The Paradox of Choice

There are not that many variables.

  • Frequency
  • Exercises
  • Sets
  • Reps

Those are the big ones.  We can get into some more obscure issues like rest between sets, but if you want to build muscle or lose fat or just stay in shape those are the four big variables.

The biggest secret about training is that those four variables are very difficult to screw up.  There are tons of good information out there.  Many great prorams just waiting for you to try.  Although the possible combinations are endless, results will differ only slightly from approach to approach.  Just pick one and go.

The paradox of choice refers to the idea that endless possibilities are a problem.
“Paralysis by Analysis” is another way to look at it  When presented with too many choices most people get confused and just want someone to answer the questions for them.  But you don’t really need anyone to answer those questions. You have to answer the right questions for yourself.

The right questions are not about sets and reps.  They are about circumstances and desire:

How much time do you have to work out each week and each day?

How much time do you want to devote to working out each week and each day?

Circumstances and desire.

Circumstances limit your choices.  Desire makes the decision.  Rest and nutrition have more to do with your success or lack there of.  You will spend far more time sleeping and eating than you will in the gym.

So figure out what fits your schedule and what you can get excited about and go with it.

Happy lifting!

photo credit: big box via photopin (license)

Make Ahead Breakfast

I am a morning person.  I love mornings.  I get things done in the morning.

My problem is that as the years have gone by, more and more things have been added to my morning routine.  I am out of time and I need some changes.  Is there a way to get more done ahead of time?  Yes.  Of course there is.  This article from Mike Matthews really helped.   Batching tasks is an effective way to save time so why not batch breakfast?

This past week I took some of the ideas from that article and gave it a try.  On Sunday, I scrambled a dozen eggs with a baked sweet potato (chopped), a diced zucchini and about two cups of spinach.  Add a bit of Italian seasoning (love it on eggs) and…


…six days of breakfast.

Split it into three containers and freeze two of them.  Eat one half of each container per day.

The bottom line is that it tastes good.  Not great, but good.  I give it a solid three out of five stars.  The biggest drawback is that it gets a bit watery and has to be drained.

Goal Setting 2016

Goals are all over the internet right now.  It comes with the season.  As year end approaches people are motivated by the start of a new year to take on new challenges.  There is no shortage of advice on how to set and achieve those goals.  Workshops, webinars, courses, blog posts (like this one) are all over the place at a variety of different prices.

Save your money.  Its really not that complicated.

Most peNew Goalople think goals are about will power.  I disagree.  The challenge is staying conscious of them.  So many things happen in our daily lives that it is easy to get distracted, forget, lose track and drift off course.  Before you know it,  the well thought out goals that you set in December and January have morphed and twisted.  You end up going in a circle.

The cycle goes on.  Set the goal, drift off course, get disappointment, admit failure, rebound, reload and set a new goal.

Keep the goal in front of you and you be less likely to drift off course.

Try this:

First, get a notebook.  If you want to use a computer or your phone, fine, but a notebook works better.  The act of writing by hand has an impact that typing doesn’t.

Another plus is that you are limited to the number of pages in the book.  Goals should have a goal line.  The amount of information you can type in a Word document is limitless and that won’t help you stay on course.

I like the old “composition” notebooks that I used back in grammar school.  Not the spiral bound piece of crap where the pages end up falling out.  I’m talking about those black and white hardcover jobs with the stitching in the middle.  Those won’t fall apart so easily.  You can get one with 100 sheets in it and that’s exactly what we need.  One hundred day goals are doable.  Its a short time frame for you to build up some gaining momentum.

Yes, I know that a 100 sheet book has 200 pages.  That means that each notebook covers a max of two goals.  That’s a good thing.  Don’t work on too many goals at once.  Each one has a 100 day limit so pick the two that are most important right now and work on those.  Other goals can wait for the next 100 days.

Second, set up your notebook.  Write the 100 day goal on the first page of the book.  You can jot down your five or ten year objective if you want, but that’s not what the notebook is for.  The notebook is for goals with a goal line that is in site.

Let’s say that your 100 day goal is to add twenty pounds to your bench press.  It can be five pounds, it can be 100 pounds.  Who cares?  The amount is not important because that will vary with the individual.

In order to hit that twenty pound increase in the next 100 days or so you have to plan out thirteen or fourteen weeks of workouts.  You can do that on a spreadsheet and I’ll cover that in another post.

Below the one hundred day goal you write out the goal for the first week.  You can take it off the spreadsheet.  How much will you bench this week?

Below that, outline the week.  Make a list for Monday through Sunday and write the one major action to be taken on each day.  To be clear, ONE MAJOR ACTION.  For the outline we want focus on a narrow range of activities.  Going for too much will cause drift.

Below the outline write the reward that you will grant yourself for successfully achieving the weekly goal.  Rewards are important.  They don’t have to be huge.  They just have to be an acknowledgement of a job well done.  Do not neglect this step.

Third, use your notebook.  Each evening, on a fresh page, write the activities that you have to do the next  day in order to achieve your goal.  In this step you can list as much as you want because your time frame is only the next twenty four hours.  Include not only in-the-gym activities but also things like rest, nutrition and reading or research.

When you are done with that, review the day just ended.  Check off the activities that you followed through on and put an X next to the misses and failures.  We all have failures so don’t bother ignoring them.  Minor failures are expected and are part of the process.  Acknowledge your shortcomings and move on.

Every morning read your 100 day goal, the outline for the week and the steps to be taken that day.  That will keep the big goal in the forefront and keep you on course.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t alter or change.  It just means that you won’t do so inadvertently.  Its the drift that you want to avoid.