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Workout and Dieting Fads

Gone are the days of working out in neon-colored spandex while lifting simple five-pound weights. The traditional diet of counting calories and eating less is old fashioned and, in an evolving world of new innovations, it is simply not enough.

Right around the time technology began to upgrade from boxed television sets and flip phones, a new change in society transformed the way something so fundamental presented itself in one's life: the way one exercises and eats. Working out and dieting has never been viewed the same.

Efficiency is one of the biggest goals in society. People want to get things done right in a rush while staying perfectly safe. The reason for such a change in the way people work out and diet is that in a society of efficiency, people want to keep up with perfection.

58 millions people across the United States wish to keep their bodies slender and toned, according to gym statistics on the number of people who have a gym membership. As commendable as it is for people to want a healthier lifestyle, when the goal for being healthy reaches the point of obsession, the healthy turns into the unhealthy.

In working out and exercising, many programs such as the popular CrossFit, or workout DVDs like Insanity and P90X, all claim to transform one's health. According to the CrossFit organization website, "CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide."

Greg Glassman, a teenage gymnast, founded CrossFit. Glassman wanted to achieve a greater strength and found that there are experts in different areas of physical activity. CrossFit seems to be a "jack of all trades" experience and, for many, it works.

"CrossFit is a really fun way to make working out a lifestyle," said junior Sophia Leal. "In CrossFit you're constantly competing against yourself so you always push yourself to your limit. In an average gym, it's great if you know what you're doing but in CrossFit everything is shown to you and it's really easy to get into. It never really gets easier; you just get better."

The experience of a gym is now no longer the same. DVD workout sets are also something that has grown in popularity for those who wish to get fit in the privacy and comfort of their own home.

One of the many programs is the coveted P90X. P90X is a strenuous 12-DVD workout-training program that claims to give the user a lean, strong, muscular toned body in 90 days. Another competing workout DVD set is the classic Insanity, one of the first DVD workouts to become popular. Founded by Shaun Thompson, the workout series has developed into one of the most well known, with tens of thousands of people promoting the program through their success stories.

A five-pound weight and neon spandex are now things of the 80s — as old fashioned as the diets that accompanied those simple workouts. Counting calories and the obvious solution of eating less, in smaller portions, are no longer the only options.

Parallel to the transformation of working out, the way one intakes food, and the kind of food one eats, has changed dramatically.

The Paleolithic diet, referred to commonly as the "Paleo Diet," is a low-carbohydrate diet that is high in animal foods and low in plant foods. The idea behind the Paleo Diet is that the ancestors of the human race, the Neanderthals, were hunters and gatherers, therefore, the daily diet consisted of low carbs and animal meat.

Paleo Diet supporters argue that the basis of the diet is in a human's genetic makeup. Eating Paleo includes large amounts of animal-derived foods that are high in protein and fat yet contain little or no carbohydrates. While the Paleo Diet is said to be one the best and most efficient diets, there is much skepticism and counterarguments toward why the diet can actually cause a person harm.

According to the McDougall Newsletter, Dr. McDougall argues the point that, "the Paleo Diet is based on the artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol, and bone-damaging acidic proteins from the animal foods."

There is much evidence to support the claim the diet doesn't work. However, there are results even though the results may come at a price that counteracts the good.

Diets have now changed from six days a week with a cheat day to lifestyles in the continuous watch of the food one eats. The concept of juicing has recently become a fad among people who wish to gain all the nutrients that vitamins and the fiber that fruits and vegetables have to offer.

Juicing is promoted as a way to detox the body while simultaneously eating a healthy intake of fruits and veggies and staying hydrated. In spite of the benefits of juicing, it may be unhealthy when it becomes an every day eating habit.

According to an article on juicing by Jacque Wilson of CNN, Wilson states, "Although going on a liquid diet might help you lose weight in the short term, it can seriously mess with your metabolism. And lean muscle mass starts to break down after just a few days -- meaning your body will burn fewer calories overall."

Another program that stands itself on the basis of a healthy solution to losing weight is the multi-level American company Herbalife. Founded in 1980 by Mark Hughes, Herbalife markets produces and distributes weight management and skincare products internationally in 91 countries.

Herbalife makes varying flavors of protein shakes and snacks and also distributes energy and fitness supplements. Herbalife also hosts fitness camps where the products may be introduced to new potential participants.

Class of 2013 graduate Anthony Ramos is an independent distributor with a supervising position working for Herbalife.

"I do consider Herbalife as a lifestyle. People do begin to use it as a diet but after they reach their goal, they continue to use the products," said Ramos. "I consider Herbalife to be safe and it is an effective way to lose weight quickly. The shakes are safe for your body because they are made up of everything the ideal healthy meal consists of with a good amount of everything."

Ramos explains the shakes may be taken as meal substitutes up to three times a day if in need of an extreme weight loss. While Herbalife runs on the basis that the shakes contain healthy, nutritional content, there is criticism that argues otherwise.

In an article for Prevent Disease, Natasha Longo argues the formula to make several of Herbalife's shakes contain unhealthy chemicals such as GMO, soy protein isolate, corn bran, soy lecithin, carrageenan, and Sucralose among other harmful ingredients. Herbalife products may be effective in the time that one uses them. As a long-term way of eating, however, it may not be the healthiest option.

Gone are the days of simple diets and workouts and, in their place comes forward an revolution of new diet crazes and products that all promote the same thing — a slimmer body, attained in a fast, easy and healthy manner. Along with everything else, the way one intakes food has transformed into a topic that causes much debate and scrutiny.

Perhaps the evolution of workouts and diets is not the problem. Perhaps the problem is a society that strives for an unreal ideal that goals may be achieved through short cuts. In the sea of products that are readily available to one, one must think logically first and have the facts before any participation is undergone.

Eat healthy, exercise well, and be happy.

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Thomas Collette