m over the moon” (A. Fool- Leeds),
- “I’ve tried every other bean stalk growing beans and nothing has ever worked before, this was instant with no effort” (F.Ake- London)
- “I was so depressed with my lack of beanstalk, Jacks beans have changed my life” (L.Iar- Birmingham)
Believe it? No! Why? That’s right- you are not an idiot, and it is ridiculous, and you don’t really want a massive beanstalk in your garden anyway- so you don’t really care or need to believe it.
Let’s re-phrase Jacks story. Jack bought some beans, he planted them in his garden then every day he went out and watered them. It took a while for them to sprout, but he was so chuffed once he could see the little seedlings. So he kept nurturing it, he got it some good quality plant food, and he spent time pruning it and cutting it back. Sometimes it was hard work and he got his hands dirty. Some mornings he got up extra early to prepare plant food or to get in some extra pruning. Nearly every week it grew a little more. Some weeks it didn’t grow, but he didn’t mind as he could see how much it had grown already and knew it would have another little spurt soon. Some days Jack forgot to water it, or went a bit lapsed on his pruning regiment and the beanstalk didn’t grow, some weeks it even seemed to shrink a little, and at one point it started to look a bit limp and dead, but Jack persisted on. Two years later and Jacks beanstalk is huge, it reaches way beyond where he ever thought it could, and he is so proud. His family and friends are so proud of what he has achieved.
Sounds a little more realistic right? Sounds like a lot more hard work, but rewarding and achievable if you really want it. So why do we believe the miracle magic beans story when it comes to weight loss? Why do we expect amazing results in no time with minimal effort? Why do we let ourselves be seduced by the latest crazes, the newest fads and by utterly ridiculous promises of quick results? Why do we waste money on magic beans? And even if you’re not the kind of person to fall for magic beans, I bet at some point in your weight-loss journey you have been disappointed with the lack of visible beanstalk growth over night? Or envious at other peoples seemingly amazing beanstalk growing efforts.
What do we mean by magic beans?
I should explain the whole magic bean analogy. So, I worked hard and slowly built myself a beanstalk- I lost 7 stone with weight watchers. It took me 2 years, never losing much more than 1lb a week. Some people never saw me along the journey- just the end results, and often someone would said this: oh my god that is amazing, how did you do it? I could see the optimism, the hope in their eyes, the glinting promise of something new and miraculous. They didn’t really care about my journey, they wanted magic beans. They wanted me to say: well I just put these magic beans under my pillow and I woke up in the morning 98lbslighter! The look of disappointment on their faces when I told them it wasn’t easy, that there was no magic beans, that it took 2 years of hard work, and simply eating better and moving more.
When I talk about magic beans I don’t just mean slimming pills purchased off the internet- because we all know they are unsafe (at least I hope by now we all do). Magic beans are any fad diet or gimmick that tricks us in to believing they have the ‘real’ answer to weight loss, or that promise us we will see results with less effort. I am not going to point specific fingers but a few of my favourites include; things that wobble away our fat, things that wrap it up and magically dissolve it, anything involving cutting any whole food group, anything involving you not making your own food choices, anything where you are not eating real food (or little real food) and forced to only eat things from packets, or anyone on the internet who claims themselves to be a ‘nutritional expert’ and offers to make you a nutritional plan.
I am no angel here, before losing all that weight with Weight Watchers I tried plenty of magic beans. It’s been 5 years since I got to goal weight, and my weight has fluctuated, and I am ashamed to admit I have since resorted back to magic beans. Sometimes I was seduced, sometimes I was desperate, sometimes I was curious, but every time I was disappointed in the long run. I wrote about a lot of these previous dieting mistakes in an earlier blog post. Now I am wiser to the tricks of magic beans, I will no longer fall for their fancy packaging, their clever marketing or the empty promises. It doesn’t however stop me from sometimes wanting some magic bean like results. Sometimes I want to get on the scales and it tell me I have lost 6lbs in a week, despite knowing that is not a realistic or healthy rate of weight loss.
The lure of magic beans
I blame The Biggest Loser. OK not just that one programme, but it is definitely the leader of an evil. The evil glamorisation and celebration of what is really just crash dieting. The unrealistic demands on participants, and the even more unrealistic expectations. Sure they show the people slaving in the gym for like 3 minutes of the show, but what do they really emphasise, what do we really remember? 10lbs lost in a week…. 12lbs lost in a week….98lbs lost in 3 weeks! Or some ridiculousness that has me screaming at the TV. Just the other day I found myself watching it (in that weird way where we can’t stop watching something even though we know it will make you mad) and there was a woman in tears, being eliminated because she only lost 6lbs that week, ONLY, ONLY 6LBS!!! Not even considering the fact she had already lost over 80lbs, disregarding the guidelines of a healthy weight loss being 1-2lbs a week for a damn good reason! So why do these programmes make us want magic bean results? Well if she can lose 6lbs in a week then why can’t I?
It is not just TV programmes, but social media, newspapers, magazines, billboards, spam mail, our fooled friends, all constantly bombarding us with the promise of amazing, quick results. Of course we are going to believe some of it. These magic bean pushers are clever, they are not trained in nutrition or fitness, they are trained in marketing, in sales, in manipulation. We never find these magic beans sat tastefully on the shelf, they are smashed in our faces, they are cleverly branded, packaged, marketed and glamorised to manipulate us, persuade us, seduce us, and fool us in to believing it. And even when we are wise and not falling for their tricks, we can’t help but be influenced by their drama. Everywhere we look everyone else seems to be losing 6lbs a week and seeing rippling abs in less than a month, so why aren’t we? Why have I only lost 1.5lbs in 6 weeks?!
There it is; bitterness niggling at the back of my mind, resentment eating away at my soul. I am 6 weeks in to my 12 week healthy bikini body challenge, and I have lost a massive grand total of 1.5lbs- yes that’s all, 1.5lbs. Hours of grafting in the gym, carefully planned nutritionally balanced meals, meal prepping, tracking, making sacrifices, and generally busting my gut for 1.5lbs. It is at this point in the past I would have started looking twice at those magic beans. But I am not giving up hope- why? Because that number on the scale is just one of the many ways to measure my success, and I know the truth about magic beans. I will save the dangerous truth about magic beans for another blog post. This week I want to focus on why we shouldn’t be disheartened when we don’t see magic beans results, why we shouldn’t give up hope when we don’t see a beanstalk overnight, or when the scale doesn’t tell us what we want to hear, or what we feel we deserve.
Magic beans lie
There it is the first and most important reason we shouldn’t be jaded by our own seemingly feeble results in comparison to the miracles of magic beans- because magic beans lie, there are no such things as miracles (at least not when it comes to losing weight). Shock horror! Surely not Jennie, I have seen it, you see it all the time. Those people on Biggest Loser lost incredible amounts of weight. Yes they also took months away from their life, their families and their homes to do nothing but try lose weight, it was their sole focus every minute of every day. Plus they had a team of personal trainers, chefs, a camera crew following them everywhere making it pretty hard to cheat, and a production crew dedicated to making sure they all succeed.
What about those amazing before and after photos? OK, here is my amazing before and after photos.
Seriously, this works, I lost 10lbs in 2 weeks and you can see my abs like never before, no work or effort needed. These are doctor approved, clinically tested, guaranteed to see results fast. I lost 6lbs in the first week, I couldn’t believe it. These work thanks to their secret fat melting formula. This is the secret the diet industry doesn’t want you to know. Celebrities like Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and Megan Fox are going mad for this, and swear by it. This exclusive deal was £99.99 but you can get it now for drastic reduced costs. This will change your life, and now 80% off. Don’t delay any longer take advantage now. This can be yours for the real low, once in a lifetime bargain price of just £19.99. It is guaranteed to change your life, don’t delay take this opportunity now or you will regret it.
The truth- these two photos were taken about 4 minutes apart. That is it, no miracle. You are fooled, you are down twenty quid and soon to be disappointed. How, well I was feeling pretty bloated, so I took some photos with my belly all shoved out. Then I brushed my hair, whipped off the old makeup, stood in a more flattering pose, added a smile and a filter to the picture. Miracle results in 4 minutes! I had planned to do these photos again an hour later when I was no longer bloated, but I thought these were impressive enough to prove the point! But wait a minute, you said it was doctor approved? They are doctor approved- I have a PhD in heritage management, and I approve them= doctor approved. But you said they were clinically tested. Well I used two people in a twenty minute experiment where I paid them to tell me it works. That is a fair test right? What’s about Madonna, she uses them? Does she? Does she really? Or does Madonna work hard for hours in the gym? Plus we said celebrities like Madonna- surely Maggie the Madge tribute act is a celebrity like her right?
The simple factor is this. If any of these miracle cures that required no effort did actually work- do you not think that the NHS or other health organisations would have picked up on it by now? Obesity related illness costs the NHS billions each year, and each year the NHS spends millions on surgical procedures and weight loss programmes to help people try lose weight. Do you not think for one second that if any of these crazy solutions worked they would have picked up on it, and be using it and saving themselves billions. But they aren’t- why- because they just don’t work the way they promise. Feeling a bit silly about all those magic beans you have fallen for? That is OK, so do I.
But like I said, many of us know these things are a scam, we know that the only real way to lose weight and keep it off is to make better food choices and get moving a bit more. Most of us know that losing weight takes hard work and determination. Yet without even realising it, so many sane, logical, intelligent people have become influenced by the drama and hype of these magic beans. We have become numb to real success. I have seen people near to tears at only losing 3-4lbs in their first week (their words not mine) they are disappointed because they thought it would be more. Probably because they saw this person on the internet this morning who apparently lost 10lbs in their first week of using magic beans. People are no longer joyed and happy at losing 1-2lbs a week because everywhere we look everyone else seems to be doing better, losing more. We are just over stimulated with it. Well here is what some real weight loss success looks like.
My no-magic beans needed, pretty cool 6 week, hard work ‘transformation’
OK so my 6 week progress pictures aren’t going to shift any magic beans, and I am glad. I set off this challenge not to lose as much weight as I could, but to get myself to a place where I feel comfortable and confident in my bikini without resorting to ridiculous extremes- without falling for the lure of magic beans. And here is what I have so far achieved. I put on my bikini and I felt better in it, I felt more comfortable, I felt more confident! Holy ball bags batman- mission completed?! Not entirely. I feel better, but not where I would like to be yet.
So in 6 weeks I have lost just 1.5lbs, that is all, but just look at the difference (click images below to see larger). I have tried to be really fair with these pictures, I have taken them at the same time each week (Sunday evening- not the best time) and used the same lighting, in the same room, same bikini, same poses. I didn’t want to trick anyone with magic bean trickery, and I wanted to know for myself that this was a fair reflection of my hard work.
Despite what the scales say there isn’t a doubt in my mind that there have been huge differences in my body over the last 6 weeks. OK maybe a little doubt, a teeny tiny bit of resentment, you can’t help but linger on that number, but I am not giving up hope. I have seen other measures change the way I want. Like a moron I have lost the measurements I took in week 1, so I can’t be sure of inches lost. But from memory I am sure I have lost about 2 inches off my waist and off my bottom. My clothes are looser, I feel better, people have commented that I am looker slimmer and/or more toned, so why care what the scales say?
So if you have found yourself frustrated at the scales, disappointed with the numbers, looking enviously at everyone’s else’s apparent magic bean results and maybe even finding yourself lured to the call of some magic beans false promises, then take comfort in this. Stay strong, stay focused, and take confidence in yourself, in what you are doing. If you can honestly hand-on-heart say you are making the right choices, then it will show, if not on the scales then in other ways.
I am Jennie, founder of set U free fitness, and Weight Watchers leader in Leeds. I lost 7 stone with Weight Watchers and transformed by body through exercise. I always dreamt that life after goal would be easier, but the reality is- it’s not. This personal blog is my ongoing journey to stay healthy and happy. It is a collection of my thoughts, tips, lessons learnt and mistakes made in trying to create a balanced healthy lifestyle that I can follow for life. I always love to hear your thoughts, and hear from people undergoing similar journeys, so please comment or get in touch.