Friday, February 27, 2015

Paleo, Headaches, and LCHF

I had a headache the other day. Typically, for me, headaches are caused by one of three things. Caffeine withdrawal, dehydration (Often related to hangovers.), or tense neck-muscles. Quite rarely do I ever have headaches specifically because I'm sick.

It was pretty bad and I was getting quite tired with it, so I took a mild pain-reliever. I also drank some water to rehydrate, because I knew I'd been drinking a lot of coffee and some beer in the previous days, without drinking a lot of water. I also had some coffee, because I hadn't had any that morning.

Soon enough, the pain stopped bothering me. Conclusion? The paracetamol worked. Or the coffee did. Or I was just low on water. Or it just passed by itself.

It was probably the coffee. Or that's what I feel, anyway. Coffee always works. Coffee makes everything better.

In reality, there's no way of knowing which one worked. We like to attribute progress or failure to some single thing, and accept that as the whole answer. We even base the advice we give to others on these experiences. I'm inclined to believe it was the coffee, because it has helped before. What's more likely is that they all helped. I had caffeine withdrawal, and I knew I was a bit dehydrated. These cause symptoms, which paracetamol treats, thus, headache away. Or maybe it just went over by itself. We don't know that it didn't.

But it was totally the coffee.

It's easy for us apply the same thinking and fall into the same illogical pattern of ignorance when it comes to weight loss, and that is how every diet manages to be the best diet, and every exercise routine is #1.

We find new flubber or jiggly bits on our bodies. It bothers us. We don't like jiggly parts. We got a little bit fat. We go on the web, and quickly we stumble upon a programme of some sort. It incorporates a diet, it has a routine, it has good reviews. Lots of good before-after material. We get excited, because we get convinced it's going to help us lose weight.

And lo and behold, one months later, weight is lost. We're fitter than ever. Obviously, the programme worked. The knowledge helped. There's something about eating those things and doing those exercises specifically that seems to work a lot better than whatever you we're doing before.

That's what you would automatically assume at this point. What actually happened is you were more motivated than ever before, spent more time at the gym, and ate less. All because you felt fat, at first, and later you were motivated because it was working. In reality, what programme you chose probably made very little difference to your results, and in the end you were only more motivated and worked harder than before.

Statistically, it can be seen that some diets are more effective than others, but that's not what made your weight-loss successful. The differences between diets can only be seen on in wide statistical analysis, and what results individuals reach largely depend on how motivated they are. Like, almost 100% dependent. What made you lose weight was those extra push-ups you did, those extra minutes on the treadmill, and that bun you didn't eat, because you felt so bad about your flubber. Whether you're doing Paleo or LCHF or veganism makes very little difference. The 20-40-40-thing you were doing likely was entirely unnecessary.

But in the end, you'd probably think it was all thanks to the programme. All those other things you do when you're motivated (Apart from researching diets.) are so easy to miss. They're seen as a byproduct of the programme, when they're actually what makes the programme successful in the first place. But you tell everyone you did the x programme and got y good results. And that's how every routine and every diet manages to do so well. You get hyped up, you get fit, and then you hype the programme. And you praise the program, because you were inclined to believe it was going to work from the get-go. What actually made you lose those pounds was eating less and doing more.

The only way to guarantee weight loss is to eat less and do more. It's literally the only thing you have to do. In my opinion, every diet and routine is inherently flawed, and they all rely on bias to get around. You don't have to worry about picking the wrong diet. They're all equally wrong. And few of them are very healthy.

I can't know for sure whether it was the paracetamol or the coffee that cured my headache. I like to believe it was the coffee, but in the end, that's just wishful thinking. Logically, pain-relievers are way more effective than coffee. All these diets and miracle-movements are nice brain-teasers for nerds or scientists, but in the end, for people like you and me, getting in shape all comes down to doing more. It really is that simple.

This is a nonsensical gif I made while shooting the images in the previous entry. I kinda like it.

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