It is easy to scare people with the unknown. Even if you have training in exercise or nutrition, they can be confusing, intimidating and create a sense of the unknown.
To complicate matters, there are many charlatans and snake oil salesmen who create misinformation to sell people their usually worthless products.
I warn my patients that if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. “If you avoid this one evil ingredient or spice or food particle, then you will get rid of all of your health ills and live a long, active life.” That’s generally the gist of their sales pitch.
They will use juvenile scare tactics. They will take one shoddy study that isn’t scientifically sound and run with it. They will use that study to scare you away from the ingredient or food that is the basis for all of our ills. And if you eliminate that one ingredient, then you will live a long, active life with no health ills.
Nutrition Fad or Fact?
This tactic works. It works so well that it has been used for thousands of years. There is a documented case of Taoist monks in China 4,000 years ago espousing to stay away from the main 5 grains of Chinese life. The monks claimed that if you could avoid these 5 grains, then you could fly and teleport, among other benefits.
Another favorite of mine is the story of a man who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was a vegetarian and made outrageous claims of the benefits surrounding his dietary lifestyle, even to the point of claiming that his feces did not smell. He claimed they became dry wafers. Apparently, he mailed them to skeptics as proof. He literally claimed that his shit didn’t stink.
Beware of any diet or exercise system that takes things to an extreme. It seems that everything these days are extreme. It doesn’t have to be. I believe that anything taken to an extreme is wrong.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
I believe, based on clinical evidence (studies and research), anecdotal evidence (what I see in my practice with my patients), and from personal experience (I eat primarily plant-based), that eating a plant-based diet is far superior to eating animal products. Without animal products, you will live a longer, healthier, more active, less sick and painful, less obese life than you would with eating animal products.
That being said, realistically, and in our society, that won’t work for most people. I try to practice what I preach and not take anything to an extreme. So I eat fish and cheese on the weekends. Once again, this might be too extreme for most people.
I also exercise a lot. I race in 100-mile mountain bike races. These races are as hard, if not harder, than iron man triathlons. They take just as long to finish (the winners complete them in 7-8 hours, I can do them in 9-12 hours). Some people may feel this is extreme. But I train intelligently. I take one week easy out of every month. And I take one month easy out of every year.
I advise my patients to exercise to their tolerance, not to mine. It can be as easy as walking 20 minutes 3 times a week & stretching twice a week or light weight lifting, ti chi & yoga twice a week.
The same pertains to my views on nutrition. You can’t go from eating meat and animal products three times a day, in 1 week, to eating them only once a week the following week.
Anyone that advises you to be that extreme and that fast with major changes to your lifestyle will not work. The changes will be extremely hard, if not impossible, to stick with.
One Step At A Time
Make small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle that slowly buildup to major changes. You can’t just go from sitting on the couch all day and not exercising to breaking a hard sweat and burning calories in 2 days. You have to get yourself in shape to exercise. This takes time. But this allows you to get used to the exercises without injuring yourself.
Exercise smarter, not harder. Eat intelligently so you don’t have to starve yourself. Don’t give into the fear-mongering. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. That is the Pain-Free Way.