If there’s an industry plagued with profuse amounts of bullshit, it’s health and fitness. Know what it is so you can avoid it and spend your time doing what actually works.
While there’s more bullshit than I can list here, these are some of the most common culprits.
(Would you rather have the audio version of this article? Download it fromiTunes.)
A trainer at your gym says you need to drink special pre- and post-workout concoctions if you want to get results and, you’re in luck, because he just so happens to sell them. It’ll only cost you $100+ per month, but it’ll totally be worth it because you’re gonna look fantastic. Ahh, the stench of bullshit is hanging in the air.
Someone tells you to jump-start your regimen with a detox or cleansebecause they’re just the best thing ever and who cares if you feel like death the entire time because you’re going to lose several pounds really quick. Bull. Shit.
Someone promises a supplement will drastically increase your results. Steamy bullshit. Look, if powdered unicorn farts provided magical powers or could rapidly increase your results without side effects, I’d gobble that stuff down and tell you about it too. But, until then, let’s stick to what science has shown to be beneficial. Eat real food and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. I don’t care if that’s banal advice; it works. This smoothie recipe fits the bill perfectly, and I drink it almost every day.
Someone claims you have to sacrifice, suffer, and deprive yourself to build a better looking body; that eating well and working out has to become your entire life. This too is bullshit. Health and fitness isn’t nearly as complicated as some make it seem. You just need to do the right things consistently (refer to 5 Health and Fitness Principles That Don’t Suck after you finish this article); you don’t have to live in the gym or tote tupperware with you at all times.
The language used to describe workouts and diets is getting ridiculous. Someone proclaims that their workout program will make you a battle-ready warrior or superior specimen of the human race and their diet will make you bulletproof. So much bullshit. Doing a workout is not a heroic act and is not comparable to a battle or war. Seriously, we’re just working out. We’re picking things up and putting them back down repeatedly. Regardless of how “hard” you’re going, you’re doing it in a safe environment, and probably even in crisp air conditioning. When you’re done you get to go home and binge watch your favorite show on Netflix.
You can get stronger, improve your quality of life, increase your self confidence, change the appearance of your body, and experience otherbenefits from strength training, but your moral fiber or value will not improve from a workout program or certain eating style, no matter how hardcore it seems. Anyone claiming otherwise is about to drop a load … of bullshit.
The absolutes stating “women should always do A, B, and C” or “women should never do X, Y, and Z” are bullshit. Do you know what women (i.e.,you) should do? Whatever the hell you want. What makes you happy. What makes you feel great. What makes you the best version of yourself.
Want to lift heavy things? Do it, woman! Want to take cardio classes that leave you sweating profusely because you enjoy it? Go get it, girl! Prefer to be active in fun ways that have nothing to do with structured exercise? Have at it.
Words like “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary” get tossed around frequently when describing quick-fix fads and gimmicks. Anything that claims you don’t need to change your lifestyle when you use their product or makes too-good-to-be-true promises is a load of steamy dooky. (But we’ll continue to wait patiently for the powdered unicorn fart capsules.)
It’s quite amusing to see certain workout styles becoming more of a cult than a fitness routine. Any group that puts down other people who don’t work out or eat the way they do has problems. I once heard a woman comment, “Oh my gosh can you believe she’s eating corn? It’s, like, a GMO and not even a vegetable!” Clearly she found herself superior to the target of her comment since she refuses to let corn pass her lips (well, at least this week; I’m sure she’ll be on a different diet the next: “What? You’re not drinking coffee with butter in it?!”).
How you eat is your business and if someone judges you for it, they’re anasshole. What a bunch of petty bullshit that we live in a world where people think they’re superior because they eat or work out a certain way. Any group claiming to be better than others because of their health and fitness lifestyle has eaten too many of their own bullshit sandwiches; don’t let them serve one to you, even if it’s organic and non-GMO.
Heroes are admired because of their actions; not their eating or workout regimen.
Just because someone had success with a particular diet or workout program doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. As a personal example, I once did the whole Paleo and low-carb thing (and made my wife go along for the ride too since I do most of the cooking) and ended up with a total cholesterol over 400. My wife, on the other hand, was in the low 100s. We literally ate the same things, but my body responded drastically different.
The lesson: listen to your body and monitor what’s going on. Change as needed. Do what works for you. One-size-fits-all molds are bullshit. Know your body and be your own guru.
I get it. We’re women. We’re constantly sold the idea that we should always be dieting. Constantly be trying to lose fat or improve our shape. We should relentlessly try to prevent the aging process. We need to make our tits perkier and our butts more voluminous. It’s no surprise that food and dieting is a popular topic of conversation. This is bullshit. We don’t have to always be dieting. We don’t have to constantly try to manipulate the appearance of our bodies.
We are more than a physical shape, age, or any other number or label (i.e., numbers don’t define you). We can choose to get off the carousel of diets and self-hatred. We can choose to eat well and move our bodies because it makes us feel good and to get stronger and to improve our health and quality of life. Fat loss and a more rounded backside, however, can just be side effects.
Let’s get this out of the way: another woman’s body is not your measuring stick.
Anything promising to make your muscles “long and lean” or says you can look like someone else is, once again, a heaping pile of fresh bullshit. You can’t control your genetics (mostly) and you can’t manipulate a muscle to make it “long and lean.” Your bones are a set length. The origins and insertions of your tendons can’t be changed. And the “lean” part has to do with body fat. If you want to look lean, build muscle and has less body fat. Period. There’s no magical trick or program to make this happen. Proper, progressive strength training and simple nutrition does the trick (more on this below).
Diets that blame a macronutrient (e.g., fat, protein, carbohydrates) or food group (e.g., dairy) for hindering your fat loss efforts is bullshit. Calories matter. Food quality is important. Moderation is possible. But there’s no mysterious villain to blame for the rampant obesity problem, and looking for one is a waste of time. No one thing is to blame, and no one thing is the solution.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t believe everything you read, but not everyone is a charlatan. Find the people who know their stuff, and learn from them. You can usually sniff out who’s a bullshit-Jedi and who has noble intentions. For me, when it comes to nutrition, I trust people like Leigh Peele, Alan Aragon, and Precision Nutrition; they take what they do seriously and know their shit. Follow a few people who are experts in your areas of interest, and learn from them. And keep an open mind and ask questions along the way.
There are mounds of additional bullshit, but hopefully you get the idea.
We called out some of the blatant bullshit in the realm of health and fitness. So now the question is: what should you do? Know this:
Want to determine if something you overheard is bullshit? Run it through the three-S test. Is it Simple? Is it Sustainable? Is it Sane? Those are three important criteria a health and fitness regimen should meet, but they don’t sell books or magazines or get lots of likes. If it sounds too good to be true or bat-shit bonkers crazy, it likely is.