“It’s just made up,” Barbell Medicine Podcast Ep. #148–Dr. Baraki on Deloads, Training While Sick, Obesity, etc.

I’m trying a new-to-me podcast today, and I admit, this is the episode from a couple weeks ago. But hey, I saw “obesity” in the title and figured that would be a good test case to see if we are attitudinally in alignment (ie. not judgy, willing to look at it in a nuanced, non-morality-driven way). And wouldn’t you know, it’s a great conversation!

This episode provides a combination of Q&A and conversation, with useful application advice as a part of each segment.

The first segment includes the aforementioned discussion of obesity, and it is very much in alignment with the discussion on Sigma Nutrition with Dr. le Reux that I discussed a few weeks ago. I’m very happy to hear multiple evidence-based voices on this redefinition of obesity, as the Barbell folks define it as “an appetite dysregulation disorder.” I like that they make a point to recognize that someone experiencing obesity isn’t “broken,” but rather they have biological factors that in combination with the the modern environment makes it difficult for folks to regulate their hunger and satiety.

New to the conversation, is the discussion here on “modifiable and nonmodifiable elements” that impact the prevalence of obesity, and I really appreciate this recognition that there are factors to which we can have some control and those to which we don’t. And they reinforce Dr. le Roux’s point on the importance of treating obesity like any other disease without blame or shame. I want to give more thought on how we identify the elements that are in our control and those that are not, as I think diet culture has falsely trained most folks to think it is ALL in their control. And frankly, most gym bros talk about it that way, too. On the other end of the spectrum, friends and associates from the body positive community have implied to me that none of it is in some people’s control, or that it is too harmful to attempt to control those factors, and I think that is also an untrue, extreme stance. The reality, like so much, is somewhere in the middle, and will vary from person to person.

The next segment of the conversation involves Austin discussing his recent training and how by doing non-big 3 moves, he’s managed to remove some of the pressure to always feel like he’s adding weight on the bar. I like this strategy, and I think it could have a lot of implications for folks who feel like they’re not progressing and it’s stressful for them or who find themselves increasing their risk to doing stupid stuff in the gym in order to try to force progress.

We then move into a conversation about lifting when sick. The gist of the advice seems to be to encourage folks to do something, if they can, and if they can do it without spreading their ill-health to others. Not all exercise lowers the immune system, and some movement won’t hurt you. They also say to take a break if “you feel so bad that you can’t tolerate movement,” but by doing something when we can we avoid the barrier of losing our routines. I think the only piece I would add to this conversation is a recognition that if we have a habit of stopping all together when we have a temporary set-back, it points to an all-or-nothing mindset that we might want to work on. The ladies at Balance 365 call the alternative “all or something.”

Even though they don’t call out the perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking by name, I do love the discussion of how if we’re not adding weight to the bar, it might feel “worthless,” and that can be demotivating. I wholly support the idea of thinking of our options as a “spectrum of movement” between being sedentary and training, and that some movement has benefits over complete rest, including it may reduce the length of infection, reduce soreness, helps us keep our routines going. Austin’s advice to doing something: “if fatigue is noticeably harder. . . go to the next exercise. Use autoregulation the whole way through” and then gradually rebuild after some downtime. Don’t jump back into training.

I really enjoyed this conversation, the mix of chatter and practical advice, and I look forward to hearing more from Barbell Medicine!

‎Barbell Medicine Podcast: Episode #148: Dr. Baraki on Deloads, Training While Sick, Obesity, etc. on Apple Podcasts

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