These are supremely well-trained athletes, in the first case, and normally very healthy folk, in the other. If not they’d not have made it to either camp.
People die of heat exhaustion. They die of thirst or heart failure.
There’s nothing pretty about it.
They bonk- and so do their dogs- on the sides of Arizona mountains in the triple-digit heat.
Eleven-so far- dead on Everest. Their bodies slowly imploding in the Death Zone, sitting freezing and out of oxygen in a conga line waiting for a chance at a selfie.
Some of them died because they weren’t in shape for the attempt. Their lack of fitness caused long lines of more experienced climbers waiting for the rookies to get the hell out of the way.
We are in love with extremity. From Jackass movies to people who are setting new through-hiking records (which some damned fool has to go break just because, and MANY more untrained folk try to do just to say they’ve done it, and some die trying), we love outliers.
The problem I have with certain so-called outliers any more is that they hawk stupidity. Here’s what I mean.
Robin Arzón thinks balance is bullshit.
No, she’s full of it.
Because far too many so called “wellness influencers” are selling a sack of silliness to the rest of us who not only can’t possibly do what she does, but will injure ourselves while trying.
Jenni Gritters’ article reads like a love affair, someone who is just so very impressed with what this Peloton executive is doing. What she’s selling. The nonsense story that we’re nothing if we’re not extreme.
She doesn’t have time for family. Friends. She doesn’t have time for life.
Forgive me, but that’s not excellence. That’s the very definition of stupidity. Because for one thing, the level of workout she is doing all day every day wears the body down. Not up. You pass a certain point, you stop building. You tear shit. Get depressed.
You injure. Badly. In fact you begin to lose the very advantages you might have had. This Business Insider article explains that from holding your pee too long as you race, which causes all manner of urinary and kidney issues (just for the sake of thirty seconds, mind you), to cardiovascular problems, including thickening and scarring of the heart wall pushing too hard, too much for too long is like anything else- just plain stupid.
So, we know excessive exercise can wreak havoc on your body — particularly your heart, tendons, ligaments, and immune system. And for around 1 million people in the US, exercise addiction is wreaking havoc on their brains.
It’s one thing to exercise regularly, whether for fun or for health or for both.
It’s quite another to do it to such an extreme- often to prove a point to ourselves or some imaginary audience — that we’re just so badass.
Badass can kill. Does kill. What it doesn’t maim or injure, that is.
I am the first person to admit I’ve done this, otherwise I wouldn’t have such a strong opinion. I love seeing extraordinary people who do extraordinary things. But I respect those who know when to stop, take a break, live richly, laugh, love and take the time to be in life. That is, opposed to expending huge effort to try to demonstrate how well you’ve mastered it. Which, at least to my limited observation, nobody has done, or else they wouldn’t still be around.
I’m not a fan of those so-called influencers who probably have no business influencing. This is, of course, a purely personal opinion and largely meaningless, but there is some background to the thinking process. As I have written elsewhere, impressionable people take on adventures for which they are woefully unprepared because they too want to be influencers (please see the enormous leap in rookie through-hiking on the Pacific Coast Trail after Cheryl Strayed’s Wild came out, and especially after the movie). Problem is they can die trying. While yes, it’s their perfect right to do so, kindly let’s talk to the friends and families of those who lost a loved one to that kind of behavior. Our decisions affect a great many more than just ourselves.
I think about my buddy Ann Litts who has so often written with wry humor and well-earned respect for her late 50s body with its extra ten or so pounds, which she has learned to not only love but also enjoy without feeling as though she has to sweat off Every. Single. Ounce. Being thinner doesn’t make her more lovable or acceptable. Being Ann does.
People like Robin will burn out. They have to, because the body cannot maintain that kind of level. They injure, often badly. I have a dear friend who has trained for, and run the Leadville 100. Imagine a race at ten thousand feet, one hundred miles of high altitude hills and pure agony. She’s barfed plenty of times, and still she goes back. I admire her, but I worry for her body. She isn’t good at taking breaks. That may well break her.
That’s not badass. That’s braindead. For what? To end up unable to do runs any more because of damage to the body just to prove….what? that you’re not fifty? Or forty or sixty?
There are people who can and do live extreme endurance lives and do it well. That is not for the vast majority of us everyday humans. The sales pitch to do everything to the extreme (which sells a lot of products, like Red Bull) is just that- sales. People get their sponsorships (oh goody, followers and eyeballs) until they flame out one too many times. Statistic. Next. Red Bull and any other alcohol-or sports-drink fueled sponsorship is always in the market for the next damned fool willing to sacrifice his or her body- and future- for short-term fame.
Look, Arzón can do whatever she wants with her body. That is her perfect right. I have been called on the carpet on Medium for having an opinion about extremes and I am very clear- this is an opinion only. My problem is that we increasingly celebrate extremity and then are both confused and numb when our friends and kids go out and damned near kill themselves trying to live up to an impossible standard. Or worse, we do it to ourselves and end up confused and/or resentful when our bodies- far better designed for balance and moderation in most things- reward us with injuries, permanent damage or other insults that are increasingly hard to live with as we age.
I totally celebrate anyone who will go to the effort of getting into superb shape to take on a massive short-term challenge. But I call bullshit on influencers who say that balance is bullshit. Talk to us in two decades, Arzón, let’s see what kind of body and life you have then. The point is what’s sustainable for the average moke, of which I most certainly count myself one. Without balance there is no joy in the journey, which is short enough indeed without doing genuinely serious damage to our rather vulnerable selves.
Maybe her joy is in feeling superior to everyone else due to extreme effort. That is most certainly an addiction to which I fell victim in my thirties, which did little more than turn me into an arrogant asshole who thought that anyone who didn’t put in extreme gym time was a lazy jerkoff who didn’t deserve to take up space and air.
Funny what an additional three decades will teach you. Self-righteousness only lasts so long when your body starts to revolt from the very abuse you’re visiting on it. While I realize that along the way Darwin will get his due, the piece I am not happy about- and again, my opinion is as about as worthless as the paper it isn’t written on-is that so many easily-influenced folks are influenced by fools masquerading as influencers.
To wit: the 15 year-old-friend of a friend’s daughter who has oodles of followers because of her Before and After transformation. Overweight, acne-pocked face, now model slim and and pretty. All photo-shopped, all pure bullshit, all a complete lie. And she knows it, which is part of why this young girl lives in a terror of being found out by her followers as a fraud.
The need to lead, when there is great value in learning to follow one’s own intuition, one’s own very good instincts, is leading us very far astray. It’s all about selling something: products, or an image that is fundamentally false. A story or fantasy about ourselves that is unsustainable. Like Balance is Bullshit.
But that’s just an opinion.
Call me stupid, call me foolish, call me mislead, but call me sane. Because while yes, I bloody well do indeed believe in eating healthy, I just knocked off a third of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s after a month of pack horse riding in the Canadian wilderness.
And while I am going to be off to Mongolia in about five weeks for yet another challenging adventure there will be plenty of rest days and laughter and massages and midday naps before then.
Balance. Not bullshit.