3 tips for avoiding fad diets and fitness regimes

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CC BY 2.0 Robert Couse -- Portion size control

Did you know people are more susceptible to weight-loss scams than any other kind?

It's that time of year when many people vow to lose weight and get in shape. It's a noble goal, but a tough one to accomplish, which is why the snake oil peddlers start hawking their wares more aggressively than ever around New Year's. They present rapid weight-loss solutions and quick-fix fad diets as if they were miracles, promising to speed you along your journey toward model-like skinniness and ripped abs. Year after year, people fall for these hollow promises.

How is this possible? Fitness guru James Fell addresses this in an article called "How not to fall for the next diet or fitness fad." He says that people are more likely to fall for weight loss scams than any other kind of fraud and that often it's "smart people" who fall for them, "because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons." And because weight loss is so daunting and difficult, people are willing to try anything to make it easier.

The reality, however, is that there's little you can do except commit to a whole lot of hard work and self control. Add time to the equation, and you're guaranteed to see improvements. Fell offers the following tips for avoiding fad-like traps in the new year. They could also be called common sense, but sometimes it helps to see them spelled out clearly:

1. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.

If you're already doing something and it's working well for you, stay with it. Don't let someone else convince you that you have to try a new fitness 'trend' (think keto diet, intermittent fasting, CrossFit, high intensity interval training, detox, etc.) if what you're doing is giving you good results and making you happy. The same thing does not work for everyone.

2. Develop a Zen-like mindset about food and exercise.

Accept that real progress takes time, and that nothing's perfect. Your physical self-improvement journey will take time. Just don't get obsessive about it; remember how to enjoy yourself. Whatever you choose to do needs to fit well into your personal life, adding value, rather than becoming a source of anxiety.

3. Be a critical thinker.

Fell writes, "Spectacular claims require spectacular evidence. If someone is telling you something that sounds amazing, then they need to have some amazing evidence to back it up." Learn to ask "why" if you hear about something being miraculously effective. Go digging for evidence. Always seek those alternative points of view.

See more at Fell's website Body For Wife.

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