The fitness and wellness industry is awash with much dogma, often created by short term ideologies, that in long term may be harmful to ones health. A friend sent me a link to a simple yet effective graph from Keith Norris's blog on chasing performance goals and their impact on health. This got me thinking about the fields that I work in and how much of the recommendations are riddled with dogma and lack critical thought processes.
There's often a reason for this dogma existing and for many it is due to the anecdotal gains that can be experienced in the short term. Here are just a few reasons why:
- High carb to low carb
- Eating grains to not eating grains
- High meat eater to vegetarian
- Sedentary to high intensity exercise
- Modern SAD to Paleo
- Regular diet to juicing
There are plenty more and the point to be made is, some positive gains can be made in the short term, change to metabolic markers, restriction in excessive calories, weight loss and a variety of other markers. From the diagram above you can observe that whenever there is a change to the input of a system, change can occur and especially when there has been little variance in the past. As change occurs and an almost linear increase in perceived health markers also occur, a Zone of Optimisation and resultant dogma often ensue.
'This really worked for me, and it will do for you, trust me!'
Is the problem for many people, those often short term gains, on the way up on your performance curve, may actually start falling sooner than you think.
For the performance exerciser, poor movement, compensation and ultimately pain will ensue.
For those to the new diet, great results could turn into stagnation, weight gain and a host of metabolic disturbances.
Is it working for you? Well do you:
- Have good digestion?
- Have deep restorative sleep?
- Balanced energy?
- Healthy libido?
- Balanced emotions
- Good stress response
If you don't, you may just be coming down from that peak of physiological and biochemical gains. When might it happen, 1, 2 or even 5 years down the line perhaps? Hysteresis or a systems memory can be changed with ease if there exists, little underlying metabolic damage and a reduction of factors that increase resistance to repair that system. Supporting metabolic processes should be first and foremost.
Understanding that fitness is not always a healthy pursuit and paying attention to markers that increase vitality should be a goal, and be pursuant to any fitness goal.
Move, play, eat, digest and sleep well.