“Isn’t that bad for you??”
…is one of the most common questions in the fitness industry. It’s mentioned when talking about diet and exercise. Wheat bread versus white bread. Running versus lifting. Turkey versus beef.
When I started as a Paramedic working in the healthcare industry, I dealt with that concept a lot. At first I liked it. As an athlete and a first responder it was close to my heart and to my profession. Maybe I resonated with the clear boundaries of good and bad. Maybe it was nice to firmly and unequivocally know what’s what. When I was going on a call in the ambulance I was the good guy, and I was on a mission to fix the bad things. I felt like an agent of health and wellness.
As I got more into the field, sleep went out the window, and I spent day after day making the same trips to the hospitals. I saw patients with a multitude of different disease processes. The question of ‘White Bread or Wheat Bread, or Sweet Potato/White Potato’ seemed to be more and more out of touch. When someone has multi-organ system failure, an infection, and diabetes all at once, how can you point a finger at one thing as the cause? When there are multiple variables, levers, and chain reactions in play, how can you identify one choice as the straw that broke the camel’s back? How can you point to something like ‘red meat’ and say, “Red meat is what caused this. You should have had turkey instead of beef all those times at Subway”?
We aren’t considering balance. We aren’t considering that ‘good things’ can still be ‘bad things’. For example, sleep is good right? But sleeping 16hrs a day is a problem (unless you’re a cat…all cats please disregard that statement). Lean meats, vegetables, and nuts and seeds are nutrient rich and tasty…but 8,000 calories/day of those things isn’t right! Exercise is good, but working out for 3hrs to the point of exhaustion every day leads to overtraining, injury, and demotivation.
We aren’t considering that anything pushed to the point of excess and maintained at an unreasonable level (perpetually), can cause upset, disarray, and chaos.
Eventually I moved out of the field of Emergency Medical Response. I saw more opportunity to do what I think can tip the balance the other way. Fitness. Variation. Balance. Coaching.