It is far better to do the right thing wrong than to do the wrong thing right. — Russell Ackoff
It’s a curious fact of human nature that we tend to do what’s familiar rather than what’s correct. The correct path often requires discomfort and change, and we don’t like change. So we keep doing the wrong things, hoping that if we do them more intensely, the results will change.
As the quote asserts, it is far better to do the right thing poorly than do the wrong things in new and innovative ways. The conventional approach to getting fit is to go on a diet. Keto. Cleanse. Intermittent fasting. Paleo. Vegan. Carnivore. Macros. For some, this works. They adopt some new diet, and it transforms their body.
But here’s a dirty secret the weight loss industry doesn’t want you to know: Diets don’t work most of the time. Research studies are rife with depressing statistics showing that most people who lose weight on a diet (regardless of the kind of diet) put it back on in 6 to 24 months.
This doesn’t mean diets are ineffective. A sound diet is a critical ingredient to a healthy and fit life. But by itself, cutting calories isn’t enough. Not by a long shot. In fact, the way you might picture health and fitness is like a wheel with five spokes. Diet is just one spoke on the wheel. The educational institution, Precision Nutrition, calls these spokes the five domains, and they are the areas of our life we must develop if we are serious about achieving lasting change. Here they are:
Change. It should come as no surprise, but the goal of becoming healthy requires that you change. And let’s face it, change is hard. What makes it hard is that it requires you to shift your beliefs, be brutally honest with yourself, and manage your emotions. If you’ve ever tried running an iPhone on an old operating system, you understand that in much the same way, we have to update the “software” we’re operating on before we can hope to achieve lasting results.
Stress. Stress is a fact of life, but much of our stress is self-inflicted through a lack of preparation, planning, and priorities. A critical skill needed for lifelong fitness is the ability to anticipate and prepare for the craziness of life to minimize the derailing effect it can have. Additionally, we have to work on our ability to handle the stress we sometimes can’t avoid so that we can remain cool, calm, and collected when things go sideways.
Sleep. Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but it seems these days that 4 to 6 hours is the celebrated norm. That adds up to one to two nights of missed sleep per week. This gives way to a cocktail of stress hormones, fogginess, and chronic health issues. It’s not sexy to promote sleep, but you must focus on getting quality sleep and getting enough of it for optimal health.
Movement. We tend to think of exercise as something that only happens in the gym, but you need to move in and outside of the gym for health and longevity. But aside from moving often, you must move well. The biggest mistake people make is training themselves into injury and no movement at all.
Nutrition. The life skill of nutrition is not about cutting carbs. It’s knowing what to eat, how much to eat, how to plan, prep, and eat that way consistently, and perhaps most importantly, developing a healthy relationship with food itself so you can eat in a way that gives you satisfaction and enjoyment and moves you closer to your goals without the baggage of guilt and shame.
There you have it. The parts of your life do not operate in a vacuum. They all coexist and must work together, and sadly, this makes achieving that ideal body a little more complicated than doing a juice cleanse. If your goal is to get in better shape, take a minute to see if there are other domains described above that need your attention. Take a holistic approach to fitness. It might take a bit longer, but you’ll go a whole lot farther. spt