The 5 Most Annoying Fitness Questions I Get Asked at Parties
It wasn’t so long ago that doctors recommended that people in my age group should just slow down. Incredible as it may seem, in the 1960s the advice was that people over the age of forty should just stop moving and make sure to rest. The belief was that their bodies couldn’t cope with the stress of exercise. The thought of a fortyish professional fighter like Randy Couture had never crossed anyone’s mind.
Being forty-plus and still enjoying exercise can be a strange journey. Many of your friends will have settled into middle-aged spread, with kids, maybe even a divorce (or two) in their history, and a long list of reasons why they don’t get out and get sweaty more often. As a lifelong athletic adventurer my friends are used to me doing some really dumb shit because of my job. But every now and then when I wind up at an occasional social gathering where I don’t know many people, the questions come thick and fast about how and why I do whatever it is I’m currently engaged in.
If you’re like me you often feel like a doctor at a party with everyone coming up and asking for a diagnosis, preventing you from relaxing and just enjoying some much needed time off work. So here’s my list of the things I get asked the most and what I do to deflect the conversation (without just telling people the reason I am doing X is because I’m smarter than them, because that never seems to go down so well).
Question #1: Why Don’t You Eat Bread?
There are two main reasons. First, while there are such things as essential fatty acids and amino acids, there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Used in this sense, the word essential means that without it we die. It may seem hard to believe but you won’t die if you don’t eat bread.
I know that civilizations have been built using bread as a basis. But this isn’t because of anything other than it being cheap and easy to produce. It’s also very calorie dense and if you were building pyramids, or marching long distances, bread would make perfect sense to use an energy source that was light and provided a lot of calories.
But the fact remains that grains are not well digested by humans. As Mark Sisson explained, “While grains represent an easy, cheap source of carbohydrates (that most sedentary people simply don’t need), they also contain ‘anti-nutrients,’ proteins, lectins and other nutritional factors that impair digestion, perforate the intestinal lining, increase inflammation, and can even exacerbate or (possibly) induce auto-immune diseases."
Question #2: Why Don’t You take More Supplements, Bro?
Back when I started lifting weights the only source of information freely available was bodybuilding magazines. Like many young kids I was duped by ads promising me that if I took A, B, and C and trained like the huge guys pictured, then I, too, would grow like a weed and become massive. And then reality dawned on me and I found out that all my heroes used vast quantities of drugs to attain that look. There’s no judgement from me on that, but the reality is that the only things that gives steroid-like effects are steroids. While I do take fish oil and BCAAs, I choose to get the rest of my nutrition from real food. Because the other part of the equation at forty is that getting bigger is not so good for you. More stress on the joints and the heart isn’t what is going to make you feel good at this age.
If you need more information, have a look at these two videos and decide for yourself exactly how much “proprietary blend” you want to swallow from a random company, all in the name of improving your health:
Question #3: Why Do You Train So Much?
I think the real question here is, “Why don’t you?” The human body is an amazing machine, but like most machines it needs to be greased up to perform well. Unlike a machine, though, that grease comes from within us, and is only created by moving. The less you move, the older your body will feel and the stiffer your joints will become.
As an aging guy I see many of my friends give in to being out of shape. One of the things that will definitely keep you feeling young is a passionate relationship with your partner, and believe me when I say that no matter what anyone says physical appeal is a very big part of that, even as you get older. So, if for no other reason, train so that you’re still appealing to your partner.
Question #4: How Do You Eat Such an Extreme Diet?
It’s funny how eating good quality meat along with fresh vegetables and fruit is somehow extreme. I’d suggest that constantly loading up your body with man-made food filled with a list of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce is much more extreme. Have you ever seen the ingredient list on an apple or an egg?
I suggest you try reading this.
Everyone thinks I have no fun when it comes to my own eating, but I’ve just learned this little-known thing called self-restraint. One of the worst things the bodybuilding scene ever taught people was that it was acceptable to have a cheat day. When I do diet work with people, I typically discover they are getting through the equivalent of two weeks’ worth of cheat meals in the first two days of the week. So the idea that they then get to the end of the week and have a deliberate blow-out doesn’t sit well with me. You don’t get a treat because you made it through lunchtime unscathed. You don’t need a drink at the end of every day, and you certainly don’t need a bottle of wine with dinner. Learn that a treat is a once in a while kind of deal, like a birthday. Eat well the rest of the time and you’ll find how unappealing all that stuff is very quickly once your body learns to enjoy real foods with natural flavors.
Question #5: How Do You Train First Thing in the Morning?
You know what the secret is to getting up earlier? Go to bed earlier. And don’t just do it once or twice per week. Actually go to bed early every night. Chances are you’re just staying up late stuffing your face with bad food and slowly killing your brain watching the idiot box anyway.
The human body needs more sleep than what most give it anyway, so even if you’re not getting up to train, your body will still thank you for the earlier bedtime. And believe it or not, you’ll actually lose weight just by going to sleep sooner. There are over two dozen studies that show fewer than eight hours sleep per night leads to weight gain.
But the best bit about training early is that it’s done for the day. It’s rare that someone will schedule a meeting with you at 6:00am. But if you plan to train after work there’s every chance your boss will drop some unexpected assignment on you, or will call you into a meeting - because being over forty means you’ve likely got way more job responsibilities than even a thirty-year-old. But if you get your training done before work, then you’ve done it for the day and now all you need to focus on is eating well throughout the day.
And when all this doesn’t work, and you get hit with that one, final annoying question, it should go like this:
Question: I use a Shake Weight, what do you think of that? (Or insert the name of any other inane exercise form.)
Answer: I don’t know anything about that thing, but I’m happy to show you what I do. Here’s the address I train at, I’ll see you there at 6:00am Monday.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.