In with the Old, Careful with the New
It’s easy to become distracted by what you perceive to be the ‘new.’ Our constant need for the ‘new’ (neomania) drives us to acquire things that may not be that different from that in which it is replacing. What is really the difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6? What is really that different between the 2018 Honda Civic model and the 2019? When you look at the specs of each product – you will see that not that much is different. Maybe there’s a slightly different outer casing, some upgrades here and there, but for the most part it’s basically the same product.
Despite seemingly very little difference, consumers will pay for the newest edition, EVEN if they possess the closest predecessor. Neomania is a real thing. This phenomenon is also prevalent in the field of health, and it presents itself in the ‘newest’ trend of workout, diet or wellness program. At one stage it was all about aerobics. Then, there was a shift towards bodybuilding. Then again, there was a shift into group exercise classes, or the use of kettlebells.
And then in the world of food and nutrition, there was the Atkins diet, followed by the Mediterranean diet. Now there is the Paleo diet, the ‘clean’ diet, the ‘keto’ diet, the ‘carnivore’ diet, the ‘lion’ diet, and pretty soon there’ll be another one. Each diet claims to work, and if you follow the Instagram pages belonging to champions of these respective diets, you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands of pictures that act as evidence that… ‘it works.’
Of course the question that is often raised is this; where are the failures? Where are the pictures that show who it didn’t work for? You probably won’t find them, although they exist. It is inconvenient to show failures of a methodology, especially one that you champion as part of your personal brand. Each person that it fails for will ultimately fall into the ‘what’s next?’ neomania state of mind, thinking that their problems might be solved by the next new diet or exercise method.
So the question is then, how do we prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of neomania? How do we shield ourselves from the noise of things that are ‘new’ and stay closer to the tried and tested? By looking deeply into the ideas that have survived the longest. Ideas that have survived across generations (not just two or three years) are likely to continue surviving.
In the field of health, that leaves us with only a few things.
Move often. Perhaps I should put a disclaimer here and mention why I did not use the term ‘exercise.’ This is simply because the intention of exercise is a relatively new concept. The idea that we should ‘exercise’ to maintain a healthy weight, has only been prevalent since the rise of the obesity problem. Life used to be far more active, and food was less abundant.
Eat a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits and grains, preferably similar to what your ancestors ate. Eat minimal processed foods.
Have a good and adequate sleep routine.
That’s… it. There really isn’t much else that has stood the test of time the way that these three pillars have. I’m not saying that we should never adopt the new. But the ‘new’ must earn their place by being repeatable and lasting across time. We should embrace new ideas the same way we take to a new car. We like it. It’s shiny and clean. But we won’t know if it’s a good car until we’ve driven it for a while.