The Physical Fitness Paradox


The Physical Fitness Paradox

Episode 3

JW: Welcome to SimplifiHealth. This is Dr. Jill Wade. Today’s episode is labeled “Physical Fitness Paradox.” Today’s topic is about a critical element of overall health and well being physical fitness. What is being physically fit or looking fit mean? It can be something different to each and everyone of us. This topic is huge and broad. And numerous times on this podcast, we’ll be discussing different aspects of physical fitness. Why? Big reason why, because science proves over and over again that our lifestyle choices affect our health the most. You can make the most improvements and changes in a positive manner with lifestyle changes faster than any magic pills that you can take. Like it or not, we must be active. First step, is getting up and getting started. Today, joining the show is going to be Cade Allison, one of the amazing trainers at Cowboys Fit. Cade, welcome to the show.

CA: Thanks for having me.

JW: Cade, tell me a little bit about how you started becoming a trainer?

CA: Yeah, absolutely. I went to school for physical therapy, blew out my knee, and found out I had a bunch of imbalances overtime that had me predisposed to that knee injury. I didn’t really liked that nobody told me that through my years of playing soccer so I wanted to get on the preventative side. Through school, I got into more kind of biomechanic side of things and wanted to help people be able to fix these issues before they come big injuries like I suffered. That drew me to the training route. Now, a lot of movement assessment, seeing how people just move in their day-to-day life, and fixing those things really can help them with everything else of staying healthy, not having these injuries, and just feeling better.

JW: Absolutely. I named this talk today The Physical Fitness Paradox. I just want to explain to people why I went down that road because a paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or post to common sense and yet, it is perhaps true. I really feel that there are some particular items that we want to discuss today that go to that thought process of physical fitness being a paradox. One I want to really talk to you about is BMI. I also want to talk about if somebody is ready to get started exercising again and getting active again, how should they approach that and then I also want to talk about kind of the new trends or fads that are going on or have gone on that do work or don’t work, kind of that whole paradox thought process to that. 

Let’s start off real quick by talking about BMI. Oh, my God, I am morbidly obese when it comes to the BMI platform and I hate that. I just hate it. I hate it worse than even getting up on the scale and seeing what my weight really is.

CA: BMI is definitely one of those where people are like, “What’s my BMI?” Even when I was going through school they still looked heavily at BMI. BMI is really an equation based on your height and weight and it misses a lot of things. Some of those are body fat percentage, bone density, muscle mass, and overall composition. Females are going to have more body fat than males, it’s just how we’re designed.

JW: And it’s so not fair.

CA: Right. A lot of people too—I find it funny—they bring in a picture, they want to look like this but they want to weigh this weight as well. A lot of the times the number they associate with the look isn’t correct. We get these images in our head of, “This is the way I should be,” “This is the body fit I should be,” and “I should look like this.” A lot of what I do with my clients is go, “We need to look at this from an accurate standpoint.” BMI just doesn’t get us there.

JW: Right. You can line up 10 people in front of me in all different shapes, sizes, ages, and you really can’t tell who is the healthiest, who is the fittest out of that group unless you really know who the healthiest and fittest is in that group. Because just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re the healthiest. I mean, I’ve got a little junk in the trunk and I think a lot of people would be surprised that on paper, my blood work—I’m pretty darn healthy and pretty proud of it. But I’m not probably going to look like I’m the healthiest one in that line up of 10.

CA: Absolutely.

JW: Working at Cowboys Fit and working with some of the cheerleaders and things like that—although they look great and they’re skinny—what do they ask you sometimes?

CA: It’s funny to see people see they can do certain things and get a result. It’s not always a healthy thing that gets in the result. I’ve worked with people in the past and just people in the fitness industry you haven’t seen for—a friend of mine in college got into fitness modeling, doing competitions, and kind of what that route, “How do you lose that weight? how do you get to that body fat percentage?” “I smoke during that time.”

JW: Oh, my.

CA: That’s not what we want. 

JW: A little counter-productive.

CA: Is it worth it? I think that some people get obsessed with the end result and not necessarily the process to get there. I think the process is a lot more important than that final result that we’ve deemed in our mind to be, “This is what I have to look like,” or “This is what I have to weigh.” Really making sure we have healthy goals and healthy process to get us there is the most important part.

JW: Absolutely. There you go with paradox with the weight thing. It’s not always about what that scale or that BMI score is going to show to get you healthy. Speaking of being healthy, let’s say it’s been years since you’ve worked out by yourself—or with a trainer, in the gym, or in your home gym—if you need to take the clothes and the hangers off of your equipment at home because really they’re doing you no good just to be at extra closet and you might actually want to start using them again, let’s talk about how you can start to get back into this swing of things because you can’t really just right go back to the way that you did it before you stopped.

CA: Absolutely. It’s one of those things that whatever you did may not even work now. I know how I trained in high school and college is really different in how I train now. Even as you work back into that, it’s a slow process. We want to make sure we’re not jumping in really fast, really quick, to our old habits or even that same intensity or volume. You hear those words a lot, “Intensity is going to be that threshold that we’re kind of pushing.” A lot of times, you hear a percent to weight, the higher the intensity to like one-rep max, is 90% intensity, 80% intensity, and then the volume is really the amount of repetitions you have in a workout. How do you balance those two? With a lot of people getting back into it, they’re small steps, we’re going to build upon that. We want to make sure that we’re doing it in a way that we can set those goals, hit the next goal, hit the next goal.

A lot of the times, with people, I say, “Okay, what’s our main goal? What’s our time frame? Let’s make sure that’s realistic first and foremost.” I always ask them, “How do you plan on getting to this goal? What have you done in the past? How do you typically like to workout? What don’t you like to do?” Get a good idea of their idea of fitness and how they would personally accomplish this goal. And then we can start throwing some of the realism, if we have to bring some people down to earth and say, “Okay, it’s great. Here’s some twix we would do, this is how we would start out.” You can always increase your training volume and intensity. You can always make it harder. It’s hard to jump into something full force and then try to step it back.

JW: Good point. I’m going to share a journal article in circulation back from even like 2011, talking about exercise and cardiovascular disease. Basically what they were trying to pinpoint is, what is your biggest bang for the buck when it comes to exercising? How long? Because everybody thinks, “I don’t have enough time to exercise for two hours at the gym.” This article talks about 22 minutes, that’s it. That’s the biggest bang for the buck from a scientific standpoint that they found. They even went on to show that if you over exercise like 45 minutes vigorously per day, for a week, it’s way too much. Is that kind of playing into maybe people aren’t getting the results that they’re thinking they should get? Can you over exercise?

CA: Absolutely. It’s funny, I see a lot of people come to the gym everyday. Some people are there for 2 ½ hours and some for 30 minutes. The people that are there for 2 ½ hours typically don’t have these amazing results because they’re not being efficient with their time. You don’t need to be in there for 2 hours, you don’t need to be murdering yourself day in and day out. We want to make sure that we’re still recovering too from these workouts. Recovery—I would say—is one of the most important parts. We work out to then recover, to rebuild from what we tore down and grow from that exercise. I did an interview with men’s fitness and one of the questions they asked was, “How can people train like athletes?”

JW: Right. That’s what everybody wants to know.

CA: Absolutely. A lot of people go, “Woah, I want to look like this athlete,” “I want to be like this athlete,” “This is how he trains, let’s just jump in to his program.” He/she has had years of building up to this point. A lot of people see the end result but they don’t see the process and what it was to get there. Jumping in too hard too fast can be counterproductive.

JW: Right. Those same people may also just genetically been built, if you want to say, to make themselves almost like this special athlete in that particular sport. Because genetically, that’s how tall they are, that’s how short they are, that’s how long their arms are. Literally, things could physically be that way and that’s why they’re so good at what they do.

CA: Absolutely. Just the length of your arms, the length of your torso, you look at an olympic swimmer, at NFL alignment, very different body types. Genetically how we’re built is going to play to that for sure. How our body metabolises different nutrients is going to play into it. So definitely knowing what works best for you, may not work best for somebody else. Seeing a program online or doing what your friend does may be great for them but may not be the best for you. I always tell people, “Grab a trainer and let’s figure out what’s the best setup for you to be successful in your goals.”

JW: Makes sense, yeah. I don’t think I want to look like the Cowboy starting linebacker.

CA: Nope, nope, me either.

JW: I found that interesting to statistic, if I can speak, that says that only 20% of adults out there are actually really meeting their ideal activity guidelines, 20%, that is so low.

CA: It’s really low.

JW: We’ve got to get up off the couches.

CA: It’s one of those things that I think a lot of people think that idea that the activity has to be a vigorous workout or they have to go to the gym. I kind of laugh sometimes, people come in the gym and they do more talking and sitting on their phones than working out. In their mind, they’ve come to the gym now, they’ve done their exercise for the day. What did we really accomplish? I’d tell a lot of people, playing with the kids, getting active, throwing the ball at the dog, these are things that add to that activity level. Small tweaks and that lifestyle that really add up. Take the stairs, little things.

It’s so cliche to think about, but I think fitness trackers have helped too. You start to conceptualize, “Am I really moving that much? Am I being active?” I think setting those goals is a fun way to just add in a little bit of activity here and there in your everyday life.

JW: I want to tell you, I 100% agree with that. When fitbits came out a long time ago and I put my first Fitbit on, I thought, “Man, I’m an active person,” my thought process was I am an active person. I would look at my Fitbit at 3:00 in the afternoon. Being a dentist, I do sit down and get up a lot but I’m only walking two or three steps to the next room. By 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, I only have like 2,000 maybe 2,500 steps where the ideal goal is somewhere around 10,000. After you’ve kind of worked up to that I would have a long day, be quite tired actually and still need another 8,000 steps to go. But it did really hit home how sedentary some professions can be if you work at a front office of any type or if you’re at the computer all day. I do think that these devices are certainly helping the awareness, if nothing else, to help track.

CA: I’m a big fan too of the wrist heart rate monitors that are in devices. They are really good. They’re not going to be as accurate as I can trust one heart rate monitor, I know as you know, I’m a big fan of chest-based heart rate monitors from the standpoint of—I tell a lot of people too—how many calories do you think you’re burning in the workout? I was the same way at the beginning it was, “Oh, I’m burning easily 500 or 600 calories workout.” I’m looking at my diet going, “Okay, this is kind of what I burned in the day.” And then you strap one of those on and realize, “Ooh, I’m not doing nearly as much as I thought.”

I know we—and our workouts too—look at some of the machines, they have the calorie counters which aren’t 100% accurate but kind of gives you an idea. Ten calories is a lot longer of a row than you would anticipate. I think just being able to conceptualize what it takes to burn a calorie or how many steps you are getting in a day is a really cool way to go, “Okay, I need to adjust A, B, and C because this is my true activity level,” “Maybe I need to bump that activity level up a lot,” “Maybe I’m not eating enough, maybe I’m eating too much.” It gives us a lot of insight just on where that activity is and all the other aspects that plays into and just health and fitness.

JW: Right. Just kind of helps you understand the fuel in versus the expenditure of the fuel out. I think you do, if you’re stuffing Cheetos down at 3:00, you’ve probably got a little too much fuel going in and not spending enough coming out.

CA: Absolutely.

JW: I just want to remind everybody exactly why exercise is so helpful. I don’t think a lot of people hear it this way. I think society just tells us that exercise is good for you and so you just naturally know that you should be doing it but you don’t really remember why the body needs you to exercise. There are two main things that exercise does for us, it maintains what we call homeostasis, by recycling proteins and removing damaged cellular debris, this is very important part of a healthy lifestyle. The other thing it does is autophagy which a lot of you may not have ever heard of that word before but it acts as a protective mechanism. When you exercise, it increases autophagy to prevent death of cells and when cells die, they are what turns on the immune system. This then creates inflammation.

As you guys are starting to listen to me more and more, you’ll know that the key element to being healthy and everything I stand for is that inflammation is the root cause of disease, it is the nemesis. Anything we can do in our life to help decrease any aspect of the inflammation is going to help you and put you on the right track. You were making a funny comment earlier today about exercise and inflammation.

CA: It’s kind of funny that we train to cause inflammation and cause muscle breakdown that stress our systems to then be more efficient. We have to kind of cause this to make it better. I talk to a lot of people, “You hear interval training and high intensity in these words.” CrossFit’s a buzzword that goes out there, I did that in college and there are places for all of these out there. But to understand why we’re using those type of training tools, I know we’ve talked about clearing fatigue, why are we doing interval stuff, we want the body to be efficient at getting back that homeostasis so we’re going to Rev the heart rate, build up some lactic acid, and tax some energy systems. I’m looking for at how efficient can we get back to neutral, how fast does that heart rate come back down, and how fast can we recover. We’re really training the clearing of fatigue in the recovering from fatigue rather than the, “Okay, I want you to be able to do a mile on this time.” It’s more of how fast we bounce back from that stress. We have to stress the system out to be more efficient at getting it back to normal which is kind of a backwards way to think about it.

JW: It’s the paradox thought process of being actually physically fit. Not necessarily to look like a professional athlete but how can we, as individuals, be actually physically fit. It’s a paradox.

CA: When you think about it too, people’s ideas of fit are different. That’s why I always talk about recovering. Some people go chase that sore feeling. Some days, yeah, I want you to be sore, some days, I don’t want you to be sore. I know I talk to you and other clients about, “How did you sleep last night? How do you feel? Where are we at?” We look at the nervous system, the muscle, our hydration, our food, all these plans to what that output should look like today. I guess this jumps back to get back into too fast, but people just destroy themselves right off the bat.

JW: Right. 

CA: We need to make sure we’re also looking at how we’re recovering because at the end of the day, we want to be able to go perform—whatever that is—recover. You will perform again and be able to do that in a method that’s building yourself and not tearing this down.

JW: Absolutely. We still just have to get up, we have to get up, start moving, we got to get off the couches.

CA: Yup, small goals.

JW: Yeah. We just have to do it. I wanted to share with everybody a survey performed at the University of Michigan where they went into the college basically where everybody was working out, where the students were able to go access the gym, and things like that. They went around and they surveyed all the students that were in there working out. They asked them, “Why do you work out?” They were expecting kind of what I was expecting the traditional answers, answers like, “I want to look good, I want to lose weight, I want to be attractive for boys, girls, go pick up boys, girls out the gym.” They were normal things that I thought that the answer would be. But I have to say I was shocked by the answer that actually came out by the survey. It was, when they asked them, “Why do you workout?” “Because my parents do, because my parents exercise.”

If you’re a parent out there listening, I want you to really think about that for a second. If you don’t get up, get active, and start to show the kids the example of just being physically fit and being active, you’re not only potentially hurting your health, you’re potentially hurting actually your kid’s health as well because you are setting that example for them. I don’t know, but I think there’s a lot of people out there that just having that perspective may help you decide, “You know what? Today is the day. Today is the day.” Even if it’s just grab the dog, grab the kids, go take a little walk and come back in and do it again the next day, and add a little something.

CA: Like family activities. Making them active I think is huge. For me, growing up—sorry dad, I’m about to put you on blast—my dad didn’t work out. He worked crazy hours. He was an athlete growing up and working out was not a priority for him, for him it’s more of a stressor than a decompression tool. I know that’s [oat 00:21:58] for a lot of people, it’s more of a, “God, [inaudible 00:22:04] have to do, I got to mow the lawn, I have to take the dry cleaning, and I got to go workout today,” people view it as a negative.

My mom on the other hand, an avid runner, marathonist, tennis player, just was constantly working out. I remember summer’s growing up, they were both educators, my mom would be doing push ups so I want to do push ups. You just kind of monkey see monkey do, you do what your parents do. As we all know, we have good and bad manners since we picked up not even intentionally and the same thing with working out. My sister, not the biggest fitness person but takes more after my dad. It’s was kind of a person she bonded with a lot growing up. It’s cool to see that and I think that survey is awesome because it shows that people are being active. Those kids come from households that were active households.

I think too, if you’re an athlete, there’s a transition from an athlete mindset into a generalized health mindset. Is it really important for me to hit benchmark numbers that I did as an athlete? No. There’s a switch in that mindset too, what’s the best for my health and from what I used to do? But I definitely think, for kids, I know they even sell like toy barbell sets now. There are some podcasts I’ll follow and watch and the mom or dads working out and the four or five girls in the back copying what mom and dad do with their toy barbell set. It’s fun to see that especially with younger kids too I think, it’s just important to have them see their parents be active and you’ll typically have a lot more of those habits, those good habits rather than the bad habits.

JW: Right. Cade, thanks for being a great example yourself of what a personal trainer should be about and knowledgeable, being able to use and set up a plan for that person’s unique ability that’s right in front of you and not just the same cookie cutter plan for everybody because that just ain’t going to work. 

CA: That’s something to watch out for. I definitely think having a trainer, if they’re handing you something they hand everybody, how do we know that’s designed for you? Test your personal trainers out there, ask them questions. We should be put on the spot a good amount too. If we’re knowledgeable, we can back it up, if we’re not, maybe it’s time to find a different trainer.

JW: There you go, great piece of advice right there. Hey, Cade, I would love to have you come back on SimplifiHealth again in the future. I think you just made a great topic right there of talking about how to customize your workout, maybe even VA your genetics. Maybe we can talk about that some time. Also something else that we talked about earlier which is more job related movements and posturing that happens at our jobs that creates some pain, some extra areas of attention that we can workout and stretch in different ways, I think we should talk about that as well.

CA: Absolutely.

JW: If we have a listener that like to get in touch with you, how would they do that?

CA: My email pretty good check in that is and then I try to post a good amount of fitness stuff on my Instagram which is @cadejayhawk, it’s kind of a mix of normal me stuff and then a good blend of fitness stuff as well.

JW: Wonderful. Thanks again for coming today. If you guys want to checkout, For those of you dental professionals and medical professionals, you can check us out at Once again, thanks to Cade Allison for joining us on SimplifiHealth. This is Dr. Jill Wade. And keep smiling from the inside out.

Episode Description

 Most of us are fully aware we are carrying around too much weight and need to be more active. It’s hard to get motivated when we get so wrapped up about the number on the scale. Our own weight can become a de-motivator.
This SymplifiHealth episode THE PHYSICAL FITNESS PARADOX will help you change your way of thinking. Dr. Jill Wade interviews Cade Allison a certified personal trainer at Cowboy Fit about having a focus on fitness rather than how much you weigh. It is much healthier to be fit than skinny.