Are you right? Or are you a good coach?
I'd rather a good coach than be right.
Now im not saying that I ever maliciously give out the ‘wrong’ information or that I take the easy way out in the name of always being right. Not at all.
When I started my journey as a health & fitness professional almost 11 years ago now (beginning as a PT), I would always treat my clients with respect and provide (what I thought at the time) to be the best complimentary information on nutrition that I saw fit for that individual.
Since then I have started and graduated university, done many many shorter courses, and had the chance to apply critical thinking to hundreds of chapters, journals, studies, articles and short reads, as well as collect experience with clients.
I can now look back and say that the information I was giving out wasn’t always right, or ideal. I did (at the time) have a fair grip on ‘the scientific method’ & critical thinking but it’s easy to get swept up in the sea of single research papers, dogmatic rules from textbooks, and misleading advice from ‘nutrition and fitness professionals’. Im sure most newbies to the industry can relate to that.
I can see now, looking back in the revision mirror, that perhaps cognitive bias played a role in what information I was seeking and accepting, and wasn’t looking at meta-analysis and understanding that N=1. Perhaps I was not letting the facts guide my beliefs even if it meant I was wrong sometimes.
There are some ‘fitness professionals’… more than I care to admit, who still refuse to accept evidence that contradicts their current practise because it sucks being wrong. These people would rather be right than be a good coach.
It is tough to admit you’re wrong or aren’t completely right, but the alternative is stunting your own growth as a professional and the progress of your clients that put their trust in you as a coach or trainer. I feel a responsibility to those that put their trust in me to be objective and logical about my practices vs subjective and emotionally defend poor practise because I’d rather be right than be a good coach.
It’s easy to think about a time you/others thought something to be true and had to change your/their mind in light of new evidence. Some easy examples would be the existence of Santa and the Easter Bunny, that you can’t lose weight eating carbs (common people!) or that the world is flat.
This is the real truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny, stop lying to your kids, parents! :p
On a serious note… I’d love for this blog to be a call to action to think about if in fact we hold onto any current beliefs and practises with our own training and nutrition that may contradict what evidence says to be true, even though it sucks to be wrong sometimes.
To get your juices going, here are 5 commonly held beliefs that evidence clearly suggests not to be the case:
1: Drinking lemon in water helps to detox your system and improve gut health.
2: Doing fasted cardio is better for total net fat loss over the day than doing cardio once fed.
3: Changing up your exercises at every session will ‘shock’ your muscles into better strength gain (umm it's called progressive overload, Suzan!)
4: Highly processed foods make you fat while ‘clean’ food is pro-weight loss.
5: Catching up on a week's worth of poor sleep on the weekend can undo any health risks associated with poor sleep.
Now, it’s time to get to work and think about if any of your current nutrition or training practices have both feet firmly planted in evidence, or if you’re spending your time and energy doing things that don’t matter, or worse, send your results backwards.
Diet smart, not hard.