A Little Secret about Infomercials

One of the blogs I follow, trextotigressdotcom, had an interesting post today:  Will I Look Like The Women In the Shaun T Infomercials?  She comments about how great the women in the videos look, and wonders if she will look like them after purchasing the package.

While I don’t know anything about the Shaun T video, or how the participants were selected, I can tell you a few dirty little secrets about infomercials in general, because I used to be an actress.Shaun T

I put on a lot of weight as my father was dying of cancer.  Specifically, I went from a size 3 to a size 9 over the course of two years.  Ask me how well that worked for my acting career?  Anyway, after he died, I decided I better get back into shape.  There was an ad in one of the casting papers saying they were looking for people who wanted to lose 10-20 pounds.  They would give us a diet, and free training sessions, and we would be videotaped.  There was no payment.  The payment would be a thinner body.  And I thought, “I’m in.”

They started with the before shots.  We had to wear exercise clothes and stick out our stomachs as much as possible, which was particularly easy for me because I always look mildly pregnant.  Then, we were divided into groups, and spoke with our trainer, Peter, who gave us a meal plan for the month and fat burners.  We were told to take two in the morning and two at lunch.

The first day,  I took two in the morning and then for lunch went to California Pizza Kitchen with my then boyfriend (now husband) Henri, and some friends.  I ordered a salad (on my diet) and water, and took the next two pills, and then began to shake to the point where I felt dizzy.  My friends told me to eat bread, which was not on the diet, but at that moment I just wanted to stop shaking.


I told Peter about it, and he told me to cut the dosage down to 2 pills per day.  That seemed to work ok.  We had group spin classes, I think twice per week, and also had group training with light dumbbells.  It was only supposed to last for a month, but for whatever reason, the final filming got delayed a week or two.  Peter was happy because he felt we all needed the extra time.

The infomercial was actually for some ab equipment, but we didn’t get to use it until the last week.  It definitely made you feel your crunches more.  I believe people who bought the product would also get the meal plan, but I’m not sure if they got the fat burners too.  By the time we began filming the final sequence, I was pretty happy because I was almost back to my original weight.

The infomercial was filmed in some mansion in the Hollywood Hills.  There were two beautiful people being filmed using the equipment.   I think some people got spray on tans for the “after” shots; I can’t remember if I did or didn’t. But I was legitimately happy for the “after” shot, because I had a six-pack stomach and my auditions were picking up again.


For the one-on-one interviews the director asked me how I felt.  Of course I felt great – I was thin again!  And then he started asking me questions about why I had gained the weight.  My father had only died a few months ago, so everything was raw still, and I began to cry.  The camera man moved closer to me, and the director asked me more questions, and I felt very vulnerable, because I was talking about my dad, but knew they were using my grief to sell a product I barely even used.

But maybe my interview ended up on the editing floor; I never saw the infomercial.  When it was done, I hired Peter to be my personal trainer for another year.  He sold HerbalLife products so I took a lot of them.  When I stopped training with him, and taking the diet supplements, I gained back all the weight and then some.

It was a pretty eye-opening experience.  Now when I watch infomercials I think to myself, “will this video or product be fun?” but I don’t think, “will this thing make me ripped?” because I learned the hard way, that the best way for me to stay healthy is to simply eat clean and train hard doing natural bodybuilding, and not to buy into a nicely prepared marketing package.

Lisa Traugott (after 2nd bodybuilding show) - ION Studios
Lisa Traugott (after 2nd bodybuilding show) – ION Studios

How about you?  Do you buy products after watching infomercials?  Did any of them work for you?

Lisa ;)

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6 thoughts on “A Little Secret about Infomercials

  1. Hey! Thanks for the shout out. What an eye opener. I always look at the before and after in those infomercials and wonder about the ripped, muscled up after. All that from booty shaking? Things are not always as they seem.

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