“Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”
– Bruce Lee
Today we will address something that has been plaguing CrossFit, Chiro, and life in general since I learned of its’ existence. That thing is that there is NO ONE WAY. I know what you’re thinking – That’s not a new idea, Adam. I know it isn’t, but it never takes long for us to convince ourselves that maybe… just maybe there IS ONE WAY.
Oh I need to get my squat up, I have to do the Smolov method. Oh, the warm up suggests jumping from 75% to 90% of our working weight, I’ll just slap these 45’s on then. I’m not feeling great; it must be my serotonin levels. I’d love to lose some weight, but you can only do it if you do the super mega cleanse, and I’m not ready for that. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Issue #1: We want there to be only one way.
You have this infection, you need this anti-biotic, and you need to take it for this long. You want to lose 10 pounds so you need to eat this magic-berry this many times per day before you have your water and air to eat. We want it to be true. The number of times I’ve heard, “well just tell me what stretch I need to do”, or, “how many treatments does it take to cure this???” is quite honestly, too many.
Issue #2: People don’t like for there to not be ONE WAY.
People want there to be ONE fix. ONE stretch they aren’t doing. ONE piece of food they need to add or omit from their diet that will cure their IBS, add 200 pounds to their back squat and get them an A in their Nuclear Biophysics course at University. They want that “AHA! THAT is what I’ve been doing wrong!” moment. They WANT easy. But easy doesn’t exist – simple does.
Eating veggies, meats, tubers, fruits, and adding in some nuts and seeds is simple. Coming to the gym and doing the work is simple. Working on your mobility with a Lacrosse ball, foam roller and some stretches is simple. Getting adjusted regularly to ensure a healthy nervous system is simple. Unfortunately simple does not always or usually mean easy. Endeavour for simplicity, it isn’t always easy, but there is a certain beauty in it.
Issue #3: Many a person has gotten rich off selling you the idea that there is only one way.
Want to know a surefire way to know when you’re hearing/reading good advice? When the speaker/writer isn’t going to fight you on adhering to what they suggest.
“I can’t eat ‘paleo’ because I have to have yogourt/milk/oatmeal/etc.”, is a common response I hear to my recommendation for most folks to start with a stripped down paleo approach to eating. Do you know what an appropriate response to this comment is? “Ok, then have it – and if or when you’re ready to try going without that item as well, you can”. Many of the truly successful people are not shoving their rules down peoples’ throats. Mark Rippetoe doesn’t care if you want to compare Starting Strength to Wendlers 5-3-1. Robb Wolf doesn’t care if you want to go all primal and add some dairy and wine in with your paleo diet. Most Chiropractors don’t care if you want to come in once a month instead of once every 2 weeks. What we do know is that if you stray too far from a plan, it doesn’t work as well, and we know what we know because we do it every day.
Notes to provoke your thoughts:
Want to know when you’re being sold something that may be suspect (products, services or advice)? When the person wants to convince you of its’ truth.
I don’t want to pick on anyone as broad brush strokes are just that, broad, but two examples that come to mind are:
Vegans. You can’t be “kind of” vegan. From my experiences they will do everything in their power to convince you of the evils of meat and the saintly power of juicing or kale or whatever. You can see this in the paleo world too with the “is it paleo” debates, which in my opinion are largely a waste of time.
“Evidence-based” healthcare practitioners. They are typically extremely confident that their way is the only way. That is until they learn more. Until they learn about where funding comes from, from bias in statistical analysis (and it’s interpretation), and from poorly written conclusions, abtracts and introductions. Until they learn about outliers, and paradoxical findings (and responders) and articles that conclude, “while this particular study does not support generally accepted findings, we still suggest that people follow XYZ” and wonder why doesn’t the study support it?
Please keep in mind, these are generalizations, and by far not all vegans or “evidence-based” practitioners are like this, but they come to mind first. How will you know if the person you’re speaking to is unworthy of your trust? They don’t listen to your side of the conversation. Not even a little. They speak louder to get their point across. It’s painful to speak and debate with these people and we all get sucked into it from time to time. Don’t’ waste your time or energy here.
Bruce Lee is still viewed with starry eyes. He was a genius. He knew that there was no one way, and that the more you learned, the more you realized you knew very little. After understanding how little you know, you can fully acknowledge the breadth of the subject and how best to approach it. The important thing to take into account is that we’re all trying to get on the highway to greater health and fitness, but few of us will be driving on the exact same onramp or will be driving the same speed. Where you get on and how fast you go isn’t what matters, heading in the right direction is. So when you begin to doubt yourself from time to time (and you will), remember, there is no one way, there is only the way you are going – just make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
As always – stay healthy, Friends,
Dr. Adam Ball