I had 14 weight/health-oriented newsletters in my inbox this morning. (Subscribe to one or two lists and they will multiply -- the rabbits of the Internet!)
Several contained testimonials from rabid fans of their particular diet program. Five contained before-and-after pictures or verbal descriptions.
What fabulous results! I've got to try this!
Wait, what are all those asterisks?
Ah, the phrase that turns the blood of the most motivated desperate dieter to ice: "Results not typical."
Now what exactly does that mean? Did they specifically select the greatest outlier to mislead us about results? Is it only the freaks who are willing to rave about the program? Does the plan only work for certain people? Should I assume that I, too, will reach the dizzying heights of the featured role model?
Lose the hype, please. Talk to me as if I'm intelligent as well as overweight. Being fat does not equate with being stupid!
Show me "typical" results and I'll assess your program with honesty and respect. If most folks lose 5 pounds, publicize that. If not, all those unhappy overwieghters who sign up for your diet will expect to lose the poundage of your featured dieter.
The last thing the desperate, guilt-ridden, and self-critical dieters of the world need is to be misled into unreal expectations. That direction will only result in a magnified loss of self-esteem and self-respect. Your marketing misinformation is psychologically destructive and emotionally devasting.
E-Diets, Atkins, Zone, South Beach -- Shame on you!
Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently published a psychologically-based weight control e-workbook, "Diet with an Attitude" which develops mental skills towards the goal of permanent weight control. She can be reached at http://www.DietWithAnAttitude.com. She provides support and guidance in use of the workbook through her regular blog, http://dietwithanattitude.blogspot.com
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