Do THIS, not THAT!

Jannine Myers

You’ve probably heard of or seen the book series Eat This, Not That. It’s a great reference for those who want to make healthier food choices but don’t know where to start. It’s fairly obvious that some foods are all about taste and less about nutritional value, so in this case, we can all agree that choosing to “eat this, not that,” is probably good advice for those looking for better options. In other instances however, where sports and training methods are concerned, the best choices are not so discernible.

In a day and age where nothing stays the same for too long, and where today’s trends get left behind by tomorrow’s, we’re frequently forced to consider new training methods, new running shoes, new strength and rehabilitation techniques, and new diets. It’s difficult keeping up with them all, and even more so trying to logically weigh up each of their pros and cons.

I remember reading a blog post some time ago about an ongoing “tit-for-tat” argument between two elite athletes, each a staunch advocate for their choice of sport. The argument had begun with a somewhat damning and public report of a particular style of physical training, and not surprisingly a retaliatory confrontation ensued. The author of the blog post pointed out that all the controversial bantering is unnecessary, and that any type of sport or exercise which promotes greater health and fitness should be celebrated rather than criticized.

I have to agree! Given that more than one third of U.S. adults are obese (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), I think that athletes in general, and collectively, should set the example for the non-exercising population and encourage them to find an enjoyable form of exercise, whatever that may be.

I admit that in the past I have recommended, or not recommended, certain sports or workout routines, based on my own biases and what has worked or not worked for me. The problem though, is that it’s not about me; it’s about the other person and what might might work for him or her. In that respect, I think a more admirable approach to how we view the workout choices of others, is to recognize that their chosen sport or training method keeps them from living sedentary lives.

One thing we athletes all understand, is that we are dedicated to being healthy and active because we love what we do. But like other things in life that people feel strongly about, there are always opposite schools of thought; in the fitness world there will always be people telling you to train this way not that way, or to wear minimalist shoes not support shoes, or to follow a paleo diet not a high-carb diet.

As long as the recommendations are given in a spirit of goodwill, then the recipient can gratefully receive the advice and act on it if they so wish. It’s when a person’s choices are violated by the cutting remarks of someone who insists they know better, that arguments like the one mentioned above spiral out of control. Why can’t athletes, regardless of their leanings towards a preferred choice of sport or type of exercise, simply support one another?

Getting back to the point made earlier: wouldn’t it be better to shift the emphasis from one which reeks of superiority, to one of respect, and then ultimately to one which applauds any type of lifestyle that moves a person towards greater health and fitness?