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Just because speedwork, strength training, and other healthy habits are trendy doesn’t mean I have to feel guilty about my lack of trendiness.


You ate five servings of vegetables today. Meanwhile, I ate five servings of tortilla chips.

Oh, you also lifted weights?

And you did speedwork?

You foam-rolled?

You went to yoga?

You avoided high fructose corn syrup, bought all organic foods, and took your multivitamin?



Good for you.

Pat on the back.

And surprise, surprise, I didn’t do any of those things, so now I should feel like a colossal failure, right?

Well, I’ve decided that I don’t.

Keep drinking your green radioactive sludge smoothies, keep flopping around on the ground doing situps, keep lifting weights, keep diligently doing speedwork.

You’ve listened to the fitness magazines. You’ve read the running literature. You’ve scoured all the related blogs. And maybe you’ve got even more street cred because you’ve taken classes and majored in all this stuff, in which case, I am sure many people are impressed by your expertise and dedication to the facts.

My strategy?

I’m banking on the scientists changing their minds in a few years.

I can’t wait for the study that comes out and says, “Five servings of oily tortilla chips found to be more effective high peformance training fuel than vegetables.”

I can’t wait for the running book that comes out and espouses complete abandonment of strength training.

And lord knows, I will relish the day that a fancy scientific investigation finds some fatal flaw in yoga and all you yogaphiles will have to rationalize and justify and feel guilty about your mental and physical clarity amid the ensuing media trainwreck. Oh, that would make me spitefully gleeful!

Surgeon general's warning: this activity poses the risk of you acting on the urge to roundhouse kick your soothing-voiced instructor directly in the mandible.

(If any of these things has already happened, do let me know. I tend to be several years behind the times.)

I’m beginning to realize that there is no point in feeling guilty about my apparent inability to make myself do situps on a regular basis, or do mile repeats at the track, or what have you.

Are we really supposed to do any of that, or do we just think we do because it gets plastered across our corneas every time we find ourselves passing by flashy rows of svelte magazine ladies while we are furtively purchasing a family-sized bag of tortilla chips for immediate consumption?

A lot of these things aren’t imperative to being healthy or being fit to race. They’re just trendy. And we feel validated and great about ourselves for following the rules of whatever is currently in style according to the experts.

On that note, I’m eagerly awaiting the day that my unapplaudable approach of zero strength training, frequent tortilla chip binges, and ambiguous effort-paced speedwork comes into vogue.

Because when it does… for that brief period, I will lord it over all of you while you rush to jump on my tortilla-dominating, anti-strength-training, pretend-speedwork bandwagon just in time for the next trend of health and training advice to filter down from half-baked scientific studies before becoming diluted and taken completely out of context in a ditzy, attractively-fonted two-sentence sound bite juxtaposed against some cutely-attired gym bimbo who looks criminally ecstatic about doing lunges.

(happy fitness models image source)

Now, I realize my mini-temper tantrum against health and fitness trends is childish and the logic is easy to poke holes in. How, exactly, does one choose which trends to defy?

You might ask, “If you’re such a trend-shunner, Cathleen, then what are your thoughts on, say, drinking water? You gonna give that up too, just because it’s popular?”

At which point I will cast you a pitying glance, sigh importantly, and answer, “Now now, don’t be snide. Hydrating appropriately for workouts is a timeless trend. It’s classic. It will never go out of style.

Sort of like pearls, high heels, and dressing like a homeless person.”

(Of those three, I have mastered one.)



P.S. This is all tongue-in-cheek. If strength training, speedwork, yoga, and eating relatively balanced meals by consuming only one serving of tortilla chips at a time (how do you do it?) works for you, I’m all for that. I just want us all to stop feeling guilty if we don’t happen to live flawlessly by those rules.

Because as far as I can tell, those “rules” are only around because they happen to be scientifically trendy right now.

You know, in the same way that it was once scientifically trendy to believe that flame-breathing water monsters occupied the edges of our flat non-planet earth and that lead could be turned into gold.

Are there any commonly accepted health/fitness/training rules that you’re suspicious of?

Which training “trends” do you swear by? Which ones do you ignore?

47 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/21/2010 02:27

    I’m ignoring that entire running barefoot trend. Do. Not. Want. Those vibram things look ridiculous. Running barefoot through these streets is the equivalence of walking through a toilet barefoot. Where do they think all the homeless guys pee?

  2. 11/21/2010 06:43

    well you’re pretty fast for a no-frills runner! you may be onto something with the tortilla chips…

    as for those girls doing lunges – i always wonder how those “shorts” aren’t creeping up their behind and giving them major wedge. ’cause that’s what they would do on me and my colossal rear.

    • 11/27/2010 23:33

      The tortilla chips have been key to my success during long runs. Whenever I eat a huge bag of tortilla chips the night before, I seem to have a great run. Probably something to do with all that sodium… 😉

  3. 11/21/2010 07:04

    Aside from the wondeful entertainment this post provided, it’s filled with important points. I do tend to try certain “trends” if they sound like they may fix a problem I’m having, but I definitely can’t make myself do something just for the “cool quotient” it gives.

    Rules I Follow- speed work, strength train, even though I know I don’t do a correct “program” of it. Drink lots of water. I also run, and rather trendy right now 🙂

    Rules I ignore-I eat a large amount of red meat, chocolate and surely too many processed carbs. I probably also enjoy too much wine and beer. I’ve been seen running in old cotton shirts, and I don’t believe I need to eat organic to be healthy. I don’t do ice baths. I think I’ll quit listing now.

    • 11/27/2010 23:35

      Good point… I guess running is “trendy.” From that perspective, I am totally on top of the trend!

  4. 11/21/2010 07:19

    Oh my god I think I love you a little bit more. ahaha ha ha ha ah ah ah. Particularly since I’m going to make a post later that will go along very nicely with this one. (Mostly about racing this morning…after being blackout drunk on Friday. Whoops.)

    Several other observations/comments:

    * Tortilla chips >>>> veggies, Yoga = boring, strength training = only fun when I go to my turbo pump class full of older gay men.

    *Regarding trends: I refuse to go vegetarian. I won’t do it. There are so many people posting about giving up meat, eating less meat, about how vegetarians get bad raps/no respect blah blah blah. Do these people read health blogs? Where burgers are “splurges” and there are recipes for random odd tofu shit left and right? FUCK THAT. I like red meat. Not all red meat, but I like a good burger. And I can’t fucking tell you how many people – athletes and non athletes a lot – look at me like I just fingerbanged their cat when I tell them that. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH EATING A FUCKING BURGER. And I even buy grass fed beef! And the thing is, I’m all for mixing it up and having meals that don’t have meat in them. I even prefer it sometimes! But my god I am so sick of people trying to make me feel guilty for not being vegetarian.

    Also, chickpeas make me want to puke. Seriously, they taste like dirt.


    Anyhow, you are officially nominated to speak on this topic at ULS. 😉

  5. 11/21/2010 08:50

    hahah. i really wish we lived closer because we are on the same wavelength! for me, the biggest thing that i “feel guilty” about is yoga. i really really REALLY want to like it because i hear how awesome it is but i leave every class angry.

    i’m really into speedwork but i think that’s the only trend i fully embrace. i try to do the stretching / rolling thing and i do when i can but i’m always too lazy to get my butt off the couch to the roller. oops. it’s not that i’m ignoring them per se (Because i do feel good stretching) but i’m lazy. for me, doing “trends” is all about what makes me feel good and happy.

    i don’t think i’ll ever get into the barefoot thing and, unless i win the lottery, i will never buy from whole foods or organic stores. and i HATE it when people tell me that’s the only kind of food i should buy. it’s like ” are you going to pay for that for me? no? then stfu”

  6. 11/21/2010 12:57

    haha wow, i am with you all the way on this one. i like to think i’m an “old school” runner who doesn’t need extraneous crap to make me fast. want to get faster? run. you don’t need fancy clothes, daily yoga, an all-veggie/vegan/gluten free diet, personal trainer, crossfit workout, special barefoot-y shoes etc to be fast.

    i think for some people whose focus is general life health as opposed to racing as fast as possible…these things might be great. if you only run 20 miles a week to stay healthy and loooove yoga and eating vegetarian makes you feel good, go for it. but as far as being fit to race (like you mentioned)…i don’t think it makes one bit of difference. besides, what’s the point of running as many miles as we do to not indulge in a bacon cheeseburger or one two many delicious beers?

    i do make some attempts at speedwork (mainly because i run with a club so it’s pretty much forced upon me haha) and strength training (mostly in the form of straight-up pushups and situps, whatever)…but mostly i just wanna run. 🙂

    • 11/27/2010 23:38

      Same. I do wish I had more dedication to strength training, just because I like the way it makes me feel. But I just have zero motivation for it right now!

  7. Murdoch permalink
    11/21/2010 19:30

    People make running out to be much more complex than it needs to be. Google ‘Bill Rodgers running logs’ for the stuff he did when he ran 2:09:00 in the marathon, no yoga, no cyrosaunas or other stuff like that. Just running a lot day in day out for years. If you can keep the training consistent you’re set. BTW, he also ate pizza with mayonaise.

    I’ve always been a fan of the barefoot running for general foot strength. You don’t need a whole run to do it but I do think it helps toughen them up and I think it feels great.

    • 11/27/2010 23:42

      Hahaha, I remember reading that article with Bill Rodgers eating his mayo pizza. What a guy.

      I really liked my barefoot running on the grass this summer. I’m not about to go run barefoot on the crunchity, slippery snowy ice outside on the road right now though. My feet are gonna get weak again over the winter…

  8. 11/22/2010 03:06

    I try to eat a lot of vegetables because it allows me to have very satisfying bowel movements. That’s my main motivation.

    Happy Monday!

  9. 11/22/2010 05:41

    (i am loving your blog more everyday!). the husband thinks there is some cult type rallying going on among runners all the time. i dont think i disagree with him entirely. i dont have too much patience for fancy-schmancy gadgets generally. but i am thinking there might be something in a garmin and might get one a few months later when i travel. its super hot and humid here all the time but still i dont go nuts with hydration and definitely dont keep in mind the dire warnings various people give about it…

    • 11/27/2010 23:45

      Garmins are intriguing to me as well, although I think I lack the presence of mind to use one without driving myself completely batty. That hydration stuff can be playing with fire if you choose the wrong day to neglect it… I’m right there with you on being a little too cavalier about it!

  10. 11/22/2010 09:50

    I hate those workouts in Self! They are so stupid! None of my clients look happy when I made them do lunges, by the way. Usually they yell at me.

    Secret: I mainly do strength training out of vanity.

  11. 11/22/2010 11:38

    Love it…

    Although I did have a green radioactive sludge smoothie for breakfast yesterday. I felt like it would balance the 10 blueberry muffins, bowl of mini-pretzels, and vodka tonics that comprised my three meals on Saturday and my Cheez Whiz and crackers dinner from Friday night.

    I feel like weight training helps my running, but I’m just too darn lazy to follow through with it unless I’m sitting out from running due to injury. Then the lifting is mainly a sanity thing so I don’t feel quite so slothful.

    • 11/27/2010 23:48

      I would be completely remiss if I didn’t admit that I love smoothies of all kinds and would most likely go nuts over a tasty green homemade smoothie if ever presented with one. Just sayin.’ 🙂

  12. 11/22/2010 11:50

    Guilt is a universal condition, I think, so it doesn’t matter what goes on, there’ll always be something we wish we could do better or weren’t doing.

    Speedwork is something I need. I tried just running a bunch of miles but it didn’t make me faster, so it’s a no-brainer to do the workouts I do. I’ve been lazy with supplemental exercises lately though, the pushups and hip stuff has been ignored for the last 3 weeks and yes, I feel guilty. But since they’re not major to my running performance, I can let it slide a bit.

    If you’re progressing and you’re not doing one of those “extra” things you mention…screw it. Enjoy yourself! It’s just when you get stagnant that you have to think, well maybe if I do X, I’ll get better. Then you’ll want to do it.

    • 11/27/2010 23:52

      “If you’re progressing and you’re not doing one of those “extra” things you mention…screw it. Enjoy yourself! It’s just when you get stagnant that you have to think, well maybe if I do X, I’ll get better. Then you’ll want to do it.”

      This is fantastic. Very eloquently put, and I agree 100% with this sentiment.

  13. 11/22/2010 20:30

    There are extra “things” I’d like to do, but sleep wins out… especially strength training (and plyometrics), but I’ve decided to study this subject a little bit longer before making a commitment.

    I don’t mind the “trend” to minimal shoes (proper shoes, not 5-fingers etc), as I used to do a fair bit of bare-foot training on grass in the old days, and I like the idea of shoes which don’t control the feet.

    I agree with the “trend” that being too flexible (yoga) isn’t great for runners, having read that we runners don’t want to be “absorbing” ground-contact energy with flexible joints/muscles.

    P.S. for me, those two links didn’t work initially — I got an extra http in there.

    • Jim permalink
      11/23/2010 21:05

      I am surprised Flo’s abs do not feature in the BodyRock website

    • 11/27/2010 23:56

      Goodness, this bodyrocktv lady is obsessed with showing off her cleavage! Nothing like breast-enhancing lingerie to get your strength training done.

      I hadn’t thought much about yoga/enhanced flexibility possibly being detrimental to one’s running… interesting thought!

  14. 11/23/2010 07:00

    hehehe, i love this post. i am a yoga, strength-training, green smoothie drop out.

    although i did do lunges for the first time in YEARS the other day. and now my quads hate me….i knew it was a bad idea!

    • 11/27/2010 23:57

      The important detail is, were you or were you not smiling during the lunges?

  15. 11/23/2010 18:04

    i friggin’ love this post!!!

    it’s so true mate, the “expert” opinion is constantly changing. my husband actually read an article that said styrofoam is better for the environment now!! even plastic bags might be the better choice. (shutter.)

    on a side note: my husband recently told me i dress like i’m homeless. so we may/may-not have something in common.

    • 11/27/2010 23:59

      Experts. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. I just Googled the styrofoam issue and am aghast as yet another of my longheld scientific assumptions comes crumbling to the ground!

  16. 11/24/2010 14:42

    hey girlie!!
    hehe it sounds like you described me…minus the blog stalking-ness, I don’t have time for it so I only read the blogs I like! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with chip-loving days, I’m sure you don’t only eat tortilla chips so yes they would be great fuel!! I love my veggies, but they aren’t great fuel so I go the cereal-lovin route!
    I hope you have a great thanksgiving!

  17. 02/15/2011 12:37

    late comment obvs. but you are hilarious! I love your pictures of the scantily-clad lunging women from “Shape” magazine. That mag is awful; it makes me feel so fat and OUT OF shape.

    “Green smoothies after this, ladies?” lol 😀

    • 02/15/2011 13:11

      I can’t tolerate reading those magazines anymore. Every single issue is the same, there isn’t an original thought to be found, each page is saturated with vapid catchphrases like “sizzle fat!” and “the move that keeps your middle little!,”… although, the ungodly degree of glee written across the faces of their fitness models while performing silly exercises does make me laugh!

  18. plainjane permalink
    04/30/2013 21:16

    It is getting rather trendy to rag on something popular for the sake of controversy. I agree you should give it up.

    • plainjane permalink
      04/30/2013 21:18

      For a healthier habit of course 😉

    • 05/01/2013 03:54

      Hm, well, I did write this post 2.5 years ago… so if it’s only “getting rather trendy” now, was I ragging on something popular allegedly “for the sake of controversy” before it was cool?

  19. 07/12/2017 21:06

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