Use the Zealots!

When regular people want to start eating healthy, and they pick up a nutrition book, they often find themselves with a book by a health fanatic. Such books are very common. Most of us, when confronted by a nutritonal zealot, ditch the book and look for saner fare. Natural enough. We feel the rigidity, the unsettling fervor, and we naturally recoil. But I think it’s wise to come at it differently. Like my chiro pal Michael Nokken counseled me long ago: “Learn from the zealots!”

Consider it, most of the big advances we’ve gotten in any field came from people who were zealots—a little nutty about what they were into. Who else is going to spend every waking minute of their lives doing all the work and the research and the experimentation? You and I are too busy, y’know, having lives and stuff. The martial art world would not have been revolutionized if not for the extreme explorations of Bruce Lee or the Gracie brothers. Check out Mozart’s life or Balanchine’s or Balzac’s. I don’t know much about Einstein’s life, but I’ll bet he was pretty “fanatical” too (if his haircare habits are any indication).

The point is that we can USE the findings and knowledge of zealots without, ourselves, actually BECOMING a zealot. We can, as the 12 steppers say, “Take what we like and leave the rest.” Raw foodists, macrobiotics people and Ayurveda folks can all sound pretty flakey and “out there.” But so what!? That doesn’t necessarily mean their information is unsound. Dig through their dogma and ideology and excavate their research, carefully weigh the arguments and evidence they present on their own merit (no matter how goofily (or scarily) they convey it) and do some experimentation in your own private laboratory—your own body. Soon you may find yourself feeling an affectionate humor toward the health zealots of the world. And even receiving the fruits of their albeit extreme labors with gratitude.

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