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Overload principle and social media

Diet and nutrition can make or break any fitness routine. Consult knowledgeable professionals rather than social media while making important health decisions.

With the permeation of social media everywhere, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to sieve truth from hype. Defining truth itself is becoming the biggest challenge of our times. All actions, nay all thoughts, seem to be conceived, nurtured and delivered to address the public spectacle that is social media. Gone are the times when newspapers and the television were our links to the world outside, when information coming with a time lag, and after much thought, at predetermined times was not unnerving or anxiety-inducing.

Today, multimedia devices have become wearable and technology feeding us a constant stream of information. Exciting as it is, social media does bring with it a fair share of drama and mindless confusion. What does this have to do with the approach to lifestyles in general, and fitness in particular? Unfortunately, everything. We are subjected to the lifestyles, diets and fitness regimens of not just the rich and famous, but also of friends, neighbours, acquaintances, and much of unknown humanity, by virtue of the web of interconnection that today’s media sites weave.

The irony of reality is amusing, however. At one end of the spectrum is a chunk of the population that steadfastly believes that walking (read ‘chatting and ambling along’) is the panacea for all health problems. If leisurely sauntering was indeed a solution, we would not be a nation battling disease and obesity at the levels we do. At the other end is a frenzied lot chasing the ‘latest’ without weighing value addition or distinguishing hype from content. Somewhere in between is the confused lot wondering how to go about achieving their health and fitness goals.

Some simple pointers should be kept in mind. Looking and feeling fit are results of good nutrition and fitness practices adopted as long-term, and not ad hoc, measures. Unless you are physically unable to, or have been instructed specifically not to, fitness means more than just taking a walk. If walking is your activity, keep chit chat to the minimum and aim to walk at a speed that makes you feel you are pushing your limits a bit. Increase the pace or distance or both periodically.

Stay with the change till you feel you are beginning to get accustomed and then raise the bar again slightly. The principle is the same for all effective exercising and training: overload and progression.

The overload principle essentially means that the body adapts to the load placed on it. The more you do, the more capable you become of doing.

Progression is further based on the F.I.T.T. principle. One can progress to increasing the workload by addressing frequency, intensity, time (duration) and type of activity, individually and in combination.

Exercise, however, is only part of the bigger picture. Diet and nutrition can make or break any fitness routine. Without the right fuel going in, the body will not deliver optimal results, no matter how ‘new’ the regimen is. The extent of your physical and athletic pursuits, along with your existing health will determine the type of diet needed. It does not have to be necessarily complicated or restrictive. Energy output will essentially dictate energy input. Fat loss is not the only concern from the fitness perspective. It’s a part, not all of it. Obsessive and myopic calorie fixation is not the foundation of a wholesome diet, so any diet focusing simply on calories will be short-lived in eliciting adherence and delivering long-term results.

Supplements are a big grey area. Not everyone needs them and not all supplements are bad. There is so much misinformation regarding types and need of supplements. Be wary of pumping your system with chemicals on loose recommendations. However, do consult a (sports) nutritionist to address deficiencies and specific training requirements. There has to be a scientific approach to gauging your activity level and the need to supplement natural diet. Those into body building are especially prone to indulging themselves, without due diligence.

Vary your exercise patterns to beat plateauing and tweak your eating pattern, but there is no need to go overboard. Whatever your fitness choices, they should be geared towards addressing your weaknesses, making you healthier and helping you look good and fit. The success of any programme depends upon your integrity in executing it. Consult knowledgeable professionals rather than social media while making important life and health decisions. It’s safer and saner. Not everything is as it seems after all.

Vani Pahwa is an exercise and rehab specialist, corporate wellness coach, and foot and gait analyst.


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