Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's a 30 Day Challenge! (Actually, no.)

I have a very dear friend who is working to improve her health and fitness.  I've been doing my best to walk the fine line between being helpful and being bossy, which is difficult sometimes, because I have to realize:

This is her journey.

Really, my goal is twofold: 1) to make sure that she achieves some gains in fitness (muscular strength, aerobic endurance, etc.) and 2) to help prevent injury.  My course at the Utah College of Massage Therapy gave me some official training in recognizing and coaching for good body mechanics, so I do feel somewhat more informed than the average person on the subject.

Anyway, I saw that my friend had joined a particular Facebook event, a 30-day Ab challenge.  I may have been a little too quick with the trigger finger to denounce this decision, but I just couldn't help myself.  It is fraught with peril from day one.  Actually, day three.

Here's a link to something I found over at skinnyms.com, using what I'd hoped would be a productive Google search for "realistic 30 day core challenge".

Below are 5 tips to help you get those Fab Abs in 30 Days:
1) Drink 2.5 liters of water each day
2) Give up all sodas, fast food and junk food.
3) Eat Clean by eating whole foods and fewer processed foods
4) Toss the refined sugar. Better yet, skip all added sugar and sweeteners for the next 30 days
5) Eat smaller portions, about the size of your palm

Read more at http://skinnyms.com/fabulous-abs-in-30-days-challenge/#kh061ZLsKs0d5MD5.99

Here's my response:
1) 2.5 liters?  Is 2.55 too much?  Is 2.45 not enough?  What if I weight 280 pounds?  What if I weigh 115 pounds?  The necessity of this particular rule has been debunked time and time again.  Drinking lots of water won't do anything for your abs, it'll just make your urine more colorless.  Respect your thirst and hydrate responsibly.
2), 3), and 4) are all about basically the same thing: eating processed, engineered highly-palatable food is difficult to do moderately and maintain a high muscle/low body fat physique.  But what if you don't know how to cook?  Or just aren't used to spending time on cooking?  Or have had so many well-meaning but bossy people telling you what to eat for years?  Or if the idea of "eat clean" triggers you to attempt to survive on nothing but celery sticks and fat-free cottage cheese until your body rebounds from this level of starvation by inciting a pasta and ice cream binge on day 6?  Perhaps, instead, you might consider eating intuitively to give your body sustaining, nourishing food that is also satisfying to you and your personal hunger levels.
5) Eat smaller portions of what, everything?  So I bowl of pudding the size of my palm?  A slab of sashimi the size of my palm?  A block of cheddar the size of my palm?  An apple the size of my palm?  You get the idea.  Of course, if it's only one palm, do I then get to eat every two hours in order to get enough calories to actually sustain my energy needs?  Smaller portions may trick your brain to eat less in the short term, but studies show that calories will be made up throughout the day.

Unfortunately, you just can't transform your body in 30 days.  (Except in the case where I'm being facetious; when people ask how they can lose weight fast, I tell them to deliver a baby or amputate a limb.)  And having visible abs is often a case of genetics.  Or genetics + low body fat.

Kat Whitfield has a much better idea of how realistic a 30 day challenge will be.

So, if my friend wants to complete a 30-day challenge to see how much she can advance during the month of June, I have a fiendish plan to put together something realistic and sensible for her.  Something she'll actually be able to complete, instead of dropping out halfway through because injury is a terrific de-motivator.  It'll be more than just exercises, though.  I'm planning to include lots of whimsy.

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