Knowledge is Power

KNOWLEDGE
noun
Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
“a thirst for knowledge”

POWER
noun
The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way

Part of my daytime career is research, and having attended an inspiring and very informative workshop yesterday with a group of fellow Specialist Nurses doing wonderful things, it got me thinking about how important validated information is when embarking on big health changes.

It’s certainly encouraging how many people are taking responsibility for their own health and fitness, and it’s reassuring to see that more people seem to be understanding the importance of correct nutrition and exercise as opposed to crash dieting and aspiring to the malnourished look. Don’t be mistaken I’m certainly not proclaiming the fad diets and the medias preoccupation with ‘skinny is best’ are becoming a thing of the past, but it does seem people’s understanding of ‘healthy’ is shifting for the better. The ongoing growth of social media is in part responsible for this with all of the great instagram accounts and pages belonging to qualified nutritionists and fitness professionals sharing their expert advice and tips- however there are many sites out there that are run by people who are less than qualified. Perhaps they are an expert in their own journey but that doesn’t mean the steps they took in order to achieve their goals are the correct and safe steps for everyone and nobody should be giving guidance regarding diet and nutrition unless they are in fact an expert in the field. This leads me to an important question- How do we weed out the genuine and trustworthy information among the internets never ending supply of fad diets and fitness plans? And more importantly who do we trust to give us this advice?

Have you ever visited ‘Dr Google’ for a diagnosis of your ailment? Have you then found out that the swelling to you left thumb is actually an extremely rare type of necrotising dermatitis and that unfortunately you are going to require an entire left limb amputation? when in fact it is just a minor dermatitis cured by a trip to your GP and the local pharmacy. Misinformation can be damaging. Jokes aside, the internet can provide very useful information to help us become more aware of our health and everyone knows that knowledge is power, but this information should only come from a trustworthy validated source. The same goes for the information you follow regarding the foods you eat (or don’t eat) and the fitness plans you demand of your body. Following guidance from any ol’ Joe Bloggs on the internet can be damaging to your progress and in same cases to your health and long term goals.

When it comes to dieting and fitness there are so many approaches and so very many “plans” out there, finding the right one for you is so important to ensure you achieve exactly what it is you are hoping to see and feel. You need to take into consideration what your baseline lifestyle is and make realistic changes to achieve your goal. Going from a couch potato to a 7 day a week gym bunny in a short space of time might feel great for a bit (if you can keep up) but are you really going to maintain that level of intense activity? and in the sudden change have you learnt how best to adapt your diet to ensure you achieve your weight loss (or weight maintenance) goal but also give your body the nutrients and fuel it needs for growth, repair and everyday activity?

I have learnt that small, gradual changes are the ones that you can make stick, easing your body in and teaching it new habits can mean those changes are maintainable for the future. Fad diet never help anyone in the long run- sure if you are only interested in a short term, time limited outcome they might help you but if your really interested in becoming healthy and fit then    ‘short term- time limited’ doesn’t do you any favours.

Achieving general health and fitness should be everyones goal. After all we only have one body in which to live and it really should be treated as our temple. So, in saying that why would you want to follow guidance that is anything less than the very best.

As a Nurse I research things before I follow, evidence based practice has been hammered into me since my first day at university all those years ago- I tend to do this in my personal life too. This I think is a good thing.

Here are some general points you might like to consider when perusing the internet.

  • Search for validated sources of information regarding nutrition, diet and fitness. There are plenty of professional sites, and government sites that are a well of information.
  • Check individuals professional qualifications before following any of their diet or fitness plans. As professionals they will be up front in noting their qualification on their site, if your unsure then you can always send them an email or add a comment to ask.
  • If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! As they say ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
  • Don’t waste your hard earned money purchasing weight loss supplements or subscribing to diet and fitness fads without doing a little research into their safety and effectiveness. Search reviews on independent sites- don’t blindly succumb to their own “client testimonies’.
  • This goes for nutritional supplements too- I think it is always a good idea to check with your GP, pharmacist or nutritionist before starting any supplements or vitamin and mineral complexes. People generally think that because they are ‘natural’ then they couldn’t possibly be harmful. Not true.
  • If you have an illnesses or long term condition then you should chat with your GP before staring any diet. Ask for a referral to a Dietician who can help ensure you can achieve your goals in a safe way.

Making positive changes in your life should be for the long term. It’s important to get the initial building blocks in the right place so that your journey is a strong one with minimal risk of crumbling around you.

*Please note: I am not a dietician or fitness expert. This post in intended as general information from what I have learnt. 
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