Jasper Roberts - Blog

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The problem with the fitness industry (and everyone else)

Some people have blamed the fitness industry for making it look impossible to get into shape. When a 45 year old, overweight man who hasn't lifted a dumbbell in thirty years sees some young hotshot doing handstand pushups it doesn't exactly have the intended effect of inspiring the guy. It may even hammer in how difficult a task it is in front of him. 
 
Except for the fact that it is not. I'll explain more in a minute.
 
Let's look at nutrition. We all know now and have been told a thousand times that we should eat more vegetables and we should cut processed carbs, blah, blah, blah. Here again, the 800 pound gorilla standing in the small room with us is being completely overlooked. The problem does not lie in knowing WHAT, it hasn't been about that in decades. The problem is the HOW.
 
Check it out. I tell you to eat more vegetables. You say, "Yeah I should do that". Then you go home and do the same thing you've done for the past twenty years. Instead what if I challenge you on your next trip to the grocery store to choose ONE vegetable that you either have never eaten before or that you haven't eaten in a long time. Buy it and cook it for yourself and your family. Now repeat this every time you go to the grocery store over the next six months, where your frequency of going to the store is probably once a week or once every two weeks. That's it. Sounds to easy to be meaningful? Think again. 
 
What this approach accomplishes goes far beyond improving nutrition. It forces a healthy adaptive behavior that not only creeps into other aspects of life (you get curious about this one vegetable you find and then end up reading about a different fruit you've never eaten regularly and you buy that too), but it also cascades into a healthier mindset. As you gain knowledge about more and more vegetables, you will inherently gain knowledge and wisdom about food in general, recipes, spices, healthy choices, food industry practices, etc. One act does not stand alone, especially when it is performed consistently.
 
The same approach should be taken with fitness. Out of shape people who show some interest need super easy goals and methods. Of course some people respond to "boot camps" and such, but this is the minority.  What's needed are steps so small and goals so easily accomplished that they are barely noticeable. If a person show interest in upping the intensity, even better (with caution) but the approach should be miniature baby steps. What a person lacks in motivation to suffer physically, they must be willing to accept in patience. Want to lose a hundred pounds and be able to do ten pullups even though you can barely walk down a flight of stairs without losing your breath? Easy. Walk to the end of the block twice a day for a month. After that walk around the block once a day. After that walk the block carrying a jug of water. After that ad in wall pushups. After that add one or two door pulls. After that walk two blocks and stretch an elastic band. After that...you get the point. In a year you wouldn't have stressed much at all, but will now be ion a position to start doing some real work. And it's all done safely.
 
But see this is boring. This isn't flashy or sexy, and it's certainly not quick. There is no such thing a "quick results". Honestly if you don't have the patience to wait for incredible results, whatever they may be, then you kind of don't deserve them. If you get your PhD in physics in six months you've got to question the value of the degree. 
 
You also need a plan that's been thought out, and you need to document it religiously. carry your notebook with you like a preacher carries a bible. Update it and review it. Don't judge it and don't judge yourself or your results until you've been at it for over a year.  Plan with it and record in it. It's the best tool you have if you cannot afford a personal trainer to be with you all day every day. probably even a better tool  because it teaches you independence and forces you to teach yourself and learn.