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How Fitness Shortcuts Hurt Your Health

You are marketed quick fixes—Thirty days to health programs and food elimination diets.  

“Man, once these thirty days are done, I am going to be so fit and healthy!”

Does that even make sense?  

We know that your health markers start to deteriorate in as little as 5 days of not working out, and significant changes can be seen in blood draws at two weeks. This isn’t a short-term game you are playing. 

How do you differentiate between the truth and the lies?  

Here are four questions to ask. (Supposedly, these come from Seth Godin, But I have searched, and I can not find the source.) 

  1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time, or is it a short term solution to a long term problem?
  2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health?
  3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time?
  4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?

I will run a couple of examples through the questions above.

Weight Loss Shakes (Are these still a thing?)

  • Is it repeatable? Are you going to use these shakes for the next forty-five years?  
  • Is it non-harmful? Are you made to consume a liquid diet? How much sugar and chemicals are in that shake? What ingredients are in the shake that suppress your hunger? Are they healthy long term?    
  • Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Are these shakes making you healthier? Or are they actually starving your body? Are you messing up your metabolism?  
  • Can it survive the crowd? Do they actually work? Or are all the photos of success that you see from a tiny percentage of people who may or may not have used the product? And then after the picture, quickly returned to their previous state?

The Keto Diet/ XYZ Diet

  • Is it repeatable? These diets are not new. Getting off sugar is good. But 99.9% of people do not last long on highly restrictive diets. And long term, your body adapts. So they stop working anyway.  
  • Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Kicking sugar is good. Rapid weight loss is not. You must develop a real science-based relationship with food. 
  • Is it additive? Will it improve over time? I don’t know anyone who has maintained any sense of health on these diets. I know a ton who have had success and then rebounded. They don’t seem to have long term success.  
  • Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?  It doesn’t have to be a secret, but when everyone around you is eating differently than you, it will not be easy. You won’t last long.  

Joining A Gym

  • Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time? Yes, you can join a gym and keep going for 45 years. Some gyms are even cheaper than those shakes… A lot are, actually. 
  • Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Yes. No negative effects. Injuries are rare, and if you go to a coaching-led gym and follow their directions, injuries are nonexistent. If you go to a gym and do the same thing every day, overuse injuries do occur.   
  • Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Yes. Training with weights has a positive effect over time. I wrote about this in my Beachbody can’t save you post. More muscles mean more calories burned, more strength, and more resiliency. 
  • Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret? Yes. Low priced gyms get flooded with new members every new year. Every year in March, we get inundated by people who have not reached their goals from the discount gyms. We can’t take 50 new people a month, however. So we limit new members each month. 

Hiring a Coaching gym or Personal Trainer or Nutritionist

  • Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time? Yes. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 11 years, and I still love it. Are there injuries? Yes—the same amount as a regular gym, far fewer than Basketball or running. CrossFit has made me fitter than I was at 25.  
  • Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Yes. A coaching practice adapts to you. Your needs change as you change. Your coach is there to make those changes. 
  • Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Yes. Your coach will measure your success over time. Again if something isn’t working, they make the changes.  
  • Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?  Coaching practices are 1:1, or small group, so there is no crowd. These gyms can’t have 1000 members. They do away with the crowd. 

You are going to see a lot of ads this week. Make sure and run those ads through the four questions. Don’t move backward in your health or yo-yo your fitness. There are proven long term solutions available.  

Joshua J Grenell

Inspiration was provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com

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