What we know versus what we do
I’m frequently amazed how much fitness and nutrition information is available. There are dozens of magazines, hundreds of books, thousands of websites and probably millions of “experts” all of which are more than happy to tell you what you should eat and what exercises you should do in your quest for leanness, longevity, health and fitness.
Many people, especially the more unscrupulous ones, will charge you a lot of money for the “secret solution” to your fitness woes while others, like ultra-FIT, tend to focus more on good old fashioned common sense that is backed by science. In the simplest of terms, if you want to be fit and healthy, you just need to move more and eat less – a truism I want engraved on my gravestone! If more people moved more and ate less the world would be a slimmer and healthier place.
Of course, eating less and moving more can be made incredibly complicated. Do we go low fat/high carb or high protein/low carb. Should you be doing interval training or long slow distance cardio? Pilates or yoga? Squats or leg presses? Free weights or machines? Cardio or weights? High impact or low impact? There are so many choices!
Basically, and unless you have ultra-specific training goals, it really doesn’t matter that much. Internet arguments rage long and hard about one training method versus another but, in actuality, even the best exercise method in the world is not worth a jot if you don’t get off your butt and do it! And remember, if an expert is trying to champion one method or diet over another, chances are, they have a vested financial interest in the system they are promoting. By the way, I think the best way to exercise and eat is the plan I devised and published in my book Military Fitness Training available from Amazon.co.uk and other online and high street book stores!!!
The thing is, if you ask 100 people what they should eat and how often they should exercise, you’ll probably get a very high percentage of correct answers. Almost everyone knows that nationally we need to eat more vegetables, less refined food, less sugar, less salt, fewer additives, less fat and less junk food. Everyone also knows that exercise is good, that they should walk more, sit less, go to the gym and generally be more active. Oddly though, and despite the fact most people have at least a rudimentary understanding of fitness and nutrition and that there is more information than ever freely available, over 60% of the population is overweight and less than 30% of the population exercise more than once a week.
It seems there is a big gap between knowing what to do and what the vast majority of the population actually do.
If you go to the gym 2-3 times per week, walk every day, head out and pound the pavements 2-3 times a week or partake in any other form of regular physical exercise, you are in the minority. You are already head and shoulders above many of your compatriots in terms of fitness and health.
Chances are you also eat better than your fellows and, as a result of being physically fit and well nourished, are less of a burden on the National Health Service. You enjoy all the benefits of exercise and eating healthily including less days off work, more energy, greater productivity, less stress and better self esteem.
Personally, I am sick of people bemoaning the state of their health when they actually take absolutely no responsibility for maintaining it. Smokers, over drinkers, those that are sedentary and those that eat a diet that consists entirely of junk food have no real right to complain that they are constantly ill, are overweight or otherwise miserable.
Maybe it’s me but surely it’s time that people learnt to take responsibility for their actions. I’ve been watching the documentary “The men who made us fat” with interest over the last few weeks and while it’s fascinating viewing, it doesn’t change the fact that even the most undereducated person knows that an apple is more healthy than a Snickers bar. Or am I presuming too much? Surely if you can operate an I-phone, you can differentiate between a banana and a cream cake?
I know that I’m over-simplifying a complex global issue and things like socioeconomics play a large role in the fatness (or heaviness if you are American) of a nation but it isn’t only the poorer working classes that are suffering this obesity and lack of activity epidemic. Like so many plagues; obesity effects all ages, genders, economic and ethnic groups.
As far as finding the answer goes; I really don’t know what to suggest. Compulsory physical activity, a super-tax levied on junk food, financial rewards for those who take fewer sick days, cheaper plane tickets for lighter people, medical bills based on body fat percentages…I’m sure any one of these could help but I don’t fancy being the politician who has to implement them!
Exercise and nutrition really can seem very complicated at times but the fitness industry often makes it that way. The fitness industry is as much part of the problem as it is part of the solution because even the most ethical people in the fitness business are still out to make money. If nothing else, just remember to move more and eat less. And if anyone tries to charge you for that little nugget of advice let me know because I’ve trade-marked it and hope to use it to make my millions…
Wishing you a happy, healthy and active weekend,
Contributing editor ultra-Fit magazine
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