Tuesday, May 8, 2007

All or Nothing

DISCLAIMER: I do reserve the right to be wrong and to change my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, maybe longer, I taped a 20/20 show because they were going to talk about child molestation by Southern Baptist pastors (a topic for another day). Last night, I got around to watching it and was surprised to find that one of the segments was on Jim Karas and his campaign to ween America from cardiovascular exercise. (OK, I recognize that's a pejorative statement). I had seen most of the Good Morning America segment and wasn't impressed (I'm not the only one). He says that to lose weight, keep it off, and be fully healthy, we should stop doing cardio exercise and switch to his interval strength training routines. With a hot book and equipment.

This morning, while running, that segment kept coming to mind. I do not want to downplay the importance of strength training. I should incorporate strength training into my exercise routine -- without a doubt, I need to do something to ward of the muscle and strength loss that comes (well, OK, goes) with age. But, to eliminate all cardio exercise and sustitute only interval strength training doesn't make sense. One of Karas' arguments is that you don't see happy people in the cardio rooms of gyms but you see happy, toned people in the weight rooms. Cardio is mindless ... interval weight training is ... well, he implies it's fun and mentally stimulating but doesn't say that. Personally, as you know if you've read earlier postings, you know that I totally agree with his assessment of the dreadmill -- give me the outdoors where I'm going somewhere, seeing changing scenery. And, I've done strength training and find absolutely nothing mentally stimulating about it. It's better than the treadmill, maybe, but ....

Of course, on the other hand, if you are following my running log (see the right side of this blog), you'll see that my weight continues to hang around 178-181. To be at the right BMI for my height, I should weigh no more than 174.5. So, the running, by itself, is not getting me there.

But the details of the Cardio-Free Diet are not really what I was thinking about this morning. It seems to me that Mr. Karas' approach is a symbol of current US culture -- all or nothing. Rather than taking a moderate approach -- i.e., the best of both worlds -- we seem to feel compelled to take one or another of polar views on everything. Politics is certainly that way. It's either big business or the poor. Why else, when someone starts talking about how to control illegal immigration, they are accused of being anti-immigration of any kind -- and why must the only options for dealing with illegal immigration be building a fence or totally consequence-free amnesty? Even discussions about religion often boil down to whether one is a fundamentalist or a liberal. In general, it seems that the prevailing attitude is, if you don't completely agree with me, you are completely wrong. Is it really necessary to be in an extreme position on everything?

Well, I didn't solve anything while running (except to strengthen my heart, burn about 800 calories, hopefully raise my good cholesterol, clean out my pores, and get the lead out) but I did have some random thoughts while running. :-)

John 13:34-35A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)

Run well, practice big-heartedness,
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