With the holidays upon us, the month of December brings a lot of awesome things holy and delicious, but with it comes a ton of nonsense in the health and fitness world. Article after article on how to not gain weight over the holidays and ridiculous healthy recipes for holiday food with substitutions for, well, good taste!
Let's be absolutely honest for the sake of this blog: if you think for one second that "being healthy all year" and then spending two weeks during the holidays "eating all the treats" is what's causing North America to be unhealthy, then the problem is denial — and those other 50 weeks a year.
Fifty-two weeks in a year, and most people go on a health kick that lasts for two of them. Our consistent daily habits are unhealthy, but we worry about a few days in December like we can save the year — by substituting the egg, the nog and the sugar for kale, chic peas and some never-before-seen, zero-calorie sweetener.
Bad information leads to poor habits
Let's talk openly and honestly.
Our biggest problem with our health is who we look to as experts. We call registered dietitians and doctors crazy. Why? These experts tell us eating gluten and carbohydrates is OK, but instead we listen to the people with six packs telling us to run from carbs. (Those people look good, so they must be right!)
Your registered dietitian — not a nutritionist or holistic health coach — is going to explain serving size, calories and how the body works. Individuals carrying those other titles are examples of people who can take a weekend course or, worse, just call themselves those things, and say absolutely anything they want about food.
What we as a population need to do is return to science and accept guidance from experts who are governed by colleges and give us information from peer-reviewed scientific research.
Health is simple and requires small, daily changes that grow to create a lifestyle.
Fat loss doesn't mean health
Here's what happens in 99 per cent of fitness and health cases I see.
Person One says, "I want to lose 10 to 30 pounds to be healthy." They seek out answers and, because fitness and nutrition is a weak point for them, they go hire someone to assist them. That person is tasked with simply taking fat off the body. That's easy to do. To simply take fat off the body, you cut carbs and do workouts to burn calories.
But "fat loss" does not mean health.
Health has important markers to it. What's your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure? How is your stress, your family life and mental health? Have you started something to simply take fat off your body, or have you changed your life?
Health is simple and requires small, daily changes that grow to create a lifestyle where you fuel your body — then, when a doctor gets the results of your blood work and a check up, they'll say, "Congratulations, you are healthy."
Fat loss and sex appeal revolve around cutting calories, restricting certain foods, and doing things you hate to burn enough calories to be a chiseled beast.
We have confused the two and talk about them interchangeably. It is the reason people seem to think there is misinformation out there about nutrition and exercise. There is not. We know what you need to do to be healthy, but it's different than what you need to do to be on the cover of a fitness magazine or to play pro sports.
Build a healthy base and work from there
Our world is spending trillions of dollars on obesity. We die of lifestyle-related preventable diseases, and our children are growing up with body image issues that break their parents' hearts. We need to differentiate between what it takes to prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and what it takes to be a fitness model.
Once we clarify that difference, we need the world to do the simple things, build a healthy base and then, if we choose, pursue the life of nice butt and a six pack.
Let's start by respecting our experts again — registered dietitians are the authority on nutrition.
Those guidelines are put together by PhDs with expertise and experience in the relevant fields.
Get healthy, first, then go talk to the sexy people doing weird stuff to balance their pH, boost their fat-burning potential and then go running around taking Instagram selfies on the beach. Who's on the beach that much, anyway?
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