An inexpert guide…

Fitness and nutrition are those sorts of subjects.. .everyone is an expert.

It’s an endless barrage. Fat is bad for your heart, too much protein will weaken your bones and give you gall stones, you are over training, you aren’t training enough, more cardio to burn fat, cardio doesn’t burn fat, eggs will give you heart disease, red meat will give you cancer, all meat will give you cancer, just face it you are getting cancer, do weights, no do cardio, no just swim because you will destroy your joints otherwise, running is the only thing that works, running is ruining your knees and wasting many of the muscles, you must have milk for your bones but milk is bad for you, microwaves make food be not actual food, do atkins, paleo, vegan, cabbage soup or something where meals are replaced with shakes. It’s nuts. It’s massively contradictory and to some extent it’s personal, different strokes and all that.

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Often when I comment or discuss my choices I get told what I ‘should’ be doing instead. I could sit and go through it point by point refuting, responding, clarifying. I won’t. I have a much simpler answer. I have an expert guiding my exercise and nutrition. An actual expert who has actually studied these things, not just read it on line or in men’s health.  I also used to be 21stone and eat primarily pizza, crisps and chocolate. So I thank you for your comments and opinions, but I am doing ok and honestly I’ll take my chances on whatever the current hysteria is about because no matter how much red meat and eggs I consume, no matter how hard I train (fitting it in around a full time desk job after all), no matter what method I use to cook my meals, I am never going to be doing as much damage to my body as I was just by being 21stone and eating a shitty diet.

We need to get a little perspective I think generally on the health industry and our diets and fitness. At this stage I will go point by point on a few general things. Before I do let me just clarify MY perspective. I was for many years very obese. I ate badly, I moved little, I was unhappy and I am fundamentally inclined (even now) to eat for comfort or boredom. I did reductil (later removed from market as dangerous) and other pills. most of the other pills, I did cabbage soup, atkins, weight watchers, slim fast, hypnotherapy (twice, the second time it was the brilliant Wizard and it helped  keep me from self sabotage). I have yo yo’d a lot. My mother has bribed me with clothes and cash. I have done every desperate thing and in the end divorce was the thing that worked. My appetite was reduced due to the stress and escaping to the gym was easy when I couldn’t stand being in the house. Of course it only got me so far and wasn’t the healthiest approach, although it wasn’t awful. Still, there is work left to do which I am doing in a more healthy and constructive way.

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So back to the topic in hand. The diet industry.

First of all it’s just that. The whole health, diet, fitness thing is an industry, it needs to make money so it needs to ensure just enough of us are successful that people believe the hype, but the majority keep failing and backsliding so we keep trying new things. The primary purpose of the fitness industry is to make money not to make us healthy. Something to remember when contemplating your next steps. All the magic pills are designed to work just well enough to make you dependent, the protein powders etc can be useful if used sensibly but should not be a fundamental part fo your regime. I use powder as a shortcut to top up my protein intake, it’s not a meal replacement (slim fast etc) it’s not a magic powder to make me stronger faster (sorry maxi muscle) it’s an easy way to top up certain nutrients rather than adding in an extra meal. I’m not keen on eggs first thing in the morning, total yogurt mixed with powder fills the protein requirement. Use them by all means but be aware of what they are actually replacing and why you are using them.

People are different. Our bodies are different, our desires and habits and routines are different, our tastes and the things we enjoy are different. Of course I am going to recommend martial arts/combat sports, I love them, they bring me joy. I am not going to suggest people run because frankly I hate it and it’s never worked for me. The sensible advice really is try a bunch of stuff a few times and stick with what you enjoy most. The sticking is more important than the activity.

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Equally with food, I enjoy meat and eggs and green veg. Low carb is easy for me because it leaves me lots of things I like to eat and a way to manage my food that suits my timetable. I don’t however like fish much, so while I acknowledge it would be good to eat more fish my PT accepts that it’s not going to happen and doesn’t push the issue. We work around it because having something I can do consistently is more important than eating so many grams of a specific thing at a certain time.  We set principles I have to adhere to and I do that. Other people work better from a diet plan, all the meals written out in advance in full, some have particular dietary needs or issues to be considered. Find something that works and that contains mostly healthy whole foods and you are probably ok. I think it can be agreed that trying to avoid processed food is always a good thing. (see point one on the food industry).

Clubs like weight watchers etc have a value, if you find group support helps great, go for it. The problem with them is they offer all sorts of alternatives to supermarket versions of things ‘low point biscuits’ etc and that is dangerous because it doesn’t actually challenge you approach to food. It’s offering you a way to lose some weight without really addressing the way you eat. I could rant about this for hours, but instead I’ll say, if you find support groups helpful use them, but be aware and cautious about how you are dealing with eating patterns.

In short, the best thing you can do for yourself if you want to be fitter, healthier, slimmer, stronger, is exercise you enjoy and eating mostly fresh food. That’s it.

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About Aunty Fox

'Fox Spirit is the crazy young aunt who dances in the rain and conjures fantastic worlds out of cardboard boxes, loo rolls and sellotape'
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