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What COVID19 Taught Us About Diets - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

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What COVID19 Taught Us About Diets - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

These last few months have sure been interesting, haven’t they? We have all been inundated with more information than we can possibly digest (most of it contradicting itself), and at some point, we will be in a place where we can look back and see what we’ve learned. Hopefully, we can use this information to come up with a better plan for if/when this happens again.

As stated before, my intention is to stay in my lane. So, I’d like to share with you a thought about how our experience with the coronavirus can help us evaluate dieting for the better.

The major point I’m trying to make – During this pandemic, we got to see how the exact same virus has had such different impacts on different people. Is it possible that certain types of eating plans do the same? Could it be the simple reality that there is no ‘perfect’ diet for humans?

Let’s begin by making an important distinction:

“What happened/what is so.” Versus, “Our interpretation/how we feel about it.”

These two things get easily confused. Most of what we see online is falls into the latter category, and is being peddled as the former.

We gather ourselves into groups/camps that are absolutely certain of our interpretation of the data, and as soon as new data becomes available, it gets put through the filter of our preconceived feelings and opinions. Confirmation bias steps in and precisely zero minds are changed. This is unfortunate because critical updates may cause the need to alter our opinion to facilitate a better outcome.

And there seems to be no winning here. For example, if cases increase, both camps see it through their filter:

Group A: Cases are increasing! We need to stay home longer.

Group B: We’ve increased testing tenfold and opened everything back up… of course there will be more cases!

Group A: Far fewer people died than originally anticipated… lockdown worked!

Group B: Far fewer people died than originally anticipated… lockdown was a complete waste.

There are no winners here. Just more confusion and more confirmation bias.

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Thankfully, the vast majority of coronavirus cases are mild or asymptomatic entirely. This is good and bad – good in the sense that we’re not all dead, bad that many don’t take it seriously which makes the spread easier. Some folks have a really bad time with it. Some don’t make it at all. How is it the same virus has such a big impact on certain people, while hardly leaving a scratch on others?

We have the same groups/camps in the diet world that clench tightly to their dogmas in the same exact way. Keto is now a political party affiliation. In the next election, keto and vegan will square off in a no-holds-barred debate to see who the true champion shall be!

We’ve even seen the combining of diet and virus political parties: Vegan blogs that proclaim that if everyone were a vegan, this virus would have never happened (probably not true).

I’m even guilty of this myself: I believe that if obesity and lifestyle-related health problems weren’t such an issue in this country, our outcomes would have been different. Actual proof of this is barely starting to become available… but, of course, I’m convinced because of my biases.

I was even lectured for ‘fat shaming’ for some comments I made during the quarantine. In hindsight, some of my words were poorly chosen. But it doesn’t change my mind about the fact that we are all personally responsible for taking control of our health.

I, too, was guilty of being a member of a diet political party in my younger days. I was also much heavier back then (weird, I know).

As I got older and wiser, I realized that my party failed me. The diet was unsustainable, gave me lots of problems when I tried to adhere to it perfectly, and I frequently fell off the wagon. This forced a hard decision: Do I want to be right? Or, do I want to be lean?  

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I’ve said this many times before, so pardon me if you’ve heard this already: Here’s the best diet advice I can give someone…

  1. Type “best diets” into the search line.
  2. Read about the different diets. Instead of looking for what makes them different, look for what makes them all the same.
  3. Make a list of those similarities.
  4. Rank the list, putting the easiest to implement at the top. Work down so the list ends with the hardest ones at the bottom.
  5. Start with the first thing only. Practice it for 3-4 weeks until you get good at it.
  6. Once it becomes second nature, move on to the next thing. Don’t go to the next one until the previous can be done without much thought.
  7. Rinse and repeat until fluffy (or, in this case, not so fluffy).

Keep experimenting for the next 10-20 years until you settle into what works for you and let me know how it goes.

I know that last sentence is snarky, but it seriously took me about 15 years to finally figure out an eating program that keeps me lean, allows me to perform well, and is sustainable long-term. It was a lot like what I presume the next 10-15 years will be like with the coronavirus: Scientists will come up with theories... the theories will be tested… double-blind studies will be done… peers will review… peers will argue. This process will continue for years and years until a general consensus is reached.

(and then crackpots will try to disprove it with ‘this one YouTube video I saw’ but that’s a topic for another day).

This process is very unsexy and doesn’t make headlines, but that’s how we figure out everything, and it’s how we’ll figure this one out.

Your ideal diet should be the same… and once you figure it out, the crackpots and their YouTube diet videos will look as silly to you as they do to me.

I realize this comparison has flaws. The consequences of poor decisions regarding the virus are far more severe than the ones from poor eating habits. It’s not my intention to make light of it. Depending on where you live, you may still be having a difficult time with new cases. I’m in Arizona, and that is definitely the case here. Wherever you are, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie and dog, Sadie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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