Why be concerned with whether fasting will improve fat loss when you have no notion of food quality control and you binge eat a few times a month?
In a recent Q&A I was asked the well-intended question of, ‘What is the best hack you’ve found for improving fitness.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked that, or similar questions like, “what is the one thing that distinguished elite athletes from the average Joe or Jane”.
The reality is that I haven’t found any of these hacks that provide benefits beyond the effort you put into them. Right now the fitness industry is in a strange place where we are so inundated with ‘bio-hacking’ culture that no-one bats an eye at Sally for experimenting with polyphasic sleep cycles for productivity or Timmy for dumping a stick of butter into his coffee to ‘optimize his fat burning’. All of these hacks carry a similar message: do X and get a result that far exceeds the effort you put in. The promise of a quick fix exploits our innate human desire to save energy and find a shortcut to reach out goals. And therein lies the tragedy, which is that so many of the hack salespeople are exploiting those who truly want to do better for themselves.
Admittedly, I’ve fallen for these gimmicks in the past and I’ve also scoffed at others for doing the same long after I moved past the phase in my life where I was hell-bent on uncovering the hidden mysteries of the human body like a baby Indiana Jones equipped with an undergraduate biochemistry education and way to much free time on my hands. But, the reality is that the onus shouldn’t be on the consumer of information who casually reads articles on the toilet at work or when they have an entire 4 minutes free when their kids aren’t gluing their hands to their foreheads. The onus is on the writer, speaker, or influencer who has the power to make a difference. When you have a platform, you have a responsibility. Too often that responsibility is left by the wayside, and the pull of more followers and money tempts someone into hawking a new fad at the masses in hopes of more notoriety and a bigger pay stub. Some of the biggest influences to me in this field are the people who have every opportunity to cash in on their platform, yet choose not to monetize their connect or sell snake oil. That’s about as punk rock as it gets. In fact, some of these folks applications that they put out are about as un-sexy as you can imagine, but they work, and they are damn effective.
So, to circle back around to the original topic - if there was ONE THING I’ve seen that separates those who stay elite in CF for extended periods versus the rest it is their consistency. They are getting 8-10 hours of sleep, managing their food, getting their body work done, and hitting their training with intent every single day and not just when it’s convenient. Many bubble level athletes say they are doing everything they can to succeed when the reality is that they only do these things when it’s convenient and when people are watching. The best athletes do these things all the time and indwell the principals everyone knows they should be doing and forgo in search of a magic potion that will get the results.
It reminds me of the adage that just because the solution to a problem is simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. The habits that elite athletes embody aren’t that complicated but they are difficult to stick to day in and day out, which is why people either don’t commit to doing it long enough to see results or try to find some complicated voodoo protocol that looks cool on paper assuming that complexity/ novelty = efficacy. It’s like when you read a top investors tips for wealth management thinking they know some secrets that you don’t, and it’s the same advice you heard in economics 101 in high school. The trick is they actually do those things whereas most know what to do and simply don’t.
For too long now, we’ve focused on the details, the finishing touches, the small things that may or may not work. Why be concerned with whether or not fasting will improve fat loss when you have no notion of food quality control and binge eat a few times a month?. Forget to hacks and stop trying to find the ‘one thing’ that will lead you to success without effort. Instead, get back to the basics and do them consistently day in and day out. Once you master that task, you can begin to micromanage and experiment with things that make give you that extra boost on top of the habits you’ve already built. And above all, find meaning and purpose in your endeavor, set your self up to perform, and realize the journey is what it's all about. There’s no rush and you’ll eventually get there if you keep putting one foot in front of the next.