Fitness Falsehoods Abound In the World of A-List Celebrities
If you think that regular folks like us have issues with our bodies and fitness, you have only part of the story.
Just when I thought I had heard all of the brain-exploding double speak and craziness in the fitness world, one of my pilates clients pointed me in the direction of the latest "Spring Break Edition" Goop newsletter, courtesy of the lovely and talented actress, Gwyneth Paltrow. This issue features an interview with her uncertified fitness trainer, Tracy Anderson.
"Lynda, you have got to read this week's Goop. Seriously, Tracy talks about puréed food as being pre-digested. You'll love it!"
Here are just a few of the myths I found in this interview.
1. Crash Diets Are Fine - IF You Also Workout Every Day
Q. We know crash dieting isn't ideal, but is there a safe and effective way to speed up the loss of 5-10 pounds?
A. Of course there is, but I'm not a fan of this, as I really want people to learn how to plan. Everything you choose to put your body through has a direct impact on your health, appearance, and mental function. For example, I do not advocate people juicing to drop a quick five pounds if they cannot yet show up regularly for their workouts. Otherwise, you will lose five pounds and then gain eight to 10 pounds back the next week. [I bolded that.]
So drastically reducing calories and food consumption is only OK if you also exercise? There is NO EVIDENCE that exercising while fasting or juicing will help keep that weight off once you start eating again.
FACT: You are better off eating a balanced diet, exercising, and slowly losing the weight (1-2 pounds per week) in a way that is maintainable.
2. Puréed Food Is Pre-Digested and Helps Weight Loss
I created a pureed menu years ago as an alternative to juicing so that people could have access to more nutrient-dense, freshly-made foods that are pre-digested but still fiber-filled. Pre-digested food slows the digestive process without stopping it.
This is the infamous "Baby Food Diet" that was floating around a few years ago. Puréed food is easier to digest (that's why we give it to babies), but is not "pre-digested".
FACT: Frankly, vomit is pre-digested food. We have all watched momma birds go off, eat food, and return to the nest to vomit the pre-digested food into their babies' mouths. I will just leave that for you to think about.
Adults should eat whole foods, unless they are sick.
3. You Are NOT OK Just The Way You Are
If something is out-of-balance with my health or in my body, I don't believe in embracing it—I believe in fixing it. This is a tough conversation for all of us to have with ourselves, and a hard middle ground to find: It's easy to alternate between wanting to accept ourselves as we are, full stop, and then becoming obsessive, or seeing this as an exercise in vanity.
Somehow, this idea that we can fix obesity, illness, and other imbalances in our bodies simply through good old hard work is still floating around. This view ignores other important factors, such as endocrine (hormonal) imbalances and environmental and emotional factors.
FACT: Negative judgment promotes negative body image and self image. It does not promote a healthy body weight and fitness level. Love yourself!
4. Traditional Functional Strength Training Promotes Imbalance
The brain maps muscle movements, which means that muscles get very smart, very quickly. Performing new patterns that have the same outcome but different ways of getting there is powerful. Performing new patterns of movements that all have different outcomes is messy. Performing the same patterns while adding weight leaves room for weaknesses and builds strength in an unbalanced way.
First of all, muscles don't get smart. The brain controls muscles, and I am not sure what "mapping" means in this context. In fact, this entire paragraph is meaningless.
FACT: Functional training prepares the body for movements it will have to do in daily life. For example, squatting teaches you how to sit down and stand up, which is helpful for getting up and down from the toilet. Lunging helps with stairs, walking, and kneeling to pick things up. Shoulder presses help us put boxes on higher shelves, or bags in overhead compartments.
Unless you can pay people to do chores for you, functional training is key!
5. Muscle Sculpting Is More Important Than Strength
When you just lift heavy weights with your limbs as a lever against your core there is a depletion, which causes micro-tears in your muscle fibers. Training muscles by lifting heavy weight creates a cycle of repairing, rebuilding, and ultimately, muscle growth. Yes, this creates strength—but in isolation, and in a compartmentalized way. I pair certain resistances with certain movements for certain people very carefully—after all, our muscles are tools to create incredible art with our bodies.
This makes me feel like how I look is more important than how I function. And that is just plainly false! This also equates lifting heavy weights to getting bigger, which for the majority of women is just plain wrong. Finally, the idea that we can spot-tone has been debunked time and time again over the past 30 years.
FACT: Lifting heavy weights will not make women larger. Lifting heavy weights will strengthen your muscles and your bones. Muscle is denser than fat, so it takes up a lot less space. And bone and muscle strength is crucial for avoiding osteoporosis and joint degeneration.
Lift heavy and focus on form!