So who do you trust? Every waking moment of our lives we are constantly learning. Learning what to do as well as what not to do. The trouble is our sources of information are gradually becoming less and less legitimate and more and more varied.
For example, 'once upon a time' the internet wasn't a thing. If I had a question, or wanted to learn something I would have to go to this thing called a library and do research on that topic. I would take all the books regarding that topic and go out of my way to read and understand each and every perspective I could find to culminate my own opinion and understanding of it. My 'argument' or 'perspective' at that point would be the culmination of 'research' cunducted over 'multiple facts'.
Now thanks to google and facebook (which im not condemning here) all we need to do is look up the topic using one word and the answer is handed to us on a silver platter. Usually in the first three results in google, or the first couple of threads on facey. The issue I have is this generally isn't fact. It's what is called popular opinion. Using the words 'I read it on facebook' basicaly means 'I dont know where that information came from'.
So how does this issue transcribe into the world of health and wellbeing?
Well here are some questions I asked google that gave some very undesirable results :
Q : Why cant I lose weight?
A: The first result was "Light and Easy" I'll go into 'fad diets' in another article at some point. Second was the healthier.qld website which is positive. Interestingly enough though result four was an article by "body and soul" called "25 Reasons You Cant Lose Weight" lets see how that went.....
Firstly when you click on the link your presented with a woman smiling at you holding a huge doughnut. I don't know what they are going for but hey I suppose its related. First reason you cant lose weight is:
1. You don’t eat cake or other treats
Paradoxically, having a list of forbidden foods can lead to binge eating, say experts. Solution: Allow all foods but eat just small amounts of treats. "
Lets break this down, firstly you have someone who is over fat ( knowing that 'weight' is a bad way to describe an issue of excess body fat) asking "why can't I lose fat" and the first thing they are told is. Your not eating too much or the wrong foods, you just have to break up what your eating into allot of small meals. Oh and restriction of any type of food will turn you bolemic. Ladies and gentlemen you cannot as any body type read this answer and call it fact. It may apply, for one person in one very specific circumstance, but not for the rest of us. Its leading you down the garden path.
Lets check out answer number two:
2. You're stressed
Stress encourages excess cortisol production, which communicates to the body’s cells that there’s a scarcity of food. The body responds by laying down fat, slowing down metabolism and prompting you to eat more.
Solution: Practise yoga or meditation and take regular “sanity” breaks.
Ok, so what they are saying is true. When under allot of stress the body goes into survival mode and your metobolic rate will slow to store more fat in case you have to go long periods without food. The issue with this answer is that it should have read: "If your current food consumption is commesurate with your body type, you are doing medium rate excercise daily, and you havn't had issues with fat gain and your suddenly starting to become overfat....then maybe you are stressed" The way it is originally written requires the reader to have allot of background knowledge. Knowledge that you generally need to pay for. In this situation the person asking the question will probably stay overfat and out of pocket, whilst the local yoga instructor picks up an extra client.
Anyway, it goes on and on and most examples I could pull apart like that. The reason why most of these sorts of articles are incorrect isn't the facts that support their statements. Its how they don't cater for anyones specific needs. By themselves the statements are true and correct and the idea is that every single person could pick up this article and find one thing in there that they can relate to. However that relatable statement is probably incorrect for your current situation and willl only exacerbate the problem your trying to fix.
OK Lets ask google another fitness related question and see what we come up with.....
Q : How do I get rid of my flabby arms?
A : All I can say to this is WOW. WiKi How has actually surprised me and provided a pretty good synopsis taking the top spot in google results. Not a bad start even though they use the BMI as a testing tool. Otherwise they talk about realistic expectations, diet specific to the individual and aerobic exercise for fat metabolism...... not bad.... not bad at all.
However, for the effort Wiki How has gone to in its article, ALL the other google results on the first page prescribe arm specific excercises to fix flabby arms.
Sounds legit......after all it does make sense; my arms are flabby so ill work the arms.
The issue is quite simple, you cant spot reduce. (Although there has recently been research by top trainers that under very specific circumstances already trained athletes may be able to spot reduce IF their diets are closely monitored and refined) But for the rest of us, cardio is cardio. Wether it be HIIT (my fav) or running, or bike riding or boxing, your body metabolises fat from around your whole body. If you go ahead and train one bodypart it will adapt, your muscles will get stronger, they may get larger and you will see a difference in definition OF THE MUSCLE. The fat however is only going to come off when your body is metabolising it as energy. That situation only occurs with good nutrition and a regular exercise program. (Personalised to the individuals.
So whats the problem? All this information floating out there on the WWW and everyone reads something different. Some see a different article, look up a different recipe or follow the latest fitness model. Then.... they take that information to the office, to the gym, to their social groups and tell everyone about what they have found. Most of it is unreliable, most of it worked for at least one person, and most of it would fit in with someones answer to their fitness woes.... somewhere. All of it is sold as a one size fits all. Beware of the latest fad, the latest fitness craze or the latest 'fix everything' procedure. Those diets and plans that positively effect the lean ectomorph that works in sales will not necessarily work for you.
We as the human race are supposed to evolve in our ability to learn and understand. Those people and companies who are selling fitness products have the money to advertise and want your repeat business. They are the ones that create the dominant narrative; they are the ones that create the so called 'Facts' and stem our capability to learn, adapt and evolve. This narrative the industry creates will make you go round and round in circles your whole life looking for "The Answer" when all you need is "Your Answer". There is a reason why everyone has a different opinion on what "works for them", because what works for them....probably wont for you. So next time you hear the next "Fitness Expert" sprout an opinion about what everyone should be doing ask yourself "Where did they get that information? Why do they want me to do it? And how is it going to affect me and my solution? "
So to answer the question, who do you trust? Its simple... those trainers and health professionals who eventually want to see the back of you.