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What do you believe…

August 12, 2009

par·a·digm   (pār’ə-dīm’, -dĭm’)
1.    A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

I hate the word paradigm, maybe it is my BA in philosophy, but when I see the word paradigm in a sentence, I am pretty sure the rest of the sentence is going to be blah, blah, blah…  That said it really is the best word to describe what I need to describe here and the definition above describes what it means pretty well.

One of the reason there is so much confusion in the world of health and nutrition is because people are confusing paradigms.

Fitness means so many different things to so many different people.  To some people it refers to body weight, to others it refers to body fat or muscle mass,  to others it refers to eating foods that are chemical free, or pesticide free, or meat free, or carbohydrate free, and to others it refers to getting enough nutrients.  Fitness is a word pregnant with so many meanings.  Because of this, people can sell you on ‘fit’ diets that may not work for you.

So, when you are looking at fitness, know specifically what is important to you, what aspects of fitness interest you.  Know the paradigm you are discussing before you seek out help and then make sure that the paradigm you are looking at matches your needs and wants.  The only area I am offering help with is weight loss.  Many diets offer weight loss through other paradigms, ie natural foods, or offer help in a world of other areas, ie, not only will you lose weight but you will have a better sex life or you will have more energy.

I strongly recommend that you don’t try to find ‘cure alls’ because so often they don’t cure anything.  This is just my experience.  More important though then avoiding diets that try to solve all of your ills, is avoiding diets with conflicting beliefs.  The problem that you can run into with conflicting paradigms in weight loss is the nutrient deficient versus nutrient rich argument (Which you can find right here).

The bigger problem with this confusing issue is that when you are arguing about fitness with intelligent people whom you respect you can quite often find a tremendous amount of disagreement.  It can be very frustrating, but when you understand and are clear about each others paradigms, you can at least understand why you disagree.  For example, when I am talking fitness with a fit friend, I am referring primarily to weight loss.  So I might say something like, flat breads are so bad for you.  If the person I am talking to is in great shape and working out all the time, then flat breads might be exactly what he or she needs.  We could argue about flat breads and be stating the same thing.  Flat breads are very, very calorie dense.  From my paradigm, weight loss, that is bad, from his or hers, that is good.  Think about all of the things that fit people do that make sense to them because they are expending so much energy and have no reserves.  How many of those make sense for you?  Almost none.

This is part of the reason that learning from fit people can be so bad for weight loss (one of the many reasons).   If you are careful to understand what you want and what basic principles are part of your thought processes, you are much likely to find success in everything you do.

I argued endlessly with a person in our office about healthy foods.  I was referring to how food can impact your body weight and how that can be correlated to increased mortality rates.  He was arguing that only natural things are healthy.  We would end up arguing around our beliefs, discussing a quality of this food or that and if it was healthy, never addressing our more fundamental beliefs.  It took quite awhile to get down to those paradigms and when we did we didn’t need to argue any longer.  We both knew where we stood and not only weren’t we arguing the same point, but we weren’t about to change each others positions.

So, know what you want and what people are offering.  Confusion only increases the chance of failure.  I have to say, that looking around at what people are recommending and what people are doing to get fit, this is by far and away the biggest problem that people are having with weightloss today.  People are eating ‘organic’ pop tarts, or Newman’s Own cookies or Peanut Butter Cups and wondering why they aren’t losing weight.  Organic has literally NOTHING to do with weightloss.

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