I was noticing the magazine rack of a bookstore recently and most of the many magazines in the Health and Fitness racks had identical themes: Lose Weight. Muscle Up. Run a Marathon. Same themes, different takes on the subjects, but mostly those themes haven’t changed in years. Neither has much of the information.
It reminded me of an article I posted over three years ago which I am reposting here, but with some minor editorial revisions. Things haven’t changed. The sources and resources I referenced are still valid and they all have different takes on the same topics. It’s good to be reminded. The following from July 2014, slightly edited:
“There is a huge amount of health and fitness information available. Where do you get yours? Bookshelves? Magazine racks? Television? Newspapers? The internet? Your neighbor’s nephew? Most of it is confusing and it all seems to point in different directions. How do you stop the confusion and get it right? Good question.
Let’s start with popular culture: magazines, TV and the Internet. Go back fifty years and you’ll find the same teasers on the covers of popular magazines. “Lose 10 Pounds in Ten Days Using this Recently Discovered Miracle Food”. “How (insert any movie star’s name) lost twenty-two Pounds in Just Ten Days for Her Role in (insert any movie or TV show)”. “Tighten Your Buns With These Ten Powerful Flab Reducing Moves”.
Television is one of the best or the worst offenders in the area of clear health and fitness information. Oprah has numerous clones out there promoting their own brand of healthy living. Dr. Oz comes to mind right away but alas, there he was on TV, in front of a congressional committee, trying, with a great deal of effort, to defend the value of some of the supplements he suddenly started promoting. People listen to Dr. Oz because of his association with Oprah.
Advertisements and Infomercials, all day long, promoting supplements and juicers and machines that will tighten your tush in just thirty days with no work on your part, the machine does it all. Remember Susan Powter and “Stop the Insanity” and Tony Little and his gadgets. (NOTE: Actually Susan Powter was right in most cases: Move, Eat, Breathe). And who can forget Jack LaLanne, who was on the air with the longest running health and fitness show of all time. Go back and look at some of his shows on YouTube and you’ll find that he was preaching “no sugar, no white breads, eat your veggies, and get plenty of exercise” in the late 1950s through the eighties. He died at 96 and he was still working out two hours a day and promoting juicers on TV with as much energy and enthusiasm as people a third his age.
Public TV is out there too, with their sixty and ninety minute specials. Dr. Amen, “Fit or Fat”, “Younger Next Year”, all with gurus promoting their own brand of health and fitness, all saying different things.
Newspapers are great for good solid fitness information (sarcasm implied). Listen to this from today’s (July 1) Washington Post (I’m not kidding, this is unreal): “Mediterranean Diet may Help Kids Avoid Obesity” shouts the headline on Page E6 of the Health and Science Section. [Remember this is a repeat].The article points out how children on a Mediterranean diet were 15% less likely to be overweight or obese than those who weren’t. OK so far. But get this: The people who were most likely to follow the diet were from Sweden and the least likely to follow the diet were from Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean. The study was done by a University in Sweden and the author of the study, an Italian, said that the “Mediterranean Diet” isn’t really Mediterranean but is more Swedish. Got that? Hmm. No confusion there, is there?
And how about the internet. I can find anything I want to find on the internet and it will tell me whatever I want to hear. Even the Government sites are confusing. There are more health, fitness and nutrition gurus on the internet than anywhere else and there are some real gems. I particularly like the one by the guy who promotes using two large slabs of unsalted butter in his morning coffee as the best health cure of them all. Of course it has to be the coffee he sells because all the other coffee in the world is tainted with an exotic form of mold. He calls it “Bulletproof Coffee”. Some swear by it. It’s not for me to judge. [Ed.Note: Since I originally published this article in July 2014, the “Bulletproof” brand has become quite well known and respected].
Books, of course, are a great source of health and fitness information. The exercise and diet sections of the bookstores are filled with “how to exercise”, and “the one and only diet for you” books. Atkins, Pritikin, Ornish, South Beach, Low Carb, High Carb, Low Fat, Sugar Busters, Whole 30, etc. You know what? They will all work for a short time. The China Study and The Blue Zones are two of the best in my mind. I’m partial to The Blue Zones but after reading the Washington Post article, a Mediterranean style diets may not be a Mediterranean diet after all.
So, where should you get your fitness, health and nutrition information? You already know what to do: Move, Breathe and Don’t Eat Junk. Your body will tell you what’s best for you. Move your body a lot and move it against resistance. Stay away from refined sugar, flour and other refined foods. Cut way back on processed foods. Eat a little less meat and a few more vegetables. Breathe deeply to oxygenate your system. Think positive. Find what works for you over time and stick with it. Play with the diets and exercises in the popular magazines if you want but just move your body, don’t eat junk and breathe deeply.
Thanks for reading.