NO-Vember: Do We Know How to Give (and Take) Advice?
Pretty simply, no, we don’t.
Why? Because it’s really difficult. In fact, just behind simply figuring things out, one of the biggest challenges in the health/fitness/nutrition realm is giving advice on all those subjects.
There’s several inherent problems with advice in health.
1. Most of the subjects we give advice on we don’t know enough about or there’s a lot of different perspectives or opinions on.
2. If we give general advice it has to be somewhat general for it to be valuable to the most people, which means there’s not much detail to work with.
3. If we give specific advice, the detail is often of great value for some or a few but meaningless or even harmful for the majority of the population.
4. The rise of the internet and social media means advice is literally everywhere you look and can be given by literally anyone, some with good intentions some with not so good.
5. A lot of people want advice and lot of people want to give advice.
6. A growing amount of advice is being given and taken between people who know nothing about one another.
This adds up to a world where a ton of advice is flying around about uncertain subject matter in terms that are unusable to most everyone but being over absorbed by people desperately seeking help and/or clarity. Unfortunately this results in most of us struggling to find advice that really helps improve our health or knowledge about health. How can we improve it a bit?
Here’s my advice… (of course)
Advice Should Come With a Rating
We need to think advice with a rating system similar to movies, so that the receivers of said advice know approximately what they are intaking.
G – General Advice is designed to guide people in a direction but lacks specifics. This advice is applicable to the broadest audience but comes with the inherent understanding that each individual needs to figure out the details themselves. Nearly everyone can benefit from G rated advice but it’s very puts all the responsibility on the receiver to actualize it.
– Move more.
– Eat less refined foods.
– Spend more time away from computer screens.
PG – Possibly General advice is the slightly more narrowed down category of broad suggestion that provides a bit more detail. This advice is by it’s nature going to be inappropriate for some but is likely beneficial to a majority of people. There’s some guidance but still puts most of the responsibility on the recipient’s shoulders to figure out the details and tailor it individually.
– Eat more vegetables.
– Exercise a couple times a week.
– Spend more time away from computer screens and more time outside.
PG-13 – Probably Good for about 13% is the realm that quite a bit of the advice out there falls into. There’s quite a bit more detail and/guidance provided, which brings the target audience to probably about 15% of people out there. Much of this advice is good intentioned and seemingly good for most but, just like movies, you really have to know the person to know if it’s appropriate. It can seem ok at first glance but when you get into the details you quickly see there’s some iffy content in there.
– Start each day with a green smoothie.
– Do cardiovascular exercise 3 times a week for 30-60 minutes.
– For every hour of screen time get an hour of green time.
R – Restricted advice is the kind everyone wants so it’s the kind that people tend to give or feel pressured to give. Tell me what and when to eat, how and when to exercise, how much to sleep, etc. This advice is filled with graphic detail and leaves very little to the imagination. Not surprisingly this advice is appropriate for the smallest audience. The more specific the suggestion the more likely it is good for just a few and the rest of us need to buy a ticket to a different show because that content is not designed for us, no matter how intriguing that preview was or how much your friend loved it.
– Do 4, 30 minute runs a week at 7 min mile pace.
– Start every day with a shot of apple cider vinegar mixed with parsley and sea salt, followed two hours later with a half an large avocado and 1/3 of a green apple.
– Turn off all electronics one hour before bed time and watch the sunrise and sunset every day.
NC-17 – Not Constructive unless you’ve known someone for about 17 years is the uber detailed stuff for the super specific minutiae of elite performance or precise disease management. This is advice hand crafted for an individual in a specific time frame. Very little advice falls into this category but is designed to be very specific and measurable. I joke about the 17 years but this is advice that should be given and taken only by people who know each other really well. Unfortunately there’s a lot of empty promises and programs out there that promise the equivalent satisfaction to an “adult” movie but if you think about what it’s probably rated you’ll easily see how it’s not something you want to consume.
Be An Informed Consumer
Since I’m pretty sure most advice won’t actually be rated the responsibility lies in the consumer to discern and understand the kind of advice you’re seeking or being given. Almost everyone can benefit from the G rated stuff but the R rated advice should be taken very cautiously. The general rule of thumb is the more general the advice the bigger the target audience and the more specific the smaller the target. If you see a flashing new health program or tip, which is likely PG-13 or R rated material, KNOW that there is a good chance it might not be for you. Just like movies, we don’t go see every restricted movie just because it’s rated R.
Also, we need to be ok with not listening to advice no matter what it’s rated, even if it’s G or PG. There’s so much flying around out there that we can’t intake it all and some of it is really terrible, similar to those low budget movies that most of us can’t figure out how they ever get made. SharkNado? I mean that’s like telling people to lower their cholesterol because it is trying to kill them! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 🙂
Most Advice Should Be Rated G, Not R
Just about everyone wants advice that will work for them but very few are willing to have the patience to work through the process of asking the questions the right way and exploring all the options until it’s fine tuned for them. That’s human nature. We want the answer quick, simple and specific. Too bad the body and us people aren’t that simple.
Right on cue here’s My G rated advice…
Pay attention to the advice you give and receive. Think about if it’s specific or general and let that guide you in deciding if it’s worth pursuing or not. If it’s general (eat less refined foods) and that sounds appealing, start the show and see where it goes. If you come across the fancy new Facebook preview for a diet (6 Week Shred!), start looking for that rating before emotion or anything else sucks you in. Have patience and be thoughtful with the advice you come across and the chances of you consuming some really appropriate material goes way up.
We still have a long way to go in the advice realm because although we think we kNOw how to give advice, we typically don’t. Just like we think we are making good movies nowadays, when we obviously aren’t, there’s a glaring lack of quality out there being overwhelmed by all the big budget flash and rehashing of the same burned out concepts. There’s still so much to be learned about so many of these things in health and everyone is so different in past history, present state and future goals that the better we can get at screening all this advice the better off we all will be. There is some very good advice out there so don’t think there isn’t but do use your rating filter next time some intriguing new preview comes your way.
Thanks for reading, have a great day!
P.S. This post could have easily been titled The Article I Wrote To Explain To People Why I So Rarely Give Specific Advice and Am Always Saying “Uh, I’m Not Sure If That’s For You”