Friday, October 11, 2013

Just because you're listening to him doesn't mean you're hearing him.

Look man, You can listen to Jimi but you can't hear him. There's a difference man. Just because you're listening to him doesn't mean you're hearing him.
-Sidney Dean

You can listen to Sidney Dean, but you can't hear him.
Last week I busted a plateu. Sub 200 lbs.. it's an arbitrary number, but we humans like nice round numbers.So I threw a status up on the ole bookface saying something about it. A friend who is looking to drop a weightclass or so for a BJJ tourney coming up asked in a comment how I dropped down. So I replied

"(Name) Some small changes. I started drinking smoothies for breakfast and being very deliberate about making that last until 1 pm. I've been carb cycling a bit, and being mindful when I eat. Intentionally small bites, eating slower, delaying 'seconds' for at least 10 - 15 minutes to be sure that's what I want. No sugar, less fruit. Nothing earth shattering."

So of course what does everyone focus on? Carb cycling? the de facto intermittent fasting that I've tricked myself into? Maybe the behavioral changes?

Hells to the no.

everyone gloms on to the smoothies.

Good goddamn grief!

At first I was pissed. Why does everyone grab hold of the easiest part of this whole process and attribute the success to that. The smoothie is just a vehicle. I could have done the same thing with a plate of eggs.. I'd look like an anorexic weirdo taking small bites of eggs every little while from 7:30 A.M. to 1 P.M. and they'd get cold and gross after about 30 minutes but I could do that.
Then I thought about it.. who's fault is it?
That doesn't look so difficult.


I put the smoothie thing first, and in the longest sentence in the paragraph. I've put the emphasis there, aaaaand because it's the softball of the bunch it's very easy for people to read:

Smoothies, uncomfortable stuff. Something I don't know what it means, and stuff I should be doing but don't want to. More of the same, more, and even more. Hard stuff, something I don't recognize as being an issue. Nothing earth shattering.

Change is hard, dietary change is extra super hard. We have evolved to feel like we are starving well and truly to death even under a small calorie deficit. It is in our nature to avoid these feelings of discomfort.

In coaching, particularly when communicating difficult or uncomfortable things with athletes. We need to pay attention to where we put the emphasis, and where the athlete will try to put the emphasis. Most people will immediately grab hold of the "Hey! I can do that" point from the long list, and then proceed to ignore the more difficult points.

I noticed this in particular listening to podcasts. Robb Wolf has an excellent podcast with hundreds of episodes, and people continue to ask the same questions. They keep looking for loopholes in the same things: I want to be lean, healthy, and perform at a high level, but I want to eat sugar, dairy, and/or grains all the while. Even though I have repeatedly had fat gain, health issues, or simply aren't performing while eating these things.
A big share of the blame goes to the fitness industry. 6 minute abzz, put 50 lbs on your bench in 2 weeks! Train like a UFC fighter (and we'll imply that you'll look like one too, but you probably won't) They use already fit people to advertise things that they've never used at worst. Or at best will take someone who has good potential but is out of shape. They will completely overhaul their lifestyle, change their sleep, change their diet, get them exercising like crazy and throw a little abzz blaster 5000 in there too and show the before and after. "Here's what the abzz blaster 5000 did for me."

This chicanery has given people the impression that you can be lean, and perform and be
comfortable. If this were true then there would be no fat people. The truth is that fat loss is uncomfortable. It's possible, but it's uncomfortable. Performance training is uncomfortable. To be in condition you need to suffer. To be strong you need to embrace the grind. If someone puts forward a system to get you where you want to go you can't pick and choose parts and bits. Generally speaking the worst, most uncomfortable part is probably the part you need to embrace. Pareto's principle at play.

And NO it doesn't matter how busy you are, or how many kids you have, or how much you really "need" sugar in your diet. You cannot negotiate your way to your goals. Your body doesn't give a rat's patoot about your excuses or negotiations. It understands hormones and energy balance. If your goals are really to be lean, strong, and fit then make them a priority. If your priorities don't match your goals, you won't achieve them. If someone who has been where you are looking to go gives you advice on how to get there, then listen. Listen with intent. Try to tease out every detail. Don't avoid the uncomfortable stuff. That's the road to success.


Edited for a grammar mistake.

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