The goal you want isn’t the goal you should want (let me explain)


Mentally setting the right long term goal is a big part of how to be successful long term

A few years ago there was a study that tried to estimate the percentage of people that diet successfully. Successfully was defined as staying at their goal weight or less for 5 years and it was found that only 3% of people actually hit that mark.

The percentage is actually MUCH lower but you have to develop a framework for science to analyze a particular idea.

First let me say this, I don’t love the framework because the human body is meant to grow but within that 3% are a lot of caveats that are important for people to hear. 

So here we go:

Evolution has taken the human species down a path where maintaining and growing is very important. By the time your body starts to give up the end is near.

So growing and maintaining a healthy and functioning body is something that literally will save your life.

Part of that growth is the storage of fat, your body is programmed to store fat for times that energy is not available so that your body can have a ready store when energy is scarce.

Muscle, Bones and Organs are also very important. Which makes protein ingestion and muscle protein turnover something that you need to be aware of, in general, if you have a positive balance of protein in your diet (ready supply) you hold and build muscle much better.

Lastly for this discussion you need insulin. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in your body. Anabolic simply means you are pushing tissue to a positive balance, conversely, catabolic means you are pushing your body to a negative tissue balance.

As most people are aware this is the role of carbohydrates in your diet (protein is also insulinogenic but not typically as much for this discussion, most of the highly insulinogenic protein foods you do not get through the McDonald’s drive thru. So for this discussion it’s not all that important but is relevant which is why I mentioned it. If you want to google “highly insulinogenic proteins” I think you might find that enlightening.)

When most people think of carbs they think cupcakes, I don’t, I think of things like beans, rice or potatoes. You know, the not so fun carbs (though baked french fries are pretty awesome).

All of which is a way to outline why almost no one really ever makes it and the 1% is very rare, here is why.

I think I could make a compelling argument that staying weight stable is not a great goal but I don’t have a horse in that race necessarily. I do see scenarios where you can stay weight stable trading fat for muscle gradually. While not impossible it’s certainly not the optimal way to do it and often leads people to be more rigid than they need to be.

Which brings me to the 9% (estimate) of people that fit the category I think represents Eat To Performers (whether you do the program or not). Let me describe this group. Their weight might be up or down but their muscle to fat ratio is down over time. These people are mostly anabolic because you need to be mostly anabolic to hold onto and build lean mass.

Let me stop here for a sec, every day your body is both anabolic and catabolic, it’s simply a matter of which direction you push it most of the time.

Most of your life you want to push your body to keep what it has and potentially add some along the way, which is tedious and frustrating without pharmaceuticals.

Even with pharmaceuticals it is tedious and frustrating, just less so.

Then of course you have the role of exercise.

The vast majority of people are being conditioned to “burn” calories or earn food.

What you want to do with your exercise is have enough conditioning that you have a healthy heart but not so much so that you are more catabolic than anabolic.

Same with your weightlifting, I like lifting weights fast also which is great if you have excessive fat, you can make a lot of progress doing exercise like this (circuits, Crossfit, that kind of thing).

As you get leaner though you need to have some sessions where you are pushing your muscle to failure or fatigue and then hitting that muscle another way. Slow and controlled.

Some people love these “pump style” workouts but for me and my ADHD it’s not a perfect fit (though some intense pump style resistance tube workouts are a good compromise).

The 9% of people are doing the optimal thing. These people eat enough the majority of time to keep and build muscle and workout in a way that does the same.

If you are an Eat To Performer our system is meant for you to be in the 9%. The 1% is often too rigid and plays it too close to the vest to make any real progress and tends to get frustrated often and can develop a bad relationship with food or exercise or both.

The other 80% falls into two categories, 40% kind of care and 40% don’t care yet.

If you are reading this and don’t think you are in the 9% you are probably in the 40% that kind of cares. For a lot of those folks that already have some good habits in place it’s really easy to get to the 9% as long as you commit to a life of discovery. The answer to how requires a few specifics that are easy to nail down.

I started from the 40% that don’t care yet. I had a few health scares that woke me up and moved me into the “kind of cares” group and today I am a proud member of the fit for life group that composes the 9%.

In my view too many people spend too much time trying to become the 1% where they are overly rigid and mostly catabolic and if they can allow themselves mentally to get to the 9% group they will find more gratification in what they do and why.