Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cardio.. no cardio.. who can say?

I have discovered that the final segment of the ‘current affairs’ program 20/20 is frequently a diet ad dressed up as a piece of journalism. As I’m always interested in any health info that could be new, revolutionary or even just a bloody good laugh, I turn up and hope for the best. Usually I just spend the 15 minutes alternately groaning into my hands and loudly voicing my opinions to whomever might have the misfortune to be within earshot. You’ll never guess what I learned two weeks ago.. it’s amazing. Two doctors discovered that if you take all the junkfood out of your diet and never, never cheat then you will lose weight (O..M..G!). They had case studies to prove it. Every diet must have a unique marketing angle and theirs was that by never cheating, you will miraculously lose all cravings for sugar and other diet saboteurs. The ‘lose your cravings’ line does actually have some merit – just ask anyone on BFL, The Zone, Sugarbusters, Protein Power, South Beach, Low GI or Sonoma Diet (did I miss any? I think I missed at least 10..). Once you start eating right and getting that blood sugar under control then it becomes far easier to resist the seductive call of the chocolate siren (exhibit A, below).However, any diet that demands 100% strict adherence makes me break into a cold sweat and start to chew my lip. What happens if you eat one little thing off plan? That’s it! You’re ‘off’. I’ve evicted from my brain the idea of being ‘off’ my healthy lifestyle. I’m always ‘on’, even if I’m really not doing it so perfectly. Still 'on', just temporarily sucking at it.

Last weeks advertorial was about the amazing, new, revolutionary ‘Cardio Free Diet’. Ok… (deep breaths)…. Once I stopped throwing things at the TV I realised that this guy has taken the idea of focusing on resistance training with less cardio and then he’s just taken it to the extreme in order to create his unique and appealing marketing angle, which is ‘cardio makes you fat’. We should have seen it coming. One of the truly unique things about Body for Life when it ‘arrived’ was that the cardio workouts were only 20 minutes long. It’s an intense 20 minutes to be sure, but it’s so much more doable than the 45 minutes a day of plodding that most of us had been convinced was necessary for fatloss. Since then the 'shorter but more intense' cardio message has been a feature of many excellent training programs like BFFM, Afterburn, Turbulence Training and whatever John Berardi calls his training routine. And now this Jim Karas comes along and says ‘ditch the cardio altogether’… or does he? Maybe it's just a matter of interpretation. I’m going to get my hands on a copy of the book to see exactly what he does suggest for training but on 20/20 they showed a bunch of people doing a workout from the book and one of the things they were doing was boxing with a trainer. I’ve done that, and, maybe I’m just playing with semantics here, but I was puffing and sweating and my heart was pounding… quite a bit as if I’d been doing… yes! Cardio. Then they got into the case studies. Of course there was the obligatory massive weight loss candidate – in this case a woman whom attributed her 120lb weightloss to the Cardio-Free diet. Just as I was about to think ‘impressive’, the voiceover continued ‘…. and because she ditched the cardio and therefore felt less hungry, Shirley was able to stick to her 1200 calorie diet….’. So... 1200 calories a day plus resistance training. That’s a massive calorie deficit. I don’t know how she maintained her sanity but it’s no mystery why she lost the weight. I really shouldn’t go making any harsh judgements until I’ve read the book. If it turns out to be a 1200 calorie diet with circuit training, maybe I’ll just, you know, browse and .. leave it on the shelf. If it has some good recipes however, I could be won over.


  1. No, no....go ahead, make harsh judgements. Bwah-ha-ha-h-ha!!!

    Did you know I never watch current affairs shows because they make me angry and I might just throw something at the TV and bust the damn thing?

  2. Isn't it the most frustrating thing?!!! No wonder there's so much obesity out there..and gaining rapidly...
    I think I'll stick with my 1800 or so calories a day...and I'm with Kek, just can't watch those damn shows... or even those channels for that matter...


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