Why is fitness so complicated?

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Ask most people, and they’ll tell you that fitness is complicated, confusing, and unachievable for most. Which raises a quick question, is this why so much of the world is obese, unhealthy, and demotivated? See, in an information age, with everyone arguing their side of the story with everything health and fitness related, most people are paralysed with the solution. Take any given topic, let’s go for protein, how many perspectives do you think you would get doing the google search “how much protein should I eat”. You will end up with bodybuilding articles, vegan articles, endurance articles, government advice, and more, and would you know the answer at the end? 

Most won’t, and here lies the problem, a lack of simplicity in our approach as people teaching others. Now I’m half educator, half inspirational dude in the world of fitness, I like to inspire people with the idea of change, then give them some simple tools to do it, whether they are a coach, or an everyday guy or gal. Most of us want to impress others, look at how complicated I can make this topic to make myself seem elite, untouchable, amazing, and just so damn clever. But all this is is d*** swinging in the world of fitness. There is a famous quote by Albert Einstein which is worth using to set the tone here: 

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler” Albert Einstein. 



Except everyone is going the other way, and we are apparently trying to help others. Nothing was ever achieved quickly and simply by making things as complicated as possible. Take a leaf out of the world of technology, Uber, the new Taxi booking app, being of great example, everything is moving towards simplicity, open the app, call the cab, turns up, and the app even pays for it for you with your pre-set card details, simple as you like, and EVERYONE loves using the app. Some might complain that it has ruined some more complex, cumbersome and traditional methods, but so what, it’s the modern world, get over it, you can complain and be left behind with the world, or accept the modern movements in human behaviour and carry on winning as you were and innovate with the rest of us. 

Think of the last nutrition plan, or training plan, or lifestyle changes you tried to make or got someone else to make and consider how complicated or simple it was, and could it have been more simple, and thus yielded better/more efficient results? See, the other reason we need simplicity in our lives is that the rest of our lives is so damn complicated, in a self-help world, no one is simplifying, everyone is adding. Most self-help articles, books and videos add to the stress, they ask you to go away and write a ‘to do’ list and start to implement it in your lifestyle, but most complain that they don’t have enough time to do it, and they are right, and we as coaches need to appreciate that. Kids, mortgages, work demands, trying to get down time, fitting in a workout, food shopping, getting in the garden as its looking a mess, doing the house work, life is busy. Stop getting everyone to do more more more. We need to be doing less, we need a life of more simplicity. 

This is why we need a ‘NOT to do’ list, which is more powerful, initially, than the ‘to do’ list. And this should be stretched across your lifestyle to clean up all the habits that you have that are not conductive to you moving forward in a more positive way. Most people eat some foods they shouldn’t, most give too much time to others, most watch too much TV, most don’t prioritise the important things they need to do and prioritise the easy stuff to do, most don’t make time for time out, among many other things. Be brutal and honest with yourself, what do you keep doing that you know you shouldn’t, or don’t want to do, and cull it, get it out of your life. Be brave, yes you might upset a few people, it might be a weird step change, but you HAVE to do it, it’s a must. We need time, space, and creativity to do the new things that we want to do that are going to move us positively forward, we can’t just add add add, we paralyse ourselves, feel overwhelmed, then feel guilty we couldn’t achieve it and jack it all in and binge, stop training, and generally just go in all destructive mode until we rattle ourselves out of our slumber for another attempt. 



In fitness we can get a bit obsessive about the details, and I’ve talked to 1000’s of people over the years where my response has been one of regression, not advancement. People want more, but I take away, I give them less, and 9/10 I get a message a few weeks later saying “Ben, it was tough at first, but I took away, I simplified, and I am so much happier and focused now, thank you”. 

Before I finish up, this is where I need to mention the value of science and what the research says on training, nutrition and mind-set. If you’re in a place where your confused, not sure on the right answer, and want some clarity, make a B-line for the science. Let me come back to my protein example earlier, look up an organisation like the ISSN and see what their stance is on protein intake, or look at Examine.com, research based companies that find clarity in the world of overly complicated research and opinion, and use that as your go to resource for clarity, cause what’s proven in science is the best we know, so take comfort in those facts. 

People think living a complicated life is cool, trendy, and makes them appear elite, screw that, we’re not built for it. Were built to thrive in simplicity, doing a few things that culminates in making us who we are, otherwise, the mind will never be clear, and I’ll argue people will never truly be happy, and that’s the aim of life right?

About the Author: Ben Coomber is a performance nutritionist (BSc, ISSN), educator, public speaker and writer. 

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