Fitness can sometimes be overwhelming.
New trends pop up every single week... Should you choose spinning? Yoga? Do intermittent fasting? Go low carb? Go vegan?
We all seem to get shiny object syndrome when we hear about these things, especially if whoever we hear them from got good short-term results.
Here are a few things to consider when your friend tells you about their new favourite magical fitness or nutritional trend.
1. Were the results sustainable?
Any nutritional plan that reduces calorie intake is guaranteed to cause weight loss, that is a very simple rule when talking biochemistry and energy balance.
This is fine for a short period of time, but if the calorie deficit is too much then you are going to have to re-introduce these calories at some point. Is there a long-term plan?
Being in vast calorie deficits also promotes muscle wastage, which creates a nightmare for future fat loss.
2. Does it cater for all regardless of starting point?
Anyone can prescribe exclusion diets or meal plans mapping out exactly what you should be eating. To that point you do not even need to be a qualified personal trainer to put someone through an incredibly hard session leaving them in a pool of sweat begging for mercy *and also likely injured.
This is where coaching comes in.
This is the difference between you investing money when it comes to your health and your well being as opposed to wasting £50-100 an hour for a “rent a friend” personal trainer who’s workouts are “brutally tough”.
Exercise and nutritional coaching should be based on habit building and sound principles that educate you on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. This is the “Health and Fitness” industry after all not the “6 packs and chronic back pain” industry.
The likelihood is you are going to be performing similar movements to everyone else (squats, pushups, lunges etc.), but making sure you are performing the suitable variation of these movements, for you, at this point in time, based on body type, strength levels, mobility requirements and goals, which is what you are paying money for.
3. Is it dogmatic?
Does it claim to have all the answers? Be wary of these types of programmes.
The truth is that there are likely positives about every type of training and nutrition method. The key is taking those and building your own philosophies based on sound principles.
With exercise, you have tonnes of tools at your disposal:
- Suspension Trainers
- Medicine Balls
- Your Bodyweight
- Battling Ropes
- Resistance Machines
You will find people yelling from the rooftops trying to tell you “You only need to strength train”, “HIIT training is the best way to train”, "Running is best for fat loss" or "Only do Pilates if you have back pain".
In my opinion, this is wrong.
Do not get married to a certain piece of equipment or methodology. Choosing the right tool for the right job is key.
The same is true of nutrition with methods such as:
- Intermittent Fasting
- Low Carb
- Low Fat
- Calorie Counting
- “Eating Clean”
All of these are potential tools, but when they are applied is key. It is no good telling someone who eats a cheese toastie for breakfast, a BLT for lunch and half a pizza for dinner to just “go low carb”. It will not work!
People are insistent on fitting square pegs into round holes.
Nothing should be outlawed with training or nutrition.
Cutting out entire food groups or neglecting certain training modalities is short-sighted and not necessary.
4- They have over 1,000,000 Instagram followers so it must be good?
By now surely we all know how social media works? You get 100,000 followers and suddenly you start getting paid to endorse everything under the sun (this includes professional athletes).
Spend some time making sure whatever you are paying your cold hard cash for is reputable and not just wanting to make a quick buck.