Photo courtesy Chelsey Luger
Indigneous health and wellness enthusiast Chelsey Luger says it's imperative to direct your energy on health, not hype.

Well For Culture: Fitness Trends to Avoid and What You Should Do Instead

Chelsey Luger

In the fitness world, somebody is always trying to sell something. More often than not, it's a scam or a gimmick. We've seen a lot of troubling fitness trends surface recently, so here's a list of some of the most prevalent things that you should avoid at all costs. Remember: health over hype!

1. Waist Trainers
Why It’s Bad: Waist trainers are all over social media. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba are claiming that these contemporary corsets are the reason behind their hourglass figures. Don’t believe the hype! The truth is that waist trainers don’t really work at all. They only serve to temporarily cinch in your waist and make it appear that you have gotten thinner. But common sense should tell you that this, in no way, works to actually burn fat or make a lasting impact on your figure. In fact, this gut-squeezing device could actually cause harm to your body if worn over prolonged periods of time. Even in the short term, these things are uncomfortable. So, if you prefer to avoid symptoms like heartburn, shortness of breath, digestive issues, bone bruising, blood clots, or harm to your internal organs, I suggest avoiding this fad altogether.

What You Can Do Instead: First of all, drop the mentality that a barbie doll figure is the ideal way to look: most women are not built that way, so don’t let these plastic celebrities lower your confidence. Feeling good is better than looking good, and that should be the primary goal with fitness. That said, if you are approaching fitness with a healthy mentality and happen to be particularly curious about burning fat around your waist, the number one way to do so is to eat well. A clean, ancestral diet full of healthy fats, original foods, and natural nutrients is the way to go. Drinking plenty of water also assists in leaning out. Don’t waste your time doing hours of ab exercises if your diet isn’t right in the first place. Do engage in daily exercise and eat good food in order to achieve a sustainably fit physique.

2. Crash Cleansing
Why It’s Bad: Fasting ceremonially or in times of prayer is, of course, a perfectly healthy and commendable sacrifice to make. It’s great to do that from time to time, and you know whether or not you’re doing it for the right reasons. What you should never do, however, is fast for weight loss or with hopes of getting thin. That would be starvation, and it doesn’t do your body or mind any good. Diets like the “master cleanse” and products like “skinny tea” are marketed toward those who are looking to lose weight quickly. What they really do is cause you to have diarrhea for a few days (not cute), drain all your energy, and severely dehydrate you. You might actually lose the weight, but as soon as you start eating even small amounts of food again, the pounds will pile back on. Rapid weight loss will slow your metabolism and yo-yo dieting could even lead to heart damage. Don’t do it!

What You Can Do Instead: I’m not here to sell you anything so you can trust that I’m telling you the truth. The truth is that there is nothing you can do to lose weight fast in a healthy way. Why? Because “lose weight fast” is not a healthy mentality in the first place! If that’s your goal, it shows that you’re pursuing fitness for the wrong reasons. It’s great to set short term goals and to set out to improve your physical wellness, but you should always do so with this in mind: healthy living is a lifelong journey that should never be abandoned. There is no “end goal” – it’s just life. If you want to look and feel great, exercise regularly and eat a clean, ancestral diet.

3. Meal Replacement Shakes
Why It’s Bad: In the ‘90s, it was Slim Fast. Now, it’s HerbaLife. Sorry (not sorry) to those of you who peddle these products but they’re all a bunch of chemical-based garbage. Sure, they’re marketed with some enticing benefits: quick, tasty low-calorie beverages that will help you lose weight and won’t take a lot of preparation time. Sounds great, but the truth is that this stuff is hard on your body and your bank account. Meal replacement shakes are full of chemicals and strange ingredients, and it’s a problem if you don’t know exactly what it is that you’re putting into your body. Spend your money on something else.

What You Can Do Instead: Get a blender; stock up on stuff like produce, coconut milk, and almond butter; and get in the habit of making all-organic, even tastier, even better-for-you, less-expensive smoothies and shakes. Sometimes, it is okay to get your meals in liquid form – as long as the ingredients come from the earth. Be sure to include enough calories and healthy fats to leave you feeling satisfied, not depleted.

Pre-Workout Supplements
Why It's Bad: Pre-workout is basically a combination of Kool-Aid and crack. Yikes! OK, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s really not good for you. People take pre-workout in an effort to boost their energy for a high-intensity training and weightlifting. While the surge of energy might seem enticing, it’s actually really unhealthy. In the short term, it can leave you feeling light headed, nauseous, dehydrated, and dizzy. In the long term, it can be addictive and dangerous. Pre-workout supplements contain so much caffeine and other types of artificial energy that they wear out your adrenal glands – the part of your body that gives you an adrenaline rush. So, if you take this stuff on a consistent basis, you’re ruining your body’s ability to produce natural energy. Also remember that it’s easy to build a tolerance to pre-workout. That’s the danger zone. Taking too much of this stuff can cause heart damage and kidney problems. Just stay away!

What You Should Do Instead: Remember that the workout itself will give you energy, so just be patient and let your body do what it does! It only takes a couple minutes of warmup to get your heart rate pumping and your natural adrenaline going. If you’re feeling sluggish, it’s also okay to drink a small cup of black coffee before working out, or to eat an energizing snack like a handful of raw almonds. And of course, always stay hydrated. Water gives energy all the time. Just remember that pre-workout is a fad, it’s unsustainable, and it’s something that our people did just fine without for thousands of years.

A Final Word: Remember that the FDA only regulates dietary supplements after they are already on the market – and only if a consumer makes a claim against them. The supplement industry is responsible for regulating itself, and so they often get away with huge discrepancies like telling you they’re selling you one thing when it’s actually totally different. They lie and get away with it all the time! So it’s best not to mess with these questionable corporate products at all, and rather to eat ancestral foods made from real ingredients. When you know exactly what you’re putting in your body, you are better off.

For recipes, videos, and a ton of information on indigenizing fitness and ancestral foods, go to

Chelsey Luger is Anishinaabe and Lakota from North Dakota. She hopes to be a strong link in a long chain of ancestors and descendants by spreading ideas for health and wellness. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Ideas for articles? Email her: [email protected].

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