One of the hottest and trendiest fitness fads now is P90X, a 90-day program with a hook that its varied exercises will "confuse your muscles" and stop them from becoming complacent and allowing your fitness level to plateau.
This represents your muscle on one of those "other plans."
Does it work? Of course it works. If you're working out strenuously for 60 to 90 minutes every day for 90 days straight while sticking to a strict diet, of course you are going to get more fit. How could you not?
But the same can be said for countless other fitness plans. The "muscle confusion" bit that supposedly makes P90X unique is just a marketing phrase -- one that's absolutely necessary to the whole business model as it explains why, in this world of hundreds of fitness programs, you need their exact program and not someone else's. It's like Chevron reminding you that they have "Techron" in their gasoline, except I think Techron actually does something.
I believe it makes your cars come alive.
But no, muscles are not people, and they don't get bored. If you're squatting 40 pounds (yes that's me, I'm a weakling) for three sets of 15 reps every single time, then sure, they'll become accustomed to that exact exercise and you'll stop seeing gains after a while. But all you have to do to fix that is lift more weight or change the number of reps or sets, as seen in every single workout program ever. To your muscles, that's new and exciting enough. You don't have to do an entirely different new kind of squat to entertain/shock your jaded muscles. They're muscles, not the Internet.
You don't need to show your muscles 2girls1cup.
And make no mistake: If you have the time, energy and motivation for P90X, you can get ripped on any plan. You're talking about workouts that are 60 to 90 minutes, every day, not counting the time you'd put into setting up, getting dressed, putting things away, as well as accounting for some rest time afterward where you won't be too productive, considering how strenuous the workouts are. If you want to stick to the meal plan, you'd have to put time into preparing the food, which could cost up to $400 of groceries a week, according to some who've tried it.
You might also want to account for time making spreadsheets.
In other words, the magic of P90X isn't "muscle confusion" or any other revolutionary discovery in how your body works. It's that it's specifically for people who are willing to put huge chunks of their life and cash aside to devote to nothing but getting fit. If you are one of those people, you've pretty much already got it made.
Snack cravings are any diet's natural enemy, and every good weight-loss plan has to have a method for dealing with them.
If you like eating those things, then good for you, you weirdo! I don't, probably because I'm a spoiled, lazy American who grew up on processed foods. But we can't undo the past, and it is how it is. Fruit and celery are like medicine to me. Eating them feels like work, like something unpleasant you do because it's good for you. It doesn't feel like I'm satisfying a craving, it actually feels like I'm doing a chore and I want a treat even more badly afterward, for having endured the fruit.
The end result is, I probably eat even more chips than I would have.
This is if I had to eat a broccoli rabe salad.
And that's my problem; it misunderstands what snacks do for you. This advice depends on the assumption that everyone would psychologically accept the celery as a treat when they crave treats. The dirty truth is that sometimes when people want chips, they want goddamn chips. I don't want no carrot sticks or lightly salted fat-free popcorn.
And if that's you, the best way I've found to deal with it is to eat some chips -- carefully controlled amount of chips. I usually go with a small bag of Pop Chips, which is 100 calories. It's not healthy or nutritional in any way, but at least this way I can limit the damage and get on with my day instead of becoming frustrated with a shitty apple and diving into a big bag of greasy kettle chips afterward.
Relax! They're eating chips made out of ... paper. Really.
And if you actually enjoy healthy snacks, well, how did you even get fat in the first place? Why are you even reading this? I hate you.
If you make the rounds of health websites or actually read your mom's email forwards before deleting them, you'll probably have been told that you need to be drinking at least eight cups of water a day, even if you are not thirsty and have a hard time getting it down.
Just chug that shit.
As common sense might tell you, though, no, you do not need to force feed yourself water when you're not thirsty in order to be healthy. As Scientific American reports the whole idea seems to stem from a misunderstanding of a 1945 study which recommended that amount of water for the average person. What researchers in that study understood, and people parroting their conclusions don't, is that unless your diet consists wholly of dehydrated biscuits, food also contains water.
Or unless you are an astronaut.
Steak, pasta, fruit (bleh), bread, haggis, live bats, you name it -- most of what you eat has water in it. They were recommending eight cups total, not eight cups of pure water in addition to your fairly waterlogged food.
The other claim is that drinking water (especially cold water) helps you lose weight, saying that "cold water is absorbed more quickly into the system," or that it burns calories somehow. This is bullshit. Drinking eight cups (64 ounces) of ice cold water would burn 70 calories total. Congratulations, you can now eat half a banana more.
Mmm, totally worth drinking a half-gallon of ice water for.
People also claim that water can fill you up so you won't be as hungry. Actually, thirst and hunger are separate systems, and studies have shown that drinking water before or during a meal doesn't affect appetite at all. You know what can fill you up though? Water-filled foods. So have some pasta salad or grapes instead of forcing water down your throat. But, you know, it's your choice whether you want to feel full or just go to the bathroom 10 times a day.
Seriously, it is your choice. Because like I've said, there is no one-size-fits-all fitness panacea. And if you're a frequent peeing fetishist who finds a bathroom trip a welcome reward for eating a lunchtime salad, then more power to you, you sicko.
For more from Christina, check out 5 Reasons Riding a Bike Is The Most Humiliating Exercise and 5 Weight Loss Tips for Cynical Bastards.