I am often asked questions like “is it OK to eat French fries?” or “isn’t weight lifting dangerous?” or “isn’t running bad for the knees?” or “why do I find running boring?” or “is it OK to sleep in the afternoons?” or “why am I not able to motivate myself to exercise?”
The questions are simple. My answers are rarely so. I invariably prefix them with “it depends”. And for good reason. Or many good reasons. Most expressions of love are conditional. And, so it is with the answers to most practical questions of life.
There are 2 central messages for today’s conversation. And they are both related. The first is that the details matter when you have a specific problem to deal with. The second is that what appears to most people to be a problem need not be one for you, and what might be OK for someone else might be a problem for you.
Allow me to explain, with that yummy plate of fries.
Scenario D (for Disaster)
Mr. FatCat has spent the day in a sedentary manner, eating a gut-busting breakfast, a luxurious lunch and then a delicious dinner with dessert. An hour after dinner, strolling around his neighbourhood he has an urge to eat fries from the burger joint that’s bustling with business at 10pm. Poor quality factory bulk processed potatoes deep fried in (reheated) animal fat. All consumed when his glycogen tank is fantastically full already. There’s almost nothing good about that snack. A recipe for disaster if this becomes a habit.
Scenario A (for Awesome)
Sunny the Swimmer has cycled from school to his daily 2-hour swim. He has then cycled back home and along with a large platter of fruit, nuts and seeds, his father has prepared a plate of fries. These are sweet potatoes bought at the local organic market, and have been grilled after being brushed with a combination of olive and mustard oil to just the level of crispness on the outside that Sunny enjoys. There’s so much value in that meal. Awesome!
These 2 scenarios are not out of the ordinary. I have friends who fall into each of those scenarios on a regular basis. Both groups enjoy their fries. But for one the result is positive on long term wellness, for the other, negative!
And so, whenever I’m asked “are French fries bad for me?” my answer typically starts with “it depends…“.
I have referred to this aspect of life numerous times before. When talking about attention to detail or process for performance. And, just looking at the Wellness Tree, you can see that there are so many drivers of good health and sickness. Paying attention to the details is what will make a difference whatever be the aspect of life you are considering.
So, when someone asks me in passing conversation a question looking for a short answer, I invariable respond in an enigmatic manner, if at all. It is only when the situation or context in which the question is being asked is clear can a short answer carry specific value to the questioner.
This applies to all kinds of questions besides the ones at the start of this conversation. Examples of other simple popular questions for which my answer would definitely start with “it depends…” include:
“should I invest in the stock market?”
“is it OK to eat chocolate?”
“should I do an MBA?”
“is it OK to drink coffee?”
“is my yogasana class good enough as my only exercise?”
“are eggs bad for me?”
“should I do my own tax return?”
“what’s wrong with being vegetarian?”
“how do I improve my guitar playing?”
“can a vegan be unhealthy?”
“is it expensive to have children?”
“should I run a full marathon?”
The list is almost endless.
Life is like a bowl of fries, it is up to you to pay attention to the details to make the best of what you desire.
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.