Mentorship, support, accountability - Part 1 | Precision Nutrition

Mentorship, support, accountability – Part 1

By Ryan Andrews, M.S., RD

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What I learned

Waaayyyy back when I was a kid (well, about 20 years ago), North America was full steam ahead and entering the phase of “really bad nutrition”. While my family did an average job with my nutritional upbringing (especially compared to other families), I was really in the dark. Most of my knowledge was hearsay and based on the media and popular press.

Yikes!  You know, come to think of it, it wasn’t until I became a nutrition professional that I got really comfortable choosing my food each day.

What my parents learned

Historically speaking, though, this wasn’t always the case. Many years ago (when my parents and grandparents were kids), there was some decent nutrition advice being passed around from kitchen to kitchen.

Sure, they didn’t know much about proteins, carbs, and fats. Nor did they know about antioxidants and phytochemicals. But that’s besides the point. What they knew was this…they knew how to shop for, cook, and eat better foods than we shop for, cook, and eat today.

Plus, food advertising bombardments weren’t quite so rampant and confusing. Simply put, junk food wasn’t advertised as health food like it is today.

The whimsical past

Now, I don’t want to romanticize the past, as many authors do. It’s wasn’t all rose-colored bliss.

However, because of fewer options, higher economic pressures, and a different way of life, eating better came naturally to those in the past. And they could actually learn something about eating right from their family, friends, and neighbors.

Fast forward

Nowadays, good luck my friends. Dismal nutrition habits are the norm. Indeed, if you’re not getting help from someone who actually knows what they’re doing, who are you gonna get it from?

  • Dad with high blood pressure?
  • Mom with osteoporosis?
  • The media who is only concerned with their bottom line?
  • The overweight home economics teacher?

Hmmm, that doesn’t leave many options, does it?

The Mentorship and Social Support Survey

A few months ago we ran a survey of a sample of Precision Nutrition members. We asked them a number of different questions, some of which were to ascertain their level of fitness, some of which were to test their nutritional knowledge, and some of which were to determine their access to mentorship and social support.

The results were fascinating.

We wanted to know how much of an impact mentorship and social support actually have on a person’s ability to reach their physique goals.

So we asked people to rate their happiness with their own physique on a scale from 1 to 5, like so:

  1. Extremely unhappy – I’m nowhere near my goal and I doubt I can make it.
  2. Unhappy – I’m far from my goal but I’m willing to do something about it.
  3. Ambivalent – I’m working toward my goal but I’ve got a ways to go.
  4. Happy – I’m close to my goal and making progress.
  5. Extremely Happy – I’ve achieved my goal and I’m working on maintenance now.

We then looked only at the people who answered [5. Extremely Happy] in order to measure the impact of various factors on their success.

What stood out immediately was the fact that there wasn’t a significant difference in nutritional knowledge between the people who had achieved their goals (the 5’s) and the people who were still working on it (the 3’s and 4’s).

The people who achieved their goals knew their stuff (you have to, of course – success is not an accident), but so did many of the “in progress” people. In other words, you need to understand nutrition science – but it isn’t enough to get in great shape.

But then we looked at the response to this question:

“Have you ever had regular mentorship from someone who was in the exact shape you wanted to be in?”

Note: In this context, regular mentorship is defined as constructive and impartial feedback and direction, on a near-daily basis, for a continuous period of at least 3 months.

And check this out:

77% of the 5’s said “Yes” (37 out of 48)

Only 17% of the 3’s and 4’s said “Yes”

And less than 5% of the 1’s and 2’s said “Yes”

That’s a remarkable difference! Think about what that means for a second: you need to know a lot about exercise and nutrition, that’s true; but most of all, you need to find someone who’s where you want to be, and lean on them for help.

Question of the day

So, the question of the day is this…do you have somebody in your life that actually knows how to eat well – and is healthy enough, vibrant enough, and fit enough to demonstrate it? Seriously, do you have someone that can help you work through nutrition problems and troubleshoot obstacles, rather than just telling you to eat more proteins, carbs, and fats?

If you have a good role model in your social circle right now, someone who has already done what you want to do, and someone who can mentor you to success, make the absolute most of it!

If however you don’t already have a mentor like that, FIND ONE IMMEDIATELY.

Learn more

To learn more about making important improvements to your nutrition and exercise program, check out the following 5-day video courses.

They’re probably better than 90% of the seminars we’ve ever attended on the subjects of exercise and nutrition (and probably better than a few we’ve given ourselves, too).

The best part? They’re totally free.To check out the free courses, just click one of the links below.