Decoding “Fitspeak”

When was the last time you logged onto Twitter or Instagram and didn’t see a #gymflow mirror pic? While scanning tabloid headlines, like “Kourtney Kardashian Drops Baby Weight Thanks to Edamame Detox,” do you feel a surge of confusion followed by resentment that she thought of it first? (Whatever the HELL an edamame detox even is).

Upon hearing the word “tabata,” would you picture a hibachi grill rather than an exercise regimen? Have you given up trying to decipher what Gwyneth Paltrow means by “organic avenue,” or why anyone cares?

Like…whoever came up with this stuff must take pleasure in your befuddled brain.

Would somebody just write you a damn manual already?!

Ever since pop culture and social media outlets hopped on this new “Eat Clean Train Dirty” bandwagon, our society has begun to develop a new language. I call it “Fitspeak.”

The sophisticated-sounding terminology thrown around by magazines, celebs, personal trainers, and self-proclaimed weight loss gurus. Yup, that’s Fitspeak. I’m sure you’ve heard it used. But who, among us, can call themselves fluent?

These days, the concepts of health and fitness are less about lifestyle choices and more about trendiness. And here’s my personal take on that shift: with all these fads-of-the-moment popping up every time a new “Dr. Oz” episode airs, there’s no differentiating between them. If you can sneak “clean eats” into a conversation, you might as well be a registered dietitian. But is the average person even aware of what clean eating entails? Probably not. (I had to research…just sayin’).

So, we follow the trends and adopt the lingo. But we’re missing 1 crucial link: how those fancy words can be applied to the upkeep of our bodies. We’ve lost our knowledge and, therefore, our power. But, ladies, that ends now. The more we study Fitspeak, the more we’ll understand the difference between passing fads and nutritional values. The more we’ll know about our own wellbeing.

Right. Let’s get cracking the Fitspeak code!


Nutrition:

1. Paleo Diet: Shorthand for “paleolithic,” the idea behind this dietary plan is that if our Stone Age ancestors didn’t ingest certain foods, we shouldn’t touch them either. The paleo diet consists of lean meats and protein, high-fiber-low-starch fruits and veggies, and omega-3 oils or other unsaturated fats. That means no processed foods (refined sugars or saturated fats), grains, legumes, and most carbohydrates. Basically, expect to eat like a hunter-gatherer.

2. Gluten-Free Diet: Initially used to treat celiac disease, the idea behind this dietary plan is that avoiding gluten (a protein found in some grains) will reduce inflammation of the small intestine. The gluten-free diet consists of unprocessed nuts and legumes, eggs, lean meats (without any coating), fruits and veggies, most dairy products, and non-wheat whole grains. That means nothing made with barley, rye, wheat, or triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Basically, make GF flour your new best friend.

3. Vegan Diet: A (reduced carbon footprint) step further than vegetarianism, the idea behind this dietary plan is that any animal part or by-product should not be considered food. The vegan diet consists of fruit and veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and plant-based meat substitutes, such as tofu or tempeh. That means no processed foods, meat of any kind, eggs, honey, and dairy products. Basically, if it comes from a critter, it goes nowhere near your mouth.

4. Juice Diet: Intended for the purpose of cleansing the body from toxins, the idea behind this dietary plan is that replacing meals with organic juices for 1-2 weeks will keep your organs and blood stream in mint condition. The juice diet consists of only blended fruits and veggies. That means…well, nothing else. Except water. Literally. Basically, you better really like those leafy greens. And health professionals suggest proceeding with caution, as the benefits of juicing have yet to be proven.

Exercise:

1. Zumba Workout: Developed by a Colombian choreographer in the ’90s, this fitness program incorporates dancing and aerobics into a fast-paced cardio workout. Zumba combines movements from the following Latin dance genres: samba, salsa, soca, hip-hop, flamenco, chachacha, tango, mambo, and merengue. Some off-shoots also include lunges, squats, and martial arts. Basically, Zumba is hardcore resistance training set to lively ethnic beats.

2. Tabata Workout: Also known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training), this fitness program incorporates a series of 4 minute workout circuits that build muscle and torch excess fat. Tabata combines bursts of extreme aerobic activity and alternating recovery periods. Some regimens target strength training (e.g. push-ups, squats, or sit-ups at varying speeds), and others target cardio (e.g. hard sprints followed by a jog). Basically, welcome to the longest 4 minutes of your life.

3. Hot Yoga Workout: Widely considered the most effective method of improving flexibility, this fitness program incorporates yoga poses performed in 40% humidity. Hot Yoga combines breathing exercises, movements, and meditations, just like traditional yoga. The only difference is an added heat-factor introduced by Bikram practitioners for the purpose of sweating out toxins. Basically, you’ll want a gallon of water at the ready. Or 5 gallons, no biggie.

4. Pure Barre Workout: A fairly recent phenomenon that’s been sweeping the nation, this fitness program incorporates ballet and pilates into an hour of torture with unbelievable results. Pure Barre combines tiny isometric pulses and tucks to tone the entire body, while paying specific attention to the thighs, glutes, arms, and core. This regimen bases its effectiveness on small muscles tiring quickly and, therefore, working harder. Basically, Pure Barre will kick your ass.

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