Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." I doubt he was referring to health and fitness, because his powder of choice contained 0 per cent protein and 100 per cent Colombian nose candy.
One of the reasons I love the health and fitness industry is because it's varied, always evolving and parts of it are even a bit wild. And yes, it's definitely weird at times. A lot of folks have turned "pro" in this regard.
Anything in excess - from booze to burpees, from protein powder to pull-ups - can be unhealthy. If you've gone "pro" because you're seeking perfection, it's time to tone it down, because less stress forms a healthier mind and body.
Is this you? Here's how the weird are going pro in Australia's health and fitness industry:
Weirdos only eat Paleo
The gossip mill churned in the last few weeks with celebrity chef and Paleo disciple Pete Evans battling celebrity dietician Susie Burrell over a children's breakfast drink and dietary education qualifications. It got heated and personal. I love a good food fight.
Paleo, Paleo, Paleo … advocates say if you're not eating like our ancestors did thousands of years ago, you're doing it wrong. You should be bringing in your Paleo breakfast, eating at Paleo cafes for lunch, and cooking recipes from one of your 100 Paleo cookbooks for dinner, then enjoying a Paleo dessert that no caveman ever heard of.
The weird go Paleo 24/7. They exclaim you should be on Paleo and that your quinoa, brie, peanuts, and potatoes make you unworthy of eating in the same kitchen and neighbourhood as theirs.
I like Paleo, because it centres around less junk food and consuming real, unprocessed food. Wow, where have we heard that before? Paleo is the same old dog with a slightly different haircut - it's a good haircut, but not every dog needs the exact same haircut because variety and a bit of naughtiness isn't so weird after all. Be healthy, yet enjoy life.
Weirdos sleep, eat and supplement
The weird wake with pills and supplements, take a pre-training energy pill supplement, keep a neon-coloured supplement drink close by during training, then finish their session with a protein supplement. They snack on supplements at their desk, then down one last supplement drink before sleep. And as a reminder, they wear t-shirts so everybody they pass on the street is aware of their supplement intake.
Ask these weirdos how many grams of protein is in a salmon steak, and their 'I don't know' shrug results in one long, weird protein fart.
Our bodies need tasty, fresh, and nutrient-dense food – not supplements.
Weirdos keep dieting
Dieting is also the same old dog, but with that 'same old dog' smell that never goes away. Your body wants healthy food for energy. Your body does not need you to join an expensive multi-level marketing scheme like Isagenix to consume its meal replacement shakes, or other options like Dr Siegal's 'The Cookie Diet'.
Reducta is getting plenty of TV airtime these days. Hunger reduction tablets? The thought is too funny. Citing centuries of traditional evidence as an Indian appetite suppressant, Reducta recommends: "Always use in conjunction with a healthy energy-controlled diet and exercise program."
At least they got the recommendation right.
My words are short, harsh, and simple because science has proven it – fad dieting doesn't work in the long-term.
Weirdos train the same way
Paraphrasing Einstein, I'll declare this: "Gym weirdness is doing the same thing and expecting a different fitness result." Doing yoga every day, the same Pump class, or the same Zumba dance - it's weird and it's boring.
Want to change your fitness and your body? Pick your weakness and turn it into a strength. If you hate running, hit the pavement and become good at it. If you're weak, hit the weights and get strong. Change it up, because your body won't change when nothing changes.
Weirdos apply balance
Now these are the true weirdos. They rest when their body tells them to. They eat healthy foods while training hard, because later on, they like to have their cake … and eat it, too. These weirdos value and understand the relationship between mind and body. They wind down by wine-ing down because they celebrate a tough week, then work it off with a morning run or a swim in the sun. They exercise because being fit and lean is the healthiest way to live. These weirdos value the way they feel over the way they look.
It seems in this day and age, the true weirdos are simple and balanced – and they are in the minority. Yup. Balance is everything, and I do my best to be this type of health and fitness weirdo.
Today's column is serious with an obvious dose of tongue-in-cheek, because I truly enjoy the company of the weird and wild from all of life's categories – they are unique. And unique people add variety in life.
But all that variety creates a confusing health and fitness market. The ultimate prescription is simple: Eat real food. Increase water intake, decrease alcohol. Fruit (yes, with sugar) and veggies are good. Exercise. De-stress your mind and body. And reward yourself.
Trust me, if a caveman was sitting next to me as I held a slice of pizza in one hand and a beer in the other this past weekend, he'd say, "Gimme some, then let's run it off tomorrow".