Give Yourself Less Choice

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I have recently been reading alot of Martin Berkhan’s blog I must say his wealth of information, experience and deeply researched posts make me realize how much I don’t know yet. One post that hit home was about why fitness coaches/trainers often don’t follow their own advice or why they are sometimes not as organized and accomplished in their personal physical or nutrition goals as they teach their clients to be. I m not going to rephrase the whole article you can check it out here

I identified immensely with almost all of what he said especially a part about giving yourself too many choices. I read and research all kinds of diets, training logs and blogs, articles and just about anything that pops up regarding fitness or nutrition. I’ve also found myself trying to try it all, absorbing all kinds of information and attempting to fit anything I think of as valuable or “life-changing” and incorporating it into my life. The result is, that while I gain new information, trying everything out once or a for a limited time doesnt = in-depth understanding or reliable understanding of how I get results, in the long-term.

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Less choice often equals better focus and accomplishment. There is good information and bad information, but I have seen people succeed on “less-than-optimal/bad” information because they stuck with one thing and did it to the end. Weight Watchers for instance. So many women choose WW with its food counting and parameters, weekly weigh-ins, accountability, popularity etc. It’s not the great diet, BUT people get results sticking to it (and then hopefully move on to something less anal). As Martin put it in this information age we are victims of choice. We are bombarded with choice. We find one thing and go “oh my god YES!” than something else pops up….than something else. How do you know what to pick? Everything sounds amazing.

This is never more evident than in fitness and nutrition. It’s almost depressing how much there is to “try”. You NEED to research, you NEED to find the best information possible. But once you come up with a plan, even a short-term one, remove the other choices, even seemingly helpful ones or ones you come across later. Don’t give yourself leeway to soothe the mental ache of not having options and feeling like you are left without a choice. Not having too many options is one of the best ways to create focus. This is a hard learned lesson for me. I am by nature all over the place. I like to know something about everything. This is a hindrance for me in becoming an expert in my field of choice, because understanding the basic principles and learning to apply them effectively comes before the freedom to choose your methods and fuck around with extremes. This may seem obvious and its rather embarrassing how far I have to go with drilling these principles into my own head. It means letting go of my love of diversity and change and narrowing my focus at the right time, for the right things. For me this means

1. Reducing my physical training to 3-4 specific strength/conditioning goals. I often find myself plagued by overtraining (and now injury due to a tabata workout>soccer game>deadlifts/chins-soccer game>TWISTED MY KNEE- back to square one again; the other day)

So rather than learning handstands, box jumps, sprinting, pullups and gymnastics all at once, I m focusing on basic lifts (deadlifts, chin/pullups, squats, bench) and sprinting with short Metcons of moves I already know well (pushups, bodyweight squats). I ll save the progression videos to play with on my off days. 😀

2. Sticking to a simple diet protocol of intermittent fasting and high protein.

This means committing to eating more meat rather than trying to get too creative in terms of protein intake.

3. Shorter workouts with less wandering around and timing my rest periods.

This last one is kinda DUH, but I love the gym. I love to hang out, give/get advice, help people with their lifts, dance in front of the mirror and while I do workout effectively, I don’t work out nearly as effectively as I should in terms of time management. With school coming up soon, I need to cut those minutes wasted and make efficient use of my time.

Fixing and improving yourself is the hardest and most valuable part of becoming a coach/trainer. It means a kind of mental and physical freedom that comes from not having to constantly be “working” on yourself the same time you are trying to improve others. For me this means changing my “innate” personality a bit. Training myself to slow down, have less choice, track, record, even read slower! Ideally I would love a coach, someone to see me from an angle, but instead I will need to start using my ill-trained metacognition and  become my own client. I don’t look at it as restricting, I look at it as the only way to finally be free to be more effective for others. Being a little bitch about getting to “choose” everything often just means you get all the choice and none of the progress. Which do you want more? You don’t need your water or flavored water or unsweetened tea or stevia lemon water or vitamin water or………………….. just drink water (for example).

Is too much choice dangerous to your progress? You better find out.

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  1. That’s a good plan .. diversity is the enemy of strength training when strength training is done right …. if you want to focus on strength that is what you need to do, your programming needs to revolve around a strength goal .

    It is best, in my opinion to dedicate a few weeks to achieve a strength goal as if you were training for a meet or event, once the goal is achieved
    switch your attention to something else, training for a specific sport will hinder your strength progress as strength training only will hinder your conditioning or sport performance .. If you want to do both your eating and programming needs to be spot on but never mix and match or either will suffer.