How to Spot Bad Fitness & Nutrition Advice

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There is very little more frustrating than being confused.
For a fleeting second you think you understand something you've read or have been told, then suddenly contradictory information enters the room and questionable doubt takes a seat.

You start to question details and worst, you’re no longer sure of what’s true and what you can rule out as worthless.

This whole breakout of unsureness – questioning the details, not knowing what is worthy or worthless –  is running rampant nowadays in the health industry while you, the innocent by stander who simply types a question into Google for clarity about...oh let’s say "how to do a push-up", gets bombarded by 162,000,000 people telling you what to do!

Real talk - 162,000,000 suggestions. I googled it.

With that many voices all talking to you at once, it becomes essential to have a way of sifting through it all in order to pick out the people and information you should pay attention to.

So in order to make that process easier for you, today I’m going to give you the ultimate mental checklist.

This checklist consists of questions you should ask yourself as you come across information telling you how you should do anything related to your health and fitness.

Question 1: Is It Sustainable?

Sustainability often gets tossed out the window with the bathwater when people hear tantalizing information.

“Drink this green smoothie for breakfast and lose 15 pounds in 10 days”

“Do this one ab exercise everyday to get a 6-pack”

Those headlines may sound good to you, but are they realistic to keep up with? More importantly do they deliver the results they claim?

In addition to that you have to come clean with yourself; do you really want to drink a green smoothie everyday for the next week and a half?
I love some kale but even I wouldn’t want to eat it for the next 10 days straight.

The point is for something to be effective it has to be sustainable; a practice you can keep up with over a long period of time without it bringing stress to you and without it losing deliverability.

Not to pick on green smoothies, but if you actually did lose the 15 pounds after drinking them, what do you think is going to eventually happen after you stop?

Question 2: Does It Teach You How To Do Something?

Does what you’ve heard teach you a legitimate skill or does it just tell you what to do it?

Have you ever heard that old saying,
“Give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to cook and he’ll eat for a lifetime”?

That proverb full-fledge speaks to this tip.

Take for example the fact that I get a lot of clients who were once users of Weight Watchers. When I ask them why the program stopped working for them, the majority answered saying that it didn’t teach them how to eat, it just told them what to eat.

Once they stopped following the point system, they eventually reverted back to their old eating habits.

I understand that some people often need the direction of being told what to do when they don’t fully get how to do something. But that’s when it’s our job (our being people in the health and fitness space) teaching you how stand on your own two feet so that eventually we can let you go.

Question 3: Are You Required To Get A Monthly Order of Shakes or Food?

The majority of weight loss systems for sale right make their dollars off selling monthly subscriptions of shakes and food. They use perfectly worded perfectly planned out marketing scripts that tout all the wonderful benefits that you’ll get while being low/no stress, delicious, and the answer to shrinking your waistline.

How do I know?

I used to be one of those people using those perfectly worded scripts.

In early 2014 I thought I'd found my fitness business calling with Team Beachbody; the company who made Tony Horton and Shaun T famous with P90X and Insanity. Remember those guys?

Well, I thought that this company had everything all figured out. They seamlessly meshed together what I thought at the time were some awesome workout DVDs with the support system of having a coach in the Beachbody community.

If you went on Facebook you'd find hundreds of groups dedicated to Beachbody ran by Beachbody coaches who’d be willing to support you.  
Housewives, stay-at-home moms, women trying to break into business ownership, and tons of other people who had never really experienced solid success with weight loss, all vouching and vying for Beachbody.

But little did I know at the time it was all an MLM (multi-level marketing) business. Once I got my feet wet with the company I learned very quickly that it wasn’t about making the customer better, but it was about pushing their product, Shakeology.

Not to mention, at the time I was fresh out of undergrad clutching a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, as well as a certified personal trainer who had just gotten out of a “corporate” gym job because of these almost identical practices of pushing to hit a quota and not truly caring about the client.

When I realized that that the majority of these Beachbody coaches were housewives and stay-at-home moms giving nutrition and fitness advice, yet didn’t didn't know enough about either subject to rub two nickels worth of knowledge together, I was done.

I couldn’t be apart of that.

I'm not saying that systems that require a subscription aren’t effective and don’t work for a set period of time, but it goes back to questions 1 and 2 – is it sustainable and will it teach you how to do something?

Will it help you carry on skills that you can use for the rest of your life, or will it just help you patch up a problem that you’re experiencing right now?

Question 4: Does It Tell You to Count, Measure, or Weigh Everything you Eat?

Tracking your food intake to have a bird’s eye view of your eating habits is totally fine if done over a short and defined period of time. It’s great to help you see your stumbling blocks and triumphs if you aren’t otherwise aware of them.

The issue comes when that's done over the long-term; possibly causing you to feel defeated if you slip up, guilty if you happen to eat poorly, or even lost as to the purpose of tracking from being so engulfed in the task.

Keeping track of your food has it’s place.
It can be a tool in your arsenal, best used when you are:

  • Looking for a start point in changing your diet
  • Getting a bird’s eye view of your habits
  • In need of damage control around major food events or holidays
  • Feel you’ve fallen off the wagon and need a boost getting back on
  • Preparing for a major sporting event

But have you noticed that I say track your food and not count, weigh, or measure?

This is because doing a good job of knowing and having control over what you eat has very little to do with the size and weight of it. Rather, it’s more about being in sync with your food and noticing what affect is produced by it.

It’s more important to focus on and understand how your food affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally versus the amount of it on your plate.

  • Does your food make you feel lethargic?
  • Does your food cause gas and bloating?
  • Does your food give you brain fog?
  • Does your food cause your moods to shift?

Everything ultimately links back to sustainability. Not following behind what everybody has to say on a topic, but slowing down and being quiet enough to hear what your body is telling you in a way that doesn’t bring stress around food.

There you have it.
5 questions you can ask yourself to help you sift through any health and fitness related propaganda that comes your way.

Jasmine Cabrera

Health By Jasmine, Virginia