Balls to the wall, no days off, I'll rest when I'm dead. We've all said things like this, or heard someone say it before.
Why do we feel like we shouldn't take any days off? Why do we feel like we have to give 110% effort every time when we go to the gym? Why do we feel like we have to give 110% 6 days/week, and only rest one? Why do we need 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight? WHY?!?!?!
Well, that's what we've been told. That's why.
The fitness industry kinda reminds me of school these days (just a heads up, don't read any further if you're easily offended). I'm not sure if you remember your school days and what they were like, but I'm willing to bet that it included a lot of doing things you didn't want to. It included a lot of things you were told would be useful in your life, and it included a lot of things that you found to be the exact opposite. It was probably an environment where the question "why?" was forbidden. Asking "why?" got you in trouble, so you just did what you were asked to do because, well, that's "just the way it is." I found the same thing to be true in my education, especially when I got to college. Believe it or not, I found college (a place of higher learning) to be one of the most dogmatic environments I have ever been in. Critical thinking wasn't encouraged. Challenging educators was absolutely forbidden. Professors weren't interested in truth, facts, observations, and findings. All they cared about was being right. Now, I obviously can't assume that everyone's experience was the same as mine, and it's not fair for me to say that all professors are like that, but I have seen that same thing play out in the education of current students. A student I know walked into her first class at her new college and the first thing that came out of the professor's mouth was "Here are 5 reasons that God doesn't exist and why it would be stupid to believe that he does."
Now, I'm not here to get into some sort of theological debate, I'm just using this as an example. The point I'm making here is that when we are taking in information in a educational setting, it is extremely rare that we have the opportunity to be a mediator. It's rare that we get to be challenged. It's rare that we have the opportunity to challenge already existing thought. It's just rare that we get to be a mediator. What I mean by saying that is that it's rare to have the opportunity to sit down, hear multiple viewpoints, assess and analyze facts, take in data, and come to a conclusion based on the provided information. It seems that if we want to have that experience in an educational setting, we need to go out of our way and create that for ourselves.
Believe me, I am NOT going to sit here and point fingers without looking back and confessing my own mistakes. When I first began my career as a fitness coach at 19, I did the same exact thing. I told people that they needed to eat 6 small meals a day in order to keep their metabolism running. I told people they needed to lift one body part per week in order to build muscle and burn fat. I told people that they needed a protein shake immediately after a workout or else their entire workout would go to waste. I was a dogmatic individual. I wanted to be right and I didn't want to be challenged, because my insecurities lead me to believe that not knowing was a sign of inferiority; a sign of stupidity.
I DIDN'T take the time to be a mediator.
As my obsession for health and fitness grew, I came to understand that growth and knowledge doesn't come from being right, it comes from a desire to find truth. Upon implementing that into my life more and more, I began to challenge what I had previously thought was right. Throughout that process, I found the fitness industry to be dogmatic, telling the masses that x, y, and z is right, so you should buy this product.
"Train one body part per week, because that's what the big guys on stage do. They also drink this pre-workout so you should, too."
"Drink our post-workout shake in order to reap all the benefits of your workout. If you don't, your workout will go to waste."
Statement after statement, I found most of what I thought to be true, to be a bunch of marketing gimmicks to try to get me on their side (to purchase their product).
Now, there's nothing wrong with trying to get someone to see what you believe because you believe it's true. Nothing wrong with that at all. But I will argue that it's wrong to use someone's insecurities to sway them into purchasing a product or buying into a concept, especially when you're not going to give them all of the information, and let them make a decision of their own.
So, maybe the fitness industry isn't too far off track, since they're providing some information.
But, they are.
Companies should be giving out information that is not biased, or dogmatic. Biased and dogmatic information shows that they care about their product more than they care about their customer.
I shouldn't have told people to eat 6 meals per day without looking into it. But, I was too concerned with wanting to be "right", and "an expert".
All of the blame can't fall on big companies trying to sell us stuff. We need to look in the mirror, too.
Whenever we're told something, I believe we shouldn't just accept it to be true for two reasons:
If we don't look into it ourselves, how will we really know if it's true?
If and when we find out it's true, it'll resonate with us more because we took the time to really understand the underlying concepts.
Here's an example:
If you've been following me for a while, you know that I tend to bash diets quite a bit. I find them to be restricting, dogmatic, and life-sucking. However, when I create content that expresses that opinion, I always give my best effort to explain why. I make sure to give the big rocks, the big underlying truths that I use to believe what I believe. I give my best effort to explain why a certain diet isn't the magical answer to fat loss by providing the big rocks that truly matter. In a nutshell, instead of saying "diets suck, they don't do anything magical for fat loss", I try to make it a point to educate my audience on why I believe that without using their insecurities to sway them. So rather, I'd say something like "diets aren't the answer to fat loss, because there are lot of factors that come into play with fat loss, such as lean muscle tissue, training style, calories in vs. calories out, and more. The ketogenic diet isn't magical. What the ketogenic diet usually does is cause people to eat less processed, calorie-dense foods which allows them to burn more than they're eating in a day, causing them to lose body fat." That is more tangible information that the audience can look into, or ask me more about. Sure, I may not always be the best at doing that, but I do care about my audience so I go out of my way to provide all kinds of information because I want my audience and clients to be empowered. I want them to be self-sufficient. They shouldn't have to always rely on an "expert" because I claim to know everything. Should I build trust with them so they can reach out and ask for my insight? Of course! But ultimately my answers, responses, content, advice, and insight should serve to educate and empower, not to be "right."
Understand what I'm getting at? I hope so.
Look, here's all I'm trying to say:
Take the time to learn. Take the time to understand.
Ask "why?" often. Challenge your own thought process often.
Humble yourself, and never be afraid to use the words "I don't know."
Most of the time, acknowledging the fact that you don't know, and taking the time to admit that to yourself leads you down a path that allows you to grow, and eventually, know.
I love you guys. Thanks for reading. :)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam is a fitness professional, baseball fan, and cookie fanatic based in Fort Collins, Colorado. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. As an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, he is constantly moved to help people improve in all walks of life. If you’re interested in hiring Adam as your coach, fill out an application here.