Round Up, Push Ups and Bananas…Oh My!
Round Up, Push-Ups and Bananas…Oh My!
The ridiculousness of thinking in absolutes
By Lori Friend Moger, M.Sc.
I love science. I really do. It’s part of what draws me to exercise physiology, nutrition, and sport psychology; perhaps the studies and data comfort me in an otherwise seemingly haphazard world. And perhaps that’s why it irritates me when theories, exaggerations and downright lies regarding fitness and food invade my little wellness world. Most of the time, I simply let these over-statements roll off my back. After all, once a person believes something, it’s nearly impossible to convince them otherwise. But this week – I just had to fire back.
It seems we’re spiraling into an “all or nothing” classification system. Oh, I NEVER eat wheat. This is the BEST workout. Sit-ups are BAD. And I’m sittin’ here thinking, what the @#%@? Why must we declare something “great” or “terrible”? Does it sell books? Sound sexier? Does it make whoever is declaring the superlative statement feel superior? Or do we just blindly believe something until proven otherwise, instead of the much wiser (I feel) approach…show me the proof, buddy.
Example #1: Very nice lady sitting beside me on my flight from San Fransisco: “……so, my friend decided to spray her walkway with Round Up. Can you believe THAT! Round Up! And not only that, her grandkids came over the following week, and she let them WALK on it…..”
So, she’s been absorbing the awful media about Monsanto and their killer product, Round Up – and innocently shares her emotion-driven knowledge with a stranger on the plane. But, I actually KNOW about Round Up. My father was an agronomist (plant scientist) his entire career, developing hybrid crops (corn, soybeans, wheat) that would produce more yield, with less work. It’s all farmers’ want, trust me. Now, if you think Round Up is the first herbicide ever sprayed, you’re kidding yourself. And most of those past herbicides were incredibly toxic and took way more product to do the job. Ask the cotton farmers from 40 years ago. By comparison, Round Up is much more benign.
Take away point: Please despise Monsanto for the three right reasons: 1. We are creating a planet covered in plants resistant to Round Up, of which we have no idea the consequences; 2. For their despicable relationships with small farmers world-wide; and 3. Because NO company that deals with the food industry should also be involved in our embarrasing pharmaceutical freak-show. Ever. Growing food AND selling drugs? Wha? Ummm….no.
Example #2: My client with two teenagers in hockey: “So, two of my kids’ fitness trainers have told them that traditional push-ups are BAD for your shoulders.” So of course, in my understated way I reply, “Do you know what else is bad for your joints? Hockey.”
Trainers love to do this. Oh, that’s BAD. This is the BEST. You should NEVER… But are these statements helpful? Or true? The first time I watched a rhythmic gymnastics competition, I sat beside an ex-professional hockey player. We were both kind of thinking the same thing, as the girls pulled their legs to places legs shouldn’t go. “That CANNOT be good for their bodies,” he said. I nodded, but then added, “But, I don’t think she’s going to get a concussion, break her jaw, dislocate her clavicle or fracture her hip. I’m sure she won’t take a puck in the teeth, fist in the face or a slash across the cheek.” I probably rattled off a few more of his life-long injuries just to drive home my point. And to be annoying. He nodded. And rolled his eyes.
Sports are HARD. Training and competing carry a RISK. Do I feel it’s worth it. Of course! I played university volleyball and have the knees to match, but what I gained from sports is far greater than what I sacrificed. And I’m sure my ever-limping hockey friend would agree with me. Which brings us back to push-ups. While I agree that the traditional push-up places more torque in the shoulder joint (than putting hands directly under shoulders), I’m still not convinced that said torque is innately evil. Fixed position exercises (like bench press, barbell curls, and yes, push-ups) create more wear in the joint, since the movement is somewhat pre-determined, unlike their “open chain” counterparts like cable chest press and dumbbell curls, which allow the joint free movement.
However! (I know, there’s always a however). Using “closed chain” exercises as part of a fitness routine, especially for those with healthy joints, is FINE. Helpful even. I mean, when a hockey player pushes off the ice after being knocked down, do they thoughtfully place their hands under their shoulders before getting back up? And don’t forget about the position for the all-important cross-check…
Statement from a blogger: “I finally got really healthy by giving up alcohol, sugar and bananas.”
No, it’s true. This may not be the exact wording…I was crying (from laughter or weeping uncontrollably, I don’t recall) and lost the page. What is with the banana hate? I’ve even had someone comment on my bananas in the grocery store. “Do you KNOW the glycemic index of bananas? I thought you were a trainer?” Ugh. Really? Bananas?
This deserves only the briefest of comments. It’s a stupid statement, but even more important, I’m getting a wrist cramp. If you’re like most people trying to “get healthier”, than most of your energy may actually go into “losing weight”. Am I right? And this leads one to obsess about glycemic indexes, carb conversions, cleansing potions…none of which have been proven to make you “healthier”. People! Thin does not equal healthy. Moderate exercise, eating a variety of colorful foods in appropriate amounts and de-stressing make you healthy. And a 90-calorie banana certainly won’t make you fat. Lying around and eating too many total calories make you fat. Period. Losing weight is a SYMPTOM of a healthy mind, body, spirit…and if you think bananas are standing in your way, you’ve got bigger problems than Del Monte.
So, are you a little less afraid of the WORSTS, NEVERS and HORRIFYINGS? Me too. Would you do me a solid, and the next time someone starts declaring anything “absolute”, tell him to STOP and give you 10 push-ups! I think we’ll all be safer if we just nip that crap in the bud. Thanks. But perhaps I’ll still slide my bananas to the bottom of my shopping cart, just in case.
Lori Friend Moger, M.Sc. is a writer, speaker and Kinesiologist. She is co-founder of No Finish Line Living, a wellness company providing keynotes, seminars and retreats with the sole purpose of pushing people into their best lives possible. For more information, visit us at www.nofinishlineliving.com.