Those gizmos and products that promise a thinner, fitter you "in just four minutes a day" might be more effective at trimming your wallet than your body. Here are some tips for safe buying off the TV:
- Don't compare yourself with the bouncing, buff bodies on the infomercial. They're most likely in their early 20's, blessed with killer genes, work out 3 hours a day, and are still paying off that last liposuction.
- Shy away from any product that boast you can burn 'up to' a certain number of calories. A person might be able to burn that many calories if you had an overactive thyroid and belonged to the World Wrestling Federation, but you'll likely burn just a fraction of the number of calories mentioned.
- Many of the products touted on infomercials can also be found in stores. But often the models on the infomercials are inferior makes of familiar merchandise, says Larry Weindruch, director of communications for the National Sporting Goods Association. Because the "fit" of a piece of fitness equipment is critical, you should never buy anything without trying it first.
- Think in small bites. Instead of resolving to morph yourself into Pamela Anderson Lee or Arnold Schwarzenegger, decide each day to accomplish a specific activity: work out right after waking up, walking to work, take stairs instead of elevator.
- Know thyself. You're more likely to keep up with activities you enjoy. Find something you like to do, and stick with it. Don't buy equipment you don't like.