*Results not typical. Have you seen that phrase at the bottom of every print and TV ad about a weight loss program? It’s there every time you see a picture of someone wearing their old pants and holding out the waistline to show they lost “50 pounds in six weeks.” Yet the ad itself warns you, in very small print, that the person featured in the ad did not have “typical” results.
We just celebrated New Year’s, so the articles and advertisements about goals and resolutions and how to lose weight are all over the place. We’ve had some here, too. As you navigate the overload of information, we want you to be wise about where you get your information and who you listen to. Here are some things to be aware of as you surf the headlines. (I tried to disguise the names of the companies, websites and phone numbers, where applicable.)
Did you know having a number in a book title or magazine article headline will make it a better seller? That’s what the “experts” say, anyway. I’ve read numerous articles about how blog headlines with numbers in them will generate more traffic. Maybe I should have titled this one “25 Ways to be a Good Consumer of Information.” There is nothing wrong with an article that has a number in it. You might be reading a great piece. It’s just something to be aware of as you consume information. Is that magazine by the supermarket aisle really full of great information, or are the headlines on the covers just a marketing gimmick? And beware of anything that says you just need this “one exercise” or “one food” to make you healthy. You need a balance of nutritious food and a variety of exercise for good health. There’s no “one” way to magically fix you.
All search results are not created equal. I just did a search for “weight loss” in my favorite search engine. I was happy to see that most of the results linked to pretty solid articles from good sources. They highlight that weight loss takes time and a balance of healthy eating and exercise. The very top of the page and the right hand column, however, are simply ads. I hope everyone knows this. Some search engines make it more obvious than others that you are clicking on an ad. It could be an ad to a great site, but it’s an ad, so someone paid for you to see it at the top of your search.
Another thing to be aware of in internet searches is this phrase called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. There are people paid to write articles that have key words in them that are common for a web search. Those articles are then placed on a site to bring traffic to it and, hopefully, increase sales. The people writing the articles are sometimes being paid pennies to crank out content with little or no expertise. Even more credible sites with higher paid writers can get information wrong. I recently did a search to find out if kids need a passport to cross from the U.S. into Canada. I got a wide variety of answers, some saying yes and some saying no. All the sites looked fairly official and like they should know what they are talking about. I’m sure no one was trying to mislead me. But, humans make websites, and humans aren’t perfect. Just because something is on a website doesn’t make it the best source of information. I’m sure we’ve got some things people would disagree with here on The Journey, too.
In a case of “I learned this the hard way,” beware of ads that look like they are part of the website. Even sites selling things have ads to other sites selling other things. My son is interested in Minecraft, and we safely downloaded it to our computer. He later wanted to try some free add-on, and he accidentally clicked a link that started downloading some malware to the computer. I finally, after several hours of work, got it removed. The site where we downloaded the add-on was tricky, because it included an ad with a “download” button that looked very similar to the download button we really wanted to use. The picture below is an example of an ad that is towards the top of a site with information on how to clean up your computer. It makes look like the site is promoting downloading the certain software, when really it’s just an ad to another site.
The same thing can happen on your favorite health or fitness site. Watch out for ads that look like content of the site you are visiting.
We’re not a big fan of expensive weight loss programs here at The Journey, especially if you are paying to eat weird food. But, some weight loss programs have you eating real food, so they aren’t all evil. Many are offering free trials and your first month free for January. Just be sure you read the fine print. There are always limits and restrictions, so be sure you know what you are spending your money on and how to get it back if you aren’t satisfied.
I browsed a few sites and read their disclaimers. They actually didn’t use the “*results not typical” phrase, but they all said something similar to “*typical clients lose 1-2 lbs. per week.” So, that person who lost 146 pounds on that program “typically” took more than 73 weeks to lose that weight. Dropping 1-2 pounds a week is a great way to lose weight, just do the math and figure out how much it will cost to participate in that program for length of time you might need. You probably already know how to lose 1-2 lbs. a week, so maybe you don’t need and expensive program to get you motivated. (Better yet, just join the FREE Small Changes Challenge here at The Journey. It’s FREE!)
So, are you a good consumer of information about health and fitness (or anything else you want information on)? We are overloaded with info on a daily basis, so learn how to use it to your advantage and don’t get duped by fine print or misleading ads.
Cori is a wife, mom of three and random writer who is learning how to take small steps towards big goals. She tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of person, but a journey to learn how to run (something she always hated) has taught her a lot about gradual, slow change. She has a degree in journalism and enjoys doing research and writing.