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One man's poison

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I was on a cross-country flight the other day when I listened to a few fitness podcasts. One was about paleo eating, another on how to get fit by "eating more and exercising less." (The guy's premise was that you need to exercise to stimulate certain hormones, or something.)

I like to read about nutrition, and there are people who say that sugar is a toxic, harmful chemical a la tobacco. There are people who eat a paleo diet, or a carb-light diet, or a low-fat diet, or a fiber-rich diet, or follow the four-hour diet, etc. etc.

It led me to think about the fact that there is a philosophy for every season, or maybe every other person. ;-) I tend to be more mainstream in my thinking about science, mostly because I fear quacks. I still wonder though if what it would be like if I tried to eat low on the glycemic index scale or if I tried to eat more and exercise less to stimulate those hormones, would I find something that truly worked for me?

In some ways it is like getting out of debt. I used to have consumer debt and I wanted to get out of it. I went to the library and took a bunch of books off the shelf. Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Jean Chatzky, Liz Pulliam Weston, Michelle Singletary, and the list goes on and on. I had to wade through the various philosophies on spending and debt to see which ultimately made the most sense to me to actually help me reach my goal of being debt-free (not including student loans).

The process took awhile. I tried on various suggestions and thought patterns until my own pattern began emerging. I found a way of tracking my spending that worked for me and a budget that made sense. I repeated lines from Dave Ramsey while doing what Suze Orman told me to do. It was a hybrid approach that ended up working out really, really well: I've been consumer debt free for nearly 7 years. I'm still chipping away at the student loan while also saving for retirement and emergencies. And to brag: my net worth keeps going up and up!

Anyway -- back to health. Perhaps the problem with following one health-minded guru (or wanna-be guru) over another is that their philosophies take more time to try out. It seems too risky to try the hormone guy because if he's wrong, you just set yourself back a month or more. Everyone can say they are backed by science. My master's degree is in public health (that's where the MPH in my username comes from), and if I learned one thing from my 2 years in school, it's that studies conflict each other.

I just started following a science writer on Twitter (@daviddespain) who seems more mainstream in his approach. But then I follow the gut microbe guy (@Paleodiet4Two) who thinks much of our physical being is due to the microbes in your body (gut and elsewhere)... though he says you can alter your microbes by what you eat.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this except to reiterate that there's a million ways to get to the same place. What works for one person might not work for another.

How did you figure out what works for you?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • v VEGK80
    I feel the same way. I have read so many health books and love learning about nutrition but so many miss the mark. Thats why I agree that it is a good idea to take the best ideas from everyone and sort of make them your own. Its like religion, for me, everyone has grains of truth but NO ONE has all the answers and if they say that they do, that is a red flag. Life seems to be more about the process of always learning and growing in attempt to be better physically, financially, and spiritually.
    1222 days ago
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