What I Learned This Week: Volume 2 (5/21/12 – 5/25/12)

The Value of Being Skeptical in the Fitness Industry

On a daily basis I am always astounded at the volume of amazing conversations I have with equally as amazing trainers. These profound discussions usually begin with a simple comment about the day’s workout or a new program that one of us is working on, but they evolve into something much greater.

This week’s illuminating talk went down with Christopher Smith, another great trainer here at Peak, and myself. Chris and I were going over the various benefits of being a skeptic, especially in the context of the fitness industry. That topic lead us to the realization that, sometimes in the world of fitness there is innovation solely for innovation’s sake.

Hearing that statement from Chris reminded me of something Randy Huntington, a decorated track and field coach, said this past weekend at a seminar I attended. He told us, as trainers we will probably not be inventing anything new, but also that we didn’t really need to do so.

As Chris and I delved more into the relationship of skepticism and the current state of the fitness industry we started to move into real world manifestation of these ideas. Chris, a more experienced member of the industry game than myself, told me he has become somewhat wary when approached with new products, services, training modalities, etc.

Involved in being a successful skeptic is questioning everything around you. It is imperative for both trainers and trainees, when introduced to a new training modality or piece of equipment, to ask the right questions. Inquiring into the validity and application of everything is immensely valuable to not being side tracked by anything and continuing to progress.

Is this new program more effective than the one I am doing right now, or have done in the past? Is it going to help me reach my goals faster and with greater ease? (You do have some goals, right?) Can I consistently implement this new program? Am I just being convinced to buy a product or a service?

Questions usually lead to answers. Answers lead to beliefs. Beliefs tend to be founded in results and results are what we are all after.

Lesson Learned: Chris Smith likes to talk. Seriously though, trial and error is usually part of any process. Maintain a keen eye and don’t forget about the error of the past. Being able to look back on what didn’t work and conversely, what worked, will help you make decisions going forward. And always have a grain of salt on hand.

Check out the always loquacious Chris Smith at trainbetterfitness.com

Do you have the “Standard American Diet”

This week my homework for an internship I am currently a part of was to read a study called A clinical Trial of the Effects of Dietary Patterns on Blood Pressure. It was described to me as a landmark study, and after reading it, I completely agree.

As the name suggests, the study sought to illuminate the possible effects (negative or positive) certain dietary patterns have on blood pressure in people with both normal and hypertensive blood pressures.

Just for your knowledge, hypertension is typically diagnosed once blood pressure has reached 140/90. In comparison, normal blood pressure is at and below 120/80.

The subjects involved in the study were split into three groups. Each group was assigned a certain, unique diet. The first diet was considered the control. The control diet had a composition that, as the researchers put it, “…was typical of a substantial number of Americans.” But what does typical mean?

The control diet consisted of a low vegetable and fruit intake, along with a higher fat intake (in comparison to one of the non-control diets). I had to re-read that section of the study because it was kind of shocking, a little sad, and yet pretty believable all at the same time.

The other two diets discussed were much more in line with what most would consider healthy. The second diet consisted of a high fruit and vegetable intake without any dairy. The third diet was called the combination diet, and it included both a high fruit and vegetable intake along with low-fat dairy.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty (there’s a bunch), but after controlling for possible confounding variables the researchers found that the combination diet, followed by the high vegetable and high fruit diet had the greatest reductive effect on blood pressure.

The researches actually pointed out that the reductions seen in the combination diets were comparable to those seen in people using medications. “The reduction in blood pressure with the combination diet was similar in magnitude to that observed in trials of drug monotherapy for mild hypertension.”

What can you take from this study? A diet, which increases the intake of fruits and vegetables and decreases the intake of high fat dairy, can have reductive effects on Blood Pressure. Is it the only diet that can reduce blood pressure? I doubt it.

For example, I eat a diet that is certainly high in vegetables, but I do not regularly eat fruit. I also consume quite a bit of fat, particularly of the saturated variety. My blood pressure this week was measured at 113/53. So maybe what we really learned was a study needs to be done on me.

Lesson Learned: There isn’t one diet that works, and there sure as hell is no perfect diet. The search for dietary perfection is always fruitless but the search for dietary improvement is much easier and should be undertaken today. Be better than yesterday!


A clinical Trial of the Effects of Dietary Patterns on Blood Pressure

3 responses to “What I Learned This Week: Volume 2 (5/21/12 – 5/25/12)

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