Tuesday, May 03, 2005

When Excercise feels like Excorcism

My Friends, Mr Paulius is not a happy bunny today.

My wife and I went to buy our bikes. We were pleased, I'm now the owner of a 27 speed, front and back suspension mountain bike. To fulfil my need for gadgets I even bought a bike computer (Speedo, calories burned, distance travelled etc.)

So why am I less than happy?

Well, we noticed that the bikes had a sign on the front showing "Free Assembly!". I asked the sales assistant (who appeared to be some sort of shaved monkey with learning difficulties) how long they would take to be assembled. After a 20 minute wait when he ran to ask his manager (Think the spotty 16 year old from "The Simpsons"), we were told we could simply take the bikes off the rack, wheel them to the front of the store, pay and off we go. Pre-assembled, no waiting!

Again we were pleased.

The minor fly in the ointment came when the wife and I went on a short ride to try them out. Her back wheel squealed like a stuck pig every time she braked. Her's was the 'minor' problem.

My problem was my bike was stuck in the highest gear in the back wheel. I'm not the lightest person in the world, so I had to put every bit of my weight on the pedal to get going. Not a problem, I told myself, gears just need a little adjustment, I can do that when I get home.

It ceased to be funny when the handlebars came off in my hand when I was doing 20mph.

Apparently, 'assembled' at Walmart means "We put it together so it looks good on the rack, but it's not assembled as to be actually road worthy. Most of the nuts and bolts on the thing will be tightened finger tight at best."

Also the gears are turning into a nightmare. I spent an hour and a half trying to adjust them, but I still don't have gears 1, 2 or 3. I almost wished I'd actually been hurt...America is that land of the personal injury claim. I could be a millionaire right now if I'd only allowed my face to hit the tarmac instead of my hands. Oh well.

Anyway, the way the bike had been put together wasn't my number one problem. My number one problem was discovering undeniable proof of my fitness level.

I remember being a kid and riding for miles without so much as getting out of breath. Today, at the one mile mark, my legs where on fire, my lungs had imploded and I'd started to hallucinate. The pink bunny rabbits weren't friendly, either.

Not good.

Oh well, that's the reason we bought them, to get back into shape, and riding a bike is a lot more fun than walking.

It made me think though. Health these days has become multi billion dollar business, yet rather than get a gym membership, a treadmill or some other traditional and proven excercise equipment, people are buying more and more faddy equipment and starting ridiculous diets. My current favourite is a device you put on your stomach, and 50 LED's flash different colours on your belly, and that somehow burns fat. For those of you who don't know, LED's or 'Light emitting diodes' are basically no-heat light bulbs. Look at your monitor, see the little green light that shows it's on? That's an LED, exactly the same thing as on the front of your speakers, computer, tv, etc.

Who knew? LED's have been around for decades, who knew if you made them flash red and blue they'd magically burn fat?

I'm not lying here, one late night infomercial over here is selling a system for over $300, apparently it lets you 'Map your biological fat retaining hotspots" and gives you an eating plan, guaranteed to make you lose 50lbs in 6 weeks.
It's not sounding too unbeleiveable yet, is it? After all, if the eating plan is zero fat, it's unlikely you'd lose 50lbs in 6 weeks, but it's plausable.

The problem is that the diet promises you'll be able to eat more and excercise less!

Sound to good to be true? Well...yes, obviously. The other point is that if you eat more and excercise less, unless you're living on an exclusive diet of celery, it's just not possible.

The funniest part of the infomercial however was the disclaimer across the bottom of the screen. Here in the USA, false advertising is a major crime, for example, there's a disclaimer for Red Bull that says "This beverage will not give you actual wings or enable you to fly."

The disclaimer on the diet plan advert actually said, in microscopic letters for about 5 seconds:

"Professional Actors. Events may be fictional, Non-typical results. Your results will vary."

Is it me or does that say that the people currently on my screen telling me what a great, foolproof, guaranteed-to-work system this is, are lying through their teeth, everything is made up, the results they're showing aren't normal for this system, and my results will, not may, vary?

Yep, that's exactly what they're saying, yet these things are flying out of the door.

We live in a time now where people think reading a book or watching a video will make them lose weight. Everyone wants to be slimmer, or at least more 'toned', yet we seem unable to take the actual steps necessary to make this happen. Products have been out for years in the "Lose weight while you sleep!" variety. We know they don't work, but we buy them over and over. It's all about the latest diet, the latest machine, the latest fad. Not only have advertisers mastered lying to us, we seem to have mastered lying to ourselves. We beleive what we want to beleive, not what we know to be true.

I'm now going to give you the secret to losing weight. I'm giving you this for free, and it's so simple that it doesn't need to take up a whole book and collection of videos:

"If you take in more energy than you expend, you will gain weight. If you take in less energy than you expend, you'll lose weight. If you take in the same amount of energy you expend, your weight will stay the same." In other words, eat healthily and excercise and you'll be healthier and lose weight.

It's simple, a fact and the reason why fad "eat cheeseburgers 'til you burst" diets don't work. However, if the answer is so simple, why do weight problems exist at all?

Because the above solution takes work, makes you eat what's good for you, not necessarily what you like to eat, and places the blame for weight gain squarely on your own shoulders. That's another major marketing technique. The infomercials tell you weight gain is not your fault. The fault is with a particular hormone/body chemistry type/metabolism. I do know that there are some disorders that cause you to gain weight, but these don't apply to 99% of the population.

Wow! So eating right and excercising is the answer. Who knew?

That may seem like a joke because it's so obvious but we, as a people, manage to ignore and avoid any fact we don't particularly like.

Take the film and book "Supersize me." That was a sensational movie, and got world-wide press coverage, it was discussed on chat shows and was a major event. Something that sensational must be telling us something new. Something we haven't heard before that must shake our belief system to it's very core.

So what exactly was "Supersize Me"'s amazing, earth shattering discovery?

If you eat nothing but fast food and don't excercise, you'll get fat and your health will suffer.

No! Really? Fatty food makes you fat? Sitting on my ass every day won't give me a body like an action hero? Why didn't anyone tell me? I've been sitting here on my recliner for 6 months straight, eating nothing but cheese! I just thought the TV and Cheddar diet would just take a while to 'kick in'!

It's common sense people!

However, a question I've been asked before on this topic is: "How do you explain all the doctors and clinical trials? They have scientific evidence that their products work! How do you answer that?"

Simple! Junk science.

It's possible to put a spin on anything and make it sound attractive, or do a study that shows a perfectly good practical system or product is damaging to you health.

Don't beleive me? Let me try to convince you:

There is a chemical in production as we speak that has the following effects:

1) Can kill you if inhaled.
2) In its gaseous state can badly burn you on contact.
3) Is a major component in acid rain
4) Reduces the effectiveness of vehicle brakes
5) Results in thousands of deaths worldwide every day.
6) Recently killed thousands in a single day.

Here's the bad news people. This chemical is in your home right now! If I asked you to sign a petition to ban this chemical, would you?

If you answered yes, congratulations, you've just banned water.

Everything I've just said about water is true. Breathing in water will kill you, steam will burn you, the tidal wave caused by the tsunami killed thousands. How can you accept something so dangerous? Because you have half a brain.

This is the 'science' that backs up every fad product available today. The same science the KKK use to 'prove' non-whites are inferior, the same science that Hitler used to prove that the Jewish race had to be wiped out.

Junk science is the backbone of the fad diet. Don't be fooled. Use common sense.

So, if you're like me, and want to get in shape...go for a run, buy a bike or treadmill, and cut back on the fried food. Don't fall for the latest fad. If something seems to good to be true, it usually is.

In closing, buy a cat. Chasing the bugger down after it crapped in your shoes is excellent excercise


Vada said...


What's so wrong with being a bit fluffy anyway? Stick people HURT you when they hug you!!!

Healthy- thats what we should be- just healthy.


Wonderwall said...

Lol! I'm just sitting here laughing at the screen... while partisan fellow workers throw me suspicious glances...

Love your blog.
Do visit mine

serendipity said...

You just keep getting better. I am a total victim of all fads in an effort to shift pounds...what you wrote made me laugh at loud at the sheer stupidity of myself and others!