The One Big Rule for Strength and Health


The One Rule of FitnessSo, I’ve pretty much taken a couple of years off from Internet writing.  A lot has happened in that time, and I have to say that it was mostly good.  Primarily, I’ve used the time to build my brick and mortar training business (Relentless Strength Training).  Sprinkle in a little relationship upheaval (resulting in some true learning) and combine it with some great and not so great times with my family and friends and a couple of years goes by way too fast.  You know, it’s been a real life.

Mostly, there’s been a couple of years of introspection, success, mistakes, mistakes repeated until learning improved, clients trained, some excellent steaks and beers consumed, cities traveled to, heartbreak, weights lifted, body parts injured, life-altering conversations had, people helped, miles rucked, smack talked, slices of humble pie delivered and consumed, and time spent with the greatest human beings I know.

While there’s lots of great lessons I’m dying to teach you that I’ve picked up along the way, ranging from how to get more “pop” in your Olympic lifts to The Secret of Life (ok, still working on that one), there is one that has become the basis of my training and nutrition principles, business paths, and really my life in general:

Respect the MSPaint  Skills

Respect the MSPaint Skills

Life is really a spectrum.  The one rule that rules them all is that there isn’t really a one rule and the answer lies somewhere between two absolutes.

There are a lot of people who try really hard to filter everything they come across into a Boolean, yes/no, logic gate-type of situation.  I can really only speak for the fitness and personal development industry, as that’s where I reside in, but I see it all the time.

The 5 Foods You MUST Avoid to Get Lean
NEVER Do This Exercise
Stay AWAY From These Three Zodiac Signs” <-If you want a real trip, start rolling down some of the rabbit holes on those types of forums.  Yikes.

That works really well to get people fired up (good), make sales (maybe good), declare your position (good), and mislead people into thinking that your way is The Way (bad).

People fail when you give them absolutes.  Sometimes people fail because they don’t hit the mark, but often they fail because they see the mark as unreachable and quit before they even try.

How often have you seen or played out these scenarios yourself?

1.  A new exerciser gets fired up for fitness, buys the latest and greatest book from some guru, gets a MASSIVE dose of training that would cripple anyone but a professional athlete, is convinced that they suck, and goes back to the couch.

One Rule For Health2. Someone realizes they’re overfat and feel like crap so they jump onto the latest super-strict paleo, vegan, or bodybuilding diet.  They throw out everything in their house, cook all kinds of fancy but restrictive meals with ingredients they’ve never heard of and the very smell of makes them cringe, shovel down this food for about three days, have severe GI distress, run out of prepared food, and stop at Wendy’s on the way home out of desperation.  Now they’re convinced that they suck and before you know it are back to the way they were before.

This is the danger of the all-or-nothing.

The inconvenient truth is that the answer is very rarely black and white.  One of the most frustrating things as a fitness professional, for both myself and the askee, is having to answer a question with “It depends…”, but almost always that’s the true, honest answer.

However, I choose to look at this from a different perspective.  As opposed to it being frustrating, I think the “It Depends” answer is liberating.

At each ends of the spectrum there is the absolute worst and absolute perfection.  The truth is that you’ll probably never actually see either one.  What you can do, though, is move up and down the scale.

If you’re coming from a pretty bad place, then any improvement you do is a step up the scale.  If you get thrown some curve balls and drop down the scale a bit, then that’s something to pay attention to but it’s also simply a matter of changing what you need to in order to reverse your trend and move back up the scale.

Kate V, one of my clients who used steady, small improvements to success.

Kate V, one of my clients who used steady, small improvements to success.

With most of my clients, we simply work on fixing 1-2 habits at a time.  They go from eating no vegetables at all to adding vegetables.  Then we fix breakfast.  Then we fix lunch.  We continue to work through their nutrition program one step at a time, moving further and further up the scale, until they hit the desired point.  If they miss a step, then it’s not the end of the world but a shift in the scale.  That’s correctable.  The same goes for training, recovery, and other lifestyle points.

As long as you’re moving forward on the spectrum, you will see success and results.


ANNOUNCEMENT:  I’ve got something pretty cool for you guys who are subscribers to my newsletter.  I’ve created a FB community/group for the followers of Beyond the Barbell! This is going to be an awesome place, not only where I share content just with you guys, but also where we can have some great discussions on training, nutrition, mindset, and life! Check it out here.

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