In an online nutrition coach course, I am completing from Precision Nutrition, I found a helpful discussion. It is around the idea that weight loss and health are as simple as eating less and moving more. I wanted to speak about my thoughts on the subject and the ideas from this course that may be helpful to you. I hope this discussion helps you understand the complexity of the human experience and what will most likely be much more beneficial for you than constantly hearing this advice.

What is a better way to view this advice?

It is not that this advice is necessarily wrong, but it does not consider how complex humans are and all aspects of someone’s that can either make it difficult or easier to make changes. Precision Nutrition made a video called “Eat less Move More is Hard” if you are interested in digging deeper into the subject. 

Following this advice is challenging if someone is overly stressed, has poor sleep habits, and has not been habituated to exercise or eat healthily. Giving this advice will not be helpful. Looking behind the nutrition and exercise problem can help address the root of the problem and make it easier to make these changes in the first place. First, you need to address all the factors leading to poor habits in the first place. This could take the form of creating a pre-sleeping routine like journaling or meditating and teaching people stress management techniques, such as exercise and changing one’s overall mindset to be more optimistic. Over time, these small changes will be easier to make and could even lead to more practices that help improve one’s mindset and overall health. After addressing the root of the problem and understanding yourself in all its domains, it is possible to exercise more, eat better, and reduce the probability of non-health-promoting behaviours.

What is my issue with this advice?

As someone with muscular dystrophy, this advice gives me a general equation for losing weight, but I need to add much more depth for it to be relevant. Eating less may even prevent me from getting all the energy I need to be my healthiest self. Additionally, moving too much can have the opposite effect of being healthier and degrade my overall health status. Nonetheless, it emphasises that I should not eat more than required and make sure I am moving safely, which gives me health benefits without overly exhausting myself.

I also understand that the context of going into this advice matters. I know that to help myself make the best decisions about eating and to make sure I can recover from movement. Thus, I need to have social support, feel like my life has meaning, have a community surrounding me, sleep as best as possible, practice things that help my body and mind recover from stress, and ensure I have a proper mindset. Understanding my complexity, I experiment with multiple techniques and practices to see what works for me. With the best context possible and understanding the fundamental idea of eating healthy and exercising, I can put my body in the best state and health.

After focusing on establishing good health in all domains of my life, supported by stress management techniques, sleep, and other recovery behaviours, I can make the best decision and continue to practice things that promote my health. Luckily, small changes at first can build momentum and help you feel like you are in control of your life and health. Identifying your priorities of what can impact you most can help put you in a cycle of perpetual growth and improvements.

Final Insights

Overly simplistic advice in the health domain is only sometimes helpful and can occasionally have the opposite effect, as it can lead to poor decisions and unnecessary stress. Taking the fundamentals from this advice and understanding how it relates to the context of my life grants me the most value. With this advice in mind, I have made sure to put myself in the best state to eat healthily and exercise every day. I have made sure to give myself helpful health-promoting practices and behaviours that fit into my chaotic lifestyle and help me feel satisfied and in control of my life. Even if it is something small daily, as long as it addresses the root of issues or actual situations, the benefits can compound over time and help you thrive. Hopefully, this discussion has added value to your thoughts surrounding health and fundamental nutrition principles. I implore you to find the things that help you make the best decisions and learn from nutrition fundamentals. This is the best way to learn how to thrive.