Following a main road is easy,
Yet people delight in difficult paths.
– Lau Tzu
There’s a something of paradox that exists concerning the quest for good results in the areas of weight loss, health and fitness. A lot of the time, we seem to be looking for that quick easy fix that promises great results through some revolutionary plan of action. Whether it’s the latest fad or celebrity diet, newest piece of home exercise equipment advertised in an infomercial on television, or whatever else it might be, a lot of the time we seem only to really get excited about something if it is some sort of revolutionary idea, and we feel like we’ve stumbled onto a secret.
The paradox I refer to is that while looking for that quick, easy fix, what we end up with is something too difficult to stick to for long, which fixes nothing!
Usually these things come to my attention while surfing for health and fitness articles online, or via a well intentioned friend telling about something they’ve stumbled on to that’s finally going to get them the results they’ve wanted. You read an article or listen to a presentation, and then there’s glowing testimonials about how well it all works, and you think “wow! This is revolutionary, I’ve got to try this!” It’s exciting!
Except, it’s usually not very exciting for me, because most often what I am reading & hearing about goes against what I’ve learned in the process of earning my qualifications in nutrition and exercise prescription. At the same time, I don’t like to be a closed minded guy with that “if I don’t know about it already, it must be wrong” attitude, so it’s important to consider any new ideas objectively before adopting or dismissing them.
The most logical way to do this in my opinion is to ask the question, “does this seem natural?”
Being unfit and overweight or obese is not a naturally occurring state for a human being, it is the result of an unnatural modern lifestyle. In my opinion this also accounts for many cases of depression and mental illness as well. Whether you believe mankind evolved from the apes, was created by god or put here by the spaceships, we can all agree that we have been here for a long time and until relatively recently, our ancestors all lived in rather a similar way without the high instances of lifestyle related disease that is such an issue in modern society.
Our ancestors were more physically active, ate more grains, fruits and vegetables, fish if they could catch it, and meat if they could hunt it. They did not consume high levels of processed sugar or saturated fats as we do now, or use cigarettes or drugs.
So, in countering a condition or group of conditions brought on by an unnatural lifestyle, does it really make any sense to adopt a different form of unnatural lifestyle and expect a positive result? Many of the new and revolutionary approaches (such as separating protein and carbs, avoiding carbs altogether, various polyphasic sleep schedules to name just a few) run completely opposite to the way humans have lived since prehistoric times.
As boring as it may seem, good health doesn’t require anything revolutionary or any special insight. Rather than looking to some new and revolutionary solution, we can look to the past and remove the cause of the problem through a more holistic approach to health and fitness. Just get a good night’s sleep, eat small healthy meals every few hours, stay away from high fat & high sugar junk foods, quit smoking and get active! Your body is built to run best under these conditions, so it is actually EASIER than adopting many of these revolutionary new approaches that keep coming out.
But rather than being bored by this old fashioned idea, get excited about it, because unlike any of these fad diets or other miracle cures, this approach is certain to get long term results.