Most people will tell you that fitness is complicated, confusing, and unachievable. Is this why so much of the world is obese, unhealthy, and demotivated?
Unfortunately, in this information age, and with everyone arguing their side of the story, most people are paralysed by solutions. Take any given topic, protein for example, and see how many perspectives you get by Googling ‘how much protein should I eat?’. You will end up with body-building articles, vegan articles, endurance articles, government advice, and more, and would you know the answer at the end?
This lack of simplicity is a problem, and which is why I like to try and inspire people with the idea of change and then give them some simple tools to do it, whether they are a coach or everyday guy or gal.
There is a famous quote by Albert Einstein. He once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Except everyone is going the other way. Nothing was ever achieved quickly and simply by making things as complicated as possible. Take a leaf out of the world of technology. Uber, the new Taxi booking app, is a great example. You open the app, call the cab, cab turns up and the app even pays for you with your pre-set card details. Simple. Some might complain that it has ruined some more complex, cumbersome and traditional methods, but these people need to accept the modern movements in human behaviour and innovate with the rest of us.
Think of the last nutrition plan, training plan or lifestyle changes you tried to make and consider how complicated or simple it was, and whether it could have been easier. See, the other reason we need simplicity in our lives is that the rest of our lives are so damn complicated.
Most self-help articles, books and videos add to the stress. They ask you to go away and write a ‘to do’ list and start to implement it in your lifestyle, but most people complain that they don’t have enough time to do it. They are right, and we as coaches need to appreciate this. Kids, mortgages, work, down time, workouts, food shopping, housework… life is busy. We need to be doing less. We need more simplicity.
This is why we need a ‘NOT to do’ list, which is more powerful, initially, than the ‘to do’ list. And this should be stretched across your lifestyle to clean up all the habits you have that are not conducive to moving forward in a more positive way. Between us, we either eat some foods we shouldn’t, give too much time to others, watch too much TV and generally fail to prioritise the important things we need to. Most of us don’t make time for time out, among other things.
Be brutal and honest with yourself: what do you keep doing that you know you shouldn’t, or don’t want to do? Cull it. Get it out of your life. Be brave, yes you might upset a few people, it might be a weird step change, but you HAVE to do it. We need time, space, and creativity to do the things that are going to move us forward positively. We can’t just keep adding. By doing so, we paralyse ourselves, feel overwhelmed, then feel guilty we couldn’t achieve it and jack it all in and go into a destructive mode.
How much simpler could your training be? It could be the amount of days you commit to the gym, or achieving your results in less time, or in fewer sessions, leaving more time for other stuff. Could your nutrition be simplified? Are you trying to be too fancy with types of food and timing, when really it’s making 2-3% difference, and you’re not an athlete anyway? Are you giving so much time to others that you don’t have time to be selfish and focus on what you want?
All this stuff sounds simple, and obvious right? But were not doing it, were not standing back, being honest or being reflective. It’s time for simplicity, it’s time to streamlines our lives. I’m on a UK seminar tour and I’ve made what I am teaching simpler, shorter, and more direct because I have developed the skills and the know-how to know what people really need without complicating things. I’m trying to simplify first before things get more complex and geeky.
This is where I need to mention the value of science and what the research says on training, nutrition and mindset. If you’re in a place where you’re confused, make a B-line for the facts. Let me come back to my protein example earlier; look up an organisation like the ISSN and see what their stance is on protein intake, or look at Examine.com, research-based companies that find clarity in the world of overly complicated research and opinion, and use that as your go-to resource for clarity.
People think living a complicated life is cool. It isn’t. We’re built to thrive on simplicity, and doing a few things that culminate in making us who we are. Otherwise, the mind will never be clear, and I’ll argue people will never truly be happy. Surely, that’s the aim of life, right?
Ben Coomber is a performance nutritionist (BSc, ISSN), educator, public speaker and writer. Ben run’s Body Type Nutrition, an online nutrition education company, has the UK’s #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes ‘Ben Coomber Radio’, and owns Awesome Supplements, a brand offering clarity in the confusing world of supplements. To book Ben as a speaker, or to explore what he does, connect with Ben over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.