130. Some thoughts after a convo with a client

By: Michael Beiter


One variable 

You don't know what lever is doing what if you pull all of them at the same time. 

An engineer client of mine said this and the parallel to food and fitness is obvious. 

I teach people how to use the scientific method to figure out how they should eat and exercise.

A big part of that method is that after you've formed a hypothesis you set up a test to determine if you are right or wrong. In that test you usually manipulate something.

In fitness and nutrition the things we manipulate are many: sets, reps, volume, intensity, frequency, timing, calories, macros, supplementation, food choice. The list goes on.

This can be unsettling for some people because to truly find out what effect one of these variables has you have to choose one and run an experiment.

The time it takes to get through all of them is long and too many people are convinced they don't have the time and they could expedite the process by testing multiple variables at once. Like the engineer said, this will leave you with nothing learned. 

Patience is required to test each variable one at a time. When accepted this is the best way to tailor your eating and exercise to you in a way that is sustainable and that works. 

Do nothing

I used to make up answers to questions from my clients about what I was doing this weekend. 

I felt bad and lazy if I didn't have a social even lined up or a plan to do something with my break from work. 

After reading 'How to do Nothing' as well as other books on essentialism and Zen habits I'm more confident in replying that I have no plans, expectations, or desires for my time off. I enjoy seeing long swaths of my schedule uninterrupted by meetings and obligations. Nothing brings me as much joy as doing nothing. I just had to drop my conditioning that lead me to believe there was something wrong with just living in the moment. Not striving. Not expecting. Not planning. It was tough, but I think it is a much more enjoyable way to live. 

I spoke with a client of a few years who got back from vacation and lived this same way while on the coast.

"We woke up with no alarm, had no set plans, and just did whatever felt right. It was incredible."

I've never been a fan of needing a vacation from a vacation. Which seems to only happen when we obsess about doing and experiencing everything with time that is supposed to be filled with nothing. 

Sets to failure

We alternate between 6 weeks cycles of intensity work and volume work. During the volume work there is no prescribed number of reps for the sets of your exercises. Instead you will see something like '3 sets to failure.'

A clarification is needed here. Failure is when you can no longer complete reps with the selected weight with proper form. 

Typically your first set you will get a bunch. The next set you will have fatigued a bit and will get a little less. So on and so forth until you finish your sets for that workout. 

People get way too obsessed with the numbers in their workouts. Know that the weight you lift and reps you complete are kind of important. But around here we want as much mental energy and objectivity as possible to be for food, not workout stuff. It's more effective that way. 

An example of 'to fail' work is this:

Overhead press 4 x fail

95 lbs x 12, 95 lbs x 10, 95 lbs x 8, 95 lbs x 6

Terminate your set when you can no longer complete reps with good form.


I work in a facility that has a sign on the wall that reads "Fuck your feelings." 

I've always found it ironic that the dominating method for lifting weights in this same facility asks people as soon as they finish their set: "How did that feel?"

I'm not so much on the fuck your feelings bandwagon anymore. Because I've learned about a way of living that says your feelings are a good guide to what you should and should not spend your time doing. To blanket statement them as all bad is not fair. 

In the same vein you cannot rely on feelings alone to be successful in life. They will absolutley lead you astray with your eating and exercise. And for that reason I think it's more appropriate to switch the order of the sign from 'Fuck your feelings' to "Your feelings will fuck you." 

A simple addition of objectivity will compliment your subjective life (feelings) and prevent you from making decisions and believing thoughts that are rooted entirely in emotions. 

This is how you eat, exercise, and live. A balance of subjective and objective. Never putting all your eggs in one basket or the other. 


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