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"Re"-search Leads to "Me"-Search

Quick Hit Summary

The use of objective research to improve the quality of your life is important. However, limitations do exist in scientific research – they're only truly applicable to those who participated in the study! Thus, don't make knee jerk reactions placed off the results of just one. Let the "Re"-search guide you in the "Me"-search to see if you'll receive benefit from manipulating a given variable to your life. Also, The Scientist = The Coach = The Nutritionist = The Researcher…The best researchers in the physical preparation field are the ones actually working directly with the athletes; not necessarily the guys/gals working in a lab. As discussed in this article, each day they're working with an athlete, they are utilizing the scientific process incorporating both their own experience and that of basic science.

Applying Research to Your Life

Figure 1. "Re"-search is like a compass, it points us in the general direction. In contrast, “Me”-search is the GPS that zeroes things in for us.1

I’d like to discuss a general overview of incorporating science into practice. If you’ve read a few of my articles, you’re well aware of the emphasis I put on science backed practice. Both of my degrees are based in science (Kinesiology and Nutritional Science) and I do enjoy surfing pubmed, etc.

That said, I realize the limitations of scientific research; namely the results of any study, regardless of if it’s human or animal based in nature, are specific ONLY to the participants in the study. Furthermore, it's only TRULY specific to them at that very EXACT moment in their life. Thus, I try not to make knee jerk reactions based solely off the results of one study. Rather, I delve deeper into the topic to see if there are any other studies that support these initial results. This is what I refer to as the “Re”-search process.

If I find that there is a general consensus showing a positive effect of variable “X” in the reviewed studies, I may decide to add it into my daily nutrition/exercise routine to see if I experience similar results. This is what I like to call the “Me”-search phase of the process; that is, I will see if “ME” experiences the same positive benefits as those in the study by taking/doing something similar to what they did. (And yes, I realize I used bad English there by saying “me experiences…” in that last line, but sometimes you need to step outside the boundaries to get a point across!). I stress this point of “Me”-search, because until one does it themselves, he/she is only taking an educated guess as to if it will benefit them. It’s for this reason that I like to say………

"Re"-search leads to "Me"-search

An Analogy: A Compass & GPS

The “Re”-search vs. “Me”-search way of thinking is analogous to a compass and a GPS. A good compass will point you in the general direction of where you want to go. However, a GPS will give you the exact destination point. Similarly “Re”-search will give you an idea of what diet/supplements/exercise strategies may lead to optimal health and performance gains. Yet, it is your own personal “Me”-search that will tell you if the incorporation of any of these diets/supplements/exercises was beneficial or not.

The Scientist = The Coach = The Nutritionist = The Researcher

At the end of the day, there is one thing I can't stress enough —- The best researchers in the physical preparation field are the ones actually working with the athletes; not necessarily the guys/gals wearing the white coats in a lab. As I once heard someone say (unfortunately I don't recall the source of this comment), research has a tendency to play catch-up to what the best coaches have already experienced with their athletes. Am I saying that I think sport science research is a waste? Of course not, that would be foolish on my part; I just lean towards the applied side experienced by those working day in, day out with athletes as discussed much more thoroughly in my article, Oh, The People You'll Meet.

And if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. In essence, what are coaches? They're scientist who are constantly performing experiments. Let's review the key steps of the scientific process……

Observe a Problem —-> Review Previous Research —> Form a Hypothesis —-> Test a Hypothesis —> Study results are reviewed & analyzed —>Form New Conclusions that lead to future research

This is 100% analogous to what the best coaches, from both a training and nutrition standpoint, are doing on a daily basis….

Coach has a PROBLEM to address (Joe/Susie wants to increase sport performance) —> COACH REVIEWS through his/her knowledge and experiences (personal experience + that of others + science) —> Coach forms a HYPOTHESIS (ie- training cycle) that he/she thinks will produce the desired outcome —> Athlete/coach TEST HYPOTHESIS (ie – complete training cycle) —> Athlete's post training cycle RESULTS ARE ANALYZED —> Coach & Athlete FORM NEW OPINIONS of the effectiveness of training strategy and use the results to GUIDE FUTURE TRAINING SESSIONS.

Don't Prematurely End the "Me"-search Process & Miss Out On Benefits

There is one caution I must make when advising you on the importance of the "me"-search process – DON'T give up too quickly!!! Let the variable run it's full cycle as intended and ask for help if you're not seeing results before prematurely abandoning it. For instance, although some products will give you results almost immediately (think creatine), others need to build up in your system to exert its effect (think beta alanine). If one stops taking beta alanine after 5-6 days because they're not feeling any benefit, they may miss out on the benefits they would have received by weeks 5-6. Likewise various training techniques won't instantly turn you into a fire breathing machine by day 10, especially if you're doing the exercises with bad form or not taking care of other variables in your life! As Phil Stevens discussed in his article I'm a Lifer, one has to make their training/nutrition a part of their life if they want to see results.

If you're not seeing the results that you were expecting based of your initial "re"-search, seek the advice of others who have experience in the field; See where your shortcomings are with respect the implementation of a given variable in your life. It's not until all of the above is in place, that one can truly evaluate the results of your "me"-search.

Bottom Line

"Re"-search Leads to "Me"-Search is an important concept that we must all remember. By using this process, we all turn into scientist, forming a hypothesis on what may/may not work and testing it out.

Some scientific studies produce unfavorable results. Likewise some of our training/nutrition strategies may not produce the desired results. Yet in other instances, the results of both can turn out to be magnificent. Regardless of how things turn out, the completion of research, whether done in the lab or on the training floor, increases our knowledge and directs work for the future.

And always remember, the most important studies are those in which N=1, with that 1 being YOU!


1 Image taken by Nicolas Kaiser. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Accessed August 21, 2010 from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Liquid_filled_compass.jpg

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Written on October 03, 2010 by Sean Casey
Last Updated: June 17, 2013

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.