Your Way Isn’t the Only Way: A Rant

“You girls really need some CrossFit.” Umm, what? “Yeah, your program is severely lacking all the great things that CrossFit could do for you.” I blinked at him, nodded, and walked away. I had better things to do than to instigate an argument that I knew would only lead to frustration.

I’ve noticed something, and I’m sure some of you see this, too. Some fitness icon – a professional, an expert, a guru, or what have you – invents a new concept. CrossFit. LeanGains. Zero cardio. And then all of a sudden, it’s the next big thing. Alas, another fad! Everybody and their mother is doing it, so you should do it, too. Right?

The last time I checked, your body is not the same as my body. My food preferences (I have a love for Swedish Fish and gummy bears in particular) may disagree with yours. My everyday habits, my lifestyle, and my goals are unique to me. So why – why – are you trying to shove your own beliefs down my throat?

If you’ve been keeping up with my writing, you know that I’m an intermittent faster. I do it for a whole host of reasons, the most important being that it works for me. For me. Now, if you were to ask me if you should jump on the Lean Gains bandwagon, I’m not going to give you a blanket yes answer. In fact, for many individuals, I would discourage it or at least strongly encourage that it be approached with caution. If you don’t want to do it, that’s cool with me; I couldn’t care less if you prefer to eat throughout the day.

My way: heavy hip thrusting.

“You guys, I can’t seem to fit in all my calories in the 8-hour window. I’m absolutely stuffed. I ate so much in one sitting that I just threw it back up – oops – and I’m about to eat it again because I need those calories. What tricks do you have up your sleeve to make intermittent fasting work?” Here’s a brilliant idea: stop trying to cram all that food into such a small timeframe. Whatever diet you decide to adhere to is supposed to make things easier for you, not more miserable. Intermittent fasting is great, but it’s not magic. Just like anything, it has many benefits but also has its downsides. The rapidly rising popularity of this relatively new way of eating is undoubtedly exciting, as there are many individuals who have reported positive effects as a result of this change. But if you’re a hardgainer, if you struggle to eat enough food in the first place, if you’re an endurance athlete who trains hard in the early morning hours, if you’re hypoglycemic, if you like eating breakfast in the morning – then why the hell are you making this difficult for yourself, all in the name of following a popular diet that obviously isn’t suited for you?

The same goes with cardio. I hardly do any of it because I have my own set of beliefs about what’s effective and what’s not when it comes to training and nutrition. But I understand that for every handful of individuals who achieve their aesthetic goals without getting on the treadmill once (yay!), there will be some who actually enjoy hitting the pavement for a morning jog. If you fall into the latter category, then that’s great; I’m not going to force you to stop doing something that makes you happy.

If you want my opinion, I’ll give it to you. And I can present the facts that provide reasons for why I do what I do and say what I say. You don’t need to be an intermittent faster; you don’t have to do CrossFit (and I sure as hell won’t); you’re not going to die if you detest heavy lifting. Collect the relevant information, absorb it, and then decide if you want to adopt the idea. If you don’t like a certain approach, you’ll find another one that works just as well.

Are there some methods that are better than others? Of course. But try to tell me that I absolutely need to do things your way and I will say this: nay, ignoramus; how would you like it if I chained you to a barbell and ordered you to squat because you “need” to do it to be healthy? So no, I don’t need CrossFit, thank you, and please – let’s just leave it at that.

There’s no one set path to achieving a goal. So cut the bullshit.

About the author  ⁄ soheelee

I am a fitness buff with a Stanford B.A. in Human Biology – Psychosocial and Biological Determinants of Health. I’m also an NSCA-certified personal trainer and a nationally qualified NPC bikini competitor. I've written on, Greatist, and other awesome publications sharing tips on fitness, psychology, and motivation.

  • Keith lai

    Great post soheee. I honestly can’t stand it when other people say that their way is the only way. If you’re able to lose weight eating paleo, then that’s great, but it doesn’t give you the right to tell people that it’s the only way to lose weight.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Sohee Lee

      yes, agree. i’m wary about any diet that restricts specific foods, BUT if people enjoy what they’re doing, then all the power to them!

  • Kristy Wilce

    Amen sista! Especially the CrossFit stuff…. SO many people walk up to me and ask how I “get my arms to lok like that” or something on those lines and think I can quickly expain two or three exercizes to them and in 5 minutes they can look like me! Then just as many people walk u and tell me to start doing what they are doing so I will look better (I already look beter than they do).

    Do your own thing.

    • Pondsy

      up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, A, B, select, start for big arms!

      • Sohee Lee


      • Nick Ng

        Thank you for sharing, this Ms. Lee! People tend to do what everyone else is doing regardless of what it is. That’s how you get a movement. Another term would be “bandwagoning”.

        • Nikki

          That was awesome.

        • Sohee Lee

          oh but i LOVE this video.

  • Nick Gable

    Major props, I would have caved and started a fight about Crossfit right then and there =P

    Real talk: this principle goes so much further than the weight room. I’m a pretty staunch atheist and if there’s one religious group that pisses me off, it’s atheists. Mostly because 90% of the atheists out there insist on proving to other religions why they’re all wrong. If believing in a higher power lets you sleep at night, who the hell am I to say otherwise?

    As an aside, which crowd would you say is more dogmatic: hardcore churchgoers or hardcore weightlifters?

    • Sohee Lee

      Interesting question. Thought about it for a good 30 seconds and I would say that the hardcore churchgoers are way more dogmatic. Ironically, the ones who are taught not to judge others are the ones who have the harshest opinions of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their same beliefs. I know of overly devout Christians who have completely cut off ties with longtime friends simply because they didn’t go to church 3x/week.

      Being pious is a way of life – and yes, you could argue that weightlifting is also – but religion tends to pervade every aspect of who you are. It changes what you say, the way you behave, even down to the damn posters you hang up on your wall. “Hardcore churchgoers” have much less leeway when it comes to things like that.

      Weightlifting, on the other hand, occupies a smaller (albeit still pretty big) domain. Eat, sleep, lift – okay. But “hardcore weightlifters” really don’t give two shits about what kind of music you listen to or how revealing your top is.

      Ya dig?

      • Nick Gable

        oh but I do give two shits about how revealing your top is =P

        In all seriousness, I’d argue back that iron IS my religion. Every week I make a ritualistic offering at the altar of the power rack and rededicate my vows to strength and health. When I first stumbled into a gym during college it helped give me direction in life and eventually DID shape a lot of my beliefs and who I am today.

        But the more I think about it, the most dogmatic people in the weightlifting community aren’t the hardcore lifters and athletes; it’s the and intermediate-novices and “internet experts” that sling the most dogmatic crap. You can’t make it to true hardcore levels in strength without checking dogma at the door. Whereas in most religions (atheism included) dogma is embraced with open arms and is often a fasttrack to success.

        • Craig

          nailed it.

  • Karina Inkster

    Finally, someone calling out the bullshit! Excellent post, and excellent points. Not having a blanket approach or the same answer for everyone makes things more complex for our personal training clients, but at least we’re confident that we’re not spreading BS and instead taking into account individual differences.

    E.g. I’m a lean hardgainer with the metabolism of a hummingbird. I eat between 3000 and 3500 calories a day, I’ve got super low blood pressure and get dizzy when I don’t eat for even 3 hours, and I can only train in the mornings due to a potentially life-threatening allergy- and exercise-related condition. So there’s no way I’m going to try intermittent fasting, but I’m not about to tell everyone that *they* shouldn’t try it either. Feel free to check out my blog for some of the foods I eat and vegan fitness awesomeness!

    • Sohee Lee

      you’re right – you’re the last one person who should be practicing intermittent fasting 😉 kudos to you for succeeding in your endeavors in spite of all the challenges you face!

  • Craig

    good stuff!

    by way of example, check out this extremely successful lifter’s dietary strategy:

    He’s 210lbs, very lean, super strong (totals 700kg raw at 90 kgs), competes in raw powerlifting. That works for him even if it defies the conventional wisdom.

    He’s been known to use swedish fish and haribo gummy bears as his peri-workout carb source so he has something in common with you!

    • Sohee Lee

      he gets my stamp of approval!

  • Angela McCuiston

    Well said Sohee! I have gotten into cycling and LOVE it and where I live it seems that everyone who bikes is into triathalons. They all tell me “well, since you’re running anyway and biking so much, you should come swim with us and then you can do a triathalon”. For one, I HATE running, I’m just doing it because the Army makes me and I don’t want to suck at it. For two, can’t I just bike? Why do I need to do a tri because I’m doing two out of the three? I think you should do a tri if you like doing all three events….I don’t and I sure as heck don’t want to devote any more time to endurance events. Can’t I just bike?

    And if I have another person tell me “you should do Crossfit” I’m going to scream. If it’s for you and you like it, great, I want NO part of it. Let me lift the way I want, thank you very much, I have plenty to work on without trying to puke.

    When it comes to eating, this is the hardest thing for my clients to understand. I have one that tells me “just tell me what to eat…or not eat…or limit my choices”. They can’t understand the concept of there being no “bad” foods. I’m constantly asked “what do you think about X diet? What do you think is the best diet?” My answer? The best diet is the one you stick to, the one that works for you. My parents are doing Atkins, having great success and enjoying it. Great, more power to them. I want to eat carbs and I like that biking lets me eat more of them. I don’t force my way of eating on any client, but I will do my best to help them understand what might work best for them.

    Well said. :)

    • Sohee Lee

      Angelaaa! :) Ha, well here’s the kicker – the guy who was saying that to me actually followed me out to the gym trying to convince me to try CrossFit, then even e-mailed me about it later. No lie.

      “The best diet is the one you stick to, the one that works for you.” Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

      • Zoharian

        I would have found out how well his CrossFit has prepared him for falling down a flight of stairs. That is ridiculous. I hope he is reading this now.

  • bingo

    Ola! I happen to CrossFit. Been doing it for ~7 years. Frankly it’s nothing short of perfect for me and my personal goals. Is it right for everyone? Meh…what is?

    How long had your “helpful friend” been doing CF? Seems to me that pretty much everyone who discovers something that works for them (intermittent fasting, for example) feels like it MUST be right for pretty much everyone you care about, especially in the beginning. Heck, anyone who will stand still in front of you long enough to hear about your success! Remember?

    Your conclusion is spot on. Painfully obvious, actually. A little kindness, a little forbearance, and a touch of patience–all of which you demonstrated– and you might have the universal solution!

    Thanks for a good read. Cheers.

    • Sohee Lee

      thanks for reading 😉

  • Melodie Byington

    Rock on Sohee. Awesome post. I sometimes fall into the trap that my way is the right way. I think we all have been there a time or two, but it is good to remember that what works for me, may not be what works for others. Again great post! Thanks!

    • Sohee Lee

      Yeah, sometimes I catch myself thinking that at times, but then I quickly get my shit together. It’s taken me a while to learn that others can still be healthy and happy without doing EXACTLY what I do.

  • Brian

    Indeed, just because “Crossfit” (quotes intended since the term is ambiguous and virtually meaningless) seems to be the fitness trend nowadays does not mean it’s for everyone. In fact, I would venture to say it’s only appropriate for a small population such as athletes. Just goes to show how good marketing will enable the thoughtless hoards of society to jump on the bandwagon ala P90X or Insanity Workout.

  • Eric Moss

    right on sister!
    The things I do and the way I do them often times are opposite of what others are doing and when they try telling me that what I’m doing is wrong I say this….I currently walk around with single digit body fat year round, my resting heart rate is in the 50’s, I’m strong enough to twist horse shoes, I don’t easily get physically exhausted…I think I’m doing something right. Looking at your pics I’d say you are doing something right too.

    I don’t need to try other people’s programs because when it comes to training goals…I’m pretty good at accomplishing them and don’t need to try everything under the sun to know it isn’t for me.

    Keep doing what you are doing…it’s working.

  • BigCam

    Yes. Yes. Yes. SOOO nice to hear someone else voice my thought pattern.

  • Sascha Richer

    I.F. worked great for me when I was cooking for a living, it took the temptation to eat all the sweets I was making away. It was wonderful. Now that I went back to my first love carpentry my days are very physically demanding (coupled with early morning workouts and crap loads of running) I find that I need to eat throughout or I become a very unpleasant person to be around.
    What works for someone can change during the course of life, so saying one thing is bad cart blanche is rather silly. Since signing up for the Spartan races I went from lifting six days a week to running(or other cardio) three days and lifting three day. Turns out, I friggen love it. So you are right Ms.Lee people need to shut up and just train the way they love to.

  • Danny McLarty

    Very well said, Sohee!

    And I really like your breakdown on the, hardcore weightlifters vs hardcore churchgoers, question. I couldn’t have said it any better myself! :)


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  • Stevo

    I don’t know how I missed this, but it was an enjoyable read! I think that most people who come to people like us are looking for “TATAQ: The Answer to All Questions.” It’s easy to sell people TATAQ when they crave it so badly, but it’s harder to sell shades of grey. Harder still is looking at the things that work for us and we love so dear (lifting heavy things, swedish fish, kettlebell swings, etc.) and being just as open to questioning those things as we want Crossfitters and Paleo people to be ab out their core assumptions. I think that’s why I keep coming back to core principles that I want to teach as basic habits: 1. People need to pick up heavy things consistently. 2. People need to eat enough food for their goals. 3. People need to get their heart rate up every now and then. 4. People need to move more than they sit. I am open to changing just about every part of my programming around these principles; but this is the foundation of my model. Of course, I am open to changing my belief in these core principles as well (and have!), but it will take new evidence that does not fit my model. To drop a Carl Sagan bomb,

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    • Sohee Lee

      Right on, Stevo. You always seem to get it right.

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  • Andy

    I enjoy reading your articles, by the way I saw your article on that’s how I found your site, congrats! I couldn’t agree more on the concept that different things work for different people as each human being is their own unique person. I started doing Cross fit exercises a while back and feel about 99% confident that is the main cause of the nagging back injuries that I seem to be experiencing now. I have been exercising about 9 years now and have never experienced any injuries like this until doing CF. For me, I feel I see some of the best results through Hypertrophic Training and whether I am bulking or cutting I just modify my diet based on the needs of my goal.

    • Sohee Lee

      Andy, that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Sad that you’re but one of many who have suffered at the hands of Crossfit.

  • Wet Wolf

    Are you saying crosfit doesn’t forge the fittest people in the universe??

    If so then you’ll like this video I made.

  • Julie Marks

    Great post. I completely agree with you. Although I do Crossfit, I completely agree its not for everyone. And many should not do it. I like the support system it offers, but refuse to hurt myself to get a personal time or weight record. I’ve always been an advocate for form. If you are not doing the movement correctly, you wont recieve all the benefit. Not only that-but you can really hurt yourself. I really love your site and your approach to health and fitness. Keep up the good work.