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Down With Get Fit Quick Schemes!

When it comes to exercise, there is often a love-hate relationship and a lot of conversations about what works and what doesn’t. Americans in particular are not provided the adequate tools and instructions to figure out what works best. Physical education in schools today hardly prepares the masses for what ends up being mostly sedentary careers. We are surrounded with ad after ad about getting slim quickly, take this pill to melt away the fat and do this crazy diet… all in an effort to pacify our need for results right now. Our lack of patience and need for immediate gratification is in just about every inch of our lives!! It doesn’t work that way unfortunately, and as much as we love to delude ourselves into believing this infomercial product will work, the fundamentals remain the same:

If you want to lose weight, you have to consume less and be more active.

It’s not a secret. We have known this all along, but some of us don’t want to do the necessary work for those results. We have wrapped ourselves in denial about this very fundamental concept. Nothing is free; never has been and never will be.

I’ve given up on these hokey diet things and just reverted to the food Mother Nature provides the old fashioned way: fruits and vegetables. The USDA has that food pyramid telling us to consume certain products as part of a healthy diet. I would hazard a guess that the pyramid is off by a lot in terms of the reality of what the average person eats each day. We consume more meat than we did 50 years ago and less fresh vegetables and fruit. Think of the standard plate of food you get at a restaurant. The meat portion is usually the largest of the items there, followed closely by some starch (rice, potato, etc), then almost like an afterthought, the vegetable. It’s no wonder we as a nation are obese! We eat too much, have all this food available to us and we still choose crap food. Our food choices and the portions consumed are the first part of the puzzle – they simply don’t work. I often wonder what would the restaurant experience be like if we changed our portions to be a realistic representation of our real portion size and food types. Part of the problem is that we spent a good 20 years training a couple generations to believe that bigger is better and if you’re not getting bigger, you’re getting ripped off. So untrue! Quality over quantity is better any day! A monstrous, pre-processed 1000 calorie burger that is mediocre is better than a freshly made burger with organic lettuce and tomato that’s 600 calories?! No way. Americans (again, in particular) have lost sight of the value of quality and patience, both virtues we have lost over the years. It’s time to regain that!

As for exercise, some folks live and swear by the hamster wheel. Cardio is good; strength training is better. Honestly though, why waste time on stationary cardio when you can do fun cardio like dancing or biking? I think this aspect is purely psychological. People believe that just showing up in the gym and doing their 30 minutes is getting them results. It makes them feel mentally better and in fact, allows them to cosign on their own mediocrity. It’s improving your stamina perhaps, but that’s it. How many skinny women do you know that are weak and flabby? Plenty. Being skinny doesn’t automatically make you healthy.

So look, get some facts first:

* Know what you consume: use a diary, take pictures (I use FitID to track my progress).

* Determine what you need to do for an exercise regimen in order to get results by doing research. What works for one person doesn’t mean it will for another – every body is different. THAT’S why these fly-by-night diets don’t work. If you aren’t sure, ask an expert for guidance.

* Eat more fruits and vegetables. I don’t think this requires any more explanation than that.

* Don’t get caught up in the hype of “get fit quick” schemes! They are designed to have you fail and to fill the pockets of corporations that are out to get you fatter. Don’t fall for it! Follow your own judgment and sense. You don’t need a whole lot extra to do this. Stay natural, avoid excess supplemental pills (obvious don’t skip prescriptions from your doctors) and just get moving.

* Stay the course. Consistency is what will help you get long-lasting results. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you have one bad day. It’s not the end of the world. Just get back on the bike and keep pedaling.