IS KNOWLEDGE ALWAYS POWER - Or can it hinder your results?
We should always strive for more knowledge, because knowledge is power, right?
The more we know about nutrition the better choices we can make for our goals. The more we know about the body, about movement and training, the better we can use our time in the gym, right?
I somewhat agree with this, but being too certain about said knowledge can also be a detriment to improving the way we do things.
Let’s take some predictions for the end of the world as an example just in the last 10 years.
When the world didn’t end (surprise surprise) rarely did any of the defenders of these rapture theories admit they were wrong or accept the evidence that they didn’t know what they thought they knew, but rather continued to defend their ‘knowledge’ stating a miscalculation of dates or some other reason for why the conclusion of the world has not yet hit us.
To say we ‘know’ something means that we accept it as correct and valid and anything else we hear that contradicts this we dismiss as incorrect, misguided, invalid, and sometimes downright stupid. But what if what we thought we knew we didn’t actually know. What if we knew enough to think we were right but not enough to know we were wrong.
Our ‘knowledge’ is made up of a web of beliefs created by many institutions like mass media, social media, formal education, the church, various relationships and life experience more broadly. This means that knowledge… what we claim to ‘know’.... Is strictly cultural, created from our experience within our culture with us personally being just one actor within one's own culture.
Now lets draw this back to what on earth this has to do with nutrition and training.
Commonly Flex Success receives emails asking for coaching help and the person reaching out will say that they ‘know’ they need to cut out sugar and alcohol to reach their goals and they are ready and willing to make that change. Or some female clients are hesitant to start a resistance training program we write for them because obviously touching a weight will turn them into Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight.
These people ‘know’ sugar, alcohol and resistance training should be avoided because they have seen their friends cut out sugar and alcohol and lose weight, or seen pictures of big bulky women who lift weights.
They know enough to think they are right but not enough to know they are wrong.
No recent valid studies have ever shown that alcohol or sugar consumed in moderation has any negative effect on the body at all. The field of Anthropology clearly and regularly showing the social and cultural importance of both sugar and alcohol in our lives which tips the balance of evidence towards not cutting these out of our diets entirely. Bottoms up!
As far as weight loss is concerned, it’s not that sugar or alcohol magically prevented weight loss, but rather the extra calories these things gave to a person's daily intake that once removed put the dieter into a calorie deficit.
Weight loss and food type restriction have a correlative relationship, not causative.
Now don’t even get me started on the ‘weights make women bulky’ comments….
Now, you may be thinking you know better…
You don’t think sugar, alcohol and women lifting weights is bad, which means you don’t need to worry about confirmation bias, right? WRONG.
Everyone does, myself included.
I don’t know everything and there is a high probability level of me changing my mind on something i think i know now.
I make knowledge based judgements just like everyone else, which is built through a web of institutions and interactions in the environment around me. But because i know how dangerous it is defend my knowledge in the face of counter evidence against it, i hop off my defensive high horse, take a step back from what i believe to know, assess the new information and decide if this ‘evidence’ means i need to adjust my stance or if that new evidence is in fact just a load of BS
Knowledge is fragile. It should be.
Without this fragility we would never accept counter arguments and evolve our understanding of things. The world would still be flat to us and we would all be scared to sail the seas in fear of falling off the edge.
Just imagine the confidence required to question the knowledge of a flat earth, without knowing whether it was true or not?
If they were right, which they were, they achieve greatness.
But if they were wrong, it almost certainly would have led to death…
Sometimes you need to be prepared to be wrong through the acquirement of new knowledge if you truly want to grow, adapt and progress.
Are you willing to accept the counterarguments against the way you train at the gym to improve the way you do things, or will you continue to reject anything that doesn’t already confirm what you know?
What about nutrition..
Are there some things you ‘know’ that could be outdated or perhaps simply incorrect, but out of pure stubbornness or perhaps your past investment in defending those beliefs, you’re unwilling to accept new information to help evolve the way you eat?
Remember the sailors?
Do you take the chance and learn or stay in your lane and never progress?
Now, let’s answer the question i started with;
“We should always strive for more knowledge, because knowledge is power, right?“
The answer is yes of course we should, but that involves listening and critically assessing all information, not just the ones that confirm what you already know.
Diet Smart. Not Hard.