This past Thursday I sat down for dinner with a group of friends and new acquaintances. It was a small group, 11 or so people, at a long table of an Italian restaurant. I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell did he choose to eat at an Italian restaurant?” I choose chicken cacciatore minus the pasta, but that’s not the point. The group was engaged in conversations that ranged from beloved chickens (pet chickens) that lost their way but didn’t cross the street, to eating slowly, and stimulating the economy.
The fella on the opposite end of the table from me wore a suit, which totally made him look out of place among a table of jeans and t-shirts, and had this insanely prefect hair that was nicely parted at the side. His hair reminded my how quickly my hairline seemed to be running away from my eyebrows, so naturally I didn’t hear much of what he had to say.
There were a few things he said however that kept my attention away from his hair, one of which was the illusion of choice. Many of the companies we’ve come to have opinions about, positive or negative, are actually just branches of a single gigantic corporate trunk.The picture I’ve included above shows just what I mean.
Each time you spend a dollar you cast a vote to support some product or service over another product or service. However, when you stroll down the grocery aisle you might be surprised to find that the vote you felt you were casting to support some small local brand, you know the one with the picture of a farm and donning the slogan “All Natural,” you’re actually supporting the same company that brings your the box-o-crap cereal that’s putting kids on the road to pre-diabetes.
This also makes me think of another choice-related piece of knowledge, the paradox of choice. The Paradox of Choice is actually a book a read a long while back written by Barry Schwartz. In it Barry talks about a sort of paralysis by analysis – that people are confront with so many choices these days that decisions are prolonged. People fear the regret associated with the value of the choices they passed up and this leads them to be stuck and remain in a state of inaction (aka paralysis).
This happens in the fitness world as much as at your grocers if not more. People are so overwhelmed with the amount of information coming in that they’re often paralyzed by the complexity. Or worse yet, they get to the point of actually taking action, but then ditch the plan at the earliest obstacle for another plan their friend told them about. One gimmick, challenge, Groupon, class, pill, and supplement after another. Without consistency there can be NO progress.
And similar to the illusion of choice, many people choose to follow a certain path without ever learning more about where the information is coming from. For instance, there is a certain supplement company who back their reputation with a mysterious science board. When you more critically assess the members of this science board you learn that some of them are also representatives on the science boards of other, supposed rival supplement companies.
And how’s this for an illusion of choice, protein supplement A isn’t really all that different from protein supplement B, or C. I’m speaking from both an biological perspective (how it affects your body) and from a sourcing perspective. Do you really think the people who bottle these supplements all get them from different farms/cattle/fields?
In the end there are basic principles that govern how nutrition affects your performance, health, and body composition. Now there is cutting edge stuff coming out that will help us understand how these basic principles affect different people in unique ways. This new understanding will allow us the opportunity to intervene earlier or change our approach, but it isn’t a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets.
The unfortunate truth is that the path to improving your health, performance, and/or body composition simpler than we’d like to believe. I’ll cover the basic principles in another blog, but for now know the most important take-away from his is that without consistency, there can be no progress.