Eat cheese, climb trees, and lift heavy things
In the information age, it is hard to know what ideas are based in fact and what are utter nonsense. This is a world of he said, she said, where the cream doesn’t always rise to the top, but the most profitable things do.
What do you think would happen if the world’s leading dentist found the one-shot cure for all lifetime dental hygiene issues, and you could administer that cure in the comfort of your own home? (For fun, let’s say it involves mixing grass with water and lemon juice and administering it as an enema.) Do you think he would tell anyone? Doing so would render both his current job and all his years of study effectively useless.
The same is true about the health and fitness industry. The people screaming the loudest in the industry have a solution that will get you wash board abs in six minutes or a pill that won’t make you feel hunger. Meanwhile, the ones who suggest maybe not eating for a little while are condemned as sadists.
Even the FDA is in on it. Stem-cell based products are illegal and yet cure burns 10 times more efficiently than any other treatment. However, it’s perfectly legal to install a pump into your stomach to practice a fancy scientific form of bulimia. (I thought about providing a link, but if I could go back in time I would personally choose to unsee this process, so you’re welcome.)
My point is that if someone has the money to advertise their health and fitness services to you on television, you should be at least somewhat skeptical about what they are selling. After all, you and I know that eating healthy foods is the way to lose weight, and you can find those at the grocery store.
This has all been taken to the extreme lately. All of a sudden it is commonplace to hear that dairy is terrible, CrossFit is bad for you, and the best new workout craze is what’s missing in your life.
In reality, while a majority of the population suffers from some form of minor lactose intolerance[i], cheese is totally fine—just maybe eat in a form other than with pizza or tacos. Similarly, CrossFit isn’t bad for you. There are definitely shitty coaches, and only advanced lifters should be doing the WODs, but the concept of HIIT makes sense when the loads are reasonable and within the lifter’s ability. Finally, the best new workout craze is never anything new. Orangetheory, SoulCycle, and CrossFit are brands that are selling an atmosphere. And hey, if you like that atmosphere, awesome! Just know that you can do the same thing alone in a room with a treadmill, spin bike, or a squat rack, respectively.
There are some things that have been around for thousands of years that we know work and that won’t hurt you.
Dairy has taken a ton of flak over the past few years, not all of it unjustified, but people need to calm the fuck down on this. If you are one of the many people who struggle to digest dairy, don’t eat it. If your goal is weight loss, eat dairy in moderate amounts. Cottage cheese is one of the least expensive low-calorie sources of protein you can find. Yogurt is delicious and a great dessert replacement. Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, and it can even help prevent cavities. Just make sure you stick with the healthier varieties.
You don’t need a gym, weights, or any expensive equipment to get a workout. Climbing trees, running, jumping, swimming, and doing push-ups alone can make you one of the strongest people in the world. Ask gymnasts—the vast majority of them have never touched weights in their lives, but they’re as swole as they come. Remember, all equipment is just gravy, so don’t be distracted by the newest thing.
Lift Heavy Things
That said, if you want to add gravy to your turkey, it might as well be the most flavor-enhancing liquid in the world. It doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy, either. When it comes to looking good naked and getting stronger, nothing is better than lifting weights. It doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor either: you can outfit a home gym that will suit your needs for $1,000, but you can also go outside and pick up rocks or tree trunks. (If you’re going to venture out into the wild, though, I’d take a moment to learn to squat, deadlift, a press properly.)
When it comes to exercise and nutrition, the exciting new stuff normally has more flaws than the classics. Take this drink that replaces food or this stomach pump that I said I wouldn’t link earlier. Your grandmother’s nutrition advice to eat more veggies and stop snacking is usually more valuable than the latest diet book.
Got fitness questions? Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.