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It’s summer time… and you know what that means.

Just like every year, there will be an explosion of “lose weight quick” schemes, ready to bilk you out of your money and leave you even more dejected and disappointed than you were when you first began.

Nothing saddens me more than seeing people falling for a weight loss scam only to find themselves elbows-deep into an unsustainable routine or a restrictive regimen, not only because it is too hard to maintain, but also because the purported diet solution doesn’t account for how we live our lives. If you have to give up your entire life to make a weight loss plan successful, it’s not likely a plan that will be healthy or sustainable.

Luckily for us all, weight loss scams and schemes are easy to spot and even easier to avoid. Here are three ways to recognize and avoid them, and ensure that you’ll have progress all while keeping your cash in your pocket.

SCAM: You're required to buy a product and then encouraged to join the sales team for that product, after which you can resell the product to others for a marked up price or secure a discount on future purchases of the product for yourself. In order to get around the responsibility of ethical and truthful marketing that the Federal Trade Commission upholds, many weight loss-centered companies have backed away from doing their own marketing, and have now gone on to use pyramid-scheme marketing business models to get the word out about their product and get it sold. The corporation itself might not be responsible for what individual sellers are saying to move product, and it’s hard to prove that an individual seller is being dishonest in their marketing of the product they’re selling. In other words, no one is obligated or encouraged to ensure that individual sellers are telling the truth.

Before you make your purchase, always look for information on both sides of the coin. Sure, some people might have lost weight using the product, but how? What did they do? Oh, they worked out while they used it? Couldn’t you simply work out, too, and use that money to spring for some fresh veggies instead of a TV dinner ?

SCAM: It literally came out of nowhere, and now enjoys international renown. Acai berry, raspberry ketones, goji berries, hoodia, garcinia cambogia. The list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Some “cultural secret” from some far-away and distant corner of the globe is now produced and packaged, ready for us Americans to consume without thought! Except, no.

When it comes to these items that often come in pill or droplet form, remember – it’s exceedingly rare that the bottle actually contains the herb it promotes on the label, nor does it have to, since the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate supplements. When PBS’s NewsHour did an investigative report on the contents of herbal supplements, they found that far too many of the 20+ bottles they tested contained little more than ground up white rice.

Furthermore, it has long been a concern of the fitness industry that these pills, marketed as “weight loss pills” and “fat burners” are simply various forms of caffeine, meaning you’ve spent $50 on something that does not much more than your average No-Doz caffeine pill--which costs about $10 for the same amount of pills. You’d literally be better off drinking a cup of coffee (provided you’ve checked with your doctor, first) before you train. No, really.

SCAM: There’s some magic device that you have to wear all day and/or all night in order to lose the most weight. We all know this drill. There’s some thing that you slide into, and then you step into the mirror. You turn to the side, and smooth down your shirt. You turn to the front, adjust the hem of your shirt, put your hand on your hip, put your hands down… and then you’re sold. The only catch is, you have to wear this thing all day for a very long time if you want to eventually look like this with the thing off.

Not only does this damage your organs and your back, but it’s also an unrealistic way of attempting to lose weight. No, you shouldn’t be governed by the mantra of “it’s too painful to eat too much.” If anything, you should be focusing your energy toward monitoring your portions better and buying high quality, more filling meals. And, if curves matter that much to you, start lifting weights. They’ll give you healthy curves and an even healthier core and upper back.

The point is simple: do your research. Don’t be swayed by the lure of one side of the marketing; always look for the potential down sides of buying into weight loss schemes and scams. Above all else, remember: simply learning to eat healthier and working out consistently will never cost as much as a subscription to a weight loss pill site or an overpriced Saran wrap. Do the work, and – as I always say – your body will thank you for it!

Erika Nicole Kendall is a trainer certified in women’s fitness, fitness nutrition and weight loss coaching who also chronicles her own 160lb weight loss journey on the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. Hit her up on Twitter, or check her out on Facebook.