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Personal reflections on music and training.

So yesterday I wrote a little blog entry about my Referral System for Personal Training which is a big part of my business plan this year.

It got me thinking... I've always been motivated by wanting to actually achieve something, rather than just "for fun". For better or worse. Sometimes I wonder if that's actually a good and helpful thing or not.

For example when I was playing music, it was always about getting ready for a recording or a gig and I would usually expect things to progress steadily and I'd want to get to that goal within a reasonable time. A lot of people are happy just to turn up every week, sound like shit, not really get any better than last week but eventually over a period of a few years they eventually start to get half decent.

I should say... that's fine when you're a beginner. You just want to "jam" and it helps you to learn to play your instrument, learn to listen and play with other people, and so on. But once you've been playing for a while... hell, just because you've never played with a particular person before doesn't mean that you should sound like beginners again.

So, I'd only work with people who were serious about actually trying to get somewhere. People who'd show up to rehearsal on time, having practised their parts during the week... and so on.

I just realised there's a parallel with what I try to do with my PT business. It's not for everyone, either.

It's really not for the people who just have a spare Tuesday night and think it might be fun to hit the gym for a workout. What I'm passionate about is working with people who are serious about making steady progress towards a very specific result. And if there's a deadline like a wedding or some other important life event that we need to achieve that result by? All the better.

Are you sure that exercise and dieting is making your healthier?

Something I have been thinking about a lot over the past few days is the importance of training with a focus on good health. It seems obvious, right? We eat right and work out because we want to stay healthy.

That might not really be the case though. I mean... you can't imagine many people NOT wanting to be healthy, or actually wanting to be unhealthy (no matter how much their behaviour / lifestyle would suggest it), but I'm saying this is more of an intellectual, logical reason rather than an emotional one. I think we are usually more motivated by emotion than logic, and the motivation to work out is usually to do with wanting to feel better about yourself. 

There's a bit of a politically correct notion around at the moment that we should all just feel better about ourselves automatically because we're nice people whether we're actually putting some effort into life or not. It's a nice thought and hard to argue with, but really... let's be real here; human beings did not become the dominant intelligent species by NOT applying themselves. We feel better about ourselves when we know we're not neglecting our health, are looking our best, and are taking steps in the direction we want our lives to go in.

So, whatever. Health may not be your primary motivator and that is fine as far as I'm concerned. But this next part is important. If you are training for aesthetics (aka "a hot body") and / or happiness, you are not likely to achieve either of these goals with an approach that is detrimental to your health. Sporting performance, however, is a different matter entirely.

Something I have talked about recently is that there is a Basic Level Of Human Fitness which relates to just being able to function in a natural environment, and then there is sports fitness. Particularly when we are talking about high intensity activities or endurance sports, we are applying a level of stress to our bodies that is beyond what would be expected under normal, natural conditions. 

Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, it depends. 

As I keep saying, our bodies are designed for survival and are very good at adapting. Therefore, with an appropriate amount of an appropriate type of exercise we will get stronger, and healthier. Assuming of course, that we are providing enough resources (that means nutrients, which means food) to allow the body to make this adaptation.

Is that what most people do though? Is that the message that is put out by the diet and weight loss industries, or the majority of the fitness industry? 

Nope. What most people are encouraged to do is "eat less, burn more".... this might be reasonable advice for people with a sedentary lifestyle and gluttonous junk food eating habits, but it DOES NOT APPLY to people who are actually exercising. 

The result of this message is that people are influenced towards activities that they believe "burn more calories", rather than those that will actually produce the desired physical results. Usually this means excessive amounts of high intensity cardio (perhaps in those fast paced, dance based group fitness programs), and / or excessive amounts of endurance training. I just got distracted because a commercial just came on the TV for a product to help "burn more calories while exercising". Now, why on Earth would that be a good thing?

More exercise on less fuel only means that you are putting your body through a level of stress that is not designed to endure, without giving it the opportunity to adapt and become stronger. Even if you are losing weight, even if your performance is still improving... you are not getting healthier, you are running yourself into the ground. 

How the diet industry exploits vulnerable people.

I really should say "diet scam artists" rather than "diet industry" because I don't like to tar the genuine people people with the same brush as the horrible ones.

Over the past month or so I seem to have made a bit of a name for myself by calling out certain people and products for the dangerous and unhealthy methods they are pushing, or for the offensive and unethical business and marketing strategies they use.

I was thinking about it, and it kind of makes sense. I had a career in Security for 9 or 10 years, and most of that I would describe as "standing my ground against horrible people" and "looking out for vulnerable people". It makes sense that I've found myself doing more or less the same thing in terms of trying to stop horrible people from exploiting vulnerable people with harmful messages and dangerous products related to diet and weight loss.

So far I've been calling out the worst people in the world as far as the world of (what is supposed to be) health and fitness is concerned, in the order that they've come to my attention.

First up, literally the worst thing imaginable. I called out Dr Charles Livingston and asked him how could sleep at night while his Fat Loss Factor Diet Program Is Marketed To Anorexic Teens Via Spam Floods On Tumblr And Pinterest. He didn't want to talk to me though, for some reason.

While on the subject of the Fat Loss Factor, that's not all these people are up to. It came to my attention that   the "success stories" on their marketing sites are actually Stolen Before and After Photos From Tumblr Weight Loss Blogs. That is, they steal photos from people who've lost weight through putting in the effort with exercise and sensible nutrition, and claim credit for it even though the people have never used their product. That's pretty shifty!

Word is spreading about these horrifying tactics, and a few other websites have ran reports about it since.

Finally I called out a so called "celebrity fitness guru" for pushing some of the most ridiculous ... no, not "some of" but actually THE most ridiculous nonsense disguised as exercise advice that I have ever seen in all my days. You call also read about how the Tracy Anderson Diet Plan Results In The Same Effects Of Malnutrition As Found In Anorexia Patients in another article I reference.

As I said on my facebook the other day, there will always be differing opinions on the best methods to lose weight and get into shape, and what's best for one person may not necessarily be the best choice for someone else. What's not up for debate though, is that human beings are a species that requires food. Any time some moron starts telling people "stop eating food if you want to lose weight", there is gonna be a fight.

People need to consume The Right Amount of food. Not too much, not too little. There's a false perception that "less calories" or "eating as little as possible" is better for weight loss... but how could "less than enough" possibly be better than "The Right Amount"?

By the way, Dr Oz; you're next.



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