Listen to your body, not the pack!

A healthy lifestyle is based on two focal aspects: consistency and individualism

For a number of years we have been governed by various theories in the sciences of Nutrition, Physical Activity, Exercise and Health. Key concepts have been taught to us utilizing the ‘what’ and ‘why’ but failing to answer the questions of ‘how’ and ‘what if’. We have however come a long way since the inception of health sciences and now reside in a modern era of where research into lifestyle diseases and ill health are at its prime and rapidly evolving.

It is paramount for us to challenge the way we have been taught and to think smart yet differently. Instead of always correcting our lifestyle habits, we need to rather look at what is different and see how one can enhance that particular factor(s). Often, we impose a generic approach to what should be the norm or scope of practice to each individual. However, with health and human movement sciences, there is no ‘quick-fix’ nor a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Rather, the concept of individualism is key and often ignored due to critical constraints such as time, effort and funding.

Look at the example of group classes that was put in place to affect a greater number of individuals at the same time and place. Despite the fact that certain people enjoy training within a group, this is an example of a generic approach to exercise that provides better business leverage. Therefore, we need to choose very carefully the approach we want as part of our lifestyle since our genetics, metabolism, demographics, environment, and body processes all vary.

Group Exercise Classes Individual training

We need to understand that we are all different in how we respond to training, eating, meditation and physiological processes. Our metabolism in particular is different just like any of our other body processes. It is a general and scientific rule of thumb for your metabolism to be faster in your earliest days than when you are in your 50’s for example. However, a person’s metabolism will be different to another even if they are both 30 years old.

Verily, our lifestyle choices lie in our own hands and our goals and targets are also different. What do I do if I want to lose weight? What do I need to do to control my blood pressure more effectively? What training should I do to increase my muscle bulk? These are the kinds of questions that one would ask, amongst others.

In return, we are given a bunch of different answers, “I heard this worked for you, why don’t you also try it?” Is this not generic?

“I was on the paleo diet for 8 weeks and I saw no difference but John was on the diet for only 4 weeks and he already saw a difference” How come?

“I was on the resistance training programme for 6 weeks and I did not shed as much body fat % and increase in muscle mass, than what David had.” Have we truly experienced the benefit of this resistance?

Yes you are probably thinking that it has something to do with metabolism, but there are also other factors, i.e. genetics, environment, age, demographics and health status or medical histories that we need to consider when answering the above questions. Ultimately, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach in the health, fitness and sporting fraternities.

Dr. Habib Noorbhai (Mr South Africa 2017) is a Researcher in Sports Science and a Health and Wellness consultant. He is also a speaker and presenter. He completed a BA in Sport Psychology (UJ), Honours in Biokinetics (UKZN), MPhil in Biokinetics (UCT) and a PhD in Exercise Science at UCT.

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