There are many absolutists out there. This mentality strives for certainty. For the absolutist everything is black and white. If walking 10,000 steps a day is better than 5,000, it’s 10,000 or bust. If an apple has more fiber than a banana, then banana be damned.

We can have a certain amount of admiration for the absolutist. They are decisive, strong willed, and optimal. They hold steadfast in a belief system. But they may fear the unknown, and their hardy stance may falter when the next paper is written or they read a new book, or a guru offers new advice.

Being literal is a fool’s errand when it comes to health and fitness.

Nutrition, fitness, health, and wellness don’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, there is so much synergy that any advice needs to be taken with the proviso, “results may vary.” Vitamins, minerals, fibers, and compounds are all synergistic. Fats absorb some vitamins, which then can be used in the body. A fibrous plate of veggies with white rice slows the carbohydrate breakdown in the stomach, nullifying the insulin release.

A person who is looking to lose weight ought to consider their unique circumstance. The amount of calories they need is specific to their body, lifestyle, and habits. This is then compounded by their digestive and absorptive tendencies. At a restaurant there can be a vast difference in portions depending on who is manning the line. One must view a calorie count not as an absolute but a moving target.

There are no absolutes in fitness. A person who desires to build strength should do squats and deadlifts. However, there are hundreds of different ways to actually do these exercises. A 5-foot-4-inch 89-year-old woman will be different from the 20-year-old collegiate football athlete.

Genetics, history, and the millions of input variables across years of living all play their parts. A person makes a variety of choices, moves, and directions in their unique system on a day-to-day basis. There is uncertainty, there will be change — and this is OK. Certainty doesn’t exist in the world beyond our imagination.

Things change on a day-to-day basis, but over the long term there is a pattern. Move the biggest stones to begin with and the pebbles will fall into place.