As we continue the series about breaking barriers to health and fitness success, information overload is a common topic. In other words, with all the information out there and constant bombardment from the internet, how do I know what is correct/useful? How do I know what is healthy?!
Well, asking questions is a good place to start, rather than just accepting something as the only answer/method to do things. I am going to give an overview of some tips to be an informed consumer of information related to health and fitness. If you’ve got 10 minutes, here are some questions to ask yourself to get on the path to find the right information for you, to chart your own course, so to speak:
- What is my desired outcome, what are my goals? Answering this questions should help you narrow your focus and search…for example, if your goal is to lose weight, you can skip all the information related to increasing your numbers in the Deadlift. Know your outcome, it will help you chose topics and avoid way too much information.
- What is the source of the information, where is it coming from? After you narrow your topic, you need to be able to sort through information and make a judgement on its validity. In this case for example, you are reviewing information from a Health and Fitness blog…I (as the writer) do have a degree in Exercise Science and I have held professional training certifications, but I am in no way qualified to diagnose your exact needs and prescribe you an exercise/diet plan via this blog. When reading my perspectives on health and fitness topics, I would always advise you to do your due diligence before considering putting anything into practice. Always consider the source of information, what you intend to use it for, and any ulterior motive that may exist. For example, are you reading information about a certain supplement resulting in weight loss? Is the information you are reading coming from a website or affiliate link seeking to sell you this supplement? Food for thought.
- Is there science to back up the information? Always look for scientific, peer reviewed articles or studies to back up any information you are consuming. You are not likely to get 100% consensus on a topic related to health and fitness, however more scientific peer reviewed information helps make the case stronger. Pro tip: when you read scientific articles, correlation does not equal causation. What do I mean? If there is a correlation between people eating a certain amount of vegetables and having lower instances of cancer, the way to interpret that correlation is “people who eat more vegetables tend to get cancer less often.” If you read the result as “if I eat vegetables I will not get cancer”, you can see the issue with that.
- Is there an informed, alternate point of view to what I am currently viewing/researching? Let’s face it, we all have preferences, even biases for what we want to see and hear. It is really easy to find information to support your point of view/preference, and ignore other information that may be very important. For example, if I want to try a low carb diet, I can find plenty of evidence/information that this is a great diet plan for my health, and will help me lose weight! However, if I do not look at the pros and cons of a low carb diet before putting it into practice, I am not doing my due diligence and taking responsibility for my own health. Think about substances like Alcohol, Coffee, Fats (healthy/unhealthy fats)…you can find information supporting that these are either great, or terrible for your health! There are some slam dunk topics you don’t need to do a lot of search on in this day and time (cigarettes are bad for you, for example), but for the most part we really need to do our homework before accepting something as fact and putting it into practice for ourselves.
I hope this is a good starting point for the topic of information overload. Expert advice can be very helpful when it comes to deciphering information, and I do plan on a future topic being picking the right personal trainer (for you). If you feel I didn’t answer the question “what is healthy?” in this post, good! I hope this is a helpful starting point to help you determine that answer for yourself. Have a great week!