Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On fitness splainin, or why I won't give fitness advice

What, you may ask, is "fitness splainin?"

That's when someone, presumably knowledgeable about health, fitness, working out, etc, tells YOU what you should do with YOUR body.  Comments like:

"You need a low-carb diet to lose weight."
"All that running is going to destroy your knees."
"Steady-state cardio is terrible for weight loss. You need to do HIIT."
"You need to stretch before you run."
"Spin classes make you fat."

Oy and vey.  So much advice. So many advice givers. So many assumptions that what will work for one person will work for another.  Social media makes it easy for everyone to be an instant personal trainer, health guru, or fitness expert.

I read a lot of fitness/running magazines. Part of the reason for that is that I'm a writer, and I'm always interested in writing on topics that obssess me.  When I was into beads, I subscribed to beading magazines (and there are plenty of those). So I read Runner's World, Running Times, Health, Women's Health, Women's Running, Self and read articles online from Competitor.com. Armed with the information I glean from these sources, am I any kind of expert? Hells to the no.

I make it a practice to not give fitness advice.  I love to share/compare experiences with other runners, which I do regularly on dailymile.com and in several running-related Facebook groups.  But I hesitate to offer advice on what someone should do with their fitness time.  And I have no idea how to resolve anyone's fitness injuries!

I personally like to run, to ride bikes (indoors and outdoors), to walk, to dance (on my own, not in a class), and to use ellipticals (the zone out factor is high on that machine).  I have mad respect for those who do a lot of lifting/weight training, but I admit I've not found a way to embrace it (maybe I'm just too antsy). But  I don't tell people who base their fitness routines on lifting that they need to run.

If someone asks me what my personal fitness preferences are, I'm happy to tell them.  But I have to resist the evangelical urge that comes with running. I mean, it helped me lose 50 pounds and get off blood pressure meds--it must be great for everyone!  I got to tamp that down.

If someone asks me how to become a runner, I can only tell them how I became one, which may or may not work for him or her.  Usually I point people toward Couch-to-5K programs, though I never did one myself.

When it comes to fitness, there is a huge morass of contradictory advice out there. My plan, as a person who wants to outlive her parents (who both died too young), is to take in everything I read, see, and hear with an open mind and a questioning brain. So far it's working well.


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