Get over the Time Magazine Article, Seriously

Posted on 10 Jan 2011 15:46

This is an old post of my reaction to the infamous 2009 Time Magazine Article, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin". Even though this has been blogged on by so many others and it is old news I wanted to re-post with a little rewrite because 1) my reaction was quite different than the reaction of the "fitness industry" at large, 2) I think the general reaction says more about the fitness industry than it does about fat loss and 3) it is a good example of the type of disordered priorities that is prevalent in the fat loss world.

So, again, I said "Get over the Time Magazine Article" Why? Because it's beside the point. The fitness industry will not lose a buck because of an article…even in Time. So really, all you fitness professionals can stop being so very precious. Isn't this about helping people and not your own self-concept?

Originally I was content to link a post by Michelle May that aligns with my attitude about the article "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin". She called her post Why I don't care about the Time article... Same with me, you see. I didn't care then and I don't care now.

It's All in the Details?

How about I rename the article? Why Details Won't Make You Thin. Because that is all anybody is arguing. Details. Physiological details quoted from research studies won't make you thin. Hello.

Everybody says that in order to succeed you must make "fitness" a part of your lifestyle. Yet nobody seems to know what the term lifestyle means any more than there can be any clear definition of fitness. Just words. It is just vague psycho-babble. And since there is nowhere else to go they dwell on details.

Which is the problem. Too many people are starting with the details because they are being led to believe this is where perfection lies. Starting with the specific is just so very wrong, folks. You will never see the big picture. Always start with the general before proceeding to the specifics.

Because if you think you can succeed in such a goal as fat loss with compulsively detail-oriented thinking just think about where COMPULSIVE behaviors have gotten you.

Let me be clear here. I am NOT saying that the answer is to start with the big picture and slowly move toward obsessing about tiny details. Obsession is obsession and no matter how long it takes you to arrive there it is still an unhealthy grasping.

I actually just read a post in a "health" blog about dwelling on details the message of which seemed to be "most of you better not be obsessing over details. There are only a few of us purists who can handle it!

Hey, exercise won't make you thin. A hammer won't make you thin. I typed it in and nothing exploded. Tools don't make you thin. It's the work you do with them that produces results. And it is possible to do good work with the latest computer driven woodworking tools OR the most primitive chisel as long as you know how to use the tool…and you have a steady vision of that which you wish to accomplish.

Getting upset because someone insults the brand of tool you use is silly. Can they question the results you get? That is the real question. And despite the all-fired vehemence of the "industry" over this article, there are thousands of plodders trying to work off a few hundred calories here or there that really should be honing in their diet and they really WOULD get better results - and more healthful ones - if they did so.

Exercise can be one key to long-term body weight maintenance. Exercise can be the key to long-term failure to maintain healthy body weight.

But if anyone thinks that a Time magazine article is going to empty out the mile-long row of treadmills at the local YMCA then I ask, where have you been? And while it is true that exercise, in and of itself, can improve health outcomes without weight loss, obesity is still a force to be reckoned with.

Instead of getting defensive perhaps the fitness industry should be asking why there is a mile long row of treadmills at the local YMCA and why there are people obsessively pounding away on them in the face of NO results. Perhaps the fitness industry should worry about its clients and not about itself.

I have developed a rule that I use every day. I simply ask myself a question and answer it as honestly as I can. With no judgment. I just look at it and give the first natural answer that comes.

"Did the things I accomplished today have more value to others than they did to me?"

That is what I want to make happen. I don't ask myself that because I think it is a moral obligation or because it "sets me above". I ask myself that because that will mean that I do MORE rather than less. Self-profit means that we seek to do that which is most expedient. It's a cost-benefit analysis. That one simple rule guarantees that I do not seek the expedient route and thus what I do has more value in general, including to myself. But I am not as interested in building a career as I am in growing a human being. As long as I do that, why should I care about a Time magazine article?

When the fitness industry gets all upset about an article in a magazine that they feel differs or contradicts them, from my perspective, it seems as if they are operating under the delusion that people care, ultimately about their knowledge of science or obscure physiological facts. Their self-perception about their "knowledge" is a big part of their self-concept. Threaten someone's self-concept and you will get piss and vinegar every time.

Many people will listen to you based on their perception of your knowledge base. For a while at least until that knowledge fails them.

Knowledge in that way is a double-edged sword because in today's fitness world many individuals use knowledge before experience. And many more use data dumps as a smokescreen to cover a lack of many of the essential components that separate a person with knowledge from a person with the capacity to genuinely make a difference in another person's life.

On the other hand, others dwell on experience and undermine the importance of knowledge.

There would not be a question of the relative value of each if the fitness industry instead focused on THE most important part of the equation. How much you care.

In the end, what keeps people coming back to you is showing them that you give a shit. That it is not about YOU. It just so happens that giving a shit is what helps us thrust ego aside and become better at what we do. More knowledgeable, more reasonable, more experienced, and more successful. And when I say successful, I mean making a difference in people lives, not selling the most product. If you can do both those things successfully, then more power to you. But if your number one priority isn't to help others, then you are in the wrong field.

This page created 10 Jan 2011 15:46
Last updated 19 Mar 2018 21:38

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