“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the best possible good…”
–A famously adapted quote from from Voltaire
The very last thing the three of us want to come from people visiting our site is a sense of overwhelming guilt or frustration. We want this to be a place of encouragement. We certainly do not mind a little conviction every now and again, and the three of us need an occasional nudge just as much as anyone else. That is in fact why we started this whole thing, to stay accountable. We all need to take the initiative to better ourselves. However, how do we know which corrective is best?
In a world of pluralism, a world where experts disagree merely on the postmodern principle that objectivity is a lie, therefore researchers that report this or that as the best are simply trying to manipulate, it is difficult for people who are looking for answers to find them. Isn’t it strange that experts wag their fingers at each other suggesting that the other is lying to make money, to have power, to please the government, but this does not stop them from offering their own, very “non-biased” opinion?
The war rages on. Some dietary experts tell us that our society has bastardized food by removing Omega-3 fatty acids, and, therefore, any conscientious steward has to take fish oil and this will balance all the other mess out. Other experts tell us that fish oil can be dangerous (often for reasons other than the oil itself, such as contaminants). Still others suggest that fish oil is great, but it is not a supplement for an otherwise nutrient deficient, sedentary lifestyle. Fish oil makes a healthy person healthier; it is not a miracle pill. My point is this: there are experts on all points of the spectrum when it comes to healthy living, not just with fish oil, but on everything from workouts to spinach.
(Just as an aside, we at The Echo Life do not, as this article suggests, recommend a particular dietary or exercise plan, but I will show my cards here. I am in the third camp, fish oil is not a miracle pill, but it does benefit a healthy lifestyle. In other words, I take fish oil.)
We all know the competing voices in this world that wish to gain our attention and patronage. How do we know what to believe when this diet guru tells us that a diet of 100% pure wheat grass extract is the way to go, while on the next station another so-called expert is telling us that his synthetic goop is the future? On top of that, we have one person telling us that sit-ups are the devil and his ab-belt is the way to go, while the next guy tells us that the only true work out is found in his program for only 36 months of payments at $19.99, and, after paying our the nose, you can find this secret out too. Just put a loan out against your house to afford the dang DVDs.
This is the world we live in, a world of consumerism and of pluralism, a world that is simply not going to agree on any level. If we all agreed on the “best” diet, many a company would go out of business and many a worldview, especially postmodernism, would be hurt by the admittance that objective truth exists. Again, this means that the solution isn’t going to just slap us in the face. So, what do we do, we who, out of ethical obligation, want to care of the body? How can we be sure we are not doing more harm than good? How do we avoid what could possibly become an ethical dilemma?
Spoiler alert: The right answer is not an easy answer.
If there is one thing that I know, it is that I am no expert in the areas of nutrition and exercise. Yet, this does not excuse me from doing the best I can. Notice that I did not say that this does not excuse me from doing the best, just the best that I can. The ideal probably exists, but none of us will find it, unless we are just incredibly lucky, but even so, we won’t know for sure we are right. The best we can do is to be faithful to grow in understanding and practice. And that, I think, is the key to all of this. The truth is that I do not know the best, nor will I probably figure it out in this lifetime. Even people who have degrees in this sort of thing cannot agree with one another all the time.
With this in mind, I must keep perspective. I have a responsibility to do what I can with what I have.
As Richard pointed out in an earlier post, I cannot give what I do not have. I do not have the expertise to put forth an effort to figure out the best plan. What I do have is this: The ability to discipline myself to good research. Just like everything else we speak of on this blog, there really are no substitutes for hard work. There is no short cut to finding the best plan. I must research the most I can with the time that I have to make the best-informed decisions, without wasting all my time, never taking care of all the various responsibilities in life.
Sometimes this can be hard to hear. Instead of someone throwing the onus on our shoulders, we wish to be given the answer. Life is just not that easy, and no one is as responsible for your well being than you. That means, it is up to you. I wish I could give you better advice, and if you ever have it, please send it my way. But, isn’t this how we practice theology: We know we haven’t figured it all out, but that does not deny the fact that we must pursue holiness. We grow each day in discipline, both in faith and in health.
Let me give you a little advice from a Wesleyan perspective: think practically. This is a problem that we have both in thinking healthy and thinking theologically. We become so heady that we cannot ever do what we know we should do. We have to live out of truth, not just proclaim it. We have to have an experiential theology of body and soul.
So, how does this look for healthy decisions: Ask yourself, “What is my body designed to do and to ingest?” While we are not experts, I bet all of us are keenly aware that if we are perfectly healthy, but could stand to lose a few pounds and gain some muscle mass, then the best way to better fitness is not through surgery, injections, pills, or any get it quick plan. I believe in medicine and surgery, if it is necessary. But, nine times out of ten, our bodies would be better off avoiding the easy way out. Moreover, I bet we all know intrinsically that our bodies are more apt to digest spinach, nuts, proteins and the like (as whole foods) than they are to digest cake, candy, and highly processed foods.
Thinking practically is not always convenient, but it is doable.
In light of all the disagreement in the world of wellness concerning the best way to do this or that, it pays to keep a level head, not to get swept up in some craze. Before you make any decisions, be disciplined in research. And guess what, it never hurts to pray throughout the process. There is no better way to gain peace in the midst of all the confusion than to submit to God as we put forth our best for Him and His Kingdom.