Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Bullshitometer

There are so many sites, blogs, programs, work-outs, diets, training plans, make-overs, protocols, and the like out there right now that it is really hard to separate the good from the bad to the down right stupid. The best thing, of course, would be if we were all trained in statistics and the scientific method and we set about rigorously reading every study ever done and working out whether or not the conclusions were bona-fide or bogus. We'd accept the bona-fide ones, with the caveat that we would see if the science actually worked for us and we'd toss out the bogus ones. Pretty quickly Big Food and Big Pharma would disappear and we would be in charge our own health and longevity. A utopian paradise with no metabolic syndrome, no diabetes, no wheat bellies, no hypertension, basically no fat out of shape people who can't get off the couch, do a real push-up or squat with their hips below their knees. Yeah, you're right ain't gonna happen. Real health takes too much work, requires too many sacrifices and there are too many vested interests.

Ocean turmoil, reflection of inner turmoil? 
Paradise might be lost, but we can at least have a somewhat developed “bullshitometer”. We've all got one. The question is how well your bullshitometer is calibrated. Some people have a scary low bar on the bullshitometer such that everything they see and read becomes an instant call to action. They've been vegan, vegetarian, fructarian, or a raw-food-atarian, all the while running (literally) themselves into the ground. Other people's bullshitometer is calibrated to what Big Food, Big Pharma and government (way too influenced by Big Food and Big Pharma) tells them, or what the conventional medical/dietetic/fitness industry tells them – which are pretty much the same really. Any slightly non-conventional way of thinking scares these folks scary.

In a perfect world, our bullshitometers would be perfectly calibrated and we would be open to ideas that didn't correspond with our own instead of seeking out information that bolsters our already myopic view of the world. My own bullshitometer is likely just as biased as everyone else’s, but, I do like to think – I'll grant you I could be fooling myself – that the things I now dismiss based on my bullshitometer are things that I've tried in the past and haven't worked for me. If it's something new, I like to think – again this could be erroneous – that I'd give it a try. 

Anyway, what a long and tedious preamble. The reason I started thinking about the bullshitometer has been the proliferation of blogs and programs and protocols that are sprouting up as everyone peddles their particular brand of health and fitness. Some programs are just clearly idiotic and can be discounted immediately, but most are a mix of the good, the bad and the stupid. Pulling out the good from the garbage is difficult without a well calibrated bullshitometer. I can't believe I've written yet another paragraph of preamble and haven't got to my personal bullshitometer. 

 Caught mid-squat, hips not below knees

Finally, in a similar vein to my “things that are just too weird” here are the most common things that fail my bullshitometer test:
  • Endorsing any kind of steady state cardio without issuing the caveat that steady state cardio does more harm than good.
  • Core workouts that feature sit-ups.
  • Using girlie weights or endorsing girlie weights for anyone who isn't really broken.
  • Squats where your hips do not go below your knee. It's tough, I get it, we've all got years of poor movement patterns, but the ultimate aim is to get your hips below your knees.
  • Anyone saying that squats or deadlifts will hurt you. Lying on the couch will hurt you.
  • Any kind of prescription that means you must eat breakfast, eat at certain times, or eat a certain number of times per day. Why is it so hard to eat when you are hungry? It shouldn't be, unless your metabolism is broken.
  • Anyone who thinks that fasting will break your metabolism.
  • Any endorsement of grains in the diet unless you can substantiate that the particular grain does not contain harmful proteins.
  • Things that indicate that you just don't get the science of human nutrition, such as not understanding that the reason you fall asleep after lunch is all the carbohydrate you ate, or that dairy is insulinogenic, or that active people (all people really) need a certain amount of complete protein every day.
  • Any endorsement of vegetarian diets. I get the animal cruelty issue, I also get the problems with industrialized food production, but man was not meant to live by vegetables alone.
  • The idea that legumes (beans) or grains (e.g. quinoa) contain any significant amount of protein. Yeah, technically there is a small amount of incomplete protein in those foods but how many brain-killing carbohydrates did you just ingest along with that tiny bit of incomplete protein.
  • Not eating egg yolks. WTF!
  • Any endorsement of seed oils as healthy. Come on, even the conventional nutritionists have got past thinking canola oil is good for you.
Whoa, this is getting scary. I've come up with 13 things that activate my bullshitometer and I feel like I am just getting started. I think I better stop now, step away from this computer screen and do something healthy.

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