A reader’s guide to the fall barrage of “transformation” stories posted by MLM sellers promoting their programs (generally appearing online in the form of promotion of a workouts/propriety protein powder/compelling personalized success stories about how this brand was responsible for a complete physical, mental and emotional overhaul):

1. The products. Protein powders do not contain transformative qualities that change your quality of life or your emotional status. Protein powders do not cause your body to cleanse or be free of “addictions” to sugar (or other activities or substances). Protein powders are not “cleansing”, and will not make your body “clean”, and research has recently questioned the validity of a “superfood”. What these products CAN do is reduce your calorie intake, which is the only thing proven to cause weight loss. However, protein is not a magical macronutrient proven to cause weight loss and cutting protein or fat are equally demonstrated to result in weight loss, so long as overall calorie intake drops.

2. The results (aka: weight loss). Weight loss does change your emotional status from misery to joy. Weight loss does not change your ability to communicate, process stress, manage your finances or relationships: all of which ARE linked to happiness and longevity. Weight loss does not magically remove “addictions” to sugar or any other substance. Weight loss can improve health metrics and make activity easier. And weight loss can remove pains or stiffness or symptoms in your body, but weight loss does not make you a fundamentally different person, nor does it remove problems or challenges.

3. The advice. Selling protein powders does not make you a nutrition expert or a “coach,” it makes you a salesperson (and there’s nothing wrong with that). There is power in group programs or “accountability”, but I see a lot of factually inaccurate information being reinforced and spread because most coaches are end users rather than nutritionists, dieticians, health coaches or other trained nutrition coaches with an active client base and clinical experience. I suggest getting your nutrition information from a professional.

I generally endorse the concept of MLMs, as it creates opportunity and income that otherwise may not exist. But it’s essential to be honest that these products and workouts are simply tools, and are frankly interchangeable with 47 other dried protein products and home workout programs. I’m genuinely happy that the world offers convenient and accessible products and programs that people find success with. But implying that a particular proprietary protein blend is solely responsible for moving your life from miserable to fabulous makes me angry, as it reinforces a highly inaccurate notion that losing some body weight will melt away your problems, emotions and issues. That’s just a fantasy, no matter what the Insta-Monial says.

Find an instructor, home-based workout (ELX FIT) or other (so many options!) that you love, and exercise consistently. Look at your food intake and make some realistic changes, whether that includes a protein powder or not. Get some professional help where you may need it, in the form of nutrition coaching (moi or Michal Ofer), classes (check the Light Cellar or the The Cookbook Co. Cooks), or food education (Quirks & Quarts). Work on your life’s challenges with a life coach (HeartLifted) or psychologist (Angela Grace Buxton). Use one of the MLMs if you want to support a friend, but also consider supporting one of the local entrepreneurs, who are experts in their field, that I have listed and personally endorse, and giving support to a local business rather than a head office in San Francisco (love that city, but….)

Transformations are compelling but they require effort, education, and skill development. Don’t expect miracles and don’t expect a shortcut, no matter what that post promotes.

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