Well, Black Friday is just behind us, ushering in the holiday shopping rush – and as we look for gifts to improve the lives of our friends and family, many of us might be tempted to get a little something for ourselves.
But if nobody wants a lump of coal for Christmas, even fewer people want a handful of magic beans at least not once the promise of "dieting magic" has worn off and their wallets are a few pounds lighter.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a handful of awesomely bad weight loss gadgets that don't deserve a spot in your stockings…
The Sauna Belt
Why It Sucks: If you've seen advertisements for this product on TV, you'd think your local station canceled those Seinfeld reruns and put something funnier on instead. Since delivering tiny electric shocks to the abs was getting a little passe, the people behind the sauna belt offer to "melt your fat away" by delivering a steady stream of heat to the midsection.
First of all, spot reduction doesn't work – the places fat gathers depend on your own body chemistry and has nothing to do with which part of the body you work on. Second, fat isn't the same as butter, you can't put it under your oven and melt it literally. I suppose you could put on some mild-cardio gains by forcing yourself to adjust to the heat, but that leads us to the third (of many) problems with this product: usually, the more intense an exercise is, the better your results will be. An intense workout with this monster is going to scald your midsection!
Why It Sucks: Here's a scam so nasty and so infamous, it was shut down by the people who ran the FTC. This strip was basically a patch of seaweed that users put on top of their bodies and would work without any diet or exercise (of course)… this thing didn't even bother coming up with a reason why it would work.
The makers just called it "technologically advanced", slapped on a couple of fake "before and after" pictures, and sent it off to all the big "Women's Health" magazines. What makes this story unique among all the other "diet patch" frauds is that the perpetrators did this from overseas, assuming the long arm of the law wouldn't be able to stretch across the ocean and grab them. How wrong they were.
They don't make the Slenderstrip anymore, but similar schemes are still floating around today. What's important to know is that there isn't any topical product, whether it's a cream or a bandage, that will give you lasting weight loss – the science just doesn't exist.
Why It's Bad: Do you like magnets? Do you like acupuncture? MagnaSlim combines these two mystical sounding products into one awesomely useless product – a bracelet that controls stress, reduces anxiety, and removes your appetite when you wear it.
Instead of merely being "technologically advanced", MagnaSlim is a little more specific. They've got "proprietary blended magnets" that magnetically deoxidize your cells, like a constant dose of a high powered anxioxidant. Doing this would also harness your Chi and allow you to… use karate on your extra pounds or something. Eastern and Western huckerism collide on this one.
The Magic Ear Staple
Why It's Bad: Here's another terrible weight loss product that relies on western customers not fully understanding how acupuncture works. This product puts a steel staple into your ear, theoretically stimulating the acupuncture point associated with your stomach. If anyone ever lost weight with this thing, it's probably because they stopped thinking "mmm, cake" and started thinking "oh Heavens, my ear hurts!"
Unlike piercings, these staples have to be left in for a while, so infection rates were really high. States across the country have cracked down on this practice. In fact, it was eventually outlawed in Florida – with penalties ranging from a hefty fine to being charged with a third degree felony!
The Spin Gym
Why It's Bad: Another "magnets" based workout tool, this one targets your upper body with "gyroscopic resistance" promising to give you twenty pounds of resistance with each rep. Which, for those counting at home, is almost half as good as doing a pushup on your knees! The overhead motion is enough to make most users feel like they're working out, but there's nothing here you couldn't do yourself with your arms and a T-shirt.
There's something all of these awesomely bad gizmos have in common – they all promise amazing results without requiring any stress, any sweat, any physical investment from you. Is it sleazy of fly-by-night-burn–the-fat-before-breakfast-tomorrow to promise the results they do? Absolutely.
But if there's a positive to all this hucksterism, it's the fact that we live in the Internet era, and you have a choice about what to buy. You can choose to use sites like this one to investigate claims that ping your radar, and more importantly – you can choose to lose weight with the only method that really matters – hard work and constant effort.
This is a guest post from Brad Fiorentine, a workout enthusiast, foodie and writer. You can read more valuable, entertaining stuff at his website, Make A Weight Loss Plan. Subscribers get a copy of his seven step guide to making a real plan. (links removed by editor because they pointed to an expired domain)