Balance in everything we do is the optimal choice for a strong, healthy lifestyle. Chasing extreme trends inevitably leads to worse outcomes for us – physically, mentally, emotionally.
Walk into any major supermarket and scan the magazines at the checkout counter. They’re pure comedy, trumpeting the latest beach body diet, guaranteed to have you dropping 20 lbs in just 2 weeks. If not, they’re bullshitting us with the siren call of the shortcut workout that will have you huge and shredded in just 15 minutes a day.
Don’t fall for the banana in the tailpipe. As a society, we’ve equated “healthy” with losing weight. The two are not necessarily correlated. From NBCNews.com:
Experts have long known that fat, active people can be healthier than their skinny, inactive counterparts. “Normal-weight persons who are sedentary and unfit are at much higher risk for mortality than obese persons who are active and fit,” said Dr. Steven Blair, an obesity expert at the University of South Carolina.
For example, despite their ripples of fat, super-sized Sumo wrestlers probably have a better metabolic profile than some of their slim, sedentary spectators, Bell said. That’s because the wrestlers’ fat is primarily stored under the skin, not streaking throughout their vital organs and muscles.
Experiencing life (including indulgences) in a healthy body is a goal we all strive for. Skipping from one fad diet and training program to the next is a taxing journey. Remember the standing desk fad? (Full disclosure, I prefer standing desks, personally.) From NPR:
Too much sitting increases heart failure risk and disability risk, and shortens life expectancy, studies have found. But according to an analysis published Wednesday of 20 of the best studies done so far, there’s little evidence that workplace interventions like the sit-stand desk or even the flashier pedaling or treadmill desks will help you burn lots more calories, or prevent or reverse the harm of sitting for hours on end.
“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
We enjoy quick fixes, and our brains are primed to appreciate extremes. In part, it makes us feel like we’re doing something – replace all sitting with standing – and it doesn’t require careful consideration of our overall lifestyle. But, as with most things, moving from one extreme to the other has its own consequences.
In fact, there isn’t really any evidence that standing is better than sitting, Verbeek adds. The extra calories you burn from standing over sitting for a day are barely enough to cover a couple of banana chips.
“The idea you should be standing four hours a day? There’s no real evidence for that,” he says. “I would say that there’s evidence that standing can be bad for your health.” A 2005 study in Denmark showed prolonged standing at work led to a higher hospitalization risk for enlarged veins.
As with most of our discussions, this post isn’t about standing desks. It’s truly about marketing. Digest the buzzwords –fat free, sugar free, gluten free, carb free. The 3 simple tricks to lose belly fat. Replace this one thing with something else, and you’re straight. Ughh.
The single biggest leap we can take towards a balanced, strong lifestyle is being well-researched and decisive. We can snatch back control over our own systems instead of being led by the masses (read: lead, don’t follow). Instead of letting the latest marketing ploy manipulate us, let’s pay attention. By being in tune with how we feel and asking ourselves if we’re moving around appropriately and able to perform our day to day tasks with strength and confidence, we’ll be better equipped mentally and emotionally and healthier. The confidence we derive from not putting our self-image in the hands of people who only see us as dollar signs is undeniable.
Steer your ship,