As I was reading the study, it got me thinking. I read a lot. I love articles and blog posts. I love research studies and textbooks, even. There is so much written about health, fitness and nutrition. I'll bet there are a million blogs posted every day. Opinions are everywhere. Stories are everywhere. Advice is everywhere.
It can be hard to wade through all the information. Let's take Tabata as an example.
In 1996, Dr. Tabata tested some Japanese Olympic speed skaters, to determine the difference between hour long aerobic workouts and eight rounds of four minute high intensity exercises on VO2max and anaerobic fitness. The result was the group of research participants that did the high intensity interval workouts improved their VO2max measurement and anaerobic capacity significantly more than the other group.
That's pretty cool. For an Olympic speed skater.
But what does it mean if I want to reverse osteoporosis?
What does it mean if I want to lose weight?
What does it mean if I want to improve muscle mass, improve balance and posture, and boost metabolism?
What does it mean if I want to run a 10k? Or a marathon?
What does it mean if I want to keep my heart and lungs healthy?
What does it mean if I want to get off high blood pressure meds?
What does it mean if I want to heal a lifetime of compulsive eating and distorted body image?
What does it mean if I want to feel better about myself?
There are as many goals as there are humans. We all have a unique path.
When someone asks me what kind of workout is best, I answer with, "What is your goal?" Without that personal information, there really is no straight up answer. It's complicated. There are some basic truths with health and fitness.
We need strength training, especially as we age.
We need aerobic exercise (time in zones 1-2) for cardiovascular health and weight management.
Plant-strong whole food is better for you than processed food.
Water, sleep and stress relief are important.
After these, it gets personal. What is your goal? What do you like? Who are you?
You can develop strength with all kinds of workouts and tools. I have held a yoga pose so long I was shaking and dripping sweat. No weights required. I've used kettle bells, the TRX, Nautilus machines, a BOSU, bands, barbells, medicine balls, and much more. They all have their usefulness. You can develop aerobic fitness by dancing, swimming, walking, running, the elliptical, biking outside, spinning inside, Zumba-ing, and many others. What do you like? What gets you to go? What's safe and effective for you? What gets your heart rate in the zone?
I think what happens, is people get very passionate about what works for them, so they write about it. And they "should" all over their readers. You should do this, and you should definitely do this. I remember a therapist I had once gave me a pin that said, "Don't should on me." It always cracked me up.
The way to write about these things (and read about these things) is to add the oh so very important words, "for me".
Yoga works. Yoga works for me.
Running works. Running works for me.
Running solo works. Running solo works for me.
Running with a group works. Running with a group works for me.
Kettle bells work. Kettle bells work for me.
Hoisting large rocks overhead works. Hoisting large rocks overhead works for me.
What works for you, doesn't necessarily work for me. I love reading about adventures in fitness and figuring it all out. It's a wondrous process of getting clear on goals, understanding limitations, and developing a personal plan that takes all that into account. But I always keep in mind, "Don't should on me." I have issues. I went through grief and loss very young. I had a weight problem, food issues and I was a heavy smoker. Actually, I was an equal opportunity user. Food, cigarettes, drugs, boys on motorcycles. If it made me feel better, sign me up. I was diagnosed with a serious kidney disorder. I'm through menopause. I struggled with my worth for years. And I am very rebellious. Put all that together and what kind of fitness plan pops out? Mine. The one that works for me, for now. I am sure it will evolve, just like I have.
What plan works best? The one that works for you. Haven't found it yet? Haven't put it all together yet? That's quite alright. Keep going. Keep trying new things. Add, add, add. It is much easier to develop a solid fitness plan, or a weight loss plan, with a tool box overflowing with good stuff.
But across the top of that tool box needs to be written a few reminders.
This is mine.
I am doing something here, and I am immune to criticism or judgment about it.
I may not have it all together yet. Who cares.
I will keep going. Left foot, right foot.
I will find what works for me.
I will love myself for me.