Forget Diet Pills—Lose Weight by Changing Your Habits

If you’re thinking about trying a weight loss supplement, you’ve come to the right place.

After all, the HighYa team has written in-depth product reviews for hundreds of popular nutritional, detoxification, and weight loss supplements, including weight loss fads like garcinia cambogia, raspberry ketone, green coffee bean, forskolin, and much more.

In fact, weight loss supplements are so popular that, according to a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, nearly 25% of us have purchased one at some point in order to help us battle the bulge.

We’ve talked extensively in the past about the physical and financial dangers related to weight loss supplements, including in our Nutritional Supplements Buyer’s Guide and How Weight Loss Ads Convince You to Buy articles.

In this article, though, we’d like to take a more “philosophical” approach and discuss the mental and emotional challenges related to successfully losing weight, and why relying solely on weight loss supplements is often a step in the wrong direction.

But before we dive in, let’s provide some back-story.

Weight Loss Supplements Aren’t Effective. Period.

According to the Consumer Reports survey above, 90% of supplement users found that they didn’t provide the weight loss benefits claimed by their manufacturers.

This is because, according to Health Editor Patricia Calvo, “There is no nutritional supplement out there that has enough evidence to show it’s going to help you lose weight.”

As such, Patricia recommends that you “don’t take weight loss supplements. They’re unregulated, they don’t really work, and they could very well hurt you.” 

“90% of supplement users found that they didn’t provide the weight loss benefits claimed by their manufacturers.”

In a nutshell, here’s how this works: Nutritional supplements are regulated similarly to food by the FDA, so there is essentially zero oversight before a product hits store shelves.

This means that manufacturers are free to make essentially any claim they want about their supplements, but don’t have to provide a shred of evidence that these claims are true.

In fact, companies aren’t even required to provide proof that their supplements contain all (or any) of the ingredients shown on their labels.

Weight Loss Supplements Aren’t Always Safe

Then, as if wasting their time and hard-earned money wasn’t enough, about half of those surveyed reported experiencing one or more side effects, such as increased heart rate, jitters, or digestive problems, which are also commonly reported by HighYa readers.

Ultimately, just because a weight loss supplement (or anything else) claims to be natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe. After all, cyanide is 100% natural, but you definitely wouldn’t want to take it as a supplement.

“Just because a weight loss supplement claims to be natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe.”

When it comes down to it, the only tried-and-true methods of losing weight and keeping it off are through eating healthy, balanced meals and getting regular exercise. There are no short cuts to hard work, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.

The Cards Are Stacked Against You

Finally, not only are supplements ineffective and potentially dangerous, they could also cause you some financial harm, especially when purchased online.

The vast majority of supplements manufacturers understand that their products don’t work and that almost none of their customers will return for more, so they stack the deck against them in order to get as much of their hard-earned money as possible. This is known as the ingeniously simple, one-two punch of free trials and autoship programs.

It’s been our experience that free trials are intended to get you in the door and ensure you’ll pay the full (highly overinflated) price, while autoship programs are designed to rack up as many recurring charges as possible before you figure out what’s going on.

Why Do We Buy the Lie?

Before moving on, let’s quickly wrap up what we’ve learned in a nice, neat package. Considering:

  • Their gimmick-laden marketing tactics, 
  • The lack of clinical evidence showing their effectiveness, 
  • The very real dangers they pose to your health, and 
  • Their wallet-busting prices,

… we have to wonder, “Why are nutritional supplements so popular? What’s going on that allows these manufacturers to rake in more than $2 billion per year?”

As it turns out, the problem might just be with us.

In other words, the weight loss supplements industry is simply catering to our desires. We want to believe that taking a pill will solve all of our problems, instead of facing the situation and putting in the hard work to change it. 

Look, you’re smart. And deep down, you know that the only reliable way to lose weight and keep it off is by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. So why don’t we do it? Because it’s freaking hard, that’s why!

When it comes down to it, we gained weight because of bad habits; whether this involves not eating right, not exercising enough, or a combination of the two. So in order to lose weight and keep it off, you first need to address your habits.

Habits for Effective, Real Life Weight Loss

In Stephen R Covey’s classic book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes,

“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).”

In other words, in order to change your habits and meet your weight loss goals, you need to work on these 3 areas. 

Let’s take a look at each in detail.

Area #1: Knowledge

You’re probably knowledgeable about hundreds of topics. Maybe it’s something as mundane as the fastest way to make paint dry, or something more exotic, such problems related to faster-than-light travel. The point is, you’ve got your head screwed on tight regarding a wide variety of things.

But no one can know everything. And if we’re struggling with our weight, it’s fairly obvious that we’re not very knowledgeable about effective ways to shed it.

The good news is that you can tap into the knowledge of others in order to help make your weight loss journey more successful, including finding a coach, joining a local program, following a book—anything to help you get a system into place.

This doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, but it does mean you’ll have support to fall back on when you eventually do, which can help keep you on track.

After all, you didn’t become overweight during the course of a few short weeks, and it will take time to unlearn these bad habits using a consistent, step-by-step approach.

Because when it comes down to it, success (whether we’re talking about losing weight or something else) isn’t a single event, it’s a “sum of all the moments when we chose to do things 1 percent better or 1 percent worse.” Baby steps today can lead to a significant change in the future.

The Aggregation of Marginal Gains As Jim Rohn succinctly noted, “Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.” IMAGE CREDIT: JAMES CLEAR.

Area #2: Skill

Although knowledge and skill are often used interchangeably, there’s actually a subtle difference between the two.

As we saw in the previous section, knowledge is basically learned information. If we don’t know how to lose weight and keep it off, someone more knowledgeable than us needs to teach us the basics, such as proper nutrition, the most effective exercises based on our goals, and so forth.

“Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.” —Jim Rohn

Once we’ve learned the basics, we’re then able to apply this knowledge toward improving our weight loss skills.

And like with any skill, the more you use it the better you’ll become. Who knows, a year from now you might be teaching someone how to find weight loss success!

Area #3: Desire

Last but not least, successfully changing your habits requires desire. In fact, desire could reasonably be considered the bedrock of changing your habits and losing weight.

If you don’t have the motivation to stick to a weight loss plan, all the knowledge and skill won’t do you a lick of good. 

So dig deep and uncover why losing weight is important for you, and always keep it at the forefront of your mind. 

Imagine yourself a year from now. What will your life be like if you continue to gain more weight?

On the other hand, how much better will your life be if you lose 10, 20, or even 30 pounds?

When the new year rolls around, will you be able to look in the mirror, smile at your reflection, and say, “I did it!” Or, will you be in the exact same situation you are now?

Take some time to think this through.

The First Step to Weight Loss Success Begins with You

Have you known someone who achieved a big personal goal before?

Did you notice the elation on their face or feel their immense sense of accomplishment? Probably so, and you want to feel the same after meeting your weight loss goals.

You won’t experience these amazing feelings by using weight loss supplements, but you can experience them by changing your habits.

You can make a commitment to yourself and stick to it.

No matter how lofty your goal may be, you will gain the knowledge you need, make a plan, and put it into action over a series of small, manageable steps.

In fact, just work on your knowledge, skill, and desire over the next 7 days and see where it takes you. Then, come back to HighYa and let us know your results in the comments below!

Read Next: Gym Memberships: Everything You Need to Understand to Know What You’re Getting Into


Dmitry Ozik

As a co-founder of HighYa, Dmitry focuses heavily on consumer issues & smart financial/health choices. He lives in Seattle with his wife and three very active boys and loves books, family life, hockey & entrepreneurship. @DmitryOzik


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