Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Skinny on Society

   Our society shapes so much of our lives that it's getting out of control. Everywhere you look, there is an ad or social media telling you how to look, how to dress, how to eat, how to live. The problem is, so much of this is created by marketing departments to sell you a product. They don't want to better your life. They want to make money. Everyone needs more, bigger, better. They need to be skinnier, have bigger boobs, and a thigh gap. Why? Because society tells you so. Because that is what's popular and pretty. WRONG! What should be promoted is being healthy. Even if you are not the healthiest, just making healthy choices is a step in the right direction. What should be promoted is real images and products-- no gimmicks.
   This blog has been a long time coming, but after the VS Fashion Show, and the onslaught of statuses and pictures of the models with captions "starting my Angel diet tomorrow!" I just became utterly disgusted. Those models are a size 0. For most people, that's not a healthy weight. For some, who are naturally just petite, that's one thing. Women who are 5'7 shouldn't weigh 110 pounds though. So just a reminder, for those who get caught up and forget, because these days it's so easy to believe what you see and read; pictures of models are photoshopped. Not to mention those people won the genetic lottery, but being pretty is their career. They have the time, and money, to spend on chefs who create special meals and the time and money to spend on personal trainers for hours on end each week. Then they have people contour and edit their looks, to make them more appealing. It's unrealistic. Yet people are striving for it, failing, and becoming frustrated. Last time I checked, no instagram filter is creating these effects. Stop beating yourself up over
something you can't possibly become; strive to be better than the person you were yesterday, no somebody else.
    There is truth in the phrase "Love Yourself". Everyone has flaws, but everyone is also unique in their own way. Don't stress over the flaws only you are seeing; embrace the uniqueness. Rock what you got!
   Be realistic. If you don't love what you see in the mirror every day, change it. But set small goals that you can reach. Remind yourself you are doing this for you, not so you can try to transform yourself into someone else. Me personally, I envy athletes. Especially now, while I'm on injury reserve and I can barely walk around. I don't envy their looks or their fame; I envy their dedication, self discipline, and raw talent. I watch sporting events like the Olympics in complete Awe, and it makes me want to set goals for myself. I know I'll never become an Olympic gymnast, but I can vow to stretch every day and try to push for those extra few minutes during my run. My point is, don't try to change and become something you aren't and can't be. Be a better version of yourself.
   Also, stop buying into everything you see. Ads these days have experts working behind the scenes to sell you that product. So the commercial with Beyonce drinking a Pepsi or Kate Upton and Paris Hilton eating cheeseburgers- do you really think those women do that? They don't. They endorse those companies because they are paid to. Marketing magic knows we idolize celebrities, and they buy them to sell you their product. Ever see a commercial that just get's your mouth watering, only to run out, buy the burger, and be sadly disappointed and with a stomach ache? More marketing magic. They beef up the beef (pun intended, I can be funny, too!) to make it look simply delectable. But any cheeseburger that costs a measly few dollars should make you wonder what kind of beef, and how much, they're really using. I've worked for many restaurants as a chef, and many real restaurants either hire professional photographers to photograph their food, or they don't use them on the menu. Want to know why? It's hard to capture food in an appetizing way sometimes. Nothing should come close to looking as good as the real deal. Look below; how they market their food, vs what it actually looks like when you get it in real life. Take a step back from the media, from society, and stop buying into their tricks. Research things, learn things. The more you know, the more prepared you are to be healthy, and happy.

How they market their food

Friday, December 5, 2014

Crossfit < Functional Multi-Purpose Exercises

   Everyone who does Crossfit, loves crossfit. It's all they talk about. Almost any exercise science professional, strength coach, personal trainer, or biomechanist will also have a strong opinion about it; it's dangerous. So you're torn and don't know what to do? I'm here to help.
   The basics of Crossfit are to lift as heavy as you can, as fast as you can. I personally don't see a need to complete a ton of 200 lb. deadlifts in a matter of moments. Your spine doesn't see a need for this either. While it does increase strength and overall fitness, it's also breaking down a lot too and the risk for injury is extremely high. Don't believe me? Look at your Crossfitting friends; covered in bruises or bloodied hands. Watch the Crossfit Games; everyone is wrapped in Kinesiotape. Kinesiotape is not a fashion statement. Look at their form; it's usually terrible. And my last argument against Crossfit; is anyone actually getting any better looking?! Let's be honest, most people exercise not only to be healthy, but because they like the way it makes them look and feel. I've seen many friends join the Crossfit craze, and if they're lucky enough to not become injured, I'm not noticing any weight loss. So you can lift 150 pounds over your head, awesome. But I still see that spare tire under your shirt. There's a lot to losing weight, more than just exercising, but if you're hitting the Crossfit gym every day, you should be seeing some weight loss. In my personal experience, coupled with what I've learned over the years being an exercise science major at Towson University, Crossfit is an injury waiting to happen. You also have to watch out for Rhabdomyolsis; which is where you break down your muscles to the point they start to poison you. I'm definitely not joking when I say Rhabdo can kill you.
   Now to be fair, not all Crossfit people are the devils. Most Crossfit gyms don't teach proper form first, and there lies the biggest problem. If you are an experienced exerciser, try it out, see if you like it. My guess is you might like the structure and the high calorie burn, but not much else.
The picture that inspired the blog. Exercise shouldn't cause this much damage.

   So what should you do? Functional or multi purpose or neuromuscular training. They're all the same thing, just with multiple names. Functional exercises is working out for real life situations. So while your Crossfit friend can deadlift 200 pounds, do they even really need to be able to do that on a day to day basis? Think of it this way... have you ever tried to get a 25 pound toddler out of carseat from a two door car? It's a damn challenge. Functional training makes tasks like that, easier. Functional training teaches your muscles to work together rather than isolated, as you might train them in the gym. You can curl all day, but can you pick a box up and put it onto a high shelf without any trouble?
   In functional fitness, you're not using a machine to do any of the work for you. It's not bracing your back or core while you sit in a seat or creating a perfect lever-system world. It uses your own body weight a lot, and your balance. You'd be surprised how sometimes just your body weight is too much. For example, can you do a one-legged squat? If you're thinking you'll never be in that situation in real life, think again. While I hope none of you experience a lower extremity injury, I recently had ACL surgery (that I tore not doing anything exercise related! It was a complete freak accident involving a piggy back ride) and I can't tell you how many times I've had to do a one-legged squat motion because my left leg is all but dragging around uselessly.
   Another perk to functional exercises; they challenge the brain a lot more. The harder you work your brain, the healthier it stays. It's been medically proven. Form is of course important in functional exercises too, and while you don't do much high intensity and you don't train to fail, you still get a great workout. I started doing functional training last summer and not only did I burn 800+ calories in under an hour, but I got a full body workout. Everything was a little sore, but few times was I so sore that I couldn't function (pun intended!) or use that body part. Functional training has now been added into ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) as a recommendation to do at least twice a week. Does ACSM endorse Crossfit? Nope. I could go on for hours debating the two but none of us have time to exercise, let alone read that never-ending article.
   Before you start any exercise program, you should do your research, and talk to your doctor. Everyone has their own opinions so get as many as you can. Find what works best for you, and start down the lifestyle path to health in the best way possible.