Seeking Balance: Reply to THE 6 MOST SHOCKINGLY IRRESPONSIBLE “FITSPIRATION” PHOTOS

A friend posted this article (http://reembody.me/2013/09/10/the-6-most-shockingly-irresponsible-fitspiration-photos/) and I felt the need to respond, as there are great points to most of the memes being thrown out as the worst of the worst. I may have even used some of them in past blog posts.

I am not inserting all the photos, check them out and then read here.

First, let’s start out with the author’s cover photo: You are stronger than you think you are. Meaning you can do more than you think you can if you stop letting your mind get in the way. Remember that as we discuss.

#1- The idea of getting angry when you are tired to allow you to push harder is crap because you might overdo it and get hurt. So you should stay inside your preconceived limits and not ever push harder. I particularly loved this line:

“Pushing your body’s limits just because you want bigger biceps is sort of like setting your house on fire because you’re cold.”

Sorry, pal. I don’t want bigger biceps. I want new limits. And getting angry at where I am can be a powerful force in the right direction, provided it is not overused.

#2- this one I agree on. Moving on.

#3- We should not ever confuse dedication with obsession, and if you are being called obsessed, you are obsessed.

Sorry to break it to you, but anyone who is even marginally dedicated to something that lazy people refuse to go after WILL be called obsessed. Dedicated people won’t call you obsessed, they will generally pull you aside and explain that they think you are overtraining and you might make better gains with more food and more rest.

#4- You must never ever have any bad response to what you are doing to your body.

While I will agree that throwing up is a sign of something wrong, throwing in the towel is not always the correct response. There may come a day when you have to complete the task at hand sick, injured, weakened from loss of blood, who knows. Because the world is a rough place and bad things happen. While anything can be taken too far, and pushing that hard EVERY day is not a wise choice, every so often pushing past your limits is needed if you are going to expand your limits.

#5- The fact that they used thin girls with muscle tone invalidates the idea of strong being more important than skinny.

You must consider the target audience to understand the imagery being used. If your target audience is a girl trying to be “skinny” and thinking that lifting will “make her look like a man,” then you want to use models that both fit the skinny-sexy model and have some visible strength. The key is to give them something within the realm that they know, but also lead them in a more strength-based direction. Using the powerlifter (while she is badass and I applaud her) is too far out of the realm of the target audience.

#6- If your mind or body says stop, you need to stop right then.

Going back to the cover photo, if you stop when your mind stops, how can you be stronger than you think you are?

We all have a tendency to stop when we are uncomfortable. We want to stay safe and not go too far. But that means that we will never see what we are truly capable of. Again, this can be taken too far, but what is too far is open to debate.

I will end by telling of a training demonstration used by several police departments, and one that the author doubtless would be truly appalled by.

“Your body contains about 1-1/2 gallons of blood. You can lose roughly a third of that before you lose hydraulics and pass out. Take a half-gallon jug of strawberry milk, dump it out and see how big of a puddle it makes. Quite a big puddle. If you have not made a puddle that big, it is not your body giving out, it is your will.”

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Back to Back: Ottawa Spartan Super and Beast 2014

After competing my first Trifecta last year at Mont St. Marie, I knew I wanted another match against the mountain. I got it in my head to do a Canadian Trifecta this year, and Spartan decided to put the Super and Beast on consecutive days, awesome training for the UB.

Note: I did not get to writing this post as soon after the event as I usually do, so the points made here will be those that stick out in my mind as I look back on it.

Day 1

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The start of the race was typical: rough trails that seemed always to be headed uphill, wall clearing, back down the hill to the rope climb (which I failed) and back up the hill, crossing the barbed wire crawl halfway up.

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At the top of the hill was the 8′ wall, which I completed unassisted (although the course marshall did call me out for “Moderate use of the red blocks”). Back down to the Hoist and something I had never seen before:

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A turning monkey-bar contraption that you had to turn for 10 bars or do burpees. I cut a deal for 2 bars and 24 burpees. Whoever designed this contraption is truly an evil genius.

Back up the hill. Again. What is it with this “up” stuff?

At the top of the hills were the monkey bars, which I was able to get a fellow racer to spot me through.

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Onward through steep trails, stopping in to check on those who had not brought food or water with them and were starting to flag. I commented to one of them, as I shared my M&Ms, that this is about the only place where you can take candy from strangers.

At one of the walls, a pair of ladies were unable to get over and the course marshal was sending them to the side to do burpees. I ran up and helped them over, one of them inadvertently kicking me in the head as she went to get a leg over. She was mortified, but I was laughing about it.

Mountain races have the ability to take a lot out of you, and I am no exception to this point. I made it over the reverse wall on my second attempt, looked forward, and saw the jerry can carry sending us back up the mountain, and stammered out, “Are you F***ing Sh**ing me??!!”

I took a moment, drank, ate, shared with those behind me who were having the same reaction, then STFU’d and went after the jerry cans, Nasty carry, had to stop four or five times on the way up, but was able to do the downhill in one shot.

A couple more obstacles, running some creek bottoms, and suddenly coming out of the brush to see the end:

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Back to the hotel to rest up and fuel up. Super complete.

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Day 2

The first day I had run ahead of my teammates, assuming they would catch up. Day 2 it was agreed that we would move through as a team, regrouping every obstacle to make sure everyone was taken care of. At times it would split into two teams, but we had enough people to make sure everyone got through.

We had been told that the Beast course was the same as the super course, with a flat 5k added on to the end. As lies go, there are lies, there are damned lies, and then there is everything we would be told about this course.

The first half was indeed the same as the day before, except for the bonus of teammates at hand. The spinning monkey-bar thing is much easier when teammates are holding you up.

The course changing was almost unnoticed until someone pointed out that we had not gone as much straight uphill the day before. That was a brutal climb, 2 miles of nearly straight up, ending in the atlas carry.

We regrouped at the water station after the atlas carry, and were told you have 10K left to go, that was your last uphill, and there is another water station 2k down the hill. In truth, the water station was 5k, several serious uphills and several obstacles away, and we had much further left to go.

The second half of that race had some interesting touches. Low crawls under barbed wire, in a stream about 3 feet deep. Tractor pull through the edge of a pond. (Also awesome that we hit that just as the rain did.)

We all hit a point of this is stupid, this is STUPID stupid, this is not fun anymore, why the hell are we doing this. I encouraged my teammates (and myself) along by saying that if things are still fun, you are not growing. You have to push through when it is really not fun anymore if you want to become tougher.

We got to the Rig, the signature Canadian obstacle, and decided that we were not, under any circumstances, doing burpees here. We would put one teammate on the others shoulders and carry them through the obstacle, with them just touching the bars/rings/ropes that we were supposed to be hanging from. Ring the bell at the end, put them down, do it again for the next. Screw burpees.

The first half of the team reached the end. Two of us helped a teammate with an injured wrist up the slick wall…

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And onward to glory!

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We waited for the second half of the team, and we saw them when they reached the spear throw. I ran back to encourage them, and one of them mentioned she was unsure about making it up the slick wall, so I jumped back in to run the last stretch home with them, donating burpees to their penalties, and getting some odd looks of “You have the finisher’s medal, why are you back here again?”

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My first double Trifecta, and my first Canadian Trifecta. And while I it’s debatable if I “won” my rematch against the mountain, I pushed harder than I was capable of last year, harder than I thought I could push now.A huge win in my book.

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