The Filter to Break All Filters: Who Do You Listen To?
Every day it seems, someone asks me a question about my diet. And every time I answer these questions, I am met with resistance. So I want to flesh this out a little bit.
Before I begin, I want to ask you a hypothetical question. If you were an aspiring talk show host, and you wanted some advice on how to become a talk show host, and you had the choice to accept advice from Oprah Winfrey or your tv news anchor friend down the street, who would you choose to get it from?
Surely your tv news anchor friend down the street is easily accessible. Surely he has some insight on how to get onto a tv screen. But he is not a talk show host, nor does he have experience on what it takes to be a talk show host. Oprah Winfrey will clearly give you better advice, but she’s inaccessible. So, based on accessibility, you take advice from your friend down the street. This is a mistake. In the end, you’ll end up following advice that may open doors to become a tv news anchor— you may even get to host a show after some time after you’ve proven yourself to the network— but a tv new anchor and a talk show host will invariably possess a different set of skills.
Avoid the accessibility trap, and find a way to get in touch with someone who is in the business of talk show hosting. Perhaps one of your news anchor’s friends. Perhaps find a biography written by a talk show host (but not by a ghost writer).
In this world we are constantly bombarded with unsolicited advice. Though it may be given for benevolent reasons, the outcome is that you will now have to filter new advice through a filter offered to you by someone who doesn’t have what you want. To achieve what you want, you must ask the right people. People who have already achieved what you want.
The other side to this, unfortunately, is that the advice must come from someone who is consciously competent, or, someone who actually recognizes the steps which they took to achieve their goals. Often times, people achieve success without knowing what behaviors were responsible. Their advice, no matter how successful they’ve become, may be littered with shit as well.
Next, let’s say that you want to lose 50 lbs. Your neighbor down the street lost his weight, and kept it off, and credits this success to a meal replacement that he had been taking. The reality may be that he had taken the meal replacement, and in conjunction with that had changed a routine at work where he was no longer desk-ridden but instead was tasked with having to run around getting everyone coffees, and began walking 5 miles a day by sheer accident. Then let’s say your friend had an infection and took a round of antibiotics which reduced his inflammation, and his calorically restricted diet changed his gut flora and physiology in a beneficial and impactful way. He may have lost the weight without the meal replacement shake. But his friend who suggested the shake to him in the first place convinced him if it’s weight loss capabilities, so he filtered his experience through that, and erroneously credited the wrong thing for his success.
Now you’re down to buy the shake, but you don’t see the same weight loss results you so hopefully anticipated. Perhaps you even begin to think you’re the one who is doing something wrong. It’s for reasons like this that you must audit, censor, and safeguard yourself from shitty advice.
Fuck your Preconceived Notions if they Don’t Work.
To circle back to my initial grievance, I am going to tell you very plainly that for my body, I can tell you that through rigorous self-experimentation I do exceptionally well with jicama, pineapples, orange juice, and salmon. The bulk of my diet includes the latter two. I have managed to lose a significant amount of water weight from when I had severe edema and liver disease related to an entire slew of health concerns I had dealt with over the past 7 years and unless I’m eating like a jackass, I know how to keep it off. And I do.
Many are incredulous of my experience. Because from the filter they were given, this low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diet should have done the opposite. The anti-sugar and anti-fruit filter is pervasive, and my experiences are dismissed off-hand even though I have made progress every single year, and I am moving in a direction that outward appearances would suggest is healthier. My brain fog, pain, PCOS, and neurological symptoms have disappeared. I can form complete sentences, I can function at work, and I’m having to drag out clothes I haven’t worn in 10 years.
And do you know whose advice folks would rather take? They’d rather take advice which fits into the initial paradigm, where low-carb and high-fat diets are King. Unfortunately, many of the same folks dishing this advice haven’t made the progress I have. They haven’t lost the weight I have. They haven’t ameliorated the symptoms that I have. They don’t look progressively better, as I have. Even though I’m chronically in beta-testing mode.
To be fair, however, my diet is not for everyone. Some may find its the magic bullet, while others will find that it causes a backslide in progress. This may be due to the physiological differences, and again these are factors which should be accounted for when deciding whether I am, indeed, the right person to listen to. Let’s say you’re very similar to me, physiologically speaking. It makes sense that my diet would be worth a shot if you have experienced the same symptoms that I have presented with in the past. But let’s say you aren’t. Is it still worth a shot if I have achieved success that you have not?
The answer may very well be ‘no’. But you won’t know until giving it a shot for a week or two. The key here is to let go of predetermined notions and information filter systems, and do the experiment and see for yourself. After the experiment has run its course, you look back and reflect whether it was a success or not. If so, then continue.
Just kidding. That was a trick. The answer is to look for someone with similar physiology and symptoms who has achieved the success you desire to take advice from. That’s clearly the most efficient route to success, anyway. If their method doesn’t work, then you may want to check out my method, or another method that you think may offer a solution to success. Right? Right.
The IPMG PCOS Thread
Years ago in The International Paleo Movement Group (IPMG), I happened upon an incredibly disturbing thread. In this thread, a woman asked how she could fix her PCOS without the use of pharmaceutical intervention. To be fair, the question was perfectly sensible. The responses, however, were not.
By the time I was tagged, I had read from so many women telling the OP that she would just have to deal with it for the rest of her life, that it would never go away on its own, and then they offered suggestions for supplements to make the cyst ruptures (which hurt like a motherfucker, and feel like a spleen rupturing) happen less often. I chimed in and said I had severe PCOS, and my last ultrasound in 2013 revealed that I had resolved it. Success.
I even recalled the times I was lying on the floor in a pool of sweat, writhing in pain, and passing out from a rupture just to let them know I understood what they were going through to validate their experiences first, then I began to detail what steps I had taken to resolve it— from intermittent fasting, to jicama binges, to reducing red meat intake in favor of sardines and salmon— but no pharmaceuticals. No supplements other than Glutamine. And here I was, far better than before, willing to share my methodology for the woman who just wanted that shit to be done with.
You would have thought, logically, that I was the one to listen to. Unfortunately the filter system and paradigm the rest of the commenters had was that PCOS could not be resolved. They were incredulous, because they thought it wasn’t possible to have done what I had done. And, my gold nuggets of hard-won advice was dismissed.
In my “WTF PEOPLE” state, I reminded myself that I was a Social Darwinist. Fuck em if they can’t figure this stuff out. I will give all of my time to help someone who wants it, but I don’t have time to play Captain Save a Ho with people who don’t even acknowledge the literature (which I shared freely) that helped point me in the direction of my own experimental interventions. This isn’t because I’m a dick, it’s because I care about the resource allocation of my time, and I get nothing out of banging my head against a wall.
The Crohn’s Group and The Shotgun Method for Efficiency:
A similar situation occurred in a group with people suffering from Crohn’s disease. These folks made me want to vomit. They wore their disease like a badge of honor, allowed the disease to become part of their identity, and wouldn’t hear a word of advice from someone who had two autoimmune diseases and—bowels and motor function intact— lived to tell about it.
Those folks are lost causes. Not because they are victims and that is something I find personally disgusting, but because their goals had differed from mine.
I wanted to be better. I wanted nothing more in this world than to get past that shit. I derived no pleasure from having friends give me extra attention because I was going into surgery or struggling… In fact, at my worst I hid out and didn’t let anyone visit me. My goal was to have my body back. There’s even a photo on my refrigerator of the Halloween before I became outwardly sick for the first time to offer me a constant source of direction. This was not a shared goal among this group. Sadly, I find this isn’t a shared goal among most people I’ve encountered who are going through some tragic shit. Only one person, whom I am still friends with today, messaged me privately to ask me what I was talking about. Asking me publicly was asking to be ostracized from the social group that feeds off of self-pity.
I learned something from this experience. After giving him my spiel, something interesting happened. I discovered the language he used differed a bit from the rest of the people I encountered. And I’ve listened intently for the language since to help me shotgun this process for efficiency, because I do not like to waste time and bang my head against walls.
Here’s what I’ll say to someone with an autoimmune disease, after I’ve explained the etiology and my own personal experiences. I’ll say, “You have to give up grains if you want to recover from this.” If they exclaim in protest, “But I love bread!” or “I’m Italian I can’t live without pasta!” or [insert whatever lame ass excuse] I know they are a lost cause. Some of these folks are people near and dear to me, which saddens me deeply.
But I know if they say “Fuck. Where do I start?” or even “Alright. Let’s see what happens. Will this be forever?” then I’ll know I won’t be banging my head against the wall, and I know that they have the capacity to understand the “Who Do You Listen To” concept.
Even if ultimately, that person is not me.