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The truth about 'pilling' the fat

 Photo; Courtesy

Weight loss is a journey that has seen everyone who's ever tried to shed those extra calories resorting to all kinds of methods, including popping that magic pill.

At some point in life, you have probably seen and heard the commercials, heard all the personal testimonies from friends and even passed by the billboards, which advertise various weight loss products.

Perhaps you've even considered trying one of them.

With the hundreds of high-priced products in flashy packages in the market today claiming to offer a slimmer, leaner body in a short period of time, the longing for a magic pill seems like a simple solution.

But are the slimming pills a safe weight loss method and are they really worth the money?

Six years ago, Betty Samora, 27, made the hasty decision to take some pills, all because she wanted to look slim and curvy, without any bulges on her body. However, what followed was a series of sleepless nights and her weight skyrocketed.

"I took some pills by Dr. James (it's a brand name that has slimming oils, pills, breast firming oils) only to end up spending my nights in the toilet rather than bed. Within a month I had packed on lots of kilogrammes all over my body," says Betty who works as an events manager in Kilifi.

According to Betty, it was the period towards December holidays and she needed to fit into her swimming costumes but didn't have time for exercise.

"I went into the habit blindly because of desperation to shed off the extra pounds. I didn't even take keen interest in the ingredients in the package though I remember being encouraged by the tag 'no chemical additives'. Shock on me."

She adds: "I think the pills only targeted fat around the belly more than other body parts. So when I stopped and fell back into my previous eating habits the weight piled on mostly on my lower abdomen. And it has been a struggle ever since trying to get my body back. Plus my metabolism is much slower. I never used to have problems losing weight, but now I really have to go the extra mile. I used to weigh between 68 and 70kgs. I now weigh 95kgs! The lowest I can get is an 89 and then bounce back to 90s."

Njoki Kariuki, 30, was swept along with the Magilim craze, pills that optimized a six to eight kilos loss in a month.

According to the marketer, she was supposed to 'eat moderately and exercise' while on it.

"I was to take them twice a day with hot water or green tea. It claimed to reduce your appetite. I used them in 2012. At that time I weighed 95kgs. I had earlier eaten right and exercised my way from 107kgs to 81kgs, but had let myself slip. Guess I wanted a quick fix back into my size 14 clothes," says Njoki.

Njoki adds: "Despite the fact that I knew better, and that I was already privy to the ways of clean eating and exercise, I used the pills as I wanted a quick way to lose weight, and they promised just that. I met with the lady who sells them and wanted to know exactly how they would help me lose weight. She gave me a long winded explanation that I chose to believe. She did, however, offer me a money-back guarantee if it didn't work. I went to the Internet looking for reviews, and found some people (either misguided or paid by the manufacturer) who swore by it, so I decided, in my desperation, to give it a try."

According to Njoki, what followed next were episodes of nausea with no effect on her weight.

"I can only hope that the pills did not do any harm to the organs inside my body. I blame nobody for this - not the manufacturers, not the sellers - nobody but myself," she says.

"I admit I did not do a thorough background check on the product, neither did I check out the ingredients. The faux scientific explanation I got from the confident marketer (who had before and after photos of herself after using the product) sufficed for me."

Would she go for slimming pills again? No. She is now trying to convince others that they shouldn't resort to pills to lose weight.

"Weight loss is simple. Eat the right foods in appropriate portions, stay off processed and sugary foods and drinks, and find a way to do a physically exerting activity for at least 45 minutes 3-4 times a week. That always ensures you lose weight. And make it a lifestyle," she advices.

Caroline Mutahi is not new to slimming pills. According to her, she has tried a few.

"Let me be honest. I have tried far too many including prescription ones like Xenical, which is meant to prevent fat from being absorbed. It is actually used to treat obesity and is not sold over the counter," says Caroline.

"I am not sure if it worked, but some of the side effects I experienced included flatulence, fatty or liquid stool, and passing stool more often. I needed to be near a toilet all the time. I have also tried the Chinese teas including Oolong. One thing about them is that after a heavy meal, they send you straight to the toilet, which is not a nice experience at all. In fact, if you take them on an empty stomach, it becomes another story altogether."

Eva alludes to the fact that a whole lifestyle change is the only way to do it- and keep the weight off.

"I now know better since I started the weight loss journey in November last year. I work out six times a week. I try to eat clean, but am not there yet. So far, I have lost eight kilos. It would have been more but I didn't eat healthy in December. Exercise and eating clean is obviously a tedious journey and most people want a quick fix, hence the reason they opt for the pills and slimming teas," says Eva.

She admits to the fact that she fell victim to the slimming teas, but will never try them again.

She says: "I once tried Catherine slimming tea. I took it just before bedtime. I was referred to it by a friend who claimed to have lost weight after using it. I never even bothered to check the ingredients based on the fact that a friend had told me about it."

However, after using only one tea bag, Eva says she felt nauseated, vomited, started to diarrhea and eventually passed out. It took the intervention of her husband to revive her.

"Those pills and teas are not worth it. You just end up wasting a lot of money and time sourcing for them. If losing weight is a must, try doing it the natural and healthy way. Make lifestyle changes that can bring you to your weight loss goal, and keep you at it for life," she says.

Cleopatra Nasari says she has tried using Bio Slim before to shed off the extra pounds, but was left disappointed. She ordered it from South Africa.

"They always say 'for maximum results, you need to have a clean diet and exercise.' I tried Bio slim, which I was told you could eat a burger and still lose weight. I was fooled. The only thing I gained from the experience was drinking a lot of water because it makes you tired and dehydrated. I noticed that it contained a lot of caffeine. I realised it's safer to just eat healthy and exercise than ingest a lot of these products, which purport to help one shed the extra pounds yet are not safe."

But what led her to it?

She says: "The thing is you get desperate. And when you hear of people who've tried them and got good results, without thinking, you step into that store and meet the sales person who knows how to do their job and you get hooked. Of course, I read the label. They all claimed to be made from 100 per cent natural herbs."

"My advice to anyone interested in taking slimming pills, do not try it. We are all better off huffing and puffing to our workout DVDs or in the gym. Though it's not an easy fix, strive to make it a lifestyle. Currently, I am more into my work out videos and I walk for about two hours everyday and take less junk food," says Cleopatra.



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