Before and After

Before and After!  How many times have you seen these words and the accompanying pictures?  Indeed it is difficult to go to a grocery store without seeing the ubiquitous ads glaring at us from the front of a dozen magazines while we wait at the checkout register.  Young and old, fat and skinny, powerful and weak, six packs versus no packs, hair versus no hair, there is no end to the changes we can make in our lives if we only will adopt their 100 percent proven guaranteed money back easy to apply secrets that cost pennies per week.
Before and After!  After and After!  In just six weeks, with our new diet, program, tapes, books, routine, etc. you too can become a model for our next “Before and After” ad.  You will be slimmer, smarter, stronger, faster, happier and live longer. You will have more friends, a better marriage, children to make your neighbors envy you and a love life that never stops.  Why wait, start now.  It only takes six weeks.  Motivation does not matter. Effort does not matter.  The secret is with our proven methods. 

Does anyone know when they first saw such ads?  I remember seeing them when I joined the Air Force over 45 years ago. I would bet the first ads went back to the time of Moses.  I imagine some enterprising Egyptians were selling the Israelites dreams of what the Promised Land would be like.  “Now you are slaves, but in only six weeks, with our powerful mind control techniques, you can be free like us. For just a few shekels, free yourself from the mind of a slave and enjoy life in the Promised Land. Thousands of other slaves have benefited from our free money back offer of happiness.” 
Recent evidence, which seems to keep repeating itself in study after study, shows that most good things in life take more than six weeks to obtain. In fact, you and I both know that most good things take more than six months and even six years to obtain.  We know this but we become seduced by our dreams for overnight success and instant results.  Dr. Deming used to say that managers wanted instant pudding and that was why there were so many faddish management programs in vogue.  That is why credit cards become so popular.  Why buy on lay away, when you can have it now?  Instant pudding, overnight success, instant gratification, weight loss without hard work, abs of steel with no burn and pain; these delusions blind us to the reality that we know but don’t want to accept. 
There is no overnight success.  There is no gain without hard effort.  Instant dreams of “Before and After” blind us to the reality of life.  The “Law of Effort” is as much a law of life as any physical laws that exist. You do not get something without giving something. The more you get, the more you must give. The more you want to change, the more changes you must make. The more weight you want to lose, the more calories you must expend.
“But why wait, with our new formula, you can burn calories while you sleep and wake up looking like a super model or a super hero.”

Could it be possible?  Hope springs eternal in the human breast. However, hope must be tempered by some firm realities. To repeat, you cannot get something for nothing in this world.  Money does not buy anything but a new coach or trainer.  YOU must still be the one to put up the effort.  This is a message that if everyone really understood and accepted would erase all of those seductive magazine ads that portray a false picture of reality.  These ads are dangerous because they promote unrealistic dreams of life.  
Most people last anywhere from six weeks to six months on any given program and then they give up.  Ask anyone at your local gym if you don’t believe me.  Conditioned to think that they only need to work six weeks or to find the right program, most people do not start out with the right attitude.  They subscribe to the wrong set of premises; a set of premises that doom most people to failure.  But would anyone buy a program that said “It will take you anywhere from six months to six years to fully realize the benefits of this program and you will have to work hard at it five or six days per week.  In fact, you may have to work at it the rest of your entire life.”  And by the way, “You will never look like Jessica Alba or Brad Pitt.” 
You say no.  People would never change if they realized the true effort that would be involved, but I say we need to tell the truth.  If there were not so much money in these phoney commercials, there would be less lies.  I think perhaps there would be more people who would give up their day dreams of overnight success.  I am not saying there would not be dreams but they should be dreams that have a real chance of success. Dreams based on faulty premises such as overnight success only doom the bearer to failure. I want more people to be smarter, happier, slimmer, stronger and to live longer. I believe it is possible if our dreams are based on a realistic plan of success and not some fairy tale dreamed up by some greedy Wall Street marketer. 
Do you have dreams of before and after?  Are your dreams followed by the effort you need to make them a reality? Can you dream and still be realistic in the work you need to make your dreams come true?  Maybe you do not dream enough or maybe you do not put enough effort into making your dreams a reality, which is it for you? 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 18:36:41

    Good article! Kay and I have been going to an exercise program developed by our local hospital physical therapy department for a little over a year. We have two sessions of 45 minutes each twice a week and the therapists make it fun and fast moving. I have lost 30 pounds and 4 inches off of my waist. We could do the same thing at home, but we don't.



  2. John Persico
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 20:26:55

    Thanks Lou, it sounds like you and Kay have had some real success with your program. No instant pudding though. I like the idea that they make it fun. I don't believe things have to be dull and dreary. Karen and I need the name of your trainer. I would love to start a program up here like the one you describe.



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