The hill to be climbed by the average adult, when it comes to starting a fitness program, feels more like an active volcano. It’s not only massive but unforgivingly full of deadly magma.
Not literally of course, but there are so many ways in which the motivated can fall prey to the climb. With no other options, but to hike a rigid path flanked with shame and failure, it’s no wonder most programs are doomed before they start.
But, what if the climb weren’t spewing molten rock? What if there were a route to the top that allowed people to meander instead of hike in a formation? This may be the change we seek from fitness and nutrition.
They may be new movements, but the loosely organized approaches of rational fitness and flexitarian nutrition are signs of that change; especially if you consider the popularity of these two ideas.
First published in May of this year on the blog Refinery 29, Kelsey Miller outlines why and how she conceived of Rational Fitness.
To define what exactly constitutes as rational fitness is almost easier by defining its antithesis, irrational fitness. By Miller’s definition, “Irrational fitness has nothing to do with the benefits of fitness and everything to do with punishment and fear.”
In a world dominated by shameful messaging, with little room for interpretation outside of “the right way” to do everything, it’s understandable why rational fitness is getting attention.
In rational fitness, which is more of a philosophy than a structured program, any effort towards living a more fit life counts, except not with points. Systems of points fall into the other kind of fitness.
If you can’t spend a whole hour at the gym today, but you have fifteen minutes, that counts. Can’t do twenty reps? No problem. It counts. How many can you do? Great. You win.
Rational fitness is more about rewarding practitioners for what they do, not for what they don’t.
The one thing all diets have in common is rules. The irony is not lost on this author. Not one of them rules anything, but they all bring a list of rules which must be followed.
With rules come the inevitable shame for not following them exactly. Not only do diets not work in the long run, but in the short run they are too hard to follow.
Because of this, the flexitarian plan is hardly a diet. It’s more like a nutrition plan, loosely organized but with suggested guidelines. What is it? Those who follow a flexitarian plan adhere to a mostly vegetarian intake but occasionally eat meat.
It was created by a dietitian named Dawn Jackson Blatner. Essentially, nothing is off limits in the Flexitarian plan, but the guidelines suggest skipping meat three to four days of each week to start, working up to five.
In fact, the rules are so soft, any steps made to reduce your meat intake is commendable.
Is this the end of fitness-as-we-know-it? Probably not. Will either of these make you into a fitness model anytime soon? No, but how well was the current plan of nothing working out?
Besides, at the heart of each, neither of these appeals to the would be Adonises of the world. These are fitness plans for the common man or woman.
We are going to put this shame thing to rest soon. Expect history to record that the first shovels dug for its grave to be heard by these two programs.