I wanted the magic beans.
This is surely a sign of the level of desperation I've reached, when I start considering quick fixes, or daydreaming that I can pop a fat-burning pill and still eat a cake because it will melt the fat away for me.
That's ultimately what Popeye's, and other supplement-type stores feel like to me. Magic shops. The rows and rows of pills and powders might just as well be Eye of Newt, or the Orb of Thesulah, or Lethe's Bramble. I walk in to Popeye's, as if it's the Magic Box, half expecting Rupert Giles to greet me and reveal that, for the right price and incantation, I can do what most muggles can't. I can make weight loss easy.
Within each section of the flier is an oh-so-helpful info sheet, touting the benefits or effects of various supplements, conveniently located next to several options for purchase. Next to "the Skinny on Good Fats" are all the variations of Fish Oil that you can buy. No problem there; it's true that there are good fats and that Omega 3 Fish Oils are one of them. It all sounds so logical. So in line with what we know from other sources. Hey, the info in this advertising flier can be trusted! Until I turn the page and read all about Detoxes, which we know - we KNOW - are bad-news-bears and all kinds of harmful. But, of course, you can purchase pills to "get the right detox for you!" And while all the benefits of Creatine are outlined, none of the side-effects are. It is not, actually, for everyone and yet at the top of the flier is the bold claim that "it doesn't matter if you're a weekend warrior, a professional athlete or a bodybuilder - if you want to improve performance and get faster results then you should be using creatine!" You know what it fails to mention? The fact that creatine causes weight gain. Perhaps not for everyone, then.
What I'm taking issue with is just how easy it is to get sucked in to the marketing machine. How there is a supplement for everything that ails you. Like ... everything. All the claims make most of these supplements seem like miracles. But how much more energy is 10% really? If you're lifting weights and a pill promises 18% more power, what does that even mean? Is it significant enough to matter, unless you're a body builder in competition, or an elite professional athlete? For the average person, like me, just trying to lose weight and get healthy, how much product in a store like Popeye's is truly of value?
And, you have to think about how it all works together. I could easily line up a few dozen bottles of pills, because each one targets something specific. Blood glucose regulation. Probiotics for the gut. Fibre. An entire alphabet of Vitamins. Protein. Energy boosters. Appetite suppressants. Muscle builders. Sleep aids. Pretty much the only thing I'm sure I don't need is testosterone. Let's suppose I had the money to take all of those supplements. Which ones would cancel the others out? Could my body even absorb all of the nutrients in that kind of concoction, or would I just have really expensive urine? And what possible negative side effects might come from taking any combination of pills together?
It's hard to say, because most of the supplements are not regulated. There's very little accountability or oversight in the industry. In many cases, quality of product matters. How it's produced or extracted, matters. What part of the plant it's derived from actually matters. But anyone can slap a label on a bottle and say "this is Garcinia Cambogia" and boom - it sells. Whether it's effective at suppressing appetites or not. (With that particular one, dosage makes a difference, as well as which part of the plant and what else is in the pill).
So, it's easy to get sucked in. It's easy to believe in magic, miracles, and even the malarkey. I read the Popeye's ad. I wanted a quick fix, and I allowed myself to dream that it was possible. And then my logic kicked in. Well, that, and my bank account. I tossed it in the recycling bin. When I'm out of my VegeGreen multi-vitamin powder, when there's something I need, I'll go in with a list in hand of what I intend to buy, and not get grabby with what's on sale or what they may try to push based on a quick assessment/assumption of me.
Supplements aren't all bad, but they're just that. They are meant to top up a deficiency or fill a slight void in the diet. They're not meant to replace real, whole foods. But it's easy to believe that we need to.
I've tried lots of magic beans in my time.
I've wished, hoped, and prayed for the miracles.
I have come to the conclusion that for me, with a few exceptions, when it comes to supplements, Sheldon's assessment is the most accurate one:
Sheldon: “You know what this is? And I reserve this word for those rare instances when it’s truly deserved. This… is malarkey.”
Penny: “Wow. You’ve really struck a nerve. I’ve never heard him use the M-word before.”