There is a lot of preaching going around social media, and a majority of marketing and preaching I see in the rehabilitative and wellness space is around the logic and ideals of clinical practice.
I’m all about logic. It’s my jam. I use logic all the time in casual conversations, work conversations, instagram posts. But in the real world, aka in my personal life, I have to work really freaking hard to get myself away from operating with feelings and into operating with logic. In other words, I can talk about logic all day long, but that’s not actually how I usually live.
In the world of health and fitness, here are some examples:
1) Recommendations are to strength train at least 2-3x/week in a progressive and appropriately dosed way for overall capacity and injury management. Many modern clinicians might talk about it, and even be good enough to enforce it with clients, but lots of them aren’t actually following that recommendation themselves. Maybe they’re working out, or maybe they’re strength training, but it’s a small percentage of them that are doing it the way they actually preach. Those who are, however, are often incentivized by something else like aesthetics, marketing their business with it, or building social relationships at the gym.
2) Recommendations are to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity per week. This is a great one because in my world — which is full of clinicians, athletes, and coaches — most of them aren’t accomplishing this either. If they are, it’s unlikely they’re doing it PLUS the recommended strength training approach described above.
3) Recommendations are to have colorful vegetables, locally sourced proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats in every meal. I don’t think I know many people that are doing that. In fact, many people I know who look great in a bathing suit consume protein powder shakes, processed protein snacks, standing meals or meals-on-the-go, perpetual coffee buzzes, etc.
Before I get flack for calling people out, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do any of the above things well. I do HIIT workouts a couple times a week (that’s much less than 150min of moderate cardio per week), I walk most days (sweet!), I emotionally binge eat at least 1-2x a month (whoops), have a bit of wine most days (cheers), and I lift weights 1-2x a week without much of a progressive plan (not bad, not great).
But am I healthy? Yes. I am. I am a healthy weight, my blood pressure and heart rate are good, I am emotionally steadier, I have better stress coping mechanisms, I am less consumed by myself and more about others’ needs, I am strong enough, I have a social circle I like, etc.
If you spoke to me a year ago, however, I was emotionally eating 1-2x/week and 10 lbs heavier, I was barbell lifting 3x a week, I was waking up with anxiety regularly, and I was Ubering like I had an unlimited public trans pass. At that time, I was trying so hard to live the health ideals I’d been preaching, but it kept turning out in a way that I was actually regressing. And, honestly, if someone came at that time and told me what I should be doing instead, I’d have kicked their kneecaps in for doing nothing but highlighting my shortcomings.
The point in saying all of this is that we need to be better about realizing reality. About understanding that, yes, barbell strength training and performance training may be ideal, but if a big population of people, say, women for example, are concerned about what it’ll do to their aesthetics, then we better be addressing that with respect instead of highlighting their shortcomings or assuming a lack of education or commitment to themselves.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, we are almost always prioritizing and committing ourselves to the things that make us feel a certain way. To feeling beautiful, confident, strong, smart, etc. We are driven by feelings far more than we are driven by logic and health ideals. The more we remember this, the less preaching we have to do about what’s best and what’s not, as if there is one right path. This isn’t to say we can’t get to healthier states of being. It just means that we are being realistic about where we are starting from, and where we need go to achieve our unique versions of ideal.
Dr. Megan-Marie Delegas PT, DPT