What if there was such a thing as a Members Only designer shoe industry? The only way to acquire a pair of beautiful Christian Loubutin sandals or trendy Stuart Weitzman boots is if you’re a part of the club. Imagine you’ve received a once-in-a-lifetime pass to shop at a designer shoe store. You walk in, dazzled by the displays and envious of the specially trained sales staff who have access to it all. You’ve saved every extra penny for months, given up morning lattes and lunch with friends so you could afford to splurge on the most amazing pair of shoes you’ll ever own. You’ve finally made it, you’re on the inside.
But, wait! You now learn that all the shoes in the store, every last pair of them, come in size 6 only. Size 6? This can’t be! You’re a size 8, the most common female shoe size in America. Who in the world wears a six? But, alas, that’s the dirty little secret in this absurd world of Members Only designer shoes. The good news is the designer shoe industry doesn’t actually operate this way. Sadly, the diet and exercise industry, in many ways, does.
Ever since the 1970s, when the average weight of Americans began to creep up, there has been an all-out panic in the fitness and health industries to identify the culprits and reverse the trend. Oddly, the most obvious explanations were summarily ignored. Namely, we were becoming more and more sedentary at work and at home as technological advances made obsolete many kinds of manual labor. At the same time, these same technical advances made getting an abundance of foods to our plates easier, faster and cheaper. Bottom line: We were moving less and eating more.
Instead, some leading experts went looking for hidden monsters in the closet to explain the increasing numbers of overweight and obese. This lead to a string of incorrect assumptions about the causes. Fats were the first to be blamed, leading to an over-consumption of carbohydrates, grains and sugars in particular, which made the obesity rates worse and introduced a growing rate of adult-onset diabetes and other metabolic diseases. Other food culprits were and continue to be fingered along the way, leading to similar results. All this to say that extreme dietary reactions are the name of the game in finding one’s way to fitness according to many of the experts.
The recommendations for exercise have been similarly extreme in nature. Does it really make sense to tell an obese, sedentary individual that she can’t consider herself fit until she’s working out really hard for at least an hour a day six days a week? Not only doesn’t it make sense, it’s incorrect and unfair.
I know from reading my industry publications that many experts bristle at the word moderation. I fail to understand why. Isn’t it true that the further one gets from a moderate position, the closer she gets to an extreme one? Those who are mostly sedentary and consuming calories far in excess of what their bodies need are living in an extreme. It makes sense to me that we should be helping them find their way to a moderate and balanced diet and exercise plan. Why would it make sense to steer them to the other extreme, where exercise is proscribed at the highest amounts of frequency, duration and intensity and where wide swaths of foods are forbidden and calorie consumption is highly restricted?
- Replacing natural fats, proteins and carbohydrates with highly processed fake ones is making us less healthy.
- Losing large amounts of body weight through calorie restriction over long periods of time almost always backfires.
- The percentage of active adults who’ve adhered to regular exercise for more than a year stays small and relatively flat. For the rest, a majority of the population, many try to adopt exercise programs but fail to reach adherence over and over again.
- It’s healthier, in terms of mortality rate, to be overweight and active than to be normal weight and sedentary.
Basically, science is proving that the extreme solutions promoted to fight the obesity epidemic not only don’t work but may actually be detrimental. Some of us in the fitness industry are paying attention and making moderation our mantras. There needs to be more of us. I’m convinced we’ll get there. Rising fitness stars like Kelli at FitnessBlender are gathering followers each day. Here’s a vlog by Kelli as she makes her case.
Too many in the industry practice a one-size-fits all, extreme prescription with their clients. It’s as absurd as my Members Only designer shoe scenario. It’s high time we inject some science-backed common sense and realistic expectations into the fitness equation. We’re not all going to be svelte specimens who appear in the front row at every fad fitness class subsisting on a raw vegan diet. How balanced and content can their lives really be anyway?
Take the pressure off. Tell those Members Only, body-shaming, diet-and-exercise divas you’re not interested in their club of extremes. You’ve found a completely different way to true fitness and you’re happier for it.
Interested in a moderate, common sense approach to fitness? Check out my Small Steps program.