Let's Set the Record Straight on the Health & Fitness Industry

James Logie

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I really can’t take it anymore.

I’m going to give you the inside scoop on why you often see controversial or opposing blogs, articles, and YouTube videos on various health topics in the health and fitness industry.

There’s so much info out there on how to be as healthy and fit as possible, but people seem more confused than ever.

And this is by design.

One day something is healthy, the next day it’s not. Opinions on things like eggs, red meat, and carbs change as often as a Kardashian changes outfits.

Granted, there are so many variations in studies and so much imperfection that goes into the results and interpretations.

But for health experts and the media, they really couldn't care less about what the science is doing.

Let’s take a look at what’s really going on with the health and fitness industry and all the conflicting information you read.

What Got The Health and Fitness Industry To This Point?

The health and fitness industry has gone from a niche hobby in the 70s, to a fluorescent/leg warmer fad in the 80s, to the doom and gloom of the 90s.

When the 90s rolled around, there was more information starting to be presented about the damages that can happen from a poor diet.

It’s not that the information wasn’t there from the start, but we were seeing the damage that had happened coming out of the 80s.

In the 1980s we received an explosion of new food products, drinks, and fast food. The invention of terrible ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, and trans fats allowed for fast food, and junk food, to become cheaper.

These ingredients also made these things taste better than ever as they became hyper-palatable — our brains were no match for this onslaught of flavor.

Drinks that were now using high fructose corn syrup could be made for a fraction of the price and got larger. These advents in our “foods” now lead to a growing obesity epidemic along with increased rates of heart disease and diabetes.

The Damage of too Much Information

This is not to say they directly caused these health issues, but it’s still an interesting correlation. Going into the 90s, we could now see the damage that had happened due to this decade of junk excess.

New approaches took form, such as the Atkins diet. People were now starting to learn of the danger of carbs, and that you needed to cut them out if you wanted to live longer.

Ever since then, the state of health and fitness has still been about doom and gloom. As more information has become available, the more reporting you get on the dangers of certain things.

Since there are never any clear conclusions on nutrition studies, varying conclusions — and approaches — can be met.

This has continued for the last decade as more information has become available. But people are more confused than ever before. First carbs are good, then they’re bad, then they’re good again.

Fats are bad, fats are good, fats are bad etc, etc. Don’t even think about looking at red meat, and now red meat will never cause any damage.

The strangest thing is when you get health experts blogging, podcasting, or recording videos about the danger of things that seem to be beneficial for health.

You will often see a blog on how greens may be a problem for you, or if you’re not eating organic, you may as well throw yourself off the Hoover Dam.

Let me show you what the actual intent is behind articles of this nature and how sharing information like this has nothing to do with your health.

The Brave New World

There’s something really interesting about food and nutrition. Eating is a primal urge and something we are so in tuned with.

If you look at any sensational type headlines or news websites, you will often see information on nutrition that makes it to their front pages.

It seems like politics, religion, and food are the big three things that connect with people. An article on the danger of red meat will stop people dead in their tracks and create an avalanche of response and debate.

And that’s exactly why you see headlines about nutrition, health, and wellness on the biggest websites in the world. Nutrition — and any information about it — seems to trigger people the same way politics do.

I supposed we hold anything to do with food so near and dear to us because food is our life.

People are always looking for an identity, and belonging to a particular nutrition ideology helps to create that identity. Whether it’s vegan, paleo, keto etc, etc, people long for community and a belonging to a “club”.

Even just holding true to the food ideals we grew up on are not to be trifled with.

This is why you see such a passionate response to articles about nutrition. Major news organizations, like CNN, FOX, MSNBC, know that any controversial information gets people up in arms, creates interests, and leads to clicks.

And this is what it’s really all about.

The Shifting Landscape Of Health & Fitness

In the past, you had to go to a physical building to improve your health. It could be a gym, health club, or nutritionist’s office. Today, most health experts have moved their businesses online.

They’ve gotten out of the gyms and offices and into the comfort of their own homes or personal spaces.

Instead of working directly with a few people, the internet allows them to reach a vastly larger audience and from all around the world — including myself.

Health experts have moved to blogs, podcasts, and growing faster than ever — YouTube.

Since they’ve moved everything online, this is now the sole source of their income. And they’re able to make a pretty substantial one with less work than ever before.

And this is where they are taking the same practices used by larger news and media companies.

You Are What You Click

Any online resource doesn’t give a crap what you read, they just care about what you click. It doesn’t matter the topic, they just want your engagement. When you click to see an article, you lead to more page views for that website.

And page views are the name of the game in the online world.

Pageviews are the same as TV ratings and you want to generate as many of them as possible. This is the reason behind any “clickbait” articles such as “ 10 Celebrity Plastic Surgery Botches: Number 3 Will Shock You!”.

Websites want to do anything to make you click. There is so much distraction — especially online — that harnessing your precious attention is paramount.

Because it leads to money.

Since page views, clicks, and engagements are like ratings to a website, this is how they generate their income. The more page views a website gets the more appealing they are to advertisers.

Better yet, if you click through to an article then click on any advertisements within that article, which leads to even more revenue for the owner or website.

This is why you see many ads that appear like they are a) part of the article or b) a continuation of it. Websites are based around creating earnings per mille visitors or EMPV.

This is just a fancy way of saying earnings per thousand people. If a website can work with online ads and create an EPMV of $8 they are obviously going to make $8 for every thousand visitors.

If they can create something that draws people in and they get 198,000 visitors in one day that’s $1584 in EPMV ad revenue — In one day, and just in advertising.

This doesn’t even touch any affiliate sales or sales of their own personal products or services.

For any website, a good sales percentage would be around 1–5% of all visitors. If you have a million people visiting your site each month and even 1 % are buying a $12 product that’s generating $120,000.

And that’s at only 1%.

If you add up advertising, affiliate sales, and the sales of your own products you could be making an EPMV of $100 to $200 — and maybe even more.

A health website that’s getting even 50,000 pageviews in a month could be generating $5000 to $10,000 a month.

You can see now why getting clicks and traffic are absolutely imperative. Would you be too bothered about taking a controversial approach to a topic if it could generate visits and numbers like this?

Neither do they…

Looking At Google Search Results

At the moment, there are around 2 billion active domains on the internet. When you break it down by topic; health, fashion, money, entertainment, sports, macrame, etc there are still hundreds of millions of websites for each topic.

If I search for “ spinach health benefits” on Google I get over 31 million results. Every health website EVER has written about the health benefits of spinach.

The problem is most people have never gone to the second page of search results on Google. Ever.

That means the top ten results you see on the page are by the heavyweights of the health industry. They have a massive following and reach, so the second that they put out an article it will get tens of thousands of views.

In Google’s eyes, this means it has the utmost authority and people are looking for this information. As much as Google is an algorithm and an artificial intelligence, it’s still been designed to be as organic as possible.

It is trying to bring you the results that are most helpful and relevant.

So when a very authoritative website puts out an article that has a reach to millions of people. There is no way you can outrank it.

Since most people are looking for the top few results on Google, you are pretty much screwed if you come in at number ten — let alone on page 15.

Getting More People To Your Website

So what do you do to generate interest and get viewers to your website? You take the opposing view. You challenge what the top information is saying.

This allows you to get in on the conversation and have very little competition compared to the millions of other websites and articles that are saying the same thing.

The success of many websites and blogs comes down to search engine optimization or SEO. This helps you to rank on Google and get discovered.

Writers need to search for the best keywords and phrases that are being searched for to try to generate traffic. And if you can find a topic that has an excellent search result and has little to no competition, you can capture that entire audience.

Since it’s usually impossible to compete with the giant health websites on popular keywords, it can be in your best interest to find ones you are more likely to rank with.

Writers also know people are so confused about all the conflicting health information out there so they know there is an audience for opposing views.

Why Health Experts & Websites Share Opposing Views

People become intrigued by opposing — and confusing — viewpoints, and it gets them to their website, and allows for more money to be made.

This can be from website traffic, advertising, affiliate links, or — as is most often going to be the case — selling you their own books and products.

So when you see articles that seem contrary to what had made sense previously about healthy things, you can know what’s behind it. Some articles you may have seen related to this may include:

  • Dark greens can be bad because of the oxalate content
  • Vegetables are not the Holy Grail
  • Fruit can be bad for you
  • Avoid white potatoes
  • Don’t eat grains
  • Any form of bean is not beneficial for health

A lot of these articles you read are from very respected nutritionists and health experts — but they’re taking the same approach as the large websites.

Their careers depend on the visits they get to their websites and their online business in general. They love sharing health and wellness information and helping people: But they probably love paying their rent more.

If you do things right, you can launch an entire career off the success of one viewpoint, article, or video.

And even more careers have been made by just embracing one thing such as “hating carbs” or being “the healthy fat guy”.

I haven’t even touched on the power of YouTube or social media platforms like Instagram. These outlets can also launch careers overnight and are even more dependent on views and “engagement”.

So, with so much distracting information and content out there, it takes a lot to stand out. Even if it’s with information or subjects that seem to oppose the view of genuine health.

Final Thoughts

Food provokes passion in people. And this is probably because it’s required for our survival and defending it is some sort form of self-preservation.

Health experts and media companies, and everyone in the health and fitness industry know that everyone is always looking to better themselves. The truth is: you will never be able to eat perfectly. You can’t, I can’t, and they can’t.

Since this is not possible, it’s easy to make a person feel that they’re always coming up short when it comes to their health and wellness.

When you share the info that they’re doing things wrong and there is so much confusion — you create fear. And fear leads to consumption.

It creates the seeking of answers and the dependence on more information from the “experts”.

And then you have a customer for life.

Focus on doing the best you can in any situation. Look to make the healthiest choices whenever possible, such as the following:

  • Just eat your damn greens
  • If it came out of the ground, it’s probably pretty good
  • Did that animal come from a local farm? Perfect
  • Are you eating real whole food? Also perfect
  • Probably best to avoid anything that comes out of a box or package
  • Are you getting most of your food from the outer ring of the grocery store? It’s probably pretty good then.

There are always going to be choices that might be a little detrimental, but so is going outside and breathing the air that is probably not very high quality — especially if you live in a city.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to stop breathing though, is it?

So when you see news outlets, fitness “celebrities” or health experts making a bit too much of a fuss on a certain topic — and it seems against common sense health knowledge — you now know their true intent behind it.

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.

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