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Leave Your Ego at the Door
- Updated: May 14, 2016
By Jennie Laurent, RN, BSN, WNBF Figure, Fit Body, & Bodybuilding Pro – The science behind nutrition and fitness is both fascinating yet mind boggling, and sadly the industry is swimming with many people who defend their beliefs as if their life depends on it. People take everything they read as gospel or what some gym rat or guru said is superior or research says so therefore it must be true; however, at the end of the day, it is not the best thing for YOU if it does not work or just because science or theories claim this is the truth or the best diet or training regimen.
I have done a great deal of research and have had exciting success in the fitness industry, but I won’t ever tout that I know it all or that my way is better than any other out there. I may have found what works for me, but that doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone. This leads me to the topic of discussion for this article, which will address the complexities involved with fat loss, muscle building, and how to cope with the overwhelming amounts of information and people out there claiming to know best.
Though many argue that this diet or their way is the best way or superior to any other diet/training is in essence just not true. There is no solitary perfect diet, but there are ideal theories and methods proven to be effective on an individual basis, which I will elaborate on further. In the health and fitness industry you will encounter many different people who are sadly closed-minded and will argue until blue in the face that their way is better and you are wrong. It is especially insulting to be told this when it’s not the truth, and you know it.
I’ve learned over the years to fight the urge to defend my case and retort such a statement. I would rather save my sanity and not waste my breath on someone who won’t admit fault or be open to what could be an educational conversation. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to have an intellectual discussion about fitness without dragging their ego into it and making it more like a debate about who is right or wrong instead of what they can learn from one another. That is cognitive dissonance at its best. Egocentric people subconsciously claim voluntary ignorance and I have no time for that.
It is absolutely not a matter of right versus wrong. No one knows it all, but you have to be careful what you read as the industry is ridden by pseudoscience. Research is always evolving, and the human body is a phenomenon that we cannot always explain like genetic freaks or people who are an exception to the rules. To even begin to address the human body at a cellular and physiological level goes way over the average person’s head anyway.
Unless someone shows an interest in understanding your unique way of training and diet, just save your energy and don’t waste time arguing it. The bottom line is that if you’re going to claim you know anything, you better be able to back it up with sound research and proof. Avoid people or trainers who get testy if questioned or those who cannot back up what they know in dignified terms. There is such a thing as gracefully admitting you may be wrong, but if you’re absolutely right, there is also no need to belittle a person or their beliefs. Fight fair if you ever have to, but know when to walk away, because you don’t need to be dragged down to petty arguments or ignorance.
There are many theories that exist in this industry, some promising, others complete fallacies. Millions of studies have been performed under “controlled” environments and test subjects where conclusions are drawn and results published. The human body does not always function the way it is theoretically designed, and in the real world, the conditions are far from controlled. The human body cannot be reduced to a simple math equation such as calories in = calories out. For instance, one cannot even accurately measure energy expenditure so to argue this is futile.
Slashing calories and pounding cardio is certain to help you lose weight ,but it’s also a surefire way to metabolic burnout and a weight loss that will result in regain and rebound. In essence, this produced results, but at the cost of health, so it really failed. The only way to ensure there is a caloric deficit for fat loss is by monitoring biofeedback. Weight loss on the scale does indicate where the weight came from whether it is muscle, fat, water or a combination of the three.
Those trainers and athletes with the greatest success have mastered the art of reading the body and responding to the unique biofeedback. It would take a novel to describe everything that impacts fat loss and muscle gain. To boil it down, successful fat loss and/or muscle gain depends on your hormonal balance and health, adequate sleep and rest, and managed stress. These are the prerequisites so don’t even bother navigating any goals until you have mastered these three.
Knowledge is power and it pays to understand how the body works in order to interpret the feedback it will furnish in response to any stimulus placed on it. Remember, the body has a mission to survive, not look ripped and sexy, so it takes patience and a profound respect for our bodies that will ultimately produce the most gratifying results. Some people are more genetically gifted than others, some people have health issues that hinder results; we are not all created equally and we all must approach diet and training in a customized manner that suits our body and preferences.
The bottom line is to embrace all the theories that exist and educate yourself in order to filter those that are not founded. Also, just because someone can recite or reference “research” or “science” does not mean they understand it themselves, so do your homework. Remain open to the many different approaches to diet and training that exist and rather than listen to someone tell you which way is ideal, find out for yourself in a sensible and healthy manner.
The experience and knowledge you will gain is priceless, and when people do ask you why and what you’re doing, you will be well prepared to give them factual evidence as opposed to some random theory you heard about but never tried personally. In any endeavor you pursue in life, keep an open mind, make it fun, and never stop learning!
Photos: Jon Priest/Reg Bradford
MORE JENNIE LAURENT
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