I feel like I say "It all just depends" at least 10 times a day (and I probably do), But it’s so true. In a world of so many different opinions and options in the exercise realm, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused.
You could google all of the following and find contradictory opinions on each: Should I be eating low carb? Should I be eating low fat? Should I eat fruit or not? Should I do strength training? Should I do cardio? Should I do low reps or high reps? Should I work out 3 times a week? More? Less? Should I eat breakfast? Should I be eating gluten? What about nightshades? What the heck is a nightshade? Why can’t I do a muscle up? Is CrossFit dangerous? Is CrossFit the greatest thing in the world? Should I not drink coffee after noon? Should I use a pre-workout? Should I eat something before I work out? Should I eat something after I work out? What should I eat before and/or after I work out? The questions are literally endless, and the deeper you delve into each topic, the more questions you come up against. It's enough to make you a fitness nihilist.
Here’s the thing, it all just depends….
Are you training for performance? Are you training for aesthetics? Both at once? Which one is your strength currently? If you had to choose one, which would it be? Are you ok with having lower energy in workouts, but losing a little more fat? Or would you prefer to have a little more fat, but smash workouts? What does a “good body” mean to you? More muscles? Less Muscles? How long have you been training for? How much do you value winning over longevity? What does it mean to win? Would you do anything it took to win, even if it meant you’d be dead a month after your event? What opportunities do you have to workout during the week? What about activities that don’t feel like working out, but could actually benefit you greatly? What do you enjoy? Again, the follow up questions can be endless, and each one leads to another rabbit hole of information that may provide a clearer picture or possibly just more questions.
So what in the world are you supposed to do?
1. Ignore a vast majority of information that you can find on the internet and/or social media.
Most of it is trying to sell you something, trying to get readership or trying to impress you with fancy new terms or concepts that have actually been around for decades. Paleo, Primal, Whole 30, Clean Eating, etc, are all extremely similar things, and they all can work for some people, but can destroy others.
2. Find a qualified coach who actually knows what they are talking about and has some experience.
You should know that this industry is literally the easiest one in the world to get into. There is almost zero regulation, and anyone can call themselves a trainer or coach without any sort of training or certification. In addition, the majority of certifications are done over a weekend or online. So, how do you sort out the good from the bad? Email and or interview a few and see who suits you best and who seems like they know what they’re talking about. If you ask them, “what should I be doing?”, and they give you a quick answer, they’re probably lacking experience and knowledge. In addition to that, if they promise something dramatic in 30 days, they’re either lying or they’re going to tell you that it will be the hardest 30 days of your life, and that there are no promises.
3. Listen to your coach.
You’ve decided to trust them, and you’ve decided that they’re the expert you’re going to utilize. At the outset, make a plan with some goals and deadlines. If those goals aren’t met at the end of that period of time, and you’ve done every thing they’ve said to perfection, then it’s time to move on. Don’t then go out and second guess everything they’re doing. That will frustrate the heck out of them, and will confuse the heck out of you. Like I mentioned above, there are a million opinions out there, and they all can work in the right situation. You’ll benefit the absolute most if you just put your head down and do exactly what they ask. If you’re curious about the why, ask. If they can’t tell you, you might want to consider other options.
4. Spread the message.
Instead of raving about how what you do is the best, seek to understand the journey instead of just the modality. Nothing annoys others who aren’t on your journey more than you not shutting up about it. Some people love lifting weights. Some people hate lifting weights. Some people are extremely carb tolerant. Some people get fatter just thinking about carbohydrates. Embrace your journey and encourage others to find their own way. If they want to walk a similar path, great. Help them out. If they think your path is stupid, that’s fine too, it’s your path, not theirs.
It all just depends…