Words to be Banished from Fitness

article_banished1Since 1976, Lake Superior State University has released an annual list of words to be banished because they have been driven into the ground and have lost meaning. In 2013, the list includes such words and phrases as ‘fiscal cliff,’ ‘trending,’ and ‘spoiler alert.’ The world of fitness has its own words and phrases that have long ago lost their luster. So in a nod to LSSU, here is the 2013 fitness version of banished words for misuse, over-use and general uselessness.

Not so long ago, trainers and coaches realized that sitting at weight lifting machines might not be the best exercise for us. In an attempt to mimic how humans move, functional training was born.

Unfortunately, it quickly became a contest to see who could stand on a stability ball while swinging kettlebells. This exercise may be called ‘functional’ by some and while it is entertaining – in a blooper reel kind of way – it definitely isn’t how we move and won’t help us get stronger so we can pick up and carry our kids, groceries, or suitcases without getting tired or injured. Being able to ‘function’ in daily life isn’t a contest about challenging movements. It is about the basics called strength and conditioning.

Do you like apples? Well, when we talk about the ‘core,’ we aren’t talking about fruit. How do you like them apples? In all of my classes and studies I have never come across a system, organ, or tissue of the body called ‘the core.’ Some in the fitness industry claim it includes the muscles from the floor of the pelvis to the diaphragm. Others insist it is everything except the arms, legs, and head. With no standard definition, it is a meaningless term. Because the body is not a collection of parts but a chain of systems working together, it is a mis-used term. Because every fad exercise, marketing-hyped campaign, and late-night infomercial over-uses the word, it is screaming to be banished. Meaninglessness, mis-use, and over-use means three strikes and it’s out of here.

Metabolic Workout/Metabolic Food
You’ve heard these before. “This is a metabolic workout” or “eating this food will turn on your metabolism.” Here’s a hint: everything you do from breathing to fidgeting at your desk to sprinting behind a Prowler you are metabolizing (breaking down food). Take this a step further. Metabolism doesn’t slow down with age. It slows down when you don’t move as much. The more you move, the more you break down food. With so much confusion in people’s minds, we can’t mis-use the word that is the essence of how we operate. Time to burn some calories by burning up this term. By the way, no single food item is ever going to boost your metabolism and make you burn as many calories as good old fashioned sweat.

Some fitness experts cry out that we should never go on a crash diet because it is too restrictive and is not sustainable. Then they tell us “cleanses” are healthy breaks in our normal eating. These short-term diets that normally consist of a few food items and supplements are supposed to remove toxins from our body and scrub our intestines. Do you want to cleanse your body? Then eat clean. No other diet will work as well or is as sustainable. Stick to whole, natural, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, lean protein sources, and maybe even some whole dairy. If we really want to get rid of toxins, let’s start with the ones in our minds. Flushing the word ‘cleanse’ is a great place to start.

Paleo/Paleolithic Diet
It is intended to represent a diet that is based on our hunter and gatherer ancestors. But like most things, it has gotten out of hand and is grossly mis-used. Anthropologists can’t even agree on the typical diet of Paleolithic man. Was it mostly vegetarian or did they eat meat? Were they scavengers picking rancid meat scraps from a lion’s kill or did they get their protein from insects? Beyond this, is a ‘Paleo’ diet based on Paleolithic man from 15,000 years ago or 2 million years ago? Besides, most current ‘Paleo’ diets are not based on stone-age foods but those after the domestication of animals and plants and the use of metal. It isn’t ‘Paleo’ at all. Okay, it is just a term. But every time I hear the term ‘Paleo,’ I can’t help but replace it with the phrase ‘simple, whole, natural, and unprocessed foods’ while saying a few words of thanks for my steak knives, grill, warm bed, and modern medicine.

Dunn, R. (July 23, 2012). Ancient humans mostly vegetarian, “Paleolithic Diet” critic says. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/ancient-humans-vegetarians-paleolithic-diet_n_1695228.html