Every year, as people make resolutions to dive into the latest, greatest weight loss gimmick for the New Year, I remind them that this is a terrible idea. I guess you could call me the wet blanket of reality. It’s a title I wear proudly because that annual reminder always stops a few people from doing things that are unhealthy.
Of course, most of those New Year’s resolutions are abandoned after two weeks. Any weight lost during a crash diet quickly returns.
Fast forward to spring. A new flurry of resolutions emerge as everyone becomes obsessed with looking great at the beach. All it takes is a crash diet and a discounted gym membership to get shredded abs in eight weeks and turn heads in your bikini!
These are marketing ploys developed by large corporations that want to profit from your insecurity and desperation. I’ve said it a million times – you die on a diet. The results are always temporary. The body wasn’t designed for radical weight loss, and the shape you want can’t be found in pills and shakes.
But let’s take a closer look at the fitness industry. If you go to most gyms, especially the big box gyms, you work out by yourself. Very few gyms are staffed with exercise physiology experts. Instead, you have people who got part-time jobs at a gym because they like to work out and look good in a tank top.
You wouldn’t go to the doctor’s office, find a drug dispenser on the wall, and choose your own drugs, right? You’re not a doctor.
Even though everyone thinks they know how to exercise, most of the people I see at the gym have no idea what they’re doing. They all do the same thing – crash diet, lift weights and run on the treadmill until they drop.
The injuries I see in clinical practice are just off the charts. People seriously hurt themselves, whether they end up destroying their joints, straining their back, or tearing their muscles.
It’s important to realize two things.
First, exercise is something we should be doing every day of our lives. A wellness lifestyle is all the time. Exercise is no more beneficial in the spring or after the New Year. That’s just when big money ramps up their marketing schemes with no regard for what’s healthy or unhealthy.
Second, an exercise program should be personalized and developed by someone who has actual knowledge of exercise science. This is especially true for people who have conditions like osteoporosis and type II diabetes, or a woman who may have gained weight because of menopause.
My exercise program will probably be very different from your exercise program. And your exercise program will probably be different from your teenager’s exercise program. Just like you can’t take a broken down car out on a racetrack and immediately rev it up to 120 miles per hour, you can’t take the human body to a gym and push it to its limits like a world-class athlete would
Exercise physiology is a science. An educated, trained professional can show you to gain stability, coordination, strength, flexibility and endurance. Those are the five components of a sound exercise program, not treadmills, free weights and diet pills.
Remember this the next time you see or hear a commercial promising to get you into a bikini by Memorial Day. When you crash diet and spend hours working out with no supervision, you’re putting yourself at risk. It’s just not worth it.