After fads fade, the simple truth remains
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
Philosopher Marcel Proust’s most quoted dictum is that we should “cherish those who seek after truth. But beware of those who say they have found it.” I’ve always like that one. Repeated it many times.
I think it applies really well to diet and exercise too.
Let’s take dieting. Beginning in the ’80s, it seemed like every day some “expert” came up with a new diet that was THE THING and was going to change the way we eat forever. Oh, there have always been diets but most of them up to that point were simply food restrictive.
Watermelon diet one day, purple diet (only eat things purple) the next. Then came the next wave, all leading up to Adkins and South Beach and now Paleo.
Accompanying every new fad was someone who had finally figured it all out — who had found the dietary truth (and just so happened to be selling a book about it). I’m still waiting for one of those experts to decide that bacon is good for you. I’ll promptly jump on that bandwagon.
What I think we know with relative certainty is that we should minimize fat, sodium, refined sugar and refined flour in our diet. We all should eat more fruits and vegetables and if it comes in a can it doesn’t count. All that other stuff is for book sales.
And then came the exercise experts.
For many years, Ben Plotnicki was a UT professor of physical education that was definitely old school. In his fitness class, he taught us how to jump rope and emphasized getting our heart rate up to a point where we actually got something out of it.
In that era, in the ’70s, if you wanted to get better at a sport, you played that sport. I can remember when I heard that Pete Rose was lifting weights and playing professional baseball. It was definitely radical for the day.
Jack LaLanne was the original exercise guru. But then everybody figured out that you had to exercise like Jack Lalane and wear a jumpsuit to look like Jack LaLanne.
In the late ’70s, along came Jim Fixx and everybody became a distance runner. Only problem was that Fixx died of a heart attack in his 40s. Richard Simmons tried to make America into a spandex-wearing, dancing-as-calisthentics country. Didn’t work and now Simmons is the butt of a lot of jokes.
There’s the one guy on TV that will sell you a video that promises to make you look like him but the guy has had so much plastic surgery that I can’t imagine there are too many people that truly want to look like him. I know I certainly don’t.
I may sound at times like I’ve found the exercise truth (and I sure do talk about biking and CrossFit a lot) but I can tell you that I’m still searching for the best way to exercise. Through generations of exercise guru’s, there has remained only one truth: That there is no substitute for hard work.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)