Today’s health and fitness-related post was inspired by a real-world example of why keeping things simple should always be your first approach. Our friend Kristyn had registered to join us for our first Virtual Nutrition Workshop. An hour before the event, she realized that her wireless connection at home wasn’t working. She called the support hotline, who proceeded to run her through a whole host of complicated diagnostic tests, queries and fixes – none of which worked. Finally, the customer service person said, “Um, have you tried unplugging your wireless router, and then plugging it back in?” Kristyn gave that a shot, and – yay! – wireless connectivity was restored.
Often in our own health and fitness pursuits, we forget that practicing “the basics” are what got us this far. Our air squat drills earned us an overhead squat PR, our dead hang pull-up strength bought us our muscle-up, and eating a clean diet full of foods that make us healthy gave us the energy, body composition and performance gains we’ve been so happy with. Yet when things start to slip – we’re not looking as lean, our energy is flagging, our performance is starting to suffer – what do we do? We start adding in complicated programs, regimens and protocols, in the hopes of returning to that magical place where everything was clicking. On the nutrition front, for example, we begin to meticulously weigh and measure our food, embark upon fanatically scheduled intermittent fasting or ketogenic protocols, or add expensive supplements in carefully calculated doses, all in the hopes of getting things back on track. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. In fact, this is where we pick up most of our consulting clients – hard-working and motivated, but frustrated by their lack of progress, despite their efforts to throw everything but the kitchen sink at their health and fitness plan.
Today, we’d like to remind you that most of the time, you can simply unplug and then plug back in… and everything starts working again.
When things start to slow down, when you’re no longer making progress or things start moving in the wrong direction, we agree it’s time to take a good, hard look at your program. But it’s not usually necessary to complicate things at that point – instead, try going back to the basics. First and foremost, evaluate food quality – is it still super high all the time, or have you started to let some of those “treats” creep back in on a regular basis? If that’s the case, it’s time for another Whole30. Are you still eating enough to sustain your new body composition, activity levels, and long-term goals? If you’ve put 10# on your squat and cut your 5K time by 5:00, chances are you’ve got more muscle and less fat, and you’d better be eating more to accommodate. Don’t start fumbling with specific macronutrient proportions, though. Try bumping your protein a bit, make sure your carbs are still supporting activity without leaving you crash-y, and then keep eating more fat until things start moving in the right direction again.
It’s not just nutrition that might be shooting you in the foot, either. Has your programming grown stagnant, are you stuck on the same exercises week after week, or have you moved in the direction of too much volume or too much frequency? Are you sleeping less than you used to, or under more daily stress than usual? Instead of trying to fix it with complicated periodization schemes or extra supplementation for stress management, first try pulling the plug and getting back to the basics. Give yourself some extra rest, return to the tried-and-true template of strength sets of 3′s and 5′s + short, intense, heavy met-cons, learn some new skills and incorporate new movements into your programming… and get back to that 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Strip it down and keep it simple, before you start throwing all sorts of complications on top of an already shaky routine.
Some might say, “But I’m doing everything right, and things still aren’t working!” We’d like to point out the obvious: If you were REALLY doing everything right, things WOULD be working. Sometimes you need a hand honestly evaluating your own plan, and that’s when a trusted friend, a coach or a paid consultant might come into play. But before you start scouring the internet for the newest training methodology, the hottest nutritional supplement, or the most extreme dietary strategies, take a minute to unplug, simplify your routine, and then plug it back in.
We’re pretty sure that’s exactly when things start humming again.