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New Year... Knew You!

Jan 14, 2022

By: Nick Sienkiewicz, DPT, CSCS

As the year 2022 began only a couple weeks ago, you may already be asking yourself why you chose your particular resolution. As humans, we have the tendency to bite off more than we can chew. This often results in our newfound endeavors, which are typically directed at being healthier, gradually trailing off into mid-January. For this reason, behavior change has become a hot topic for numerous authors and scientists in recent years. We have become infatuated with this concept on changing “bad” behaviors and building “good” habits in their place. But who decides what is “bad” and “good?” Unfortunately, we live in a culture that conditions you to think and act in certain ways in order to be healthy. However, these preconceived notions may not be as healthy as we think. For example, some individuals reading this blog may have set out to reduce their cholesterol consumption in 2022 because their doctor said it’s healthy, but is restricting dietary cholesterol really good for the human body?!? That specific topic is for another blog. The point here is that we are told things about our health and believe them because it is “backed by science.” We must understand that modern science is often misconstrued to validate or justify the mainstream narrative. Science has always been inherently biased, but now more than ever. For this reason, you need to become your own health scientist. Practice self-experimentation and exploration with regard to topics to spark your curiosity. Do your own research. Read other people’s research on the same subject, then compare. Seek multiple opinions. Gather all of the data for yourself. It is only at that point that you can make an appropriate health decision that works for you. You have to be open-minded too, because your stance will change, and that is okay!

Here’s a quick example for you. When I was in college, I developed high blood pressure. It didn’t make sense to me because I was a college athlete, didn’t add any salt to my food, and already meticulously read nutrition labels to avoid anything with “high” sodium. That was the way I was conditioned to think and behave. My diagnosis on high blood pressure baffled me, and my doctor didn’t help. I was told “it was my genetics, and it just happens sometimes.” I was not okay with that answer at 22 years old in great shape and otherwise healthy. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I dove into the research, read books, listened to podcasts, and watched videos; anything that would help me better understand the human body and the effects of sodium on the system. I learned that too low of sodium for my activity level might actually be a problem. I also began to understand the effects that sodium in the presence of high sugar intake (I liked the dessert section of the dining hall a little too much!) can have on blood viscosity and volume. High sugar and processed carb intake can trigger your body to excessively retain sodium. So I decided to self-experiment with my situation. First, I decreased my overall carb and sugar intake. My blood pressure dropped mildly. Second, after learning about the differences between refined (bright white table salt; loaded with toxic additives) and unrefined (pink, grey or beige in color; higher quality) salt, I decided to increase my consumption of unrefined salt in order to better balance electrolytes and fluid dynamics for my higher activity level. And when I say increase, I just about doubled my salt intake (we have written blogs and done podcasts about this topic in the past!). Once I made this change, my blood pressure plummeted back down to normal levels. Granted, there are a plethora of factors at play, and simply increasing my high-quality salt intake may not be the sole cause of this improvement. Nonetheless, it blew my mind that doing the exact opposite of the mainstream narrative and a medical doctor’s advice would be associated with my enhanced health metric. As a result, I began to question more about my health. Over the course of the next few years of learning and self-experimentation, I would learn so much more about myself and my own health process. I can honestly say I feel better than ever now!

Now this is not to say that you should ditch your current New Year’s Resolution and just do the opposite of everyone else! However, I would encourage you to re-evaluate why you chose this particular addition of a new behavior or subtraction of an old habit. Establish your resolution based on your own goals and interests. You do not have to conform to the conventional norms, because as discussed above, they may not even be best for most, let alone be right for you! So as you continue to strive toward a new habit, we urge you to continue self-experimenting. Health is not an achievement, like our modern medical system will tell you. It is a lifelong journey that you must actively partake in everyday for the rest of your life. Our current system is overly emphasized on medicine, which waits for you to get sick and begins worrying about you once a disease is present. You don’t have to fall victim to this model. You are your first line of defense. This does not mean that you should not use our modern medical system. You can absolutely effectively combine the two, but being reliant on our current sick-care system is likely result in your being chronically sick, as many of us are nowadays. Be active in your health journey daily, and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Some things will work well, and some will not. Find what makes you feel good and perform well. From our experiences at ProForm, this is often the things that we’ve been told not to do for a long time! Become healthier in 2022 by learning about yourself and your health every single day through self-directed care and exploration.   

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