writing > Meta/Life > Personal health
Last Updated: May 2019
2 minute read

Personal health

Since 2012, building BitGym has been my full time job and I have spent a lot of time researching health and fitness products, services and, more generally, advice. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of what we’re told about tends to be unsubstantiated pseudo-science as often as not, with lots of contradictory advice and weak explanations.

The conundrum

Personal health should perhaps be the most important thing for us to understand and improve. Everyone knows “quality food, exercise and sleep is good for you”, yet noone knows what that is for everyone. It varies from person to person, and the outcomes positive or negative are hard to observe and correlate to choices, so it’s hard to justify or ascribe blame accurately. Especially when the accepted “facts” keep flip-flopping every 5-10 years: fats are bad! fats are good! sugar is bad! sugar is good! phasic sleep is good! no, you should sleep 8 hours in one go! you should always sleep in the middle of the night! no, it’s possible daytime sleep is better for you! At some point, it feels like if you just make random lifestyle choices, even a broken clock will be right twice a day.

The nuances of nutrition, sleep science, and fitness are all still very loosey-goosey, blending fact with marketing, with everyone trying to push some agenda on their audience, whether it’s a fitness fad or the popularization of their favorite diet. There’s more work done on nurturing cult followings around fads rather than on cultivating a healthy, happy society. This is a big reason why I tend to steer clear of giving explicit guidance to friends and also to BitGym users when I do not know their holistic health circumstances.

What can we count on?

Every individual’s physiology is at least slightly different, even if our fundamental biology is mostly the same.

There are also many mental and emotional aspects connecting sleep, diet, exercise, and health: how fun they are, who you get to do them with, how people around you make you feel about doing what you do. Doing team sports, working out with a partner, and encouraging active lifestyles in each other is always a good start.

The best health practice you can develop is learning to listen to your body and its needs, keeping track of how you feel over time, and making small adjustments without lying to yourself.