Gwyneth Paltrow

Fitness Falsehoods, Celebrity Edition

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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!

 

 

Tracy Anderson Diet Deemed Unhealthy by Physicians

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Tracy Anderson Diet Deemed Unhealthy By UK Physicians - "Raises Risk of Anorexia"

Back at the end 2012, The NY Times ran an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow's trainer, Tracy Anderson. In this interview she discussed her "Method":

Ms. Anderson described her own philosophy as “the method,” and talked passionately about the science behind it, tossing around terms like “proprioception perception,” “strength of synapses” and “muscle confusion.”

“I move across the large muscles in a way like when you were a kid you got an Indian burn, building collective strength between muscle groups,” she explained with a smile.

Ms. Anderson has not sought certification in fields like exercise physiology or teaching, she said, because, “I am so hard on myself with not deviating the amount of time that I have for research and development of the method.”

As for coming up with moves to slim problem areas where women are predisposed to store fat (“disproportionate struggle,” in Ms. Andersonspeak), she painted a vivid picture.

“I’m completely focused on how can I get forces to travel from opposing directions and end up creating a contraction in a muscle that’s going to then pull in,” she said. “And then as we lose the fat the muscular structure will be vibrating so well that it will have the connective tissues pull the skin back to it.”

So what does this mean? Scientifically, and in terms of how exercise really works, it is meaningless. Of course, she is NOT a certified fitness professional, so what do we expect? And why would you trust a trainer who refuses to study for a fitness certification exam? Would you trust a lawyer who wouldn't take the bar exam? A physician who never passed the Boards?

And now Ms. Anderson has a diet program, that involves eating 500-1000 calories a day for up to 90 days. While, of course, doing 1-2 hours of her high intensity exercises.

Normally a woman should eat about 2000 calories a day at the minimum.

According to the Daily Mail,

Yesterday the British Dietetic Association and eating disorder charity Beat both voiced concern over the regime, and said Miss Anderson may be particularly popular with impressionable teenagers because of her celebrity status.

Dr Frankie Phillips, of the BDA, said of the plan: ‘It’s extremely low in essential fats, low calorie and low in carbohydrates other than from fruit and vegetables. It also looks to be very time consuming. You would need to spend a lot of time preparing and shopping for the different meal plans.

‘It just means that [followers] might be more at risk of an eating disorder, of developing a disordered eating pattern.’

And if you look closely at the condition of Anderson's hair and skin in the article photos, as well as that of her clients, you can see that they are in poor condition. Dry, brittle, not great.

That is what happens when you eat no fat for way too long. Your hair, skin, and nails will show the damage first. And then your bone density also starts to weaken.

I for one am tired of listening to Tracy Anderson giving unhealthy advice to keep women "super-skinny" with no concern about health maintenance over the longer term.

I wish US physicians would start to call her out as much as UK people are. Her method is unscientific, dangerous, expensive, and promotes an unhealthy and unrealistic body image for women.