Choose lifestyle, diet and fitness options that best suit you
Thanks to easily consumable mass media, we are exposed to more information than we can process. From computers to wars to travel to health, this seems to be the trend — too much information. But since I don’t know squat about anything other than nutrition, health and fitness, I’ll stick to talking only about those.
If you’re someone who is in some way interested in health or fitness, you’ll notice that you’re bombarded with giant bubbles of information and often times, they don’t agree with one another. One reputed source says coffee is one of the richest sources of antioxidants while another such source says coffee is a stimulant that causes adrenal fatigue. Expert A says protein is invaluable and should be consumed in plenty while expert B says excess protein can cause kidney damage. A press release last month says cheese protects against cancer while another more recent publication says cheese causes cancer.
You need to remember that context matters.
Let’s consider a few examples. Squats are an excellent lower body exercise. But what if you have a busted knee? Protein is an essential macronutrient we should be eating plenty of. But what if you’re kidneys aren’t a 100 per cent? Milk is a great addition to one’s diet. But what if you’re intolerant to lactose? Running is one of the best exercises there is. But what if you’re trying to combat muscular atrophy?
So before you put any of the information you read or hear to practical use, you need to understand what it means to you. How do you do that?
Step 1: Qualify the presented information
Refuse to accept the information as is. Assess the information from all angles. To the best of your ability, understand the pros and cons of making the proposed change.
Step 2: Become self-aware
Make a list of all your current health issues — from being overweight to diabetes to headaches to acidity to fatigue to lack of sexual proficiency. Write a food log. Write down everything you eat for the next two days. Make sure this is fairly representative of what you usually eat.
Write an activity log. Write down what you do throughout your day in two-hour chunks. More specific the better.
Write a stress log. On a scale of 1-5 rate your level of mental stress at various points of the day. Waking time, pre-work, work AM (11 a.m.), work PM (3 p.m.), post-work and before bed are good times to record stress levels.
Step 3: Self-experiment
Make only one change at a time and give your body sufficient time to adapt to the change.
Go back to the lists you prepared at step 1 and evaluate the effectiveness of the made change, if any.
Deem them as positive or negative and act accordingly.
Step 4: Don’t assume one size fits all
Every body is different and everybody is different. It’s great that you want to spread the joy but don’t convince someone else to do exactly what worked for you. Instead, educate them about the process of self-experimentation and empower them.
Realise, for any recommendation to benefit you, context is paramount. As far as nutrition is concerned, information about the consumer, his/her lifestyle, current health data, previous health history and future goals are necessary to understand the full picture. Without this, the information will always be irrelevant and the puzzle will always be incomplete.
(The writer is a fitness and nutrition expert.)