Meditations on the health and wellness beat

1. Most of my own interests lie in the paleo diet and extremely high-intensity workouts like P90X, Insanity and Crossfit, all of which have caught on in popularity in the past few years. I could write a feature about why people are interested in super-punishing workouts as opposed to a slow and steady approach. Exercise as punishment for bad behavior/diet, as opposed to being good to and taking care of yourself, seems to be a pretty prevalent idea across the board for men and women alike, and there are many cultural forces at play in that. I’d love to explore them.

I talked to my about-to-be-dentist brother over the holiday break about the paleo diet from a medical standpoint. He said that there’s danger of brain damage if the body runs without (something I don’t remember that isn’t present in paleo) for too long. I also remember from my nutrition class a year ago that ammonia is a by-product of the digestion of protein. Since paleo relies very heavily on protein, the kidneys are producing a sizeable amount of ammonia in digesting it all, which is very damaging. If I wrote a story specifically about paleo, I’d like to talk to a medical professional, maybe a nutritionist or dietician, but I’d LOVE to find a doctor who follows paleo him/herself. Most of the medical folks out there are still trained that dairy and grains are part of a healthy diet, and anything else is wrong. I’d also like to talk to a Ph.D candidate in kinesiology about why they think these workouts have taken off and been so successful.

2. These topics are compelling because they’ve gotten very popular of late, and I’d like to explore some reasons why. They’re important because these types of workouts can be very, very dangerous if attempted by people who aren’t ready for that level of intensity. Crossfit folks even have a name—Pukey the Clown—for when someone pushes themselves to the point of being sick.

3. My intended audience is someone who isn’t at all familiar with these things, someone who either doesn’t work out, or does the traditional tons-of-reps-with-light-weights or running on the treadmill for an hour.

4. There are two Crossfit gyms in Athens, and talking to both owners would be beneficial about the kinds of stories they’d like to see written, if any committed Crossfitters don’t follow paleo, how they do with it, etc.


One comment

  1. Really good potential here, Patty, although I’d be a little worried about you disappearing down the rabbit hole of fad x fad = nutcases. Remember that marketing is far more important than science in understanding why these things are taking off, so one thing you might think a little more broadly about is the trend of “going back to basics” in diet and exercise. That is, general/functional training as opposed to specific work with machines; paleo diets as opposed to zone diets or weight watchers or whatnot, minimalist footwear as opposed to traditional sneakers. Again, I hate to say it but the marketing/psychology is probably a bigger factor than the actual health benefits. But it’s fascinating to watch.

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