When Fitness goes too Far…

It starts innocently enough, you want to get in shape.

Logic says that you should move more and eat less. But, even that statement is misleading. How about we move more and eat real food. Yeah, that’s better.

Sounds simple, right? Except you’re skeptical. Why is that? I think I know. You’ve been brainwashed. We all have. We’ve been led to believe that getting fit means fitting into some exercise subculture – runner, powerlifter, yogi,triathlete, bodybuilder, etc. We’re told that eating clean and exercising regularly isn’t enough.

If you REALLY want to be fit you have to rearrange your entire life. Priority number one, your workout. Next, or tied for first place, every ounce (literally measured to the ounce) of food you consume throughout the day. Then you’ll need a new wardrobe that reflects the subculture you subscribe to.

The powerlifters all wear Chuck Taylors. The Olympic lifters have the straps of spandex singlets hanging down under their shirts. The Crossfitters all wear T-shirts emblazoned with the name of their “box,” and they smile with the dead-eyed intensity of Scientologists. The boxers have poorly drawn boxing gloves tattooed somewhere close to their necks. The bodybuilders have shirt collars and sleeves stained by excess spray tan.

That’s how Hamilton Nolan summed up his experience at the Toronto Pro SuperShow. Nolan writes I of the Tiger, a hilarious and spot on fitness column for Deadspin. It’s worth taking a few minutes to read about the shit show (his words). In short, he saw exactly what I’m explaining – sometimes fitness goes way too far. And when it does, the result has very little to do with fitness or health or a normal existence for that matter. 

Because, as Nolan observed,

The powerlifters scarfed greasy hot dogs and burgers from trucks out front. The bodybuilders stood around the doors, smoking cigarettes. The fighters did neither, but voluntarily got punched in the face. None of this was about health. It was about extremity.

There it is, the reason that – with respect to health and fitness – logic is met with skepticism. Everything you perceive as healthy isn’t healthy at all. Extremes are bad, exercise is good. True health is when you make fitness work for you, when it’s a part of your life, not your entire life.

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