On + Off the Field

From Couch Potato to Hot Tamale

By Graham Verdon

Have you ever noticed how often we use food to describe people? He’s beefy. She’s a ginger. She’s a string bean. He’s a shrimp. Check out the beer belly on that guy. Oh my, what a cutie pie. 

I could continue cherry picking (see what I did there?) food slang and risk moving into politically incorrect territory. Yet, it makes perfect sense that we describe our bodies with food, given the close relationship between the two. With summer upon us, a few descriptions might be top of mind.  

Couch Potato

For many of us, warm weather means shedding clothes and shedding pounds, with the former serving as motivation for the latter. Suddenly, Netflix marathons give way to dreams of the real thing. But high optimism and low preparation is a bad mix, and nothing sidelines a new exercise regimen more reliably than trying to move from couch potato to speed demon too quickly. 

After long stretches of inactivity, we must ramp up the intensity of activity over weeks, not days. Exercise after being sedentary also demands lots of warm up and stretching of dormant muscles. If not, the reoccurrence of chronic injuries is very common. Identifying exactly what those nagging injuries are, what causes them, and how to prevent them is what athletic therapists are all about.

Bananas, apples and pears, oh my!

We have so many colourful ways to describe the human body because we really do come in all shapes and sizes. However, these can often be categorized into three basic body types: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. 

Mesomorphs are generally considered the lucky ones among us, with compact bodies, wide shoulders, narrow waist and thin joints. We tend to regard this as the proportional ideal — the movie star bod. Endomorphs are rounder, with bigger joints and a naturally higher proportion of fat. 

One need only look around to see that most of us are a combination of two or three body types and tend to live somewhere between pear and apple as we age. Without consistent exercise and good eating habits, even a movie star mesomorph can morph into a pear shape with extra fat localizing around the thighs, stomach and hips. The maddening muffin top is one of the most infamous results that most of us have had to contend with while trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans after a few months of hibernation. 

Each of us with our unique body type faces a different set of challenges, and an athletic therapist is the expert who can teach you how your particular form affects your function. The good news is that whether you’re a banana or a pear, you can be healthier and stronger with just a little focus and determination.

Or put another way, if you use your noodle, it will be a piece of cake to be a hot tamale this summer.