Fitness for Americans: (part 1 of 3)

The shadowy world of the exercise industry  is a dark and scary place. For a person seeking to raise their level of fitness, lose weight, get healthy or just feel better we have created this frightening and confusing landscape to scare them out of doing what they set out to do.  We tell them of “no gain without pain”, and that soreness is inevitable or that ninety percent of all diet plans will FAIL (add echo here…).

We no longer check credentials before giving some yay-hoo with a novel idea the right to tell us how to get fit, lose weight or be healthy. Ninety percent of all diets do fail (echo is optional) because they have no credibility or basis in truth. Taking a pill 1 to 24 times a day will not do it, eating only certain foods won’t do it, and the billions of dollars spent on supplements are mostly dollars just flushed down the drain.  The simple truth is that we know what works but we claim to not have time, money or energy to do the right thing. One thing is true about Americans; we always want everything to be easy. Well, sometimes it just isn’t.

The fact is that what works is eating smarter, being patient, and getting some physical activity.  Period.

Fad diets have no place in getting healthier. They are someone’s concept of taking the easy way and they sell us the idea that for a few dollars they will give us the secret plan that is guaranteed success. They are lying. When constructing your diet, eating healthy is pretty easy.

1.Use portion control, see the picture here for the appropriate portions.

2. Put many colors on your plate. Too much of one color is probably not too good.

3. Eat at appropriate times, right before bed, is not so good, but a few times a day is better than saving it all up for one or two meals. If you do that you will tend to overdo it on portions size.

This is way more simple than that old pyramid.

This is way more simple than that old pyramid.

Here is the problem with this simplicity: It’s too easy. As Americans we are trained to get bored quickly and we don’t give time to actually see results before we call it failure and move on to the next fad.  We are also quick to believe whatever someone sells us. We watch TV and believe that everything it says to us is true. We get hypnotized into thinking we “need” the products they are throwing at us. They tell us we need a 5 bladed razor to be properly shaved and we start to believe that our 3 bladed razors are just not doing the job that we NEED them to do. The same goes with food. We feel we DESERVE the stuff they hawk: “I work hard so I deserve pie, and apparently nobody does it like Sara Lee.”  We deserve the cookies, the cereal, the McDonalds and the Coke-Cola. We have to be strong and ignore them, they are making money off our weakness. I’m not saying that occasionally having a Coke is going to kill you but you don’t really “need I”t to feel validated do you?

So we give in, then we start the downward slide of self punishment because we gave in and have a cookie. Oh NO! So our diet failed and we give up. We have 12 cookies to celebrate that we made it 3 whole days without caving, though it ended in failure we did accomplish the 3 days. We need a reward and the TV said “nobody does it like Sara Lee” so… The truth is that we didn’t fail, we slipped. As long as the slips are less in number than the healthy choices then we are winning.  When we start to feel the energy return, the pounds s-l-o-w-l-y drip away and when someone finally says “hey, you look good, you workin’ out?” Then the slips will disappear and we are sold on the success. It wasn’t overnight it may not even be over-month but it does happen. We have to stop punishing ourselves for failing when the definition of failure is given to us by someone trying to sell us something.

“Healthy” takes time and effort and will power and for most of us, all of that is in short supply. As a coach I am not prone to accepting excuses. So if you are not willing to give the time, make the effort or develop the will then shut up and enjoy your unhealthy, sick, slow, sad, unproductive, and unhappy life. You will likely keep pumping dollars into fads and jumping from disappointment to disappointment.  IS that what you want? To quote the knight from the Indian Jones movie “choose wisely.”

Next post:  “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.”

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