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You are the one

by Frank Forencich on December 23, 2012

Hi! I’m a health expert and I’m going to tell you how to live.

I’m going to tell you how to exercise, what to eat and when to eat it. I’m going to tell you how to succeed in athletic training and how to avoid injury. I’m going to tell you how much water to drink and how much sleep you need to get. I’m going to tell you what supplements to take and what products to buy. And since stress is such an important part of health, I’m even going to tell you what to think about your life and your world.

But what makes me such an omniscient health expert? Well, maybe I’ve read a big stack of books and/or I have a bunch of letters after my name and/or I’ve won some big athletic competitions and/or I have some testimonials from some really famous clients and/or I have a really hot bod and/or I’m just a good talker.

In any case, I’m claiming to know what’s good for your body and your life which, if you think about it, is a truly preposterous claim. After all, I don’t know you and I haven’t done any assessments of your body, your genes or your life. I don’t know your personality, your history or your life goals. I don’t know your biomechanical profile or your biochemistry. And even if I did know all of these things, it would be a outrageous leap to suggest that I could integrate all of that knowledge into a concrete, practical, personalized prescription for a healthy life.

So, why should you listen to me?

Well, perhaps you shouldn’t be listening to health experts at all. Maybe, just maybe, health experts are part of our problem. After all, health experts have been proliferating over the last several decades at just about the same rate as epidemic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease. If health experts were the solution, we’d all be fit and happy. But we’re not.

In fact, we might even go so far to say that the proliferation of health information, advice and expertise is actually having a negative, disempowering effect on the very people it is supposed to be helping. Intimidated by the apparent complexity of health, fitness, nutrition and training, we balk. Afraid to take matters into our own hands, we give our innate intelligence over to others. Afraid to move our bodies, we hire personal trainers to hold the clipboard and count our reps. Afraid to make our own food choices, we hire nutritionists to tell us what to eat. At every decision point in the modern world, we come to a grinding halt, unwilling to take a chance with our own judgment. Awash in information, study becomes a substitute for authentic action.

Now maybe I’m writing myself out of a job here, but I’m trying to make an important point, which is: You are the ultimate authority on your health and your life. No one knows your body as well as you do. No one knows your life story as well as you do. No one knows your predicament, your stress profile, your passions or your dreams. Your nervous system knows millions of times more about your body than any trainer, physician or computer ever will.

Experts are nice if you’ve got them handy, but they can never be more than advisors. They have experience, knowledge and occasionally well-informed opinions, but ultimately, they’re just as flawed as you and me. They can offer some insight, direct our attention towards better habits and attitudes, but they can never be a substitute for authentic personal risk and engagement.

You are an animal, a fully-capable bipedal primate. Animals just like you have been taking health into their own hands and paws for millions of years. Given half a chance and a decent environment, any self-respecting mammal will find a way to express their vitality, vigor and exuberance. We are wired for beautiful movement. Health is who we are.

So take a chance. Take whatever health knowledge you’ve got and put it into practice.

Be your own scholar, your own expert, your own coach.

You are the motivation.
You are the authority.
You are the trainer
You’ve got enough information.
Now is the time for action.
You can do this.



{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Israel December 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Fantastic ! one of the best blog posts of 2012.

doc December 24, 2012 at 4:27 am

Your best post and you’ve had some good ones. Have to wonder if this is your last post because now what else is there to say?

eric December 24, 2012 at 8:41 am

Great post:
My summary of the fitness formula,

You should believe me because of X (insert, body, credentials, athletic accomplishments) + Y (do as I say, or copy my instructions–no matter how elaborate) = Z (become like me, if only a fraction).

When it should be:
Choose and learn about a specific domain X (area of health/fitness) + I (the expert) can help you apply it to yourself (learn techniques of application) = the client choosing how to incorporate new information/behaviors into their life.

Unfortunately, knowledge = power. Even perceived knowledge = power. In seeking control i.e. power over there own bodies/health individuals place trust and belief in those whom they perceive to be the premier archetype that represents a body of knowledge (fitness, aesthetics, athletics etc.). These experts know this (even if only implicitly) and thus market themselves as the embodiment of such knowledge.
Yet, the circumstances and contingent factors which lead to these “experts” becoming the premier archetypes have less to do with their actionsand much more to do with environment, genetics and chance. Additionally, the parts of the personalities that these experts display, to be marketed, are often “buffed and sheened” to outshine their less than exemplary aspects of their lives.
The most fitting example, Lance Armstrong. Here is someone whom touted himself as an expert on Health. When, I think it could be argued, that he in many dimensions is not very “healthy”. Even the sport he engages in, a sport that millions of average Joes believe if that if they obtained the level of cycle fitness that pro-riders do they would be healthy; also probably not true.
As you pointed out, rather than mirroring marketed archetypes, we should seek out health/fitness information and make consciousnesses decisions on how integrate it into our own lives (instinctively albeit).
I think there will always be a role for “experts” but the experts whom are interested in helping the individual versus the lining of their own pocket book will be difficult for the public discern.
Thankfully there are people on this side who do discern the difference.

Jake December 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

Amen. I struggle with this as well( I’m a trainer). Sometimes, my finances and a client’s empowerment are in opposition.

mick dodge December 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Well said. There is only one Guru = Gee You Are You! And you are the Earth!

Kyle Knapp December 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Fantastic- love this. I like many of us, struggle to get this across to people how amazingly different they are from everyone else and from their past and future selves. For that reason, there is great challenge in telling people what they “should do to be healthy.” You are the guru, our job is to help them realize that. Once again, great thoughts.

Adam Farrah December 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Great one, Frank! I agree 100%. No matter what the quality of the advice you receive from an “expert,” it still needs to be individualized by yourself personally.

I’ve read hundreds of books and attended seminars and certifications and studied with teachers and experts in a bunch of areas. They all gave something of value, but the application of what I learned is uniquely my own.

The only system that works for me is the one I assembled from bits and pieces of everyone else’s systems.


mitch brumitt December 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

well, to be frank,Frank, Love the picture…

ross eathorne January 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Like it.
Sadly, our evolution of brain specialisation has disassociated and disempowered our physical body, hence the proliferation of health experts with dogmatic and polarizing (brand differentiating) stances.

With inspirers such as Frank and Mick we shall see empowering advice and leadership towards movement, integration of internal and external organs and a re-attachment of the tribe.

Keep up the inspiration Frank.

Frank Forencich January 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Thanks Ross, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

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