Mamamia! A Logical Fallacy Extravaganza in 7 parts: Trolling, Fat-Pride, BMI and Body Image.

This is a rebuttal to a minefield of a post over at mamamia.com.au, from yet another journo seemingly in favour of the promotion of overweight, obesity and associated chronic diseases – all seemingly in disguise as the altruistic promotion of self-acceptance of body image.

I’m going to start this rebuttal by first disclosing a few potential conflicts of interest on my part:

  1. I work as an Exercise Physiologist with clients with chronic illness, musculoskeletal injuries, and other diseases, so I have a specific interest in overweight/obesity and how it impacts on their health conditions. You might even go so far as to say that my opinion is somewhat informed and that I have some background on the matter.
  2. I’ve written a post in the past on my blog Skeptifit.com about my views on the “Big is Beautiful” crowd. Admittedly sensational, but keep in mind that that too was a rebuttal to a misinformed journalist, so do excuse some of the loaded language.

In a nutshell, I’m not a supporter, and I believe the journos should stay out of healthcare alltogether and stick to what they know best, reporting the news, not attempting to understand and interpret scientific literature that is well outside their scope of practice.

Discussion Points:

1. “Concern trolling”. The author writes:

“At the bottom of nearly every article celebrating body diversity, you will likely find some version of the following comments:

Concern trolls? Don't think so!

Concern trolls? Don’t think so!

  • “Aren’t you promoting an unhealthy lifestyle?”
  • “I’m all about confidence, but this is just unhealthy.”
  • “I just don’t find fat people attractive, that doesn’t make me a bad person.”
  • “I have no sympathy for these people, they bring it on themselves.”
  • “Think of the children!”

This is not concern trolling, it’s genuine concern. The author is either unaware of what trolling is or is straw-manning genuine comments for trolling comments, and we’re left with the impression that she’s attempting to undermine any valid criticism that have been levelled at her or others by poisoning the well and launching personal attacks.
For a definition of what concern trolling actually is I’ll paste a defintion from Urban Dictionary, which I think is sufficient for our purposes (second definintion was clearer):

“In an argument (usually a political debate), a concern troll is someone who is on one side of the discussion, but pretends to be a supporter of the other side with “concerns”. The idea behind this is that your opponents will take your arguments more seriously if they think you’re an ally. Concern trolls who use fake identities are sometimes known as sockpuppets.

(eg) In the 2006 election, an aide to Congressman Charlie Bass (R-NH) was caught concern trolling the opposition on local blogs. While pretending to support Bass’s opponent, Paul Hodes, the aide argued that Hodes couldn’t win because Bass was an unbeatable candidate. Hodes won the election.”

I won’t go into depth examining semantics, technical vs colloquial usage of terms and different dictionary definitions. I think the tone of the opening speaks for itself and immediately calls into question the existance of alterior motives or conflicting interests on her part.

2. “People are allowed to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies, but we need to start treating people of all sizes with respect”

You deserve respect? Nope, you have to earn it.

You deserve respect? Nope, you have to earn it.

Nonsense. We no more need to respect a persons decision to live an unhealthy lifestyle than we respect their decision to engage in any other behaviour which might harm themselves or others, or that creates a burden on the healthcare system. An important distinction here – we respect their right to *make* that decision, but we don’t have to respect the decision itself, and we certainly don’t have to respect the person.

Many people might think I’m splitting hairs here, and I agree it’s a fine distinction, but again I think it’s an important one as I truly believe that respect is earned through displaying reasonable action and behaviour, and not freely given. In addition, the fact that all overweight/obese people immediately deserve respect for their lifestyle habits regardless what those habits actually are is an absurd generalisation which is almost as ridiculous as claiming that all overweight/obese people are in their condition because they are lazy. Neither extreme is correct, neither the straw-man examples provided by the author nor the authors position on the subject.

3. “BMI is BS”

Somewhat agree, for the reasons stated, but this is hardly a controversial point and most people (at least those who walk into my office) are already aware of this. Also this is only support for the fact that they should be talking to a health professional who takes a variety of anthropometrical and girth measurements to assess health measures within the context of other presenting chronic disease, rather than a simple BMI, and those readings then interpreted in context.
The historical points were an interesting read, however it’s a shame the link was broken and the source of the authors information can’t be verified (the source, not the information iteslf). It also makes one wonder why the sourced website might have pulled the page, if the link was the correct one in the first place.

4. “Fatness”

What exactly does this word mean? The author keeps using it as

Fatness? What?

Fatness? What?

though they’re trying to claim it and instill some sense of pride, which I guess is fine, but outside of that it’s a subjective term that adds absolutely no value to the discussion. While the inherent BMI problems with overweight and obesity were already outlined, they’re certainly much more useful classifications than totally subjective terms like “fatness” which appeal more to individual aesthetic preferences than anything else. Further to this, BMI certainly is a very useful tool for everyday, regular people who are not rugby players or pro athletes with an absurdly muscular build, as long as it’s interpreted within the context of other readings and measures.

5. “One’s relationship to food shouldn’t reflect on who they are as a human being”

Again, I call nonsense. Why shouldn’t it? Everything we do reflects on us as human beings, if your relatioship with food is unhealthy or you simply like to eat a lot, well I have news for you…that’s going to reflect on you, just like any other behaviour that you engage in reflects on you. You don’t get a free pass simply because some people (like the author) seem to want to make the issue taboo to discuss.

6. “But that’s not always the case: Multiple studies have seen little to no connection between weight loss and decreased risk of mortality.

Now this is probably the most salient point of the authors post, but again I think she missed the mark and is incredibly short sighted – perhaps due to her lack of expertise in the area of chronic disease.

The first link here is to an article posted on the NIH for people with Type 2 diabetes and obesity (not other demographics), so while it’s certainly informative for that sub-group of people it does not apply to the general population. The second link is a single study which shows that dietary intervention was not associated with improved health outcomes in the absence of exercise and health service interventions. It’s true that the issue of weight loss in overweight and obese people is controversial if they do not also present with other indicators of disease, but it’s also true that many overweight/obese individuals who also have chronic disease can see plenty of benefit from weight loss.

It seems as though the authors entire argument hinges on the Obesity Paradox, something which she’s implicitly generalising to all obese people as though it’s the norm. Just because there are exceptions for a small demographic doesn’t mean we should wholesale shift our position on the health risks of overweight and obesity, and I think the preponderance of evidence is still in favour of decreasing fat mass if a person is in the overweight/obese category, and achieving this objective through both nutritional and exercise-based methodologies.

7. “Not everyone wants to be skinny”

image

Image from original article

I find it kind of ironic that at this point, not only is the author implying that healthy weight = “skinny” (aka underweight, typically – so here she’s using a false dichotomy fallacy between being overweight or being skinny), and in addition to this slight of hand posts a picture of two women who for all intents and purposes, as far as can be seen from the picture, or at a relatively healthy weight range – which is exactly what health professioanls are advocating that most people should be striving to achieve!

Don’t drink the coolade, stay skeptical.
What are your thoughts?

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Infographs or Misinfographs?

Infograph or misinfograph, how to tell the difference? I was inspired to look at the exercise related infographs out there after making my own. Those I analyse below were the first to come up in a Google Images search (terms: “exercise infograph”). We’ll take into account that some of these may have been targeted to a specific audience or intent rather than for general consumption, and yet they’re still easily accessible and distributable to the consumer as the top Google Images results, so I believe that critical thinking and referencing rules still apply.

Topics I cover: High intensity interval training, anaerobic vs aerobic, monitoring difficulty, referencing, stretching, and bollocks.

 


 

Infograph 1:

Accurate & digestible but no references or source.

(source: http://theleap.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/image.jpg)

While the information is accurate and the content very easily digestible there is no way to tell who created the infograph and no references to back up any of the information.

 


 

Infograph 2:

Verifiable and sourced but inaccurate and misleading

(source: http://www.killerinfographics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/ExerciseMyth.jpg)

This infograph is easily digestible, the website and organisation are displayed, and there’s a reference list – but the references all refer to other blogs or non-journal websites! This is essentially no better than a circle-jerk of cherry-picked information that supports existing beliefs. Let’s examine it a little more closely.

While most of the myths on this infograph are correctly identified and addressed, the following carry dubious premises and conclusions:

“Myth #2 – (heart rate) Monitors can falter depending on what kind of exercise you’re doing. Your own body is better at telling you how hard you’re working”

There are essentially two main methods utilised by clinicians for monitoring the difficulty of exertion during exercise, excluding more expensive equipment like VO2max ergometers and Wingate software:

  1. Heart rate monitors, of various types
  2. Perceived exertion scales, with the level of difficulty rated out of 10 or 20 points between ‘very easy’ to ‘maximal exertion’

While heart rate monitors can indeed experience technical malfunction and accuracy is dependent on the type of monitor used, with chest strap monitors considered more accurate than wrist watch or hand grip monitors, they are still a more precise and accurate measurement tool and are generally utilised in preference of RPE scales in the absence of heart rate abnormalities (such as those that might be caused by heart medications such as beta blockers).

RPE scales have their uses and are a quick and easy tool, but to claim that they’re “Better at telling you how hard you’re working” is not only questionable, but simply wrong. Heart rate monitors give objective data which can be used to calculate training intensity based on percentage of maximal heart rate while RPE scales give subjective data which, while useful, is limited in application.

Myth #8 “cardio is not the best way to burn fat”

Quite simply wrong. High intensity interval training (HIIT) was the biggest craze in 2013, and there’s a good reason why – because it works, and it works better at burning calories/energy/fat than any other method. This has been supported by one paper after the next. Some of the original research into HIIT was actually performed at my very own university, not that this makes me an authority, but allow me my moment of pride. This research has shown that HIIT is the most efficient method for losing the most weight in the shortest period of time.

To be fair, this ‘myth buster’ uses the words “best way to burn fat”, so depending on your definition of “best” it could legitimately be argued that long-term sustainability of weight-loss has yet to be demonstrated with high intensity interval training. Further, resistance training has multiple benefits that can’t be gained from aerobic training.

‘Aerobic’ vs ‘Cardiovascular’

That brings me to my final point on this particular myth – ‘aerobic’ does not equal ‘cardiovascular’. This is a common mistake made by both the lay and professional fitness community (but rarely from the health sector).

  • Cardiovascular = the CV system including heart, arteries and veins.
  • Aerobic = exercise that does not induce an anaerobic response, typically referring to the point at which lactic acid is no longer cleared by the liver beyond sustainable levels and begins to accumulate in the blood.

With these points in mind, resistance training and running/jogging/swimming are always ‘cardiovascular’, but may or may not be ‘aerobic’ or ‘anaerobic’ depending on the intensity. Unfortunately, resistance training has become equated with anaerobic, and running/jogging/swimming with aerobic, but this isn’t necessarily always the case.
Case in point being high intensity interval training, which utilises both aerobic and anaerobic training and so may be considered cardiovascular, aerobic and anaerobic, but not ‘resistance’.

Misinfographic myth-busting, busted.

 


 

Infograph 3: 

Easily digestible, sourced and referenced but inaccurate and misleading


(source: http://motivade.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/infographic-the-right-way-to-exercise.png)

Easily digestible, website and organisation are referenced, and yet some of the information is still wrong!

Stretching has been shown to be potentially damaging and even increase risk of injury if performed before exercise. It can have negative effects on performance, power and strength.

All back injuries do not have the same cause. Some are diagnosed and treated as generic ‘chronic lower back pain’, or CLBP , while others may be a result of arthritis, osteoporosis or acute injury. To mass-prescribe a single stretch or exercise to an entire population is simply neglectful and dangerous. While one stretch/exercise might be beneficial for CLBP, the same exercise could be detrimental and even crippling for somebody with osteoporotic back pain. For example, loaded spinal flexion is always contraindicated in osteoporotic patients, while loaded spinal extension is often recommended.

 


 

Infograph 4: 

The Absolute Worst Piece of Bollocks Ever

(source: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/44/24/6b/44246b09275c1b2f1e39deaf085e0761.jpg)

And if you subscribe to this quality of misinfograph then I don’t even know what you’re doing on my blog. Perhaps go back to watching Sesame Street and refresh on the basics – it’s fun to exercise!

(It’s always good to finish a blog post by insulting your readership! 😉 )

What’s your take on the above infographs? Have you come across any particularly good or bad, exercise related infographs or misinfographs?

Crossfit Outrage & Rhabdomyolysis

Crossfit Basel

Crossfit Basel

A few short days ago, Eric Robertson, a Professor of Physical Therapy at Regis University, posted a short blog post entitled “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret” to Medium.com, discussing his observations about the prevalence of a condition known as Rhabdomyolisis in CrossFit, and the unusual awareness amongst CrossFit coaches and enthusiasts about this typically very rare condition. If you read the post (I strongly encourage you to) you’ll notice that it’s actually quite reasonable and balanced, even if it does give CrossFit a slightly unpleasant taste.

The Prediction Causes a Stir
Prof Robertson makes it fairly clear that his thoughts are all observations and anecdotal, provides quotes and sources from CrossFit articles and ex-CrossFit athletes, and even clearly outlines his ‘prediction’:

“My prediction: in a few years, the peer-reviewed scientific literature will be ripe with articles about CrossFit and Rhabdomyolysis. “

It should be clear from this that Prof Robertson’s position is that of a ‘pre-scientific’, hypothetical, “Let’s investigate this” type of approach. This is where all scientific research begins, with an anecdotal observation of an area which might yield some fruitful results for discovery or confirmation of a significant correlation or causal relationship between two variables.

every dog has its snarl

You say something bad about CrossFit?

CrossFit’ers Respond with Outrage
The CrossFit community has responded to Prof Robertson’s hypothesis with a rabies slathering outrage. Huffington Post, meanwhile, continues to demonstrate it’s inability of both it’s contributors and commentors to think at all critically, instead appearing to string together clever looking sentences which are in fact mostly devoid of real knowledge, thought or insight, and continue creating straw-men out of **Prof Robertson’s easily comprehendible blog post while refusing to understand the spirit in which it’s delivered.

Huffington Post
*Huffungton post had these choice quotes in their repertoire of banal verbosity:

“The authors of these pieces always have some kind of personal problem with people who do CrossFit, but the core of it is a mystery.”

There is no “personal problem” that can be reasonably surmised from Prof. Robertson’s post except for a rather reasonable and level-headed analysis of some anecdotal evidence and observations of a trend that deserves further scientific investigation. This is a perfect example of an implicit ad hominem, an attempt to attack his character instead of the issues themselves by implying that he has an alterior motive. If you want to see “some kind of personal problems” then just read the comments in Prof Robertson’s article and the comments in the Huffington post.

Injured Yourself Exercising? It’s Your Fault!
At least, this is the view of many of the CrossFit-cult-like-worshippers who are rabidly coming to the defense of their preferred exercise modality. To quote Huffington Post:

“Rhabdomyolysis — an extreme condition thwarted upon oneself — is not the fault of CrossFit. It’s not the sport, the organization or even the coaches. It’s your own fault.”

And this:

“Folks will say CrossFit causes injury and is irresponsible. Newsflash: CrossFit does not cause injury — individuals do things that cause themselves injury. This is what it comes down to: personal responsibility”

Does this sound familiar to anybody? Let me prompt your memory “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people“. That’s right, that tired old United States of A. sound byte used to defend gun ownership, regardless the number of school massacres that take place.

In fact I’m pleased to hear that if clients injure themselves under my supervision, as a personal trainer or an exercise physiologist, then I am not responsible and I can just trot out the ol’ “Well you’re personally responsible for your own health, you injured yourself haha!”, though it goes against everything I’ve learnt about burden of care and kinda nullifies having private insurance, Advanced First Aid + CPR, and registration with Fitness Australia (the national registration body which provides practice guidelines and policies for the fitness industry in Australia).

You want to talk about taking personal responsibility? Coaches, personal trainers and fitness specialists of all calibres have a burden of care to ensure a safe environment and safe exercise delivery. If the culture fosters an unusually high rate of injury, then it could be argued that they’re not fulfilling that burden of care.

In Summary
The CrossFit defenders have done themselves more harm than good with their level of outrage to Prof Robertson’s post. A nail has obviously been hit firmly on the head, and I look forward to any future research into rhabdomyolysis and it’s prevalence in the cult-like-attitudes of many CrossFit enthusiasts.
While my response here is clearly denegrating to CrossFit, I want it to be clear that I’m addressing those rabid and overly emotional followers, not those who are able to string together comprehensible thoughts and sentences without foaming at the mouth.

Keep it sane, keep it reasonable, and be skeptical.

What are your thoughts? Do the benefits for Crossfit outweigh the drawbacks? And was Prof Robertson’s blog post blown way out of proportion? Share your thoughts in the comments!

*I don’t see it as important to use the name of the person in particular who posted the article, as she has no actual qualifications in the field. This doesn’t necessarily detract from any valid points she makes, if she had made any, but I believe it is relevant to note for the discussion.

**Unlike the CrossFit worshippers, I’ll give Prof Robertson the respect he deserves by using his actual name and title instead of attempting to put us all on the same even surface by glossing over his credentials and credibility on the topic. Let’s get one thing straight – you should be listening to somebody with pHD in physical therapy with a lot more interest than some ‘random’ over at an online news site when the credentials place them as a specialist, if not an expert, in the field.

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Second Life – Virtual Fitness Centres: What’s it all about?

If you’re more concerned about getting involved with this virtual gym as quickly as possible, and don’t really care about this science stuff, then skip down to the third heading.

A Quick Outline

My avatar pumping iron.

My avatar, Jaye Jeffries, pumping iron.

A relatively recent news article in the science media highlights some of the discoveries of a longitudinal study conducted in the virtual environment Second Life, with the goal of delivering a weight loss and exercise program and comparing the differences between a face-to-face approach with a virtual online approach. After looking at the paper it appears promising, though there are certainly some questions that should be addressed about the methodology. First we’ll look at the research, then we’ll delve into an actual virtual gym in Second Life which is freely and publicly available to all.

Study Design Details

The study split 20 participants, 17 of which were female, into two groups, the face-to-face (FTF) group and the virtual group, and was conducted over a 9 month period with the first 3 months focussing on shorter-term weight loss and the following 6 months focussing on weight maintenance. Results showed that the FTF group had a greater degree of weight loss overall, though the virtual group had a greater degree of weight maintenance. With weight maintenance being an essential factor for long-term weight loss, that probably makes the virtual approach a little more superior even though the FTF group showed slightly higher degrees of weight loss.

Let me be honest here, while the study talks about “statistical significance” and differences between the two groups in this regard, there is also the concept of “clinical significance”, meaning that, in the real world – is there really enough of a difference to make it noticable and worthy of use as an intervention? In this regard we might consider the two groups identical in a clinically significant manner, and that’s a good thing! Perhaps the only drawback for this study is that the exercise intervention itself isn’t elaborated on, so I’m left to conclude that it wasn’t very thorough, but taking into account that the research focusses more on nutrition than exercise this can be overlooked with the expectation that future research will focus more on that aspect.

There were other benefits too for the virtual group over the FTF group, including signficantly greater fruit and vegetable consumption and higher levels of exercise (walking) as measured with a pedometer. Finally, to finish with the authors conclusions with which I completely agree:

“An adequately powered, longer-duration trial, with adequate assessment of potential mediators and moderators, is warranted to further evaluate the potential of Second Life as a delivery system for successful weight management.”

In my view, virtual and online environments continue to hold an untapped potential for helping to decrease barriers to exercise, and this study is the tip of the iceberg in many studies to follow that will help to unveil this hidden potential.

What’s all this about a gym in SL that you can access?

The most interesting part is that you can access Second Life fitness centres yourself, for free, where you can discuss exercise technique with real life professionals, get advice on nutrition and exercise programming, or just socialise and meet new people who are going through a similar experience. What makes this different to a real gym? There’s no cost, it’s far more accessible, and it acts as an introduction for people who might be too nervous or self-conscious to step foot into gym or fitness centre. I stress that there is a real need for translation of this platform into real life, which is what the discussed study begins to explore – the exposure and delivery of weight management techniques and how they translate into real life.

There are a number of Second Life fitness centres available, but my favourite by far – and which is actually funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on the above research study out of Kansas University, is the Avatar Fitness Club, hosted and run by the eXtension team. While there aren’t any events planned as yet, though promised to come, be sure to check it out and if you run into Thynka Little, DFox Spitteler, or even myself (Jaye Jeffries), be sure to say hi!

If you need more convincing, check out their Facebook page for more info.

Contemplating the potential for virtual exercise prescription.

Jaye Jeffries contemplating the potential for virtual exercise prescription.

(I’m a Second Life nerd from way back, so you’ll have to excuse the excitement from this post. The possibilities of combining two of my passions is an almost overwhelming possibility)

Have you visited the Avatar Fitness Club in Secondlife, and if so, what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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ESSA, Michelle Bridges, and Why You Shouldn’t Say That Exercise is “Fun”.

English: Michelle Bridges at the film premiere...

Michelle Bridges (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Media Article

Back in August, Michelle Bridges, a personal trainer popularised by the Australian hit tv-series “The Biggest Loser“, came out with this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, on why personal trainers should stop calling fitness “fun”. Let me say straight up I’m inclined to agree with her, at least to an extent.

Her views are well balanced and seem to be in line with managing clients expectations about what exercise entails. While exercise certainly can be fun, particularly in the case of team sports and aerobics, activities such as high intensity training, sprinting, jogging, and weight lifting – all those that probably carry a majority of the benefits seen from exercise – probably aren’t best encapsulated with the noun “fun”.

My Thoughts

Challenging? Yes. Life altering? Yep. Healthy? Of course. Self-esteem building? You bet. But fun?
Ummm, no, no not really, not the first concept I would be using to introduce exercise to a newcomer. With that said I think it’s important to have an element of fun in all of the workouts we participate in, but to white-wash exercise in general as “fun” is definitely misleading for the average customer.

Now I’m neither a fan nor an opposition of Michelle Bridges, and I’ve probably seen a total of 10 accumulated minutes of The Biggest Loser over it’s entire duration, but I think it should be clear from her article that she’s targeting personal trainers who are using the “fun” concept as a way to draw in new customers, regardless of their expectations as to what exercise may actually entail. This could potentially destroy their motivation to exercise when they discover that it’s really not as fun as they were lead to believe.

The Plot Thickens with ESSA’s Response

Now to the crux of the matter. How did ESSA (Exercise & Sports Science Australia), the registration and organisational body for exercise physiologists and scientists respond to Michelle’s article via their Facebook page? Well yes, I’ll tell you because if you’ve read this far you’re probably keen to find out. The response was along the lines of:

“Dear Michelle, we here at ESSA believe that exercise is not only good for your health, but that it’s also fun!”

Isn’t that trite? A nice one sentence sound-byte for the masses.  And why did I say “along the lines of” instead of quoting them directly? Well they removed their quoted response from their FB page after I criticised their reaction, though I assume it was still sent in some public form as a Tweet, article response or message to Michelle Bridges (My Googling skills failed me on this instance, sorry I can’t provide the exact phrasing).

English: A senior citizen while practicing his...

A senior citizen while practicing his fitness exercise. Is this ‘exercise’, and is it ‘fun’?  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This response came from the registration body who we’d hope have a better and more complex understanding of the issues surrounding the psychological and physiological complexities of exercise compared to the average professional provider, but nope, Michelle’s article was passively denegrated without truly understanding her message.

Tensions Between Personal Trainers and Exercise Physiologists

Why? I have a theory. I’ve noticed a lot of tension between personal trainers and exercise physiologists – if you’re in the field, tell me why you think I’m wrong. I’ve noticed two primary characteristics of the tension that exists between PT’s and EP’s:

  1. Many PT’s believe they already possess the knowledge and expertise of an EP, while being unaware of the complexities involved in training chronically ill clients
  2. Many EP’s continually denegrate the role of PT’s, while being unaware of the valuable role that PT’s play in exercise delivery to healthy populations
  3. The fields overlap to some extent, and although EP’s are more highly qualified they may not possess as much hands-on experience (due to EP being a relatively new profession) as PT’s in the field, some of which may have 20+ years of experience.

These observations come from both my experience as a professional personal trainer and the views espoused by my lecturers and peers (eg ESSA) while studying exercise physiology. I won’t lie, I’ve denegrated personal trainers on countless occasions myself – the degree of appalling quality exercise delivery and outright commercialism for every fad exercise modality that comes to my attention is overwhelming, but there are certainly good PT’s out there who are experienced and know what they’re doing, they’re just hard to find.

I’m at a loss for a solution to this divide between the two professions, but I will say this – I was disappointed with ESSA’s trite response.

In Summary

Nobody’s perfect, but let’s be humble, and to the PT’s out there – let’s stop telling clients that “exercise is fun” and make more of an effort to manage their expectations. That doesn’t mean there can’t be fun aspects to exercise, nor does it mean we should torture clients in the way that Michelle Bridges does on TV, but let’s try to find a happy middle ground where benefits are seen while managing expectations and avoiding making exercise a chore.

Exercise should be for life, not for the term of the contract.

What are your thoughts? Should fitness be advertised as “fun”, or is the term overused?

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Counterproductive Cliche’s of the ‘Big & Beautiful’

There’s a dangerous attitude out there, one which has been festering for a number of years and is probably a proponent of the Oprah Winfrey movement, I like to call it the “Big is Beautiful” syndrome. This particular group of people spout cliche after cliche, using faulty logic to support their denial that there is anything wrong with being overweight or obese and that people are spending far too much time on the topic of health, fitness and weight.

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)

Playing the Victim

These venomous types will twist and turn, claiming that they are discriminated against based on their size, that anorexic supermodels and superstars are providing negative role models for our youth (let’s do a reality check: are America and Australia full of overweight and obese, or have anorexics suddenly taken hold of the streets?), and that women should not be worried about their weight at any rate when, and I quote (from some random journo’s blog):

“Whining about weight is the ultimate shiny object that women continue to focus their attention on, instead of:
– fighting for social justice, at home and abroad
– running for political office and kicking ass when we win
– creating astonishing works of art
– waking up every single day grateful for their health and strength, the not-so-simple ability to walk and stand and reach for things without pain
– knowing that women all over the world are dying of starvation, malnutrition and in childbirth”

Etc etc ad nauseum, supposedly an extensive list of why you are misplacing your concerns, but in reality it’s an excuse list.

Did you get that? If there are problems in the world, or in politics, or with animal cruelty, or perhaps just your kitchen tap isn’t working properly, then you shouldn’t be “whining” or even thinking about your weight as there are more important things to worry about, and after all, you can only fix one problem at a time, right? RIGHT? (well…no, actually).

My Thoughts

I won’t lie, it irks me particularly when journo’s who have a good deal of exposure spout drivel continually, as they have a duty of care to do their best to dispense useful and accurate information, not catering to the fragile ego of a particular demographic who want to be coddled until they’re feeling the full glory of a  diabetes induced coma. Sure it feels good telling people what they want to hear, and everybody’s feeling-the-feels and congratulating each other on accepting themselves for ‘who they are’, but in the long-term there’s serious damage being done by this blatant disregard of reality (On the matter of journalists being scientifically illiterate and ignorant and dispensing horrendous advice is one which I plan to write about in the future).

house-built-on-sand

Bad health and excessive weight is a shaky foundation on which to build your emotional, intellectual and spiritual development.

The Moral

What’s the moral here? This isn’t just a whine about people who (ironically) tend to spend their time whining about people who are whining about their weight. The moral is this – do not let people like this, with their superficial facade of positivity and “oh honey you’re gawdjuss just the way you are!”, don’t let them tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t spend time improving yourself, your health, and your well-being, just because they have failed to do so themselves and need to surround themselves with other failures while propagating superficially positive but truly negative beliefs and attitudes. Don’t let them delude you into ignoring the consequences of being overweight or obese, nor how big these problems are in America and Australia and their impact on the healthcare system. If you find yourself tiring of conversations about health and weight, perhaps it’s time to do something about it.

Every person on this earth has the right and the obligation to take care of themselves and each other, but (and now it’s my turn for a cliche, so why not?) how can we take care of each other if we can’t or won’t take care of our own physical health? If we don’t create a very solid foundation, there is no chance of building a stable structure on top.

Don’t surround yourself with fake and dangerous, self-delusional positivity. Sometimes, a good hard smack in the face is good for us, and forces us to see what we’ve been ignoring for way to long. Let’s not delude ourselves or let others delude us, let’s stay true to our goals. Don’t ever let a random Joe tell you to “give it up”, because you can and will achieve greater health and well being if you just ignore those coddlers.

Is Big Really ‘Beautiful’?

Big is not “beautiful”, big is heart disease, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, cancer, fatty liver disease and sleep apnoea, to name a few.

What are your thoughts? Is the “big is beautiful” attitude a problem that you often experience, and is it something that we should spend more time addressing?

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