As a writer, it is natural and convenient to assume a position of authority, both consciously and unconsciously. After all, when it comes to fitness and health writing in particular, you are trying to deliver actionable advice to help people. If you lack authority, your advice will likely go unheeded. But authority can be deceptive and damaging.
Guilty as charged
I am guilty of presenting myself as an authority in my writing, without question. I realise that when I talk about the 30 minute rule, or the 5-12 solution or the MAD approach to habit-forming, it must seem like I have mastered these concepts and apply them to devastatingly productive effect all day, every day. As if one day I decide I want to get leaner and the next day I have implemented an air-tight, perfectly executed nutritional strategy that I stick to with effortless, fanatic discipline.
That is not the case at all. Just because I have thought long and hard about what works in health and fitness and just because I have achieved good results using certain techniques does not mean that I always get it right, or even close to right. Equally, just because I can give members and clients well thought-out advice and effective plans does not entail that I can do the same for myself particularly well.
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned
My diet is good but by no means perfect. My weekends involve far more sugar than really becomes a CrossFit coach. Crosstown doughnuts on Friday night, a browny at post-WOD brunch, Mars ice creams I adore. You will also find me attacking multiple double-burgers far more often that I care to admit. I probably drink too much wine. When I go out with friends, I don’t always maintain my composure. I have at least one or two glasses of wine every Friday and Saturday. I love pizza. If I buy a packet of soft Sainsbury’s cookies I am not the kind of guy that has one and calls it a day. I’m the kind of guy that eats the whole thing and then goes looking for more.
Likewise, I have been known to miss the occasional gym session. More regularly than that, I have been known to not give 100% to a workout. I sometimes find myself tired, stressed or just not feeling it. I don’t always lift heavy. I don’t always go hard. I sometimes even skip my mobility work.
My lifestyle habits aren’t anything to write home about either. I know I need 7 hours sleep and yet I often only get 6 and a half. I’ve only just started to maintain a consistent meditation practice after years of trying. I recently fell off the time-restricted eating wagon, even though I was seeing great results, and it took me weeks to get back on it.
So why the over-share bro?
So I ain’t perfect. I’m not even close.
But why am I telling you this? Is it to give you an excuse to crush cookies and stay up all night playing Call of Duty? No. Funnily enough, that’s not it. The reason I’m telling you this is because a lot of you think you have to maintain exceptionally good habits to see remarkable results in health and fitness. And a lot of you become derailed after slip ups because you think that a few bad decisions will ruin everything. Even more damagingly, some of you insist on trying to implement training regimes, diets and lifestyle approaches that are not realistically sustainable because you think that incredible results only come with incredible sacrifices. That’s not how it works.
The truth (authority deployed for ironic effect only!)
The truth is, your habits do not need to be spartan to be effective. And you do not need to implement them with perfect accuracy to see progress. If you are on-point 80-85% of the time with habits which are 80-85% of the way towards perfect, then over time you will see mind-bending results. I am always trying to improve. I think that is one of the greatest pleasures in life: the continual and endless pursuit of better. But I do not judge myself or get upset when I mess up. Life is to be enjoyed and I know that if I simply get back to making good decisions as soon as possible, there will be no harm done. The harm only comes when you allow a few bad decisions to spiral into bad weeks and months.
So ultimately, yes, this was just another 80-20 Pareto principle post. You’ve probably read thousands before. But, I wanted to share my own limitations and failures, and how I respond to them, so that you can see how 80-20 really works in practice. I am not perfect. Not close. But I keep returning to my conservatively strict habits after every slip-up with absolute faith that they will serve me well over the long run. I always try to improve but continually let myself off the hook when I don’t.
Have a great week guys! And, as ever, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.