A friend asked me for my advice on how she could lose weight for an upcoming vacation—she was desperate to drop a few pounds fast. I'm always willing to help a friend—but Paula wanted a miracle quick fix.

December 22, 2009

By Tina Haupert
The other day, my friend Paula asked for my advice on how she could lose weight for an upcoming vacation. The thought of wearing a bathing suit in public worried her, so Paula was desperate to drop a few pounds fast. I'm always willing to help a friend—but Paula wanted a miracle quick fix.

When we first started chatting, Paula asked about different fad diets and weight-loss pills she'd heard about that promised to "melt away" her body fat. She mentioned certain celebrities whom she heard had lost weight quickly this way. The more she talked, the more convinced she became that she could slim down for the long term by using a fad diet, supplements, or pills.

I tried to hold my tongue, but I quickly became frustrated as I listened to Paula talk. When it comes to successful, permanent weight loss, I found through my own experience that there is no quick fix. It took me a year of consistent lifestyle changes to lose 25 pounds, so I knew it would be tough for her to lose as much weight as she wanted to in such a short amount of time. As much as I wanted to help my friend, I knew she needed to change her lifestyle in order to lose and maintain a healthy weight.

A year might seem like a long time to lose 25 pounds, but it took me about the same amount of time to gain it. All of those unhealthy lifestyle changes added up. The weight didn't appear overnight! When losing weight, I kept reminding myself that the gain was slow, so the loss would be slow as well. I knew that a quick fix wouldn't work for the long term, so I made permanent changes in my everyday lifestyle. Slowly and surely, the weight came off and has stayed off for almost five years now.

I couldn't shake my conversation with Paula, so I called her up the other day to drive home three reasons why crash diets don't work.

They don't last. When I tried the Atkins Diet, the pounds came off fast since I cut out carbs completely, but as soon as I started eating the starchy stuff again, the weight piled right back on. I was cranky and lethargic the whole time I was on the diet, so Atkins wasn't a lifestyle I could keep up. And I didn't make lifelong changes, so I continued to struggle with my weight.

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They're expensive. Those gimmicky weight-loss pills or supplements on the market are expensive—and I'm willing to bet they won't help you whatsoever. I for one am not buying the shocking "before" and "after" photos. Plus I'm not willing to drop a wad of cash on something that might actually harm my health. Instead of wasting your money, try Health's proven (and free!) plan to find your Feel Great Weight. It wasn't around when I was trying to lose weight, but it incorporates all the same tricks that worked for me—like nutritious and satisfying meals, reasonable portion sizes, and fun sweat sessions.

They're dangerous. Crash diets can have major health risks, with potential long-term effects. Even if you lose weight, long-term changes are needed to keep the weight off. Plus, many people think these weight-loss aids allow them to eat whatever they want and still lose weight, which probably continues their unhealthy habits.

Have you ever been tempted by a quick fix weight-loss solution? What did you do?

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.

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