If history has taught us anything, it is that when a business concept exhibits the potential for growth, companies and industries spread like a virus to expand and exploit the opportunity. From the meager beginnings of muscle-bound bodybuilders, steel barbells, medicine balls and once-a-day vitamins, the health and fitness industry has transformed into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut. Health and fitness professionals have evolved from spandex and headbands to being highly trained sales and marketing snipers. Your cash is their target.
Although the expansions of this industry and advances in modern technology have helped usher in a new era of quality health and fitness products, they have also opened the door for liars and con artists who could care less about your health. The trick is to understand how to maneuver through the marketing madness to find the truth. Sadly, the number of people who fall victim to unrealistic quick-fix solutions is in the tens of millions. All the while, companies that sell ineffective products, cheap services and unrealistic results profit at your expense.
Beyond the scams and rip-offs designed to separate you from your hard-earned cash, there are people, companies, industries and even government agencies with hidden agendas designed to sabotage your attempts to improve your health. It’s not a conspiracy theory; it is simply the undeniable truth that you will see once the facts are known. There is no shortage of people who stand to profit from those who do not know the truth, and they will do everything possible to refute the facts. Just remember that when it comes to big business and their profits, the fix is in: billions are spent to keep consumers in the dark. You will need to rely on the one thing that marketing cannot spin – your common sense.
Let’s start with a simple truth that helps feed the big, fat health and fitness lie. That truth is that the average person would much prefer to go on a diet or take a pill rather than exercise. This is why the fitness industry, at $17.6 billion in annual revenue, pales in comparison with the diet and weight loss industry, which exceeds $40 billion. Even the supplement industry, with more than $20 billion in annual revenue, outperforms the fitness industry. Yet with a success rate of sustained weight loss as low as 5 percent, more than 50 million Americans line up each year to go on a diet. Why? The answer is simple. When people think about exercise, they relate it to work. Even the phrase we use to describe exercise is to “workout.” The truth is that the average American spends the majority of waking life working. Who wants more work? We want to play. We want to relax. We want to escape from the reality of work, Exercise is the last thing we want to do. Instead, we want a shortcut, and the desire for a quick fix is an open invitation for health and fitness parasites.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The smoking gun that reveals the real truth about the state of health in the U.S. is the stratospheric revenue within the pharmaceutical industry. Between 1995 and 2005, prescription drug sales increased by 249 percent to a staggering $251 billion on more than 3.6 billion prescriptions written annually. This doesn’t include the $17 billion we spent on more than 100,000 over-the-counter drugs that contained in excess of 1,000 chemical compounds. As you peel back the layers of the lie, you quickly realize that these record-breaking numbers were made possible by drugs that treat conditions and diseases, which are largely self-inflicted or forced upon us by accomplices that stand to profit from our ill health.
Not convinced? Consider that heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., claiming approximately 700,000 lives each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this represents 29 percent of all deaths. Now consider that two of the main risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Although both conditions can be mitigated largely with improved eating habits, physical activity and other lifestyle changes; millions of people are diagnosed with these two diseases every year. They are given prescription drugs instead of taking preventive measures. The 2007 estimates of direct and indirect costs associated with cardiovascular disease are $431.8 billion and $66.4 billion for high blood pressure. Drugs designed to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides are the top therapeutic class of drugs with $32.3 billion in sales.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has an interesting way of dealing with our modern-day health crisis. It labels as many conditions as possible as a “disease.” This is important to know because according to the FDA, only a drug can “diagnose, mitigate, cure, prevent or treat a disease.” It is interesting that even obesity is now categorized as a disease. The truth is that obesity is not a disease at all. We didn’t catch obesity; we developed it bite by bite, pound by pound. Big Pharma would have you believe the mantra of “Better living through chemistry.” I’m not buying it and neither should you. Yes, there are drugs that are necessary and many that save lives, but the truth is that we have become a nation of prescription drug addicts who look to pills as the first line of defense for whatever ails us. The solution we find is in the cure-all prescription pads that provide us with toxic, synthetic chemicals that only trick the body and treat the symptoms, while the true cause of our failing health is left to fester. When was the last time you walked out of your doctor’s office without that little piece of white paper? How quickly did you drop it off at your local drugstore?
Unfortunately, the problem with our failing health is not one-dimensional. Beyond the obvious lack of preventive measures to fend off deadly, life-threatening diseases, there are many forms of addiction that contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and lead us down the path toward poor health. Many of these addictions go unrecognized or fly under the radar of conventional thinking. Consider that the number one reason people do not exercise regularly is that they can’t find the time. Yet the average American watches more than four hours of television per day. Not many people would consider watching TV as an addiction, but with one click of the remote, we enjoy instant escape from all the work we want so much to put out of our minds.
Then there are those who like to unwind at the end of each day with a few drinks. No one is trying to bring back prohibition, but could you give up your happy hour for a month? Do the math. An average drink has approximately 125 calories. That means just two drinks per day equals more than 7,000 calories per month. It only takes 3,500 excess calories to pack on one pound of fat, not to mention the fact that when consuming a few drinks before a meal, you are eating under the influence. It’s always easier to say yes to seconds or that chocolate mousse with a little help from an increased blood alcohol level. It’s the little addictions like these that sneak up on us.
Okay, so you can’t live without the brew. Instead you decide to at least cut back on those dreaded calories by purchasing low-calorie, sugar-free, fat-free packaged foods to make sure you don’t get fat. But just as these products have increased in mainstream America over the past few decades, so too have our waistlines. We have been duped into believing we can eat more and weigh less. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to weigh less, you have to eat less and move more. Weight gain or loss is a simple formula of calories consumed versus calories burned.
Another critical issue that impacts our health is toxic exposure. There are many forms of toxicity. Most people don’t recognize that they can slowly and quietly destroy our health and make us ill. Consider the synthetic chemical sweeteners designed to keep us thin. They are laced in thousands of packaged foods. How about sodium fluoride, which is a known industrial waste byproduct that is pumped into our water supply and dental hygiene products? Or what about the chemicals that are routinely injected into our food supply to extend shelf life and improve the color, taste and texture? It’s all good, right? Wrong! It’s all bad.
Our bodies operate with 11 complicated systems all designed to work together to create a state of homeostasis in an ever-changing environment. There are trillions of natural chemical reactions that take place in order for the body to operate optimally. When we introduce synthetic chemicals into the mix, they disrupt the body’s natural function on a cellular level. The effects of toxic exposure may not be recognized immediately, but over time they eat away at our health, and there is a price to pay. Symptoms of disease will rear their ugly head, and when they do, we treat them with more chemicals in the form of prescription drugs.
Perhaps the biggest toxic exposure of all is the one that is responsible for as much as 80 percent of all disease – stress. We are forced to work harder than ever before to make ends meet. We strive to live the American dream of financial freedom, but only a small fraction of the population realizes the dream. The rest are left struggling under a mountain of debt. The majority of every waking moment is spent trying to make more money to buy things we have been conditioned to believe are important, when our health and the time we spend with the ones we love are really the most important things in life. Indeed, the big, fat health and fitness lie runs deep, but there is also truth. Where there is truth, there is hope. The answers are there for the taking, if you dare to open your eyes and see them.
Visit www.FitAdvocate.com for more information about how to protect and enhance your health and your life.
About the author
Fit Advocate, international fitness expert and author of The Big Fat Health and Fitness Lie, Craig Pepin-Donat is uniquely qualified to speak about issues related to health and fitness.
Starting as a nationally certified personal trainer and rising to the top of his profession, Craig led several high profile fitness organizations as president and also served as executive vice president of sales and marketing for the world’s largest fitness organization, 24 Hour Fitness.
With over a quarter century of experience, he has operated more than 450 health and fitness clubs in 11 countries and has visited over 30 countries while studying health and fitness trends worldwide. He has researched and purchased millions of dollars worth of fitness equipment, dietary supplements and other health and fitness related products. From this unique experience, he has developed a keen understanding of the physiology that triggers health and fitness buying decisions and the real world issues that prevent people from attaining lasting results.
A dynamic public speaker and educator, Craig Pepin-Donat has trained literally thousands of people within the fitness industry all over the world. Craig has created numerous professional training programs, seminars and workshops, based on his simple formula for success that have helped millions of people get on the path to living a healthier and more active lifestyle. He has dedicated his life to helping people through health and fitness education and now brings that knowledge and expertise to you in his ground breaking book, The Big Fat Health and Fitness Lie. He developed www.FitAdvocate.com as an ongoing platform to “protect and enhance the lives of health and fitness consumers”.