If you search “fitness” on Google…or even Instagram or Facebook, you’ll get hundreds of hits. The fitness industry is saturated with information and new trends all the time. So how do you know which ones are legit and which ones are a scam?
If it was up to me, the fitness industry would be regulated as closely as physical therapists, doctors, and surgeons are regulated. But it’s not, and we don’t live in a perfect world. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who call themselves “fitness professionals” who are just trying to steal your money with bullshit products.
Not only are some of these products actually dangerous, most of them will not give you the results they promise you. Below you’ll find some of the most popular health and fitness fads, and what you can do instead to ACTUALLY get the results the product promised you.
One of the more dangerous products on this list, waist trainers are basically corsets that are supposed to “melt inches off your waist” and help you “lose 2-4 inches in 30 days”. If you’re shaking your head in disbelief just reading that, FYI, there are people out there who believe this. These waist trainers are backed by countless of celebrities, most notably the entire Kardashian Klan. They promise you the coveted “hourglass figure” that has become so popular on Instagram. Hate to burst any waist-training bubbles, but there is no proof that these corsets help aid in weight loss or reshaping the body in any way. In fact, the company that the Kardashians back was recently sued for false advertising!
In addition to not working, waist trainers have pretty serious side effects, including shortness of breath, nausea, fainting, bruising, and fractured ribs. Can you imagine working out in something that does that do you? People do it! Wearing these corsets in the gym is straight up dangerous. I once had a client come in for a consult and ask me if she could wear her waist trainer in the gym. I politely informed her of the risks involved in wearing one and that I wouldn’t feel comfortable training her if she insisted on wearing one. She never came back, unfortunately.
Now, if you are looking to get that hourglass shape for a special event, wearing a waist trainer under your dress for few hours can help create that silhouette. They can help you look nice in a fancy dress, because the whole point of them is to suck you in. But I would NOT recommend wearing one in the gym, during a workout, or as a way to lose weight, strengthen your core, and melt inches off your waist.
What To Do Instead
The absolute best way to “melt inches off your waist” is diet and exercise. Take a look at your diet by tracking your food intake for two weeks. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on portion sizes. Tracking your food is a great way to see exactly how much you eat….because most people eat way over the recommended portion size without even realizing!
Secondly, since the waist trainers claim to help strengthen your core (LOL), start incorporating core strengthening exercises into your workout. These should be things like Paloff Press, Cable Rotations, Planks, Back Extensions, and Seated Russian Twists. Remember: your “core” includes abdominals, obliques, and back muscles. You have to work all of them in order to get a strong “core”!
Tea detoxes…they’re EVERYWHERE. Everyone from A-list celebs to former Bachelor contestants are advertising these. It always makes me kind of sad when I see one of the Bachelor girls selling this, because it just feels like such a sell-out!
While it’s true that green and black teas are chock-full of antioxidants and can actually be good for you, your body cannot sustain itself on a liquid diet. There’s no one magic drink that can cure ailments or diseases. These detox diets that go along with drinking the tea are extremely restrictive, and can often cause more problems than they are actually fixing. One of the key ingredients in most of these teas is ‘senna’…which is a herbal laxative. Too much senna intake can cause vomiting, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration. Yikes.
While you may see a slight weight decrease while you’re on these tea detoxes, as soon as you go back to your regular food intake, you’ll gain the weight right back.
What To Do Instead
Luckily, the body detoxes itself with the help of major organs like the digestive tract, kidneys, and liver. Drinking tea can help with liver function, but only as long as your diet isn’t already taxing on your system. If you are truly concerned about cleansing your body, start by removing processed foods, fried foods, and extra sugar. Increase your fruit and veggie intake, and eat lots of whole grains, lean protein, and fats like avocados and nuts.
Check out this article via Precision Nutrition that talks about the dangers of detox diets and how a PN coach landed in the ER after trying one.
“30 Day ‘X’ Challenge”
“30 Day Squat Challenge”, “30 Day Abs Challenge”….I’m sure everyone has seen something like this. They promise things like “bigger butt in 30 days!” and “six-pack abs in 30 days!” I understand that following something like that is easy for a beginner exerciser who doesn’t know any better. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve attempted a 30-day squat challenge. Mostly because I wanted to see what it was like, not to get results, but that’s besides the point. The point is, I didn’t finish it.
Let’s take a step back for a second. Have you ever been sore a day or two after a workout? This is likely due to microscopic tears that form in your muscles after eccentric exercise. This is referred to as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. To prevent DOMS, you should gradually and progressively increase the intensity, frequency, and duration of your workout. If you are working the same muscles every single day, you are not giving them time to repair themselves. This sets yourself up for injury and muscle imbalance. In order build strength and positively re-shape your body, you need to give your muscles time to repair. Usually at least 48 hours!
Another thing that these challenges fail to discuss is that spot reduction doesn’t work. Spot reduction means exercising one muscle group in an effort to reduce fat in that area. Let’s take the abs for example. Doing 30 days of crunches won’t give you a six-pack, UNLESS you already have low enough body fat for your abs to be visible. Not to mention, doing 30 days or crunches completely neglects other core muscles-like muscles of the lower back and the obliques-which, again, causes muscle imbalances and puts you at risk for injury.
What To Do Instead
Overall strength and conditioning is the best way to see positive, body-changing results. Don’t focus on one area of the body. Split up your days to give your muscles time to repair and grow.
In this article, Nia Shanks talks about positive 30-day challenges to try instead. I love the 30-day fitness challenge she describes. Basically, you try to do at least one workout per day for 30 days straight. One day could be a strength training workout, another day could be going for a walk outside, and another day could be taking a class. That’s a great way to vary your exercise and keep yourself moving for 30 straight days, without the risks that muscle-specific 30-day challenges present.
If your goal is to get a bigger, better, boootayyy, check out this article I wrote a few weeks ago. This contains some of my favorite butt-building exercises that AREN’T squats.
If you are looking to increase your core strength, all the exercises I described above are great.
Remember to always do you research before trying a new fad that you saw on Instagram or Facebook. There is a lot of sketchy stuff out there, unfortunately! You can’t trust everything you see on the internet. There are ways to doctor progress photos, and many “fitspo” celebs have come under fire recently for photoshopping their photos and selling programs that they didn’t write!
If you need help reaching your health and fitness goals, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am currently accepting new clients into my online nutrition and exercise coaching programs!
Remember: you are much better off spending your hard-earned money on someone who can get you real results. Whether it’s an online coach or a personal trainer in your gym, don’t waste your money on crap that is dangerous, doesn’t work, and costs a TON.
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