There are lots of ways to lose weight these days. You could clamp off part of your stomach, take up ultra-marathoning, or sample any number of chemical shakes, cocktails, medications, injections, pudding cups, synthetic meals or genetically modified livestock. You could also burn off more calories than you consume, but who has time for that noise when we live in the future?
Yes, we are an endlessly inventive and profoundly lazy species, one that—in defiance of hundreds of years of science and medical analysis—believes it’s possible to stand motionless on a vibrating plate and become Chris Hemsworth. You can’t blame the multi-billion-dollar weight-loss industry for trying, but you also can’t rewrite this one bit of gospel: “At the end of the day,” says Daniel Meng, owner of MUVFit Personal Training in Nashville (where jacked clients include Kenny Chesney), “there’s no substitute for hard work. Living healthy requires three components: nutrition, cardiovascular work and resistance training. If any one of those pieces isn’t there, you’re gonna have a very low ceiling on what you can accomplish.”
This year, in an effort to keep our ceiling at the proper altitude, we resolve to never try the following seven preposterously trendy weight-loss methods:
Box jumps: Box jumps involve—to use the official physiological term—jumping on a box. The adjective they’re most often associated with is “explosive.” But they put you at risk of all manner of injury, including a blown-out Achilles. If you must pretend you’re Super Mario, land as softly as you can. And when returning to earth, hop lightly or simply step down to limit the possibility of further damage.
Vibration plates: Exercise on a regular floor burns calories, so exercise on a moving surface should burn more of them, right? Sadly, research indicates that vibration plates are most effective in weight loss in conjunction with a good diet and training program. Related: Most things are effective in weight loss when paired with a good diet and training program. Playing Battleship is effective when paired with a good diet and training program.
Gas mask training: First of all, this is a real thing. The idea seems to be to deprive yourself of oxygen, so your muscles have to work harder. People, please. Your lungs are not meant to be semi-suffocated, and your workout equipment should not come from the German military surplus store. If the normal course of your day does not require you to wear a gas mask, don’t go out of your way to wear a fucking gas mask.
Barefoot running: You’re not still doing this, are you? We read Born To Run, too, and we realize that thousands of years ago our hairy ancestors successfully ran barefoot to elude such predators as saber-toothed tigers. But after 2010, when so-called “fingers footwear” seemed poised to engulf the entire running shoe market, a study from Brigham Young University found that modern runners who transitioned too quickly into minimalist shoes had an increased risk of foot injuries, including stress fractures. Also, 100 percent of them looked like clowns. Even if barefoot running did help you lose weight, we still wouldn’t recommend sacrificing your dignity like that.
Sit-ups / crunches: Despite what you learned in gym class (and yes, that clause applies to many things in adult life), sit-ups and crunches aren’t the best way to turn a beer gut to a six-pack. Go for planks or side planks instead—they’ll burn, crush, smash, pulverize, and otherwise rip your abs more effectively.
Pointless gluten-freeness: For some people, consuming even a little gluten can cause dire consequences. You’re probably not one of them. Only about 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease, yet that hasn’t stopped Americans from spending an estimated $8.8 billion on gluten-free food in 2014. The Mayo Clinic estimates that 1.6 million Americans who are eating gluten-free diets don’t need to. If you’re one of those people and eating gluten-free makes you feel better, then good for you—but please stop saying you “can’t” eat the bread.
Tough Mudders: Because races are more fun when you might also contract dysentery from a culvert, competitors on these obstacle courses undertake such jungle warfare-style physical challenges as mud crawling, rope swinging, spear tossing, barbed-wire crossing and a bunch of stuff with fire. Some 1.5 million athletes have endured Tough Mudders over the past four years, but let’s be honest: These are events about which the CDC has said, “Participants also need to be encouraged to seek appropriate medical care for post-competition diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea, and to inform medical personnel of their exposure.” We’ll pass, bro.