In my line of work, perhaps more so than in a lot of others, there is a ton of misinformation. From trainers telling you there’s “no pain, no gain,” to nutritionists advocating “low-fat” diets, to random people on the street suddenly calling themselves fitness “experts” because they happened to lose a bunch of weight once, I find myself calling bullsh*t nearly every day on something a client/friend/family member asks me about.
For example, just the other day a client was telling me that her former trainer told her that squats were bad for her knees (you can read an entire diatribe on why this is untrue here, but just know this – proper squats are the things that are going to SAVE your knees), so she hadn’t done a single one in years (!). All the time I am asked about certain supplements (mainly commercial diet pills, sigh), exercise trends (you know how I feel about the elliptical, but you can also put SoulCycle and the Tracy Anderson Method on that list), and nutrition gimmicks (an even larger SIGH to Atkins, South Beach, and anything that basically eliminates an entire macronutrient group and calls it a “diet”).
I want to set the record straight: I am not a registered dietitian, meaning that I do not have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition nor did I pass a clinical licensing exam that qualifies me to practice nutrition in a hospital or medical setting. That said, I am a certified personal trainer and exercise instructor with over a decade of teaching and training experience, have been a certified nutritionist (and will soon be an advanced PN-1 nutrition coach) for over five years, I have trained over 100 (!) actual clients with everything from a double hip-replacement to Ironman to morbid obesity to pregnancy, and I also hold two Masters degrees and have done published research in health science.
Because of all this experience, my bullsh*t-o-meter is set to extra sensitive, and I absolutely will not have it when someone makes false claims about fitness and nutrition, relies on sh*tty science to back up their preferred workout or meal program, or worse yet, tries to get someone to spend money on a product or service with full knowledge that it won’t work (like the aforementioned diet pills, personal training without any attention to nutrition, or some crappy piece of home gym equipment).
That being said, I have a few reliable sources/coaches that I can always rely on for accurate nutrition and fitness information, and I wanted to share them with you should you want to further educate yourself (yes, beyond the scope of this amazing blog, hahaha) toward better health on your own terms.
First off, I have to plug my nutrition certifying agency, Precision Nutrition. Not only did they write the bible on intermittent fasting (of which I am a strict devotee), but their blog and infographic library is unmatched, and covers the questions that “real life” people ask the most – like how do I really get that six-pack, or how do I make vegetables taste good when I really don’t like eating them, or what’s the actual best diet for me? Their stuff is always research-backed, spelled out in layman’s terms, and often a bit funny to boot – a great combo when looking to explain a tough concept to someone.
Speaking of certifying agencies, my training cert organization – the American Council on Exercise – also produces a great deal of useful and timely fitness research by sponsoring a great deal of in-depth studies on topics like senior fitness, TRX, compression garments, HIIT training, and even stand-up paddleboarding. If you’re looking for the latest info on all things exercise, this is the one-stop shop for sure.
Next, I go back to my grad school days and check out what’s happening on Google Scholar. Yep, whenever there’s a new trend or supplement out there (right now it’s Ma Huang-Guarana that’s all the rage, and there is some evidence to support its efficacy!), I run it through the ol’ Google-S to see what the “real deal” is – and if there’s no science or even discussion to support it, I won’t breathe a word about it, curious clients or otherwise.
Finally, I consult the professional advice of some of my trusted trainers and friends in the industry, including Heidi Powell, my registered dietitian buddy Carrie over at Steps 2 Nutrition, and the lovely, diverse experts at the Huffington Post Healthy Living section (vetted, to be sure). Science is always best, of course, but sometimes having the experience of actually applying concepts to people and groups can provide insights that research doesn’t divulge.
As a general rule, don’t accept anything “revolutionary” you read in commercial media about fitness and health without first looking at it critically, second, asking a professional in the industry to help you interpret it, and third, doing a little old-fashioned research to see if the claims hold true across time, location and different populations. As the old adage says, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is – so sorry, Hollywood Cookie Diet, (yes it’s a real thing!) you don’t make the cut after all.
Where do you get your fitness & health information? Any myths you want/need busted?
Start thinking about writing a book, Amanda. I think you could make a significant contribution to the exercise/health/fitness/diet literature. (I’m serious! 🙂 )
Believe it or not, Chris, I’ve been “saying” I want to write a book for years – I even have a rough concept, and once met with a publisher. The problem, as I’m sure you understand, are those two little things we call COMMITMENT and TIME. I need to make the commitment, and I need to commit the time. Tell me – how did you decide that it was the right time to sit down and write? I’d love to know your process.
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HI Amanda, sorry this is late. It only showed up on my laptop, not my desktop notifications.
To a large degree, I became disillusioned with the US investment environment after the “Great Recession” of 2008-09 (BULLS**T! It WAS a depression for most of the 99%–the 1% talked themselves into calling it a recession because none of them were jumping off the tops of skyscrapers this time.)
So I was looking for other opportunities to stimulate my mind and not have to fight the huge scam that Wall Street has always been, but that has grown worse in the past few decades.
I started writing short stories, learning about writing and the business (daunting for sure), and trying to figure out if I could write well enough to get published. When the Boundary Waters Journal bought my first essay for them, the “write well enough” question was answered. So I gave novel writing a shot since I’ve always loved thrillers, suspense, mysteries, etc. Then became a matter of finding the extra time for that. The best way is to start slow, but write daily (or some other regular amount of time). Learn to improve your writing skill as you go, but don’t worry about the business aspect until you’ve got a viable book outlined and either have written it completely or written enough sample chapters to start thinking about getting an agent or publishing independently.
Since you’re in peak physical shape and have shown the discipline to maintain that all these years, I have no doubt you have the discipline to be a successful author. But finding the time in your busy life is certainly the biggest challenge.
That’s about it in a nutshell. If you have more questions, perhaps give me your email address so I don’t clog your blog with my ramblings. 😉 Good luck and keep in touch.
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Great blog. People think just exercising can control your weight. They have to understand nutrition and what we eat is 80% of our weight loss journey.
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