Imagine that you are a person from outer space who lived on a different planet. Your planet has plenty of food and amenities but mostly everything has a different name, shape, color etc than it does on planet Earth. Now, lets say that your planet unexpectedly blew up and you and your people were shuttled in time to take refuge on Earth. Everything is different. The terminology, the smells, tastes, colors, food. All different. So what would you do?
You would most likely go up to one or two of the trusted locals and ask for their help in determining what food is safe to eat and what food is not. In essence you are trying to find a starting point so that you don't make a wrong decision and eat something toxic that could end up killing you. Remember, everything that you ate previously on your home planet was completely different than what you now have available to you here on earth now. Each local has a slightly different opinion, but for the most part recommends sticking to the same specific set of foods to incorporate into your diet.
You begin the next day by picking these foods and trying them one by one. Most of them taste great, give you energy and provide you with everything you need that your previous diet gave you... But some of them do not. Some of them don't sit quite well, taste not so great and produce some unexpected side effects in your health. Nonetheless you now know more than when you first set foot on your new planet.
There are 3 take-aways from this metaphor.
1) Don't be afraid to find a starting point (think the locals on Earth)
2) You are your own last line of defense when it comes to making a decision.
3) When you separate out the facts from the beliefs and opinions of others, decisions become easier and overwhelm kept under control.
What if we approached our uncertainty with nutrition and fitness in the same way? What if through all of the overwhelm and uncertainty we were able to see things for what they really were and make decisions that benefited us? Unfortunately we don't do this. We end up seeing everything in the lens of "right vs wrong" and "bad vs good"... and when this happens overwhelm brews and we become paralyzed. Year after year of paralysis and frustration leads us to the same results that we had when we first started out.
Next time you are confused on what do in the gym or what to pick up at the grocery store, imagine that your planet blew up and you had to relearn everything on your new planet and start from scratch. What would you do?