You’ve read the screaming, deceitful, headlines about getting ripped abs. “6 Ways to Get Ripped 6-Pack Abs!” “How to Get Ripped Abs in Just One Month,” “Do This One Thing to Get Six-Pack Ripped Abs,” “Scientists in China have discovered a revolutionary shortcut to six pack abs” and so on.

The “strip off belly fat” headlines on current magazines covers are no better. “Strip Off Belly Fat Overnight,” “Strip that Fat Today!” and “How to Strip Off Fat Without Counting Calories in One Week” exemplify this genre of foolishness. So does the “Magnet Fat Reducing Ring.” Ackkkkkkkk.

My response to these get ripped and stripped, “get-them-to-click-or-buy-this” headlines is, “Get Gypped.”

Publishers, huckster fitness folks, and magazine/website editors understand that people want a promise, a fail-safe prescription, for getting results.

Be aware of:
1. Hurried fixes. There are none. Weight loss and muscle building take time, lifestyle change, commitment, and consistent-persistent effort.
2. “I did it and so can you” solutions. Here’s an actual line from a seemingly reputable magazine, “It’s not BS, it actually works. I’ve been doing the program for 5 years and have put on over 250 lbs of pure muscle!” You aren’t your neighbor, don’t have that celebrity’s genes, cook or trainers, and can only run your own race. If you have an allergy to nuts, your best friend who doesn’t, can eat nuts all day long—you can’t. Fit into your own plan.
3. Radical repairs. Danger ahead doesn’t sell. You’ve got your own internal alarm, so listen to it. The breakthroughs and secret innovations they are “sharing for the first time” have only one piece of evidence behind it—it sells.
4. Use only this. Great IF you need another place to hang clothing. Otherwise, forget it. If you can ONLY get ripped or strip off muscle using this or that new tool, run. Hey, running is a great way to become healthier. From the days of Gustav Zander in the 1890’s when he pioneered resistance training with a phony baloney 8-Minute Abs machine that rhythmically hit the user in the stomach with padded leather discs, to Harvey Kellogg’s quacked out vibrating weight loss chair, people have believed and bought almost everything to get ripped and strip off body fat.
5. Outrageous promises and hyperbolic “clinically proven” vows. Seriously? There is no reputable health professional or fitness coach that will promise anything. It’s so personal, so not one-size-fits-all, so dependent on many things that only a huckster who’s about to leave town will guarantee results. In fact that word, “guarantee” is another indicator to run. Did I mention that running is a great way…nevermind, you’ve got it. Here’s an actual line that ought to sound your alarm, “FDA Cleared for toning, strengthening, and firming ab muscles” and even sillier “patent pending medical grade technology.” Want another? “15x more effective than crunches.” Of course, there’s not one ounce of data behind this hypebole.

So what to do? First, find your health care professional and a certified fitness trainer or coach and ask about the program that caught your eye. They will likely know the current research and the track record of too-good-to-be-true programs filled with phony promises. Of course do your own reading and research as well.

The hucksters aren’t science based, but rather sigh-ence based. They are interested in selling, not helping. Filled with pseudoscientific buzzwords, marketing savvy and buoyed by your vulnerabilities, they’ve got you by…your belly fat.

Realize that if you are caught up in one of these charlatan headlines, it suggests that you may be feeling frustrated, out of control, at a loss and just plain desperate. You’ve likely lost your otherwise discerning thinking. That means you are vulnerable and the hucksters know it, and are counting on it. The most important thing you can do before clicking on “buy now” is to think of these useless and dangerous products and routines as gag gifts and then instead of pressing that button… DON’T. Go exercise instead.

Author's Bio: 

Michael R. Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. His career includes serving as the Chief Psychologist for Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and as the founding Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He served on the faculty of UCSD’s School of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry. After 40 years of diagnosing and treating mental illness, he has retired from clinical practice---and as he describes, is now “reFired” and “reWired.”

Michael is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Science for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, and served as the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He travels the world speaking with fitness and health professionals to provide the most current thinking and tools for behavior change.

Michael is an Organizational Advisor to Fitwall, Rock My Run, amSTATZ, speaks for Rancho La Puerta and the Asia Fitness Conference and Expo, in addition to numerous other fitness-health organizations throughout the nation. He has been a keynote speaker for the University of California “FitCon” and for UCLA’s “Stress Less Week.”

He is a best-selling author of three books including the 25th Anniversary updated edition of his 1988 original “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, P.S. It’s All Small Stuff,” and his 1996, “Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace.” Heis listed in’s 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.” His fourth book is due out soon.