Increasingly I am finding that so much of the fitness & fitness blogosphere is a strange place which I am seeing more as a form of gnosticism. Let me explain:
Gnosticism I suppose is something of a theological term. From Wikipedia
Gnosticism comes from the Greek: gnosis which means knowledge. Some religions and sects mostly in the few hundred years before and after Christ are said to be gnostic or practice gnosticism.
This is because these religions believe that there is a special, hidden knowledge that only a few people may have.
Not to get into the theological aspects of all this, look at that last sentence:
these religions believe that there is a special, hidden knowledge that only a few people may have.Gurus & Salesmen
So often we treat our interest in Health and Fitness this way. We are on a constant search for the "special, hidden knowledge". The are looking for the secrets: the special diet, the new routine, the amazing new supplement or exercise. And on this search we become vulnerable to the gurus and to the marketing people.
The gurus are the purveyors of this special knowledge. They have their own unique approach to diet or exercise which so often is put forward as the One True Way. We gather around them in tribes or sects: RenEx, Crossfit, RKC or whatever. Paleo, WAPF, Primal.
As in cults and sects behind it all often there are those who see the congregation as a source of income. We buy the ebooks, the newsletters, the DVDs because we want the secret knowledges.....
We have gurus pedalling their secrets....which you can buy in a £29.95 ebook. (Now I feel guilty as I am hawking my ebook in the top right!)
All this goes along with a mistrust of "the mainstream". There is a scepticism about the conventional wisdom. We see ourselves as brave reformers, asserting our truth, nailing our theses to the doors of the church of the medical and fitness professions. We know better....
The thing is that the mainstream is often right! I know lots of research scientists and while they are not perfect, they are on a professional scrutinised search for truth. Journalists simplify and sensationalise, but the scientists are generally on an honest journey to find what works and how to get better.
It is difficult!
Reviewing the scientific literature some things are decided....lots are held provisionally. But the obvious thing is that a lot of it is hard to understand! It is rarely as simple as we like to make out. The processes and systems of the body are very complicated. The scientists that study them work hard for years to develop the knowledge necessary to look into these things. Yet somehow we run to the bloggers. Why do we think that we should be getting our health and fitness knowledge, even our health advice from a blogger not a medical professional?
The Gnostic approach makes us feel special
Rejecting the mainstream also makes us feel special, better than the others. We know a better way and are not so simple and deceived as to believe the conventional. PRIDE is at the root of this of course. We want to think of ourselves as so much better than the others, elevated above the drones.
Simplicity, Persistence, Habit
What if it is all actually a lot simpler. I think it is time to reject the search for the special knowledge and embrace the basics. A sensible diet. Exercise. Sleep. Social interaction. Stress management. Time outdoors.
Most of all though the need is for persistence. Just keep going.
I have been guilty
I have been guilty of all of this and still am....but I am trying to moderate it. I have jumped at paleo, kettlebells, HIIT, low carb, whatever the current trend is. Some - like interval training - has science behind it, but it is rarely as sensationalist as we make it out to me.
Is there still interest in the simple path? Walk lots, do resistance training, eat well and sleep? Where is the cash in that?