Here’s a headline you don’t see every day: Regular physical activity and healthy eating: The secrets to a long, healthy life.
Don’t get me wrong, the story is out there. It’s just most readers can’t get past the physical activity and healthy eating part.
Now, replace those offending words with ‘miracle diet pill’ or ‘effort-reduced exercise’ and you’ll be speed-reading like someone with intestinal problems scanning an Imodium package.
Many writers spark interest by misrepresenting content, while others just mislead the reader. It’s the promise of easy, quick fix solutions that make headlines attractive.
To help, I’ve pulled some actual headlines from popular news feeds and added a few words of advice. Its not all bad. You just need to be careful before swallowing big promises.
‘This workout specifically targets and tightens up your love handles’
Comment: Nope. Not happening. Can’t be done.
You can find stories like this every day. In fact, I easily found three with a quick search.
Spot reduction (targeting and reducing offending, fatty body parts such as love handles, muffin tops and beer bellies) is physiologically impossible. Fat is simply stored fuel waiting to be used — and there’s no way to direct your burn. Chances are the first place you want to drop pounds is the last one to go. You can tighten underlying muscle such as abs, obliques and adductors (inner thigh) but if fat is covering your newly trained muscle, you’ll never see it.
The solution? Less calories in from processed junk and more out through exercise.
‘How to get a body like Batman’
Comment: Start by looking like Batman.
When trying to look like a superhero you need to do the following: 1) Get better genetics. 2) Quit your day job — because you’re going to be living in the gym. 3) Start gorging on very bland, nutrient-rich foods. 4) Purchase some ‘special vitamins’ from the guy hanging out in the gym locker room (wink).
We all have the capacity to become more muscular. The good news is it doesn’t take long to build muscle, especially if you are deconditioned. The bad news is some of us have unrealistic expectations, in which case, consider purchasing a muscled bat suit.
‘People should be fat-shamed’
Comment: Ahhh, no.
I’m pretty sure shaming contributes to the problem. Let’s be honest, we all have something that qualifies for shaming. If you can’t come up with anything, think a little harder or ask a friend.
Transforming habits are tough. Think of one thing you would like to change about yourself and see how long it takes for that change to stick. I don’t mean for a few weeks, I mean permanently. It’s not easy.
It’s wrong to assume an overweight person can flip a switch and eat less. Eating is often a symptom of bigger issues. Save your shaming for the driver texting at the green light.
‘At-home abs and butt workout for women uses only a resistance band’
Comment: It’s a great start.
Exercise requires regular progression (every month or so). If your exercise selection gets you to where you want to be, good on ya! Otherwise, you should regularly increase difficulty (more weight, different exercises, shorter rest periods, etc.).
An assortment of affordable resistance band levels or dumbbells will do the trick. Beyond that, most gyms offer a wide selection of exercise options.
‘Will 10 minutes on the treadmill help me?’
Comment: The walk from the car to the change room took 10 minutes. I doubt 10 minutes watching TV on the moving sidewalk will be any better.
For a more challenging workout, skip the treadmill (which is a bit of a ride) and walk outside — especially if there are a few hills. If you’re tied to the treadmill, consider alternating speeds, time or elevations.
‘NFL players’ surprising performance hack: going vegan’
Muscle without meat? Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has gone mostly vegan. What the…?
I’m pretty sure these guys aren’t skipping meat to save a few cows. These vegan brutes are eating a plant-based diet to heighten their performance and improve health. It’s a myth that only meat provides protein. This isn’t a trend — it’s the future.
Be careful though, being vegan doesn’t automatically mean heathy. The food industry is feverously trying to make veggies taste like chicken nuggets. There’s junk food on both sides of the fence. Processed is processed.
‘Here’s how much weight is realistic to lose in a month’
Comment: If weight loss if your goal there are no miracle cures or magic potions, just logic.
Here’s a good rule of thumb when reading weight loss and fitness columns: If the premise doesn’t involve a bit of hard work (something we were designed to do but seem to have forgotten) and healthy eating (mostly plant-based foods in their original state) move on to the comics. At least you’ll know you’re reading fiction.