Let’s pull back the curtain a bit shall we? It’s time to discuss the people who want to control your life. You know the people I’m talking about, the ones who insist on telling you how to eat, how to move, how to live, how to think.
No, I don’t mean your family members!
I’m referring of course to the Fitness Industrial Complex. These are the people peddling an endless stream of new gadgets, diets, and books in the hopes you’ll forget how poorly the last one worked and just buy the new one already. This time will be different!
I’ll let you in on a little secret…you don’t need any of that crap. You just need to be willing to unleash your inner mad scientist.
Fact – Commercial gyms are designed to maximize membership enrollment, not personal fitness.
Your average Globo Gym could not care less about your health as long as you pay your dues. Granted, there are good trainers and fitness professionals out there. However, a commercial gym needs roughly ten times more dues-paying members than their facilities can handle to stay profitable, which means they are actually banking on the fact that most people will rarely use their memberships.
Fact – Commercial food production is optimized for quantity and profit, not quality and nutrition.
Modern agribusiness, especially in the U.S., is highly centralized and geared toward maximizing profits. Any nutritional content contained in the end products is purely coincidental. Even prepackaged meals labeled as “healthy’ are typically high in sodium, hydrogenated oils, or many other chemical ingredients that can’t even be pronounced, much less properly absorbed and used by your body. This industry produces a vast number of products that resemble food, but aren’t actually real food.
Fact – Modern medicine is designed to treat symptoms of illness, not causes of illness.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen medicine trend more and more toward prescriptions for pharmaceuticals to address ailments rather than prescriptions for healthier habits. I don’t really know why this has happened, but I doubt doctors are fully to blame. The modern healthcare consumer is often unwilling to make the lifestyle changes needed to support the body’s natural healing process, preferring instead to take a pill. This attitude is possibly just an extension of the consumption-driven, instant gratification culture we live in.
Fact – The cost of healthcare is continuously going up, never down.
The topic of healthcare, specifically who should pay for healthcare, is a hot issue in the United States. Regardless of your position on this issue, I think it’s clear that a real solution that lowers costs for everyone is not a political reality. For the average person, this means total out of pocket expenses for routine things like doctor visits and medications is only going to go up as time goes on.
These facts add up to a perfect storm of forces that are working against our long term health and fitness.
Sometimes I feel like we’re all part of one giant lab experiment, where the goal is to see how many lies we’ll swallow and how much crap we’ll consume.
The Fitness Industrial Complex manufactures problems in order to sell us manufactured solutions in the form of supplements with fancy names, glossy magazines with Photoshopped models, and little blue pills with worse side effects than the problem they’re supposed to solve. I’m talking about an industry worth $81 billion worldwide, built up around making us believe we need expert advice on how to be healthy and fit.
I say to heck with being a lab rat. I choose to stop being the lab rat and become the scientist instead. I want you to join me by committing to find what works for you as an individual by experimenting on yourself!
I suppose technically that still makes you a lab rat, but least now you’re in control of the experiments!
Fitness isn’t necessarily found in a gym. There’s no one size fits all solution to fitness, everyone is different and you may need to try a few things before you find an activity you can stick with. I like using kettlebells and barbells, but I get that not everyone is interested in them. Don’t worry about getting it wrong, some trial and error may be necessary and starting out on the wrong path is still way better than doing nothing at all. The goal is to find an activity that you like and that suits your interest. The only caveat is that it needs to be strenuous enough to force you to break a good sweat. Gotta get that heart rate up!
Eat foods that are farmed, not manufactured. Fad diets are big right now, with Paleo, Ketogenic, and vegeterian/vegan diets at the top of the list. I know those diets work for a lot of people and that’s great, but I don’t believe the majority of people need to follow some type of strict eating regimen. In my opinion, the keys to a healthy diet are to eat less, move more, and eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Throw out all prepackaged stuff in favor of fresh foods and meals you prepare yourself. Yes, I realize proper food preparation is time consuming, but isn’t your long-term health worth the time investment?
Document everything. You need to track your progress or you’ll never make progress. How will you know how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you started from? Track what you eat, track your activity, track the distance you run (and walk), track the weight you lift. It’s very easy to do these days, there are plenty of free or inexpensive smartphone apps that can do the bulk of the work for you. This information is also useful for those times when you aren’t feeling well, since you’ll have a record you can refer to that may help you pinpoint the causes of your current discomfort.
Healthier choices result in a reduced need for healthcare. One nice side effect of escaping the Fitness Industrial Complex is a reduced need for healthcare. Healthy people have a reduced need for medication and doctor visits, which translates into real savings in terms of money not spent on healthcare. Healthy people make poor profit centers!
You might be waiting for life to settle down or get ‘less busy’ before you take action. Face it, that’s never going to happen. There is no better time than now, and every day you wait is a day you could have made progress but chose not to. Time is the one commodity we can never replace once it’s gone, and we all only get a limited amount. Don’t squander it on frivolity!
Don’t be a lab rat, embrace your inner mad scientist. What are you waiting for? What’s holding you back? Sound off in the comments, let’s get a discussion going.
I'm a software engineer with a full-time job, family, and a desire to stay strong, mobile, and fit. I separate fact from fiction to find the most effective and affordable options for home fitness. If you'd like to build your own home gym, start here.
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