The Exercise Debate That Needs To End NOW

The Exercise Debate That Needs To End NOW

The joke is, there's no right answer.

There is a war going on in the fitness industry currently and that is the debate of cardio versus weight lifting. People are so dead-set on one being better than the other, which is confusing a lot of people who are newer to or don't fully understand how exercises work. This debate needs to end now. Not only is it annoying, but it's pointless. There is no right answer!

Both cardio and weight lifting are beneficial to our health in different ways. To keep it simple, aerobic exercise (aka cardio) improves the strength and function of your cardiovascular system when done consistently. As your heart gets stronger, your risks for heart diseases decrease tremendously. Cardio is also a component in weight loss and maintenance. Weight lifting, on the other hand, is also beneficial. Regular resistance training helps improve overall strength, keeps your muscle toned, and is a key component to keeping your bones strong!

What irritates me most about this debate is when people post pictures of a "cardio body" versus a "lifting body." It's true that a cross country runner is going to have a different body type than a football player, but these comparison images send the wrong message. It's easy for a girl to look at one of these side by sides and set unrealistic goals for herself. It's easy for her to be fooled into thinking that if she stops cardio altogether and only lifts, she will get a round booty and flat abs. It's also easy for a guy to do the same thing, thinking that cutting cardio and only lifting will make him look like the Hulk.

Everyone has a different body type. It's irrational to look at a picture of a fitness model and think that, by changing your routine and eating/working out how that person does, it will make you look just like them. The truth is, you probably never will, and that is 100% okay! You should be confident in who you are. Comparison is never the answer. You're goal should never be to look like someone else - it should always be to become the best version of yourself!

Sticking to the subject of different body types, people also have different muscle fiber types. Some people have more Type I fibers and are better suited for endurance activities while others have more Type 2b fibers and perform anaerobic activities best. The type of muscle fibers most dominant in your body is determined by genetics, so you can't change it. This means that some people are simply born to be better at cardio and others are born to be better lifters.

So, instead of listening to people debate over which exercise method is best and let it influence your choice, listen to your body. Do more of what you enjoy. Do what feels best for you. However, whether you are a cardio person or lifter, don't completely neglect the other method. There should be some balance between the two, as they both have different but equally important health benefits. That being said, you don't have to push it to extremes. If you are good at running and love the sport, then run!

Don't feel obligated to squat 4x your body weight or that your have to hit the racks every day. Performing resistance exercises with lighter weights 3-4 days per week will still improve your muscular and bone strength. If you bench 210lbs and enjoy testing your limits in the weight room (bless your heart), then do it! Don't feel pressured into spending hours on the stationary bike everyday. Maybe opt for a 30 minute ride three days a week. Trying to over-do something you're just not built to do is dangerous and can lead to injury. Play it safe, take cues from your body, and find a balance that works for you!

I'm a firm believer in doing your own thing. You should always do what you love and what makes you happy! Don't let the fitness industry's pointless cardio versus lifting argument inhibit that. Exercise is meant to be enjoyed. It should never feel like something you have to do in order to look a certain way. Be confident in who you are, do more of what feels right for you, and be the best you can be!

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.

My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?

The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.

Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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'Taste The Rainbow' But Not Because Skittles Said To

The health benefits of eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables


Does everyone know that fruits and vegetables are good for you, but do you know why they are considered to be nutritious?

Some may believe the answer is because they have low caloric value, which isn't wrong but they provide so much more. They possess phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods that provide the fruit and vegetables their color, taste, and odor. More than that, each phytochemical comes with its health benefits.

There are seven mechanisms of action or ways that phytochemicals are beneficial to our health.

They can either act as antioxidants which help to prevent damage to healthy cells, anti-inflammatory, chemo-preventative, support our immune system, trigger apoptosis or programmed cell death, protect our DNA, regulate hormones and finally, some may have the ability for specific actions, such as inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

Below is a list of phytochemicals:

1. Carotene 

Alpha and beta carotene give fruits and vegetables an orange or yellow color. Some examples of foods that are high in beta carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers of those colors.

Carotene, when ingested, is converted into Vitamin A that your body can easily absorb and utilize. Carotene has been scientifically proven to help eye and heart health as well as support our immune system by acting as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and possessing chemo-preventive factors.

2. Lycopene 

Think tomatoes. The phytochemical lycopene is responsible for the red color in whole plant foods. The health effects are acting as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, chemo-preventative but also good for DNA and urinary tract health. What's cool about lycopene is that no matter how you prepare your food, you don't lose any of the nutrients.

3. Chlorophyll 

Eat your greens. Chlorophyll-rich foods appear green. Some excellent sources include dark leafy greens and broccoli. Chlorophyll, like the other phytochemicals are known to be antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventative. Choosing foods that have a rich and vibrant color indicate that is a good source of that phytochemical.

So, next time you're in the produce aisle, be sure to choose your colors wisely.

4. Anthocyanin

Anthocyanins are those foods that are red, blue and purple. Any type of berry is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants combat damage to cells by helping balance those that are unstable. Cells become unsteady when they have an uneven pairing of protons and electrons so antioxidants essentially give an electron to the cells that need it.

5. Reservatrol

The color purple. Just as every phytochemical mentioned, resveratrol contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventative agents. That's the beauty of phytochemicals. Reservartrol also takes it a step further to help brain and bone health. Studies have proven that eating foods rich in resevatrol also help to protect against age-related diseases.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of phytochemicals, please check out this wonderful book!

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