Great reading for the fitness geek on your gift list

Timothy Caulfield’s new book The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness aims to set the record straight on what the latest research in food and fitness does and doesn’t show. Caufield is sick of all of the myths and hype surrounding food and fitness trends.

For the most part The Cure for Everything is a fun, fact filled exercise in debunking. I like a good debunking as much as the next philosopher. What science minded academic doesn’t?

Here are some highlights from the self described science nerd and health nut:

You can read the short version here on Huffington Post, 9 Health Myths Debunked by Timothy Caulfield.

Caulfield leads the Faculty of Law’s Health Law and Science Policy Group at the University of Alberta and is a Canada Research Chair  in Health Law and Policy. He is also a pretty serious track cyclist (a former Canadian master’s champion in sprint cycling) and the same age as me, 48. Oh, and he’s got cool glasses.

What counts as fitness, according to Caulfied? In an interview with Healthzone he says:

In our society, fitness is about looking good, about esthetics. My definition is not tied to sexy abs. It’s tied to feeling strong and vigorous. It’s about biological markers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. You get all that from working out. If your goal is to look in the mirror for drastic changes, you’re going to be disappointed.

Some of this will be familiar to readers of Gretchen Reynolds’ The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer which I talked about here.

Both books cover lots of the same ground although I found Caulfield’s conclusions a little gloomier. Reynolds tends to sprinkle the bad news with the good. She’s also a health reporter and he’s an academic and the difference in background shows. Though both aim to be popular books sharing research in a field many of us care deeply about, if you actually want the science and some details about the studies Caulfield will be a better read.

Both books also make clear that the truth doesn’t provide much fodder for catchy motivational slogans: Exercise intensely for long periods of time and you might just stay the same! Both cite the same study showing women who exercise a lot, and regularly, still gain weight as they age. They just gain less. That’s good health news but won’t exactly make for a very good poster at the gym.

The bit that I found hard to take, though I don’t doubt he’s right, was Caulfield’s assessment of what’s required for long term weight loss and maintenance. People who lose weight and keep weight off in the long run have some traits in common. And this group, because they’re rare, have been studied closely.  First, constant vigilance. They remain as focused and determined as they were when losing weight and they log and track just as carefully as when they started. Second, they exercise a lot. Third, they also don’t eat very much. Yikes.

During the course of writing the book, Caulfied himself dropped 25 lbs and went into the very lean category in terms of body fat. He did with some simple rules: no junk food, very limited quantities (he only ordered starters not entrees) and half of everything he ate had to be fruits and vegetables. He speaks in frank terms about hard this was, about hunger and resisting temptation. He’s kept the weight off but still finds it a struggle.

In the end I like ‘s assessment of the book. On his blog Weighty Matters he calls it an “evidence based romp.” Three words he says he’d never thought he’d string together.

You can hear Caulfield interviewed on the ABC here and his book is also reviewed  in the National Post

Exit mobile version