Shortcuts Equal Short Change

Much of our world is constantly in sprint mode. We work fast, eat fast, shop, live and drive fast. Fast translates to short—as in shortcut. It’s all part of the same “on demand” mentality that sends us looking for the next great bypass around digging in and actually doing the work that produces quality, long-term results.

Is it possible to take a shortcut on a worthwhile project and obtain the best outcome? Can trying to cut corners or speed up a process like losing weight or achieving physical fitness actually be detrimental to one’s health? Do the words ephedra or anabolic steroids conjure up any strong opinions?

Allow us to introduce Acomplia (brand name for the drug rimonabant), the latest magic bullet for overweight and obesity. It’s an experimental weight loss pill that helps people not only slim down but keep off the pounds for as long as 2 years, according to a study presented in November at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA). The findings showed that subjects had an average weight loss of 17 pounds in the first year of treatment and good maintenance of the initial loss during the second year. The study was sponsored by Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis (the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical company), which expects to file with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by next year’s second quarter. The drug could be approved by the end of 2005 or early 2006.

Will this drug be the one that produces the weight loss miracle for millions of people? We suggest you look to history for an answer. In light of recent frightening revelations about the dangerous side effects of Vioxx and Bextra—the FDA-approved prescription painkillers that have been shown to dramatically elevate the incidence of heart attack and stroke among users—we think longer-term studies of any drug with the potential for harmful side effects should be mandatory. If rimonabant is approved, it could well become the next slip-slide approach that sends the wrong message to consumers about how to approach self-care and, in the long term, at what cost? With obesity an exploding problem around the world, heavy consumers are desperate and very vulnerable to the emotional appeal of quick, easy weight loss. Being held hostage by a pill without learning the real issues involved in taking care of one’s health is a tradeoff we hope people will reject. Sadly, the past shows this is unlikely.

Heart experts say that healthy diets and exercise would remain crucial for those taking the drug. “The pill is a good partner to get the ball rolling,” Sidney Smith, a cardiologist and past president of the AHA, told The Wall Street Journal. “But willingness to change behavior and diet will be essential to achieving goals.”

We all know how difficult behavior change is, but won’t it be even more challenging to effect when consumers have the life raft of a pill to cling to? Why exercise at all if a drug will keep off the weight? We urge you to educate yourselves when you see news like this, so you’re ready with an arsenal of reasons to convince clients to take the higher, harder road when they are tempted to succumb to shortcut products and drugs. The real solutions lie not in shortcuts but in the nitty-gritty of learning how to do the work and garnering the self-confidence to continue once it’s underway.

Your client’s life could very well depend on it.

Whole-Body Vibration, page 23. Learn what it is and why it has gained popularity in Europe as a training modality.

New York State of Mind, page 31. Full coverage of the IDEA Personal Trainer Summit®.

Unlocking Barriers for Heavy Clients, page 46. Learn 7 practical strategies you can try today to help your heavier clients succeed tomorrow.

You Should Be in Pictures! page 86. Perhaps it’s time for you to put your dynamic personality and popular class format on video.

Shedding Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder, page 106. Identifying symptoms of and solutions to the wintertime blues.

Yours in good health,

Kathie and Peter Davis

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January 2005

© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

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