The Halfway Approach to Fitness

Friday 6 Aug 2004

Recently, I went to a bridal shower for some friends, hosted by some other friends. The social part was fine. The food was unusual, though, because it was almost universally part of the low-carb diet mania: lots of vegetables/salad and sausage, low-carb salad dressing, low-carb chips and dip, low-carb soda, even special low-carb beer. I'd begun to wonder if the very air we breathed there was, in fact, low-carb.

So my girlfriend and I sat at a table with several friends and listened to them talk about how healthy the food was and what progress they'd made. It quickly became apparent that they were all on the South Beach diet. I approve of the diet itself - it's more balanced and sustainable than Atkins and allows plenty of meat, fruits, vegetables, and good fats. What bothered me was how my table-mates were relying on this diet to drop fat and get healthy. Not once did the word "exercise" come up.

I applaud what my friends are doing but I also believe that they're only solving half of the problem. Rather than even consider physical exercise, they looked for the easiest way out. It's been this way for years, and that's why they've had large butts, flabby jiggly arms, and extra chins for years. That's why they've had frequent injuries for years. That's why they've been getting the same bat-to-ball contact on the softball field as I have, for years, but I make it to second or third when they only make it to first, or I can run down a fly ball that they have no hope of catching. To look at it from another perspective, if you want to look great - truly great - for a wedding, you won't do it just by dieting.

They can't break out of their patterns of thought and action. I've tried to set an example, but I always get the excuse "well, you can do that and look like that because you're younger than me." The fallacy of that is, when they first started telling me that, they were _younger_ than I am now. I'm basically being told that because they're always going to be older than me, my results at any given age are always going to have been unattainable for them when they were at that same age. Amazing.

This causes me to question any one person's ability to positively influence others. Even the best, most successful personal trainer can't do a single thing with a client until that person WANTS to change. It has to start there, within that person. All the fuel in the world is useless without a spark.