Pinterest remains a constant source of fascination for me.
Sometimes I'm not sure if the pins I'm seeing are from companies or from the average user. But regardless, every post on the Health & Fitness board is still about the same as when I posted about it a few months back. The bad fitness ideas are still perpetuated. It's still all about spot reduction, running for fat loss and toning with light weights.
However, I do think I've been seeing more posts about interest in lifting heavier, getting stronger and focusing on health. (Even if the 'focus on health' motivation typically just happen to include fitness models.) I don't have any stats on that but, I suppose you could either call it wishful thinking, intuition or just spending waaaay too much of my time browsing the board in a kind of morbid curiosity.
But sometimes I still need to let off a little steam. In particular, there is this one "beginner's routine" I see pushed around constantly. I'm procrastinating on starting my next book review, so indulge me here. Perhaps you've even seen this article here and there.
What's so bad about it?
Well, first of all it's hosted on PopSugar, one of several emerging websites that don't offer much in the way of quality, but mostly just exist to push out as much content as possible with as many ways to accidentally click on advertisement, sharing and affiliate links as can fit on your screen.
I'm not sure if you caught onto it, but I'm not a fan.
But, let's focus on the routine.
This BEGINNER routine features 5 days a week of 90 minute workouts (more if you include the time to get there, change, warm-up, etc.) and 2 rest days. They emphasize this is for people who are completely new to working out.
Do you remember the first time you tried a completely new activity? Maybe you even remember the first time you tried to workout. You were probably so sore the next day getting off the toilet took a few minutes of preparation. This workout ensures your complete soreness by not only putting you through 80 minutes of working out your first day, but following it up with a 90-minute high-intensity one the very next day!
Not to mention, why are you telling a complete beginner to go to one of the more complex and intense yoga classes in the first place?
Why does the beginner need 4 days a week of cardio, especially if fat loss is the goal?
Why is a beginner being told only to do 10 minutes of either arms or legs followed by a quick 5 minutes of abs for strength training?
This routine ignores reality.
If you're a complete beginner, what are the chances you're counting your calories enough to even know what it would mean to 'cut out 200 calories'?
What are the chances you're going to be ready to just jump into an intense fitness class?
No really FitSugar, what do you mean by 'cut out 200 calories'? Subtract 200 from what?
Does this routine sound enjoyable? Does it sound like something a beginner would be able to stick to long-term?
Is this routine flexible? What are you supposed to do when you are inevitably too sore to go to your intense spin class the day after your hot yoga class and abdominal routine?
Why am I phrasing all of my critiques in question form? Because I want YOU to ask MORE QUESTIONS from EVERYTHING you see!
Here's what I'd like to see:
Sunday: Go for a 5 minute walk and think deeply about your fitness goals. Why do you want to achieve them? What is holding you back? What are your priorities in life?
Monday: Try a total-body strength routine with just your bodyweight. 2 sets of 10 squats, incline push-ups, body rows and glute bridges would be enough.
Tuesday: Try another 5 minute walk. Think about what kinds of activities you enjoy. Did you totally hate that workout yesterday? Why? Did you love it, or feel just meh about it? Why?
Wednesday: Take a couple of minutes in the middle of your workday and just focus on your breathing. 10 deep breaths.
Thursday: Let's go for another walk! What about 10 minutes this time? Think about how you feel while you're walking and how you feel after.
Friday: Even if you totally hated it last time, give that bodyweight routine another go. Take your time and think about how you feel afterwards.
Saturday: Evaluate all you did this past week. Take some time to think about those same questions from Sunday. Did anything change?
That's about it.
Boring as hell to read probably. I'd bet you wouldn't lose a pound. It's not sexy. It's not anything I can sell.
But it is realistic. It is a great start. Hell if you get out the door that first day, I'm ecstatic. Obviously you'd progress week to week. Progress would be slow. But it would be a far more enjoyable and tenacious experience than 5 days a week for 90 minutes while cutting out an arbitrary amount of calories.
Sustainable weight loss is about sustainable changes. If you make a change you can't stick with forever, it may not be worth making at all.