The Dunning-Kruger Effect


A member of a Facebook group posted this and, although the group is related to hiking 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation at the summit), I got to thinking about how this graphic relates to fitness and making it your lifestyle. Some of you may have already gone through some of the steps of this process. Others may still be at the very first or second.

“I once was blind and now I see.”

People are introduced to fitness at a variety of ages. Regardless of whether you’re in high school or middle-aged, new information is often taken as the gold standard; regardless of where it is coming from. That is why popular media sites are so dangerous. Promoting fad diets and nutrition advice, those who do not have enough knowledge will live by these guidelines.

“Hm-m-m, there’s more to this than I thought.”

Maybe it was advice from a friend that framed a known thought in a new way. Maybe it was an article that talked about how one glass of wine equals an hour at the gym when you drink it between 3pm and 5pm. Whatever the cause may be, there’s always something that makes you to stop and think: could these Elite Daily and Buzzfeed articles not be portraying the full picture?

“Oh man, I’m never going to understand it.”

You start to do some more research. Maybe you stumble upon coaches with online blogs, people with education and certifications. You begin to read their articles and guest posts from authors they trust and know. Slowly but surely, you begin to find that the amount of information is vast and ever growing. No longer do you rely on Buzzfeed, but, instead, see them as a source to get topics to research and find reliable articles about these topics.

“OK, it’s starting to make sense now.”

This continues, maybe over a month, six months, a year, three years. I argue this is the longest of the stages and never really ends. There are constantly new topics and new research being done. When you begin to understand a topic fully, there will be a new topic or new research in that same topic to turn everything you thought to be true on its head. Your knowledge base continues to grow, but your confidence in that knowledge being the end-all-be-all does not.

“Trust me, it’s complicated”

Finally, as you research and make fitness your lifestyle, your friends and family will undoubtedly begin to ask you questions. How much protein should I eat? How much water should I drink in a day? Yes, both of these questions have a textbook answer. You should eat 0.8 g protein per kg of bodyweight. You should drink 8, 8oz. glasses of water per day. However, after researching, you find that protein depends on your fitness goals, height and weight, health status and other medical history, as well as the quality and source of the protein. And water depends on how hard you sweat for that day, the altitude you live at, your age, gender, height and weight, just to name a few factors. Fitness and nutrition, as well as all related topics, are complicated.

Where are you in your journey? Are you just starting or edging toward realizing that everything is complicated and needs more research? Leave a comment and let me know!

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