The fitness industry is blessed with a wealth of information, and better yet, free information. There are tons of fitness pros that put out amazing content regularly via their blog, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and every other social media outlet possible. It’s overwhelming at times, but also awesome!
Unfortunately, any time there is a large volume of information being spewed out (especially in something as unregulated as fitness), you get a lot of bad information too. Whether it is just misinformed, or just flat out unscientific, you’ll see quite a mix of content on the internet.
How many times do you see something like this online, complete with testimonies of people who successfully achieved their goals?:
All the time, right?
Here’s the thing that people seem to lose amongst all of this:
Anything will work for four to six weeks. That’s right. Pretty much anything.
Every time you see a four to six week program from a fitness resource, I am confident to say that if you follow that program to the best of your effort and ability, you will see a result. I’m not sure what the result will be necessarily, but something will happen. This all needs to be within reasonable parameters, of course. Like, if a program says, “drink a cup of bleach before each meal”, hopefully logic will prevail, and you won’t do that thing.
This holds even more truth if you haven’t been active lately. Makes sense though, right? Go from doing nothing . . . to doing something. You’ll get a result.
Go from eating 10% healthy foods, to eating 30% healthy foods. A result.
Go from exercising once per week, to exercising three times per week. A result.
Make a positive change. Get a result.
It’s a pretty simple relationship. And whether the information you followed is good, or not so good, it’ll probably still work for the four to six weeks.
Legitimately challenging your body by throwing a new workout, or new meal plan at it can lead to some pretty amazing results. Those early weeks are the time it takes to adapt. And the human body is crazy impressive. It will adapt, and it will make changes. And you will get a result.
So that is a good deal. Despite the quality of your programming, you still make progress. The weight is going down. The muscle is building. The strength is growing. But then, you seem to plateau. And you can’t seem to get to the next result, and are struggling with progressing your goals. What you were doing seems to cease working for some reason. Maybe the weight starts to come back? Maybe you are starting to feel some pain? Maybe you are just flat-out discouraged?
This is the critical piece.
Was the program that you were following actually well crafted, well thought-out, and designed for fitness and health? Or was it perhaps questionable information?
Just because something helped you get a result once, doesn’t mean it was the best for your health and fitness. Especially long-term, but maybe even in the short-term.
For example, if you eat exclusively one 1200 calorie meal from a fast food restaurant a day for six weeks. You will probably lose some weight. But that doesn’t mean that what you are doing is healthy, or good for you. Right?
Or what about, going to the gym, and lifting the heaviest weights possible with questionable technique, despite that pain you feel in your back? Again, probably not the healthiest way to do it.
But you will still probably get some sort of result through the effort. There’s just a risk-reward balance to consider. Some risks may be worth taking, some may not be.
Now, I’m not here to solve the woes of bad fitness information on the internet. If I had that answer, I’d happily share it. But for today, my goal isn’t to force my opinion upon you.
Just know that there are differences in opinion on what is “good” and what is “bad” in the fitness industry. In my opinion when it comes to fitness, the more rooted in science it is, the more I trust it. The more evidence-based it is, the more I’m willing to apply it. The more I’ve utilized it, and experienced it myself, the more comfortable I feel with it. But that is just me. And I surely don’t know everything there is to know.
But more important than what my own personal biased opinion on health and fitness is, here is my lesson for you today:
Just because someone got a result from something does not mean it is healthy or right. Don’t blindly accept it. Think critically about it, and ask “why?”.
Simply asking “why?” can lead you to some of your greatest learning. It’ll help you to understand the nature of health and fitness better than you did before. And from there you can start to learn how to discern what information is good, and what information may be suspect.
And if you don’t want to do that, well, you are in luck!
You can ask for some help. That’s what we are here for. A good fitness resource, trainer, coach, or consultant will help you discern good information from bad information to the best of their ability. They will work with you to find, craft, teach, correct, and adjust a program so that you can exercise safely, effectively, all the while enjoying the experience. So feel free to ask those of us in those roles. We should be able to help explain the “why”, and if not, we should be diving into the sea of information to see what we can learn from it.
Not only can this help you achieve your goals in a healthy way, but you may really start to advance your health and fitness regime (for longer than 6 weeks). And heck, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two! And to be honest, we probably will too!
Blaine Cressman, B.Sc, R. Kin
Personal Trainer, Nexus Health and Training