I work in the health and fitness industry [as it goes]. When I applied to study a Diploma in Personal Training and got into the fitness thing my mental space was probably occupied with things like sets and reps, exercises, treadmills, body composition, fitness assessments, and so on and so forth. To some extent it still is, however these are a scratch on ze surface.
These all have the risk of being such passive [for the most part] interventions for the client, in the context of holistic understanding. [In the world of therapeutic bodywork, a passive intervention would be the therapist manually manipulating the body, with no input from the client/patient’s nervous system]
Example – Client is seeing a personal trainer to improve x. Client attends session 1/2/3x per week for 60min, does prescribed exercise/therapy/whatever, then returns to their daily life for the remaining 166,165,164 hours of the week.
Like most aspects of our being, the majority of things are isolated, and the minority of things are done with the understanding or awareness of how they affect, complement, or enhance something else.
I see lots of people, I listen to lots of people, and ultimately I understand how people think about and approach their body and their wellness.
At the time of writing this I’m struggling to translate the ideas in my head into words, so I’ll try and portray these ideas with a couple of equations
– Conventional wisdom, [mainstream] media, perspective, awareness [lack off], acceptance = frustration/failure/pathology [potentially]
In other words, our understanding and beliefs steam from the information we’re exposed to in our environment. More often than not, a closed mind leads to a dead end and a lack of transferability.
– Self awareness, consciousness, common sense, critical thinking, experimentation = Development, growth, understanding, success
The simple act of standing back from a situation or statement and thinking about it critically is enough to change how you react and respond to it for the better, and how learning something about your body or about life can carry over to another.
Critical thinking to improve quality of life
The classic “blame my dodgy knee on old age” thing happens every day in the gym and clinic room. It’s easy to correlate injury with the aging process, but people forget one of the things the body does best – adaptation. If you look back at the environments you’ve exposed you body to over the last 30-50 years, do you think injury is something that just happens because you’re getting older?
Maybe the accumulation of hundreds of thousands of hours sitting in a chair, years and years of inflammatory foods, tissues that are chronically dehydrated and adhered, compensatory movement patterns, muscular atrophy [loss of muscle mass], and who knows what else have all changed the way your muscles, joints, connective tissues, and nervous system function, adapt, and resist injury.
Dietary fat/whole food/milk/nutritional dogma
There’s no better way to create controversy than making a statement about nutrition, it’s a fucking weird topic. Maybe it’s because of the nature of science, having to isolate something to be able to study it, maybe it’s because people’s beliefs can become so blinding. I could care less how you eat, or what you believe in.
However, it breaks my little heart seeing people bulllied into a certain nutritional dogma – for example, the idea that dietary fat is the devil, and instead making “healthier” choices… Flavoured water [skim milk], artificial butter [margarine], and any other product that is supposedly healthier than the real deal [$$$].
I’m not saying you’d be better off eating butter, whole milk or any other source of dietary fat, I’m just saying, take a step back and question where you get your information from, because who would you really trust – a cow, that’s been doing this shit in a lovely green field for thousands of years, or someone in a factory that decided they had a better way, sometime in the last century.
Flat feet, shin splints, gait analysis, orthodics, heel striking, high heels, “supportive” shoes. Footwear is another weird industry. I’m not a podiatrist [maybe one day I will be], and as above with nutrition, I don’t care what type of shoes you wear [well, I sort of do], or if you wear shoes at all. I don’t care what running technique you subscribe to or what your chosen sport is or form of training.
However I do care about why you do what you do, and hopefully it’s more than the sales assistant at the shopping mall telling you that the $300 pair of supportive shoes are what you need to cure your shin splints.
Think about it this way – The Golden Gate Bridge has an arch, your foot also has an arch. The Golden Gate doesn’t wear orthodics. The arch is the supporting structure, hence the bridge [and your foot] having an arch… in… the… first… place.
Wrapping this shit up
You don’t need to be a physio/dietitian/podiatrist/doctor to solve these issues for yourself. You just need to create awareness around how your body functions, experiment, be open to learning, connect the dots between your environment and it’s toll on your body, and generally you just need to give a shit.
It’s kind of a tragedy that the professions above exist in the first place. Obviously there’s a place for healthcare, but it should really be a last resort. You should be able to at least have a go at figuring out why you knee hurts.
The one really apparent theme underpinning all of these examples is the distance we’ve created between the evolution of our biology and the state of our La-Z-Boy, 7-Eleven lifestyle.
I don’t think we need to move to the hills and forage for wild mushrooms, we just need to have a go at connecting the dots.