Saying goodbye to the health trends of 2011

By John Taylor | Dec 27, 2011

With 2012 quickly approaching, many people are looking back and assessing what they did over the last year to improve their lives. If you are like me, you are also examining what you did to improve your overall wellness through diet and exercise.
Like most years, 2011 saw a few new fitness and diet trends become prominent in the marketplace. So as a way of looking back on the past year, let John T. take you down memory lane & revisit some of the movements that we learned about in the last 12 months.

A New Food Pyramid
The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled its recommendations for the new Food Plate, a replacement to the food pyramid that has been taught to school children for multiple generations. The new diagram is color coded to give individuals a visual representation regarding how much space each food group should take up on your plate (take notice of how much room that sweets and candy take up).
Keep in mind that the Food Plate is still a recommendation, not a policy. This version of these food recommendations is probably still going to change a few more times before it comes a national policy, evident by other advocacy groups chiming in on ways to improve the plate’s appearance. Heck, Harvard University researchers released their own plate because the USDA’s version did not provide guidelines on what foods are considered healthy within each group.

Gluten-Free Diet
Keep in mind that gluten is a simple protein that is found in grains such as wheat and barley. Though some people swear about the positive weight loss effects they obtain from going gluten-free, preliminary research indicates that many people who subscribe to this diet actually gain weight due to many gluten-free products possessing a higher calorie density. Mmm…sounds like the Adkins folks may have lost some steam in the marketplace, and came up with a similar diet with a different name. Poor gluten…..being made out to be a bad guy.

The Paleo Diet
Those who subscribe to this diet are….well, cavemen. That’s right, cavemen. And no, I’m not being paid by the good folks at Geico to say that. See, this diet calls for people to strictly eat a diet of meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The idea behind this food plan is that our prehistoric ancestors were not overweight, and a big reason why they were more fit was due to their diet. Perhaps this is true, but I would also think that the hunter-and-gatherer nature of our ancestors kept them active throughout the day. As a result, how could a caveman possibly be overweight? I would bet that if I subscribed to a diet where I ate high-fat meats and nuts (yes, nuts are high in fat) throughout the day without exercise, I would resemble a red-headed version of George Costanza.

Feet-Shaped Shoes
Over the last year, Adidas came out with a new shoe that was shaped like the human foot. Adidas claims that the adiPure line of footwear is medically proven to decrease back and joint pain that some people experience with movement, because it allows users to walk like early man, thus allowing our bodies to travel the way humans were intended to.
Well, let’s throw out the medically proven advertising. We all know that in order for a study to be proven, multiple investigations need to be performed over a 15-20 year period (hence why prescriptions take so long to get on the market). However, since long-term scientific research doesn’t exist on the usefulness of these shoes, I can’t say if they are effective. I will say this though: of the people I know who have worn adiPure shoes, I always hear positive feedback and have yet to hear of complaints of ankle instability or foot pain.  

CrossFit
If you haven’t heard of this new workout craze, CrossFit is a strength and muscular conditioning regimen that combines weightlifting, plyometrics and full body dynamic movements. While many fitness goers swear that CrossFit helps improve their speed and agility, CrossFit has not been shown to improve muscular strength and cardiovascular conditioning at the same rates as focused routines (i.e. if you want to improve your bench press, you should perform a bench press regimen; if you want to improve your timed mile, go run enough miles to see a positive change).
There are Crossfit gyms opening up throughout the United States, and you can easily find CrossFit workouts online that can be done from home (if you have 100-pound tires and a sledgehammer lying around).  However, if you aren’t confident in your lifting form, you may want to try a class first before doing the CrossFit plan at home.
Like most new fitness crazes, many of these will probably die down in the next year to make room for the new products and routines for 2012. After all, did anybody think that the Thighmaster was going to last? Didn’t the “8 Minute Abs” video have a good run? How about the Reebok Pumps that promised higher vertical jumps when you manually added air into your shoe.
Regardless if you try one of these new trends or not, just keep one thing in mind. Any movement is a good movement. If you want to see improvements in your weight loss and fitness levels, working out in your fat burning and target heart rate zones for at least 30 minutes is ideal, but you will see significant health benefits just from walking around every day.
Four Pisgah cheerleaders named All-Region

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