I used to find annoyed when people spoke of theory. To me I thought it was pointless and wanted cold hard facts. Either do this or do that. However, I’ve since realized that there rarely is anything that is truly a cold hard fact. There is almost always a gray area, much of what we know is based on many unproven theories, and this couldn’t be more true for the fitness industry.
A lot of voices will use absolutes to get their messages across. Some examples of these messages are: “never do cardio if you want to build muscle”; or “stretching will ruin your performance”. Even in the food industry we hear absolutes like: “never eat sugar”. Now, if all we do is abide by these absolutes, we will soon find ourselves acting the proverbial dog chasing its tail.
The first thing to know as a consumer is the importance of reading with a critical eye. There is always something we can learn and there is always something worth disregarding.
I’ve learned that the best answer I can lend when asked for assistance is, “it depends”.
I get asked questions like, “should I eat 6 meals vs. 3?”, “do I stretch before or after exercise?”, and, “Who wins in a fight between Jason Bourne and James Bond?”. The answer to all of these is “It depends”.
In seeking answers it is important to provide slightly more specifics towards the situation. For instance, as a trainer, I am often working during other people’s lunch breaks. I find that eating 6 meals a day is a lot more conducive towards my lifestyle than 3 big meals. Other people might be different.
When seeking answers we must remember to some extent everyone is different. And as we continue to learn information we must also continue to understand who we are and our situation in life.
An acronym I find most helpful for this is A.M.A. Or: absorb, modify, and apply. We absorb the information presented, we modify it towards our situation and we apply it to our lives.
I liken this process to sifting for gold. Sometimes when reading an article there might just be a lot of sand and dirt that distract us from what we truly want to find.
This process of filtering, while it may take time, will prove to very useful towards helping us find what may actually personally benefit us.
I’ll admit, as educators, sometimes it’s easiest to communicate using absolutes, because we avoid the million rabbit trails that make up the complexity of individuality and the human body. This is why as consumers we mustn’t take everything at face value, but rather always come to new information with a critical eye.