Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Plexus Scam

We all have those Facebook friends who clog our feeds with hourly posts about the miracles of Plexus. The first couple of months I just ignored it until the harassment was simply more than I cared to endure. The final straw for me was after politely declining unsolicited messages and disclosing that I was in fact pregnant and therefor very much not interested, they simply would not stop. One morning I woke up to find myself tagged in a sales pitch on a friends page with more sales pitches waiting in my in-box.  I was even told "Plexus is natural and healthy for the baby". This is not an okay thing to say to a pregnant woman. One you are implying that I being pregnant am in need of weight loss. Two you are pushing a non FDA approved or tested product onto potentially pregnant woman which could cause real harm to developing fetuses. After deleting any and all friends who use their Facebook to try and line their pocket books, I decided to do some research.

Let's start by talking about what a multi-level marketing strategy is.

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit. This recruited sales force is referred to as the participant's "downline", and can provide multiple levels of compensation.[1] Other terms used for MLM include pyramid selling,[2][3][4][5][6]network marketing,[5][7][8] and referral marketing.[9] According to the US FTC, some MLM plans get their benefit from exploiting other members of the network, and they are illegal pyramid schemes.[10][11][12]
Most commonly, the salespeople are expected to sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing.[1] Some people use direct selling as a synonym for MLM, although MLM is only one type of direct selling, which started centuries ago withpeddling.[1][7][13]
Companies that use MLM models for compensation have been a frequent subject of criticism and lawsuits. Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemescult-like behavior,price fixing of products, high initial entry costs (for marketing kit and first products), emphasis on recruitment of others over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring members to purchase and use the company's products, exploitation of personal relationships as both sales and recruiting targets, complex and exaggerated compensation schemes, the company and/or leading distributors making major money off training events and materials, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members' enthusiasm and devotion.

Sounds a lot like what is going on with Plexus to me. I found this hilarious YouTube video in which a crazed ambassador addresses how an "ambassador" should address allegations that Plexus is in fact a MLM or a pyramid scheme. She actually says "when you talk about Plexus you need to talk about it like you are talking about your faith or your gender....because this is a fear based question and those people are just bullies" Wait ..... What ?!?!?! She never actually provides facts or data as to why Plexus is not a scam but I love her logic of " because uh duh". Oh man I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! Please take the 1:49 to watch the best video ever below....

After months of unwanted bombardment, I have a few observations about the Plexus posts I have read. 

1. Whenever anyone comments asking what Plexus is the ambassador immediately offers to send them a private message. Why can't you just answer the question? Oh, that's right, because you are not so much trying to sell a product as you are trying to get people to dump cash into your personal business. 

2. The testimonial pictures are never of my actual friends, but of complete strangers. Who are these people and why do I care? That's right, I don't. So stop posting them. 

Here is a true testimonial - my testimonial.  Over the course of a year, without spending a penny on diet plans or magic pills I lost 100 lbs. Here is my proof simply eating healthy and exercising works. The only thing I am selling you is the truth. 



And, other than the healthy baby growing in my belly, I have kept it off !!! 

3. I honestly think they think this crap cures cancer. If Plexus was such a miracle it would be the headline of every newspaper, the top story of every news cast, and not the annoying hourly post of a friend trying to make some extra money. 

Now let's talk about the product itself. What is Plexus?

Pros and Cons of Plexus Slim

If you’re trying to make a decision as to whether or not this product can help you to achieve the weight loss results you’re looking for, it’s important to consider the facts when it comes to the pros and the cons of this product.
The Pros
Some of the ingredients may be beneficial for weight loss, including:

Chlorogenic Acid

  • This is a substance derived from green coffee beans.
  • A 2010 study did find that it helped with weight loss and increased fat burning in rats that were fed a high fat diet. A very small study involving 16 overweight people was also conducted in 2012, and found that participants saw significant reductions in body weight, body mass and percent body fat compared to those taking a placebo.
  • Chlorogenic acid may also have a laxative effect.


  • Chromium is an important nutrient known to help regulate blood sugar levels which may also reduce cravings for simple carbs.
  • It’s known as an “essential trace element” because only a very small amount is necessary for health.
  • Some studies have shown that it may have a small amount effect on weight loss, but many others have found it has no effect.

Garcina Cambogia Extract

  • This fruit native to Indonesia may be effective in making meals more filling so that one eats less.
  • It’s also believed to help curb the appetite.
  • There have been some studies that have shown that it is effective for weight loss; however, these studies were conducted on mice. Human studies have found no real difference between people taking a placebo and those who took Garcina Cambogia.
  • While it’s safe for most people, it could interact with diabetes treatments and it may be a problem for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
A quick look at a FAQ on a distributor website states that “extensive clinical research has demonstrated no ill side effects with any medications or other supplements,” which reiterates the issue discussed above in regard to false claims by unqualified “ambassadors.”

Alpha Lipoic Acid

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant known to help prevent cell damage in the body.
  • It is also used to help break down carbohydrates and increase energy levels.
  • One study found that it may increase the metabolic rate which can boost weight loss; however, this study also involved mice and not humans.
  • While it isn’t known to be harmful, it may interfere with diabetes treatment.
The Cons
UPDATED: One major concern with Plexus is that the Plexus Accelerator product was banned in Australia with the Australian Department of Healthwarning consumers that it posed a serious health risk due to the ingredient DMAA.
The substance has been linked to high blood pressure, psychiatric disorders, bleeding in the brain and stroke.
Despite clams by company ambassadors that the products are totally safe, without side effects and have no interactions with medications, the company has issued a warning on its website related to the Accelerator product, which can beviewed here.

Other issues include:

The use of two natural sweeteners: stevia and luo han guo.

  • Although stevia is added to many low-calorie foods and beverages and is not necessarily harmful in itself, there has been some research that shows it may actually hinder weight loss because the brain doesn’t receive a signal that the stomach is full.
  • The sweet flavor can actually trick the body into thinking it’s going to be receiving calories – and when it doesn’t, metabolism is lowered.
  • Keep in mind, that there are lots of low and no-cal products on the shelves and Americans are certainly no slimmer than they were back in the ‘70s or ‘80s. In fact, obesity is more rampant than ever.


  • This plant-derived chemical is an ingredient in the Accelerator product. It works like a stimulant, causing tissues to contract. It speeds the heart rate and increases heart contractions. This is likely at least part of the reason for the warning.

Was there ever any “extensive clinical research?”

  • Although Plexus has made claims of extensive clinical research on its products, it doesn’t ever seem to have been tested in published studies to see if it interacts with certain health conditions or medications.
  • The only specific study on Plexus Slim is a summary of one shown on the company website. This 2008 study was not published or peer reviewed.
  • It did reveal that eight people with type 2 diabetes who were given the product saw some improvement in blood sugar and body weight, but there is no information as to how it was conducted, which means it can’t be duplicated by other scientists – or used to seriously backup the claims.
Then there is the cost. I have read Plexus can cost a person in the ball park of $100 month. I would personally prefer to just eat healthy and exercise, maybe take some inexpensive but quality vitamins for general health that are supported by doctors. Then I'd save that money for a new wardrobe! 

Losing weight should not cost you money. Weight loss should not be an industry. Instead I believe we need to educate people on making healthy lifestyle choices. It might be cliche but it works. Yes, it is hard and requires personal sacrifice, but the reality is you don't need a $100 month powder you drink once a day. You need will power and hope. Have faith in yourself that you are capable of more than you told yourself in the past, find your personal motivation and change your life. Products such as Plexus will come and go but the basics of health and weight loss will remain unchanged. Those who change their lifestyles will still be standing long after Plexus is just another forgotten and discarded fad.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Practice What You Preach

Not too much to write. Kidding. Just not enough time. Damn work. Okay I am definitely gaining weight. Time to step up. My eating habits are also not helping my energy levels, hormone levels, or pain levels. This is  what happens if you get lax. You tell yourself "I had a crappy day, I deserve this snickers".... Two months later your body decides "oh you think you can eat a snickers everyday and get away with it - guess what - boom you gained 10 lbs ". Okay then body, two can play this game. Drinking some herbal green and pomegranate iced tea and having a yummy Greek yogurt for breakfast. I will make sure to pack my lunch today so I don't have an excuse to go to Bill Millers (although they have some very healthy options - I have a hard time resisting their potato salad and bread) I'm not upset at all. I need the wake up calls, feedback from my body, to keep me motivated and on the right path. Carry on - I am.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

It is time to start blogging again! I recently had another friend diagnosed with PCOS and it has reminded me that just because I am at a good place with my health that I should stop talking about this disease. I know I have been silent for a bit. I am struggling with some decisions and in the meantime I have been eating like crap. Thank God I haven't gained but a couple of lbs, but I know if I don't make up my mind and make a change the weight gain freight train of PCOS will start again.

 The thing about life, is that sometimes the things we think we want are really just distractions from the things we truly need. Life is going to happen. You cannot control life. You may fall in love, you may have your heart broken, you may get overwhelmed at work, someone you love may get sick, you may get sick, your car may break down, and on and on and on. The thing about weight loss is that it has no effect on 99% of your life. No matter what size you are, life happens. You wake up at the same time. You breath the same air. You work the same job. You feel the same emotions. We, as a society have got to get over this notion that losing weight is the answer to all of our problems. In reality, dealing with our problems is a key component in losing weight and keeping it off. Weight loss should be just a small part of a much larger puzzle. Mental health. Physical health, Emotional health, Spiritual health. Balance. The key is finding balance.

I know there are some major changes I need to make to my diet and lifestyle. Most of them are actually related one of my other chronic conditions - interstitial cystitis. No one knows what causes it, so no one really knows how to treat it. Pretty much they throw the kitchen sink at you and hope for the best. I endured the catheter treatments and happily stopped. I still take medication - elmiron a very expensive blood thinner that somehow is magically supposed to help repair the lining of your bladder, hydroxyzine - basically benadryl on steroid to help with inflammation because some people theorize IC is auto-immune and Vicodin for pain when needed.

The main question is do I want to commit to taking this to the next level and eating the paleo auto immune protocol. It just seems so restrictive. I guess I should try it before I judge it. Also, I don't believe in diets. I have held firm in the belief that the reason I lost 100 lbs was that I didn't go on a diet. I simply modified how and what I ate into a lifestyle. What I think I might do is slowly remove one item at a time that affects my pain levels. I am going to start with diet soda. They want me to give up cheese. I am having a very hard time with the thought of a life without cheese. Is a life without cheese even worth living? I would also become one of those snobby people who doesn't eat gluten. I hate those people, except the one's who are actually allergic to it. They are cool. They are just doing what they have to do. It really does come down to a cost benefit analysis when it comes to what I eat. Is the pain that I might have from eating or drinking whatever worth it. I think for cheese it is. Diet soda I can replace with water and herbal iced tea. Slowly of course, as not to go through caffeine withdrawal. (Been there, done that, it is like taking bad acid- or so I imagine).

Here is the paleo plan that was highly recommended to me by a fellow sufferer of IC. On a positive note the paleo diet is very similar to the way I already eat except I eat gluten. I eat the shit out of gluten. Well I eat complex carbohydrates in moderation as long as they have a minimum fiber content. This is a very hard decision. I bought two books. I will read them and research the science behind it. I will try it and decide if in fact it reduces my pain, how much, and if it is worth the sacrifice.

The other question on my mind is just how much more if any weight do I want to lose. I have been sitting at my current weight, give or take a normal 5 lb fluctuation, for about 3 months. There was a point at the end of 2013 where I was losing weight so fast I couldn't keep up with my clothes. I like being a size 12/14. I love my curves and would never want to be what society considers skinny again. I think the most I would want to lose would be 20-30 lbs tops - if that. I am also in no hurry. I think part of my success in my weight loss has been the fact that I never had a set goal or timeline. I know that is the complete opposite of what the diet gurus tell you to do. But then again almost all diets fail. Maybe there is something to the notion of making your goal not a number but an action. By action, I mean, a daily goal of eating and living a certain way.Because I did not pressure myself,  if there was a week I got on the scale and I didn't lose any weight I never freaked out. This is where most people would feel like a failure and binge. When I would step on the scale and see I had lost weight it was more like a nice surprise. It isn't about a number or a size. For me it is about eating in a way that regulates my insulin and keeps my hormones in line. The side effect was weight loss. Just like when I ate wrong and my hormones were all out of whack the side effect was weight gain. I may not be the size I was in high school or college, but I feel more beautiful today at a size 12/14 than I ever did at a size 3. Even my stretch marks don't bother me much. They are to me a reminder of a battle I fought and won. I will fight this battle against PCOS for the rest of my life. It will never magically go away. But I accept this, and acceptance is the key to peace and happiness. That is, to accept what we cannot change. If there is something we can change, like the way I changed how I ate, then by all means kick ass and take names.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Busting a Plateau - Celebrating 100 lbs Lost

Well, I have plateaued at 100 lbs lost. Oh wait, I forgot to mention - I've lost 100 lbs !!! I am down to 183 and a size 12. I am ecstatic, grateful and happy. And, I am a lot smaller, but more importantly, healthier.

 I never expected to actually lose 100 lbs. I never planned that, or set that as a goal. I still haven't fully decided where I want to be. I just know I want to be healthy. And, I have pretty much achieved that goal. So, I took about a month or two off and kind of just chilled. Breaks, when losing a large amount of weight, are A-okay. They give your body and metabolism time to adjust.

 About 3 weeks ago I got back on the birth control pill. My body has handled it much better than it has in the past. This time I was just up-front with the people in my life. Let them know I might be moody or more sensitive for about a month. It really helped. I felt less pressure to "pretend to be okay" and just let myself be. Of course, I tried to keep my emotions in check, not lashing out in anger when I didn't mean to. So during that transition, I gained 5 lbs. I thought it might be the hormones, I wasn't sure, but sure enough one day I got on the scale and the 5 lbs were just gone. Water weight.

So, for those of you on this journey with me, don't freak out if suddenly you gain 5-10 lbs out of nowhere. Just be patient. Keep eating right. If after a few weeks it is still there, then keep a food journal for a few weeks to a month to make sure you are actually eating what you think and not more. Here are some awesome before and after losing 100 lb pictures to motivate you and me to keep fighting this battle.


So the question now is where do we go from here? That shall be my next blog post. I have a plan brewing. Now that I know I am capable of amazing things, I am ready and welcome whatever challenge I set for myself.  Stay tuned.