The Mainstream Media Fitness Lies- Gimmick Lie – The Nutrition Lie – The Duration Lie
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Mainstream media fitness lies
1: The Gimmick Lie: I think starting with the gimmick lie sets the foundation for the other two lies. As a fitness professional, I get very frustrated with the endless production and reproduction of useless products pumped out by the mainstream fitness industry. Mainly because gimmick products are not going to work and this places people back into the cycle of fitness failure, which is the perpetual succession of starting a program or diet that deteriorates into another failed attempt to meet a fitness or health goal. Repeated failure only breeds discouragement, declined self-esteem and eventually you are just going to submit to the condition. For this segment, I decided to focus more on media based gimmicks and not so much on Fitness Club novelties. But just to mention, fitness club gimmicks include equipment or apparatus hype, like class format changes and even hook specials. Anyway, lets chat about some mainstream gimmick examples. The most obvious are weights that shake, wearable saunas, things that slide, glide or rock. Belts that vibrate, blades that wobble, topical products or anything with the word “tone” in it. But the mainstream media is clever and recognize that the market is more informed than ever. And because many of us have been swindled in the past, we have become more skeptical of products and services and like to research and validate before we buy. So, to combat our new resistance the media machine will use “science” and “doctors’ to endorse products. And they pulled one over on us again. We fall for it every time! Now we have fake science and sell-out doctors leading the charge against the consumer pushing a new line of gimmicks. And to be frank, the biggest scam in all of fitness, is the diet pill. Two problems with diet pills and supplements. First, what exactly is in the pill or supplement and how do we verify that the content, quality and advertised effect are genuine? We don’t and we can’t. The supplement industry is not regulated by any form of quality assurance. This means they can sell you a 5000 milligram pill where 3500 milligrams are classified as “proprietary blend” and you can’t even pronounce the top 5 ingredients they do list other than caffeine, niacin or other base mineral. And the return on investment for supplementation is negligible for most people who are not bodybuilders or avid exercisers. Meaning there are supplements out there that do provide some sort of benefit but it’s usually specialized. Yet, the gimmick industry alone pulls in billions of dollars because of the second problem: We keep buying it. But why? In my opinion, it is because we are conditioned consumers that expect instant gratification with minimal effort. Exercise, moderating diet and managing our general fitness is hard and it requires discipline and maintenance. We have excuses ready to fire, I hear them all the time like family, time, money, energy or career but this is how we self-justify our behavior. Folks, there is no quick fix or magic pill for lower body fat, better flexibility or strength. You must put in effort and change your behavior. And you have to ignore what other people look like or what the media is telling you what you should look like. Just be the very best version of yourself. To quote my friends at Lyfology, “learn to love yourself, so you can love others best.”
2: The Nutrition Lie. Nutrition in America today has become cult like with its own dogma. Conversations about politics or religion inspire less hostility than a vegan and paleo advocate debating. Its obnoxious and unnecessary. The media has done a fantastic job of spinning false information or manipulated data about macro food quality and appropriate intake ratios to sell products. And if you think that farmers of livestock, dairy or plant products are not lobbying both government and media to validate their products for profit, then you are not paying attention. However, there is no way I will be able to address all the issues surrounding nutrition, misinformation and mega-food corporation influence in this blog or even in my lifetime. The science of nutrition is so vastly complex and the media has simplified it to the point of ineffectual. As a former college instructor of advanced health and fitness sciences, I taught two nutrition classes. First was basic college nutrition and the second was nutrition for sports performance and I still learn new things or paradoxes about nutrition all the time. I hold two nutrition based credentials, one for the science and one for life coaching, and they are a drop in the ocean of nutritional studies. This here is a college text book for basic first-semester nutrition and it only scratches the surface. Dietitians and professors of nutritional studies are still making discoveries in this field. My point is, that none of us really know what the hell we are talking about when it comes to nutrition. That said, many people have tried with fanatical zeal, the fat-free, low-carb, low-sugar, high-sugar, high-protein, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, plant-based, fasting, gluten free, juicing and ketogenic diets. But all of these fad diets have the same formula: Elimination, reduction and restriction. Period. What makes a fad diet different from another is simply what macro or source you eliminate or reduce along with calorie restriction. It’s so challenging to cut through the mainstream media hype or their rabid focus on a specific component of nutrition. I remember in the 1990’s the demonization of fat and the emergence of the green label and reduced fat foods, which gave way to the ultra-high protein diet but that’s unsustainable and gone. Then a celebrity, who really has a medical condition, starts talking about gluten, writes a book and the media sees a profit center and now we are still suffering to this day from the consumer overaction and mass self-diagnose of gluten intolerance. But that fad is fading now because suddenly we are on a trip back through time to prehistoric food selection. Except for the fact that most of the foods we have today would not have been available to our ancestors but hey, it’s a good gimmick and folks fall for it. So, the common theme here is a desperate consumer seeking a solution and unable to sort through the myths, misinformation and manipulated data designed to sell products. On the other hand, the mainstream media only advertises what sells. Every successful gimmick or diet out there is a byproduct of consumer demand. The media knows we want products that work quickly, require little or no effort and are stylish. We can stop the spread of stupid diets and useless products by simply not buying it. In the end, we are all at fault as media is the product of our design. So, unless you are on a medically supervised nutritional program for a specific condition, here is my opinion. Your nutritional intake, or “diet”, should be nutrient dense, calorically appropriate for fitness goals and consisting of macro ratios that you can sustain for a lifetime. This means that if a configuration of nutrition and calories meet the requirements of your lifestyle and wellness goal, then you have found your diet.
3: The Duration Lie. This particular lie is really a major source of irritation for me. The duration lie is basically the time period in which the mainstream fitness media claims their product or service will profoundly change you fitness level or life. This frustrates me because it has become a shining beacon of consumer gullibility and blind desire for instant gratification not to mention my dislike for devious marketing. The fitness industry is inundated by gimmicks as we discussed and now we have 8 minute abs, 16,12, 4 and 2 week challenges where you can look like a figure model just by following some workout template. They also make bold statements about losing large amounts of fat in extremely narrow periods of time. This is predatory marketing and a flat out lie. Any program that promises specific return is questionable because each human has a unique fitness level, medical condition, injury history, nutritional sensitivity, schedule, resource access and desire. I also find before-and-after pictures of others to be manipulative marketing and an unhealthy reason to join a program especially if accompanied by an advertised time frame in which those results were supposedly achieved. We should focus on our own before-and-after pictures and celebrate our personal fitness progressions. Which leads me to my point, on how human physiology changes with appropriate stress. The Principle of Specificy indicates the human body will make specific adaptations to an imposed demand. This means for example, that if you apply resistance to the bicep in a curl with 10 lbs under certain acute variables, then the body will make neuromuscular adaptations to meet the demand. In the beginning, the 10 lbs may be challenging but over a microcycle, the body adapts and 10 lbs in no longer the same challenge. You then must change the acute variables to inspire further adaptation. Just to clarify, acute variables in exercise program design include: load, sets, repetitions and contraction tempo, training intensity, training volume, rest interval, exercise selection, exercise order, training duration and training frequency. Of course, there are people who follow a crash course diet and fitness program and shed large amounts of weight. I have seen people lose 4-5 lbs in a week. But these are usually very overweight individuals whose bodies are begging to lose the excess. And, more often than not, they are in a state of deprivation such as starvation or some other form of eating and exercise disorder. Not what I call the picture of health and sustainability. Speaking of, how many of you have experienced or know someone who has lost a bunch of weight in some program just to gain it all back? It happens all the time. It’s called fitness failure and people are stuck in this hopeless cycle. But the main reason this happens, is because people don’t think about the whole process. You don’t gain 50 lbs of body fat in 4 weeks. It takes months or even years to accumulate in a general adult. So what makes you think it’s possible to lose that amount in 12 weeks? Think about that for a moment…its absurd. But the mainstream media will prey on your desire for instant reward and results. So, you try another program and for the first few days or weeks you are all in and committed. Until it gets hard or you don’t see an immediate transformation. Not only is the media lying about the time it will take to regain control of your body, but you want to believe the lie. It’s easy, convenient and makes you feel like you’re finally doing something finally. But in the end, its regret, backsliding and you give up…until the next shinny gimmick comes along and snares you again. Stop the cycle. Acknowledge that maintaining your body, the vessel of your mind and soul, will require effort and commitment. I challenge you to cast aside the fads and gimmicks and find a fitness program that supports you and your unique situation. Something you can make part of your life and sustain indefinitely.
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