The Power of Why

I was having a conversation with a trainer the other day and they were sharing with me the approach they take regarding nutrition. I found myself asking a few questions, not to be a pain, but to see what the rationale was for their approach to nutrition. Yet, rather than answer or say “I do not know”, the trainer just threw out another bit of nutrition advice/mythology, ultimately realizing they did not know why they were making the recommendations or the validity.

Here’s how it went down:

Trainer: I have my clients avoid simple sugars.

Me: Why?

Trainer: Well I tell them to avoid processed carbs.

Me: Why?

Trainer: I have them focus on low glycemic carbs.

Me: (giving up on asking why) Do you know what the glycemic index is?

At this point the trainer thanks me for making them feel stupid, their spouse interjects and tells them to quit arguing with me and I still haven’t gotten any answers!

So, this simple conversation ends up being an inquisition and I look like the bad guy, simply because I asked “why”. Why is a fair question, isn’t it? I did not necessarily disagree with the trainer, I just wanted to know if they knew the rationale behind the recommendation, and also to hear how they explain it (never know when you’ll hear a good way of doing it). Why, as an advisor and professional, would you tell someone to do something you don’t really understand or know is true?

This is a troubling situation for me. As fitness professionals, we must attempt to understand the science behind our recommendations. It is our responsibility. It is not sufficient to take someone’s word for it; we need to know if the information is accurate. At times, certain bits of information are rather self-evident or an ample amount of supporting data is available and easily understood by most people, but at some point the person dispensing advice should know the truth behind what they say, if for no other reason than peace of mind that you are doing and saying the right things. It is important to know the why.

At dotFIT, we understand that there is a lot of information that you are exposed to everyday. To make matters worse, it is difficult to determine what is right, what is wrong and what is possibly dangerous. To add to the confusion, where does the information come from and how was it delivered? With the internet, anyone with a computer and an ability to write and design a web site can create a presence that looks professional and knowledgeable, and can pass themselves off as an expert. If you look at our staff and advisory board, you will see that we are able to pull education and experience from a tremendously talented and knowledgeable lot. Our mission is to wade through the sea of science, fact and opinion and mythology and come up with a position and a plan. All of our online tools, from education to programs integrate the latest and greatest knowledge of human nutrition and exercise and what it takes to make a change and achieve a goal. You can feel confident that what you are seeing, hearing or reading is the most up-to-date application of science and experience out there.

So, go ahead, ask “why?” We have answers.

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