How Fitness Shortcuts Hurt Your Health
As the summer winds down and kids go back to school (woohoo!)…normal daily routines resume. This means less distractions, and more time and energy to put the focus back on you.
But like most things in life, we look for the shortcuts.
Yesterday, you set some goals. Today, you were thrilled to discover that you could achieve them all EASILY AND FAST in the next 30 days! Woohoo—what will you do to kickstart fall and dive into the holiday season?
Of course, I’m referring to the get-lean-quick shakes, the crash diets, and the zero-money-down gym sign-up programs that prey on people like us.
There ARE shortcuts to fitness. But there is also a lot of bogus.
The real question is…when can a shortcut help us, and when does it hurt us? Here’s a four-question test that I took from Seth Godin’s blog.
- Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time, or is it a crash diet?
- Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health?
- Is it additive? Will it improve over time?
- Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?
Let’s take a look at the stuff you’re probably being pitched on your Facebook feed today. The common trends that are “guaranteed” to get your results, and hold them up to our four pillars of shortcut validity.
Weight Loss Shakes 🥛
- Is it repeatable? Can you stay on this diet of shakes forever? No. I mean, are you really going to do this for the next 40 years? Burn out and boredom are real, eventually you will break the cycle. It will probably be a hard crash.
- Is it non-harmful? Contrary to belief, they can be very harmful. The majority of weight-loss shakes use sweeteners, usually corn derivatives or chemicals. Not only are you brought closer to insulin resistance (diabetes), you’re ingesting a laboratory experiment.Most shakes also use a combination of appetite suppressants, caffeine and a mild laxative to keep you full and alert. Sounds great right? Until your body starts expending less energy to match. Not only that, but stopping the shakes will make you quickly gain all the weight back you worked not so hard to lose. Long term, weight-loss shakes will make you fatter and sicker.
- Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Every shake you drink is less effective than the one before (see above). You’re getting smaller by starving out your metabolism.
- Can it survive the crowd? Sure, people don’t know what they don’t know…except that, eventually, someone will tell you the truth. The only people sharing their huge weight loss from diets or shakes on Facebook are the people who make a commission by signing you up.
The Keto Diet / Paleo Diet / XYZ Diet 🥩
- Is it repeatable? People have been using ketosis and intermittent fasting and high-fat diets since before recorded time. In some instances, a short ketogenic period might actually help. For example, if you’re trying to beat a sugar addictionBut the reality is with ALL diets, you cannot sustain it for the rest of your life. If you stop eating grains, your body will lose the ability to process grains.If you stop eating carbs, you’ll become less resistant to insulin in the short-term…but will learn and become better at gluconeogenesis (breaking down your muscle tissue to trigger insulin response).Not only that, but we tend to only be as great as our environment. We get pulled into the habits of those around us, and are often misunderstood if we are adopting significantly different dietary practices. After all, what’s one little step outside of our special regimen when out to eat or at a birthday party?
- Is it non-harmful? Long term, booting processed sugar is a very positive thing. But rapid weight loss, binge dieting, or any unsustainable practice will always have a rebound effect. You have a relationship with food. One-night stands with diets will always come back to haunt you.
- Is it additive? Will it improve over time? You might get better at eating paleo. But you might also become neurotic about food. There’s a reason people with eating disorders jump from diet to diet: They love the feeling of control, and diets give them a clear “good and bad” line. Unfortunately, that’s not sustainable in life, and everyone knows the term “yo-yo dieting” by now.
- Can it survive the crowd? If you’re in a group and dieting together, you are likely to have more success. After all, you eat like the people you spend most of your time with. If everyone eats a ketogenic diet, you’ll do better at sticking to the ketogenic diet. But that doesn’t mean you SHOULD stick to it. See above.
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 many many years. Coached fitness is most beneficial due to the knowledge based programming and accountability, but even a $9.95 access-only gym will benefit you long term…if you show up.
- Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Yes. There are little to no negative effects. Injuries are few and far between. If they do occur, it is typically overuse or lack of understanding for proper form and technique. This is where coached fitness becomes extremely beneficial.
- Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Yes. Weight training has a compounding effect on your health. You get stronger both mentally and physically, your muscles improve your metabolism (BMR rises), your cardiovascular system improves…UNLESS you’re sticking to the same old 3-sets-of-8-reps program you did last month. You need constant variety. But in general, running becomes more fun the longer you run, weightlifting becomes more fun the longer you lift, and Lift’s programs and classes get even more exciting over time.
- Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret? Yes. Discount gyms will see a huge influx of new members until March 13 (the average date most new gym-goers give up and quit, except in coaching gyms like Lift.) And you can’t really “fill” a discount gym, because their business model is based on members who never show up. We’re the opposite, so we have a membership cap.
Joining a Coaching Gym, Personal Trainer, or Nutritionist 🏋️
- Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time? Yes. I’ve been working out and programming knowledge based workouts for 7 years. Structured workouts in a community filled with incredible people, have changed my life. The gym that inspired Lift, was a gym I attended classes at on a regular basis. I was always eager to show up. Happy to see my friends. And excited to push myself beyond my potential limits.
- Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Yes. When a gym works 1:1 with its members to measure progress and set goals, the effects compound, and you don’t waste your time doing stuff that doesn’t work. At a coaching gym, you are built a fitness program and habit based nutrition plan, specific to YOU. The classes you attend, are intended to be scaled and modified to your needs. The mission encompasses YOUR goals, works around YOUR restrictions, and does not pressure you to fit into a one size fits all model.
- Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Yes. When an objective source measures your results, they can point to what’s working, keep you accountable and headed in the right direction. The process may take longer and be more complex, but it is intended to be sustainable and get you long lasting results.
- Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret? No. Coaching businesses like Lift are anti-crowd; because of the 1:1 relationships involved, we can’t take 1,000 clients. But maybe that’s OK. No member gets overlooked. Every client is our #1 priority.
Do you need coached fitness?
Unsure of where to begin your fitness journey, or are wondering “what’s next?”
Use the checklist below to see if joining a gym like Lift is what’s best for you! Remember…imperfect action, always beats inaction. Get up and get moving!
Do you need…
- Education and knowledge in programming?
- Assistance in perfecting your form?
- Accountability and structure?
- Flexibility in scheduling?
- Nutritional guidance?
- A support system?
- Help prioritizing mental health?
- Renewal in confidence?
- A challenge?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, we are here. Come in and chat. See what Lift Health and Fitness can do for you.
Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.