5 Crazy Things People Do To Get Fit

Spend just two years in the fitness industry and you'll learn a few of the nutty things people try to get in shape. But spend over fifteen years in the industry like I have and you'll hear every preposterous thing people do to get fit. To be fair, sometimes they work, but not for the reasons people think and rarely are the results sustainable.

This article could have easily been the 10, 15, 20 or more "crazy things" people do but I decided to keep it to the five I hear most often. Onto the list...

1. Crossfit
Does Crossfit get you fit? Yes. Will Crossfit set you up for a lifetime of nagging injuries and chronic pain? Yes. And therein lies the reason I cringe when people look to Crossfit as a way of getting in shape. Last time I checked, exercise was supposed to improve your physical condition so you can enjoy a longer more active lifestyle not accelerate the onset of disk ruptures, subluxations, muscle tears, tendinitis, ligament and tendon tears.

My position on Crossfit is this: it’s a sport. And like any sport you assume a certain amount of risk by participating. The problem is, the majority of participants are not real athletes they’re average individuals who want to get fit.

For what it’s worth, I actually like watching Crossfit competitions. I find them entertaining, just like watching a lot of different sports. But choosing it as a way to get if is like me at 37 years of age picking up ice hockey as a way to get in shape when I’ve never played the game.

2. Intermittent Fasting
For those unfamiliar, intermittent fasting is basically starvation as a diet tactic. There are several different ways to implement this strategy. Some require you to fast each day for 20 hrs. and then eat one big meal, others have you fast for 14-16 hrs. and feed for 6-8 hrs., others have you do a 24 hr. fast twice a week, and a number of other variations.

When intermittent fasting is followed properly it can work, and work well. The reason why is that it will typically result in a 30-40% reduction in caloric intake.

But the reason I find this approach to dieting so troubling is that most people will eat uncontrollably once the dinner bell rings. Never mind the psychological toll it plays.

You can just as easily reduce calories by 30-40% AND eat all day long AND achieve results equal to or better than intermittent fasting AND not drive yourself crazy.

3. Instagram & YouTube Fitness Experts
Over the last decade social media has literally exploded. And with that explosion has come an explosion of incredibly stupid people teaching incredibly stupid things to people that don’t know any better. It reminds me of when I was 15 years old and believed what Arnold Schwarzenegger was telling me in the muscle magazines was what would make me look like him. (Obviously it didn't work.)

So today you have Instagram sensations who by posting pictures of their perfect ass everyday are regarded as fitness experts. Despite knowing zilch about exercise science, biomechanics and physiology they declare their assets are the byproduct of doing ridiculous exercises and routines when in fact they are the result of having the right parents. God Bless great genetics!

YouTube is littered with fitness personalities (actors) who also display a limited amount of knowledge and peddle worthless information all to the tune of thousands of views. Not only does information get disseminated faster these days but people get dumber faster too. There are a handful or reputable professionals on YouTube (yours truly being one of em) but sifting through the BS to find them is difficult since YouTube rewards entertainers not educators.

Relying on social media for the bulk of your fitness information is just asking to be led astray.

4. Weight Loss Pills
Every year--check that--every month a new diet pill is released into the market with the promise of melting away ll the chub we've happily accumulated while stuffing our face. Do you really think a pill can make all the calories in that half-pound burger with bacon and cheese magically disappear? The amount of delusion weight loss pill poppers are under is truly astonishing.

There are only two ways fat can be eliminated from our body: 1) someone cuts into your body and then sucks it out with a tube or 2) you use it as a source of energy as a result of being in a caloric deficit. The latter is the safest and most effective albeit more time consuming except when you factor in the 6-12 months of recovery time from the former.

Here's the deal. Fat-burners DO NOT BURN FAT. These products are stimulants. They cause an increase in your energy levels and metabolic rate but this does not translate into fat loss unless you are in an energy (caloric) deficit. In which cases I've seen weight loss pills work it was because it got someone who typically sits on their ass up and moving due to an uncomfortable surge in energy.

I'm voting – not worth it (especially if you're susceptible to heart attack).

5. Waist Trimming Belts
I wonder how many people have been scammed on this one since a variety of versions have been sold for decades. As I just stated above there are only two ways to eliminate body fat and waist trimmer belts is not one of them.

Here’s The American Council on Exercise’s take on the topic of reducing waist size by wearing a waist trimming belt – "spot reduction is a myth". That goes for the idea that doing hundreds of crunches or other abdominal exercises will make your midsection smaller. Exercise is necessary but how much food and drink you scoff down is really the answer to your flat abs prayer.

These worthless products give the impression that they work because they hold heat in while you exercise causing you to sweat more in that section of your body (but not lose any more water weight than you would lose without the belt). The restrictiveness of the belt also causes a TEMPORARY reduction in waist size, but given a short time you’re right back to where you were because it doesn’t cause you to lose actual inches – only diet and exercise do that.