Avoiding the Bleedin' Obvious (by Swifty Flame-Anderson)
Many merry moon dances ago, in the days when TV executives had not yet plucked up the courage to admit that Dame Edna Everage isn't funny, I used to earn my beer, fudge ice cream and inadvisable gambling money by plying my trade as a Fitness Consultant and Sports Therapist.
This meant that I was regularly involved with a few personal training clients, ran some weekly exercise classes, spent some time supervising a gym, treated sports injuries and also did a little bit of writing on the subject of health and fitness for a couple of magazines. Much to my surprise, the magazines in question didn't entertain my articles for long, and you may be able to work out a reason for this by reading this article further.
I spent a number of years gathering what might be called knowledge to help me practice this profession. When it came to treating injuries or training serious sports people, this certainly seemed to give me an advantage over the average man in the street (and also I wasn't in the street, which helped immeasurably when it came to keeping warm and avoiding dog poo).
But I would estimate that by far the majority of the people that I came into contact with were not serious sports enthusiasts and nor did they have any injury to rehabilitate. Most of my clients fell into the 'I just want to get a bit thinner' category.
Some might say that I am cursed and some might say that I am blessed with a kind of radical honesty. I have always found it very difficult to bullshit people, and yet financial survival meant that somehow I had to find a way to convince these individuals that it was in their interests to pay for my advice. The problem was that I knew very well that I did not have any advice to give them that they did not already know. The process of weight (mass) loss from the body is very simple: eat less, exercise more. That is it. The First Law of Thermodynamics in action.
Now, because it really is that very simple, practitioners in the industry find themselves in a bit of a quandry. Tell it like it is or make up a load of old bollocks? Keep it simple or pretend it is complicated? Several small meals a day will help boost your metablism. Glycemic index. Fat-burning exercise or sugar-burning exercise. Protein or carbs. Aerobic or anaerobic. I could go on. But I won't. Just go and pick up one of those shiny magazines. Pages and pages of absolute drivelly nonsense, all made up, for the simple reason that if the industry admitted how very simple it was, then all would be quickly out of a job.
But here's the funny thing. I also discovered on my journey through the protein shake and sweaty sock wilderness that almost every one of the clients did not want to hear the simple truth. They all wanted it complicated. They all wanted their goal to be difficult, almost impossible, unatainable. Essentially, most folks will happily fork out for the privilege of being deliberately deceived.
"Just eat less and exercise more."
"What kind of things should I eat? What kind of exercise?"
"Doesn't matter. Just less of one, more of the other."
"What do you mean it doesn't matter? Why are there so many books in the shops on this subject?"
"Beats me, although I have noticed there are also rather a lot of other kinds of fiction too. Folks seem to like the adventure of it."
"Are you saying that it doesn't matter what kinds of food I eat or what kind of exercise I do?"
"Yes I am saying that. Just read back a little. There it is, said."
"Oh, you are hopeless, I am going to see Splendid Marvin and try his Eighteen Steps To Superwoman Health."
"Okeydokey then, let me know how Step Eleven goes and say hello to the absurdly priced supplements salesman for me. He used to be my car mechanic before he realised how much money there was to be made in charlatanism."
'Hang on a minute!' I hear you saying. 'My cousin Samantha tried the F-Plan Diet, and although admittedly it did make her fart like a horse with IBS after two days on the silage, she lost 2 stone in three months!'
Ah, well done Samantha!
Here is what tends to happen. When someone reads a book about dieting and or a book about exercise, they start paying attention to diet and exercise. This attention tends to lead to certain things happening. One of the main things is that because they are paying attention, they tend to eat less and exercise more. The twelve chapters of pseudo-scientific drivel in the book are largely irrelevant. It is just the First Law of Thermodynamics at work, brought about in a rather elaborate and round-about way.
As I have grown older, greyer and considerably less interested in girls in leotards, I have moved onto other forms of bread-winning, and I have noticed that this insistence that things must be more complicated than they actually are pervades many aspects of human society. Take a few moments to ponder. Can you think of anything that you know deep down is made up nonsense, but you still go along with it all the same? No, hang on. Don't take a few moments. Perhaps you need to do an intensive twelve week course of Pondering, or maybe attend an evening class at which you study extensively the recommended texts on Ponderology.
Until we don't meet again, wonderful Ponderologists!
"Truth is simple, very simple. So simple a child can understand it. So simple that only a child will understand it." Osho
The Happy Cow website and all articles on it are created entirely voluntarily and free of charge. However, if you feel that anything on the site has been of value to you, you may wish to make a voluntary contribution to the upkeep of the site. Click on the 'Donate' button below.
If you have an inspiring tale or some interesting philosophy to share with us, please feel free to e-mail your ideas to