Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Apple A Day Keeps Fitness Boredom At Bay

There are very few websites out there in the sports world that really resonate with everything I'm aiming for in health and fitness. I want to eat very nutritiously, have a healthy level of body fat (not high, but not anorexically low), and I want my body to be able to do a wide variety of things: have reasonable strength, speed, dexterity, endurance, and the ability to do what I want it to do more or less on the spur of the moment (wanna go climb a mountain this weekend? play a game of sand doubles volleyball? attend a serious martial arts seminar? yes!).

Most triathlon websites are too endurance-focused. There you'll find people worrying about trading off strength and muscle tone for the few extra pounds on their frame. That's great if you're going to be a world champion in your sport, but for the age group athlete, I don't think it's a good trade-off in the long-term health and fitness sense. You'll read about overcoming achilles problems, knee problems, plantar fasciitis, and other endurance-based overtraining injuries. I'd rather not get these injuries to start with. So while I do find a lot of great training info, fun people, and support in the triathlon world, I can't depend on it for a well-rounded approach.

Way over on the other end of the spectrum is the Crossfit camp, along with P90X and other bootcamp-style workouts, and Crossfit Endurance. Stressing high intensity,short duration workouts, practitioners of these systems have no problem crowing about "drinking the koolaid" and to tell the truth often become cultish in their devotion to the system itself. My problem again is the lack of balance. These approaches are lacking in an ability to develop true endurance, as largely lackluster performance in endurance-based events by participants shows. Even at the Crossfit Games, the event that supposedly crowns the "World's Fittest Man and Woman", the events are mostly over in minutes, with about an hour being the maximum. So endurance clearly doesn't enter into their equation for "World's Fittest".

For myself, I like to take a little bit of everything and mix it up. Some Crossfit, some endurance, some martial arts, some play. In eating, I'm largely Paleo-based right now, sticking to foods that are whole in nature with no grains at all.

So where can an athlete go for a balanced look at what it takes to be truly fit without running 30 miles a week or subjecting yourself to five or six days a week of high intensity pain fests? Where can you get good balanced nutritional advice that is not a quick-fix fad, and talks about feeding the body with real healthy food (not bars, gels, and drink mixes?). I'm finding that Mark's Daily Apple is providing me with consistent food for thought in the areas of moving the body in varied and healthy ways, building a strong core set of muscles without endless situps and crunches, and eating in a natural "primal" human manner. Dubbing his approach "Primal Living", he is the most balanced viewpoint I've found, not to mention non-faddish and well-researched. Go check it out, and I think you'll find that Mark's Daily Apple provides plenty of food for thought!


Anonymous said...

i follow his blog too..and find it to be VERY insightful...

Anonymous said...

I also eat paleo and read Mark's Daily Apple. However, after your comment on Crossfit's cultishnish, I'm surprised that you're not turned off by the very same thing (or worse, IMO) at MDA. If you read the comments, you'll find that a lot of his followers take primal living to the extreme. I find that Robb Wolf has a more "modern-day" approach and is more balanced and scientific.
The recipes at MDA are awesome, though.

Robin said...

I guess I haven't read enough of the comments to notice yet. More just reading the meat of the articles. Still, I find Crossfit extremely useful in many ways, despite some of the prevailing attitudes. And even if the MDA followers may be equally hardcore, I don't think it would detract from the usefulness of the posts. I really like Rob Wolfe's stuff too for sure! Especially as he is not scared to call BS when something doesn't sit right, even if the CF gods disagree.