I work with a bunch of teachers and asked them how students fail their class. The same way most students fail is the same way a lot of eaters screw up their nutrition.
Do they turn in awful work worthy of a failing grade? Or does it have to do with their conduct in class?
It turns out the most common way to fail a class isn't from lackluster work or misbehaving, it's from putting up zeros.
Who doesn't remember the occasional assignment skip?
"My shows are on tonight, this isn't getting done."
"10 point assignment? I can afford a few zeros." I would think.
When I got grounded for nearly failing I had to cut back on my shows and stop blanking my homework.
A zero out of 10 might not sound like a big deal but they compound quickly to plummet grades.
Several teachers I know echo "If you show up and put in effort you will not fail," to their students when they begin a semester.
I say almost the same thing when I start working with clients on their movement and eating.
And I've noticed the same effect after clients get going. They start strong - often completing all their 'homework' and sticking their workouts only to miss a meal or two one day and some exercise the next.
This is the equivalent of skipping an assignment in school. It may seem trivial and one or two won't do much but there is real danger in letting one or two slide into a habit of skipping. Having that happen in school is confirmed by a bunch of teachers to be the only way to fail. Dieting is similar.
So what are the homework assignments in dieting? Simply: log what you eat.
Almost every one of us has a super computer in our pocket linked to a database with millions of foods. We can use this tool to track four numbers that give us crazy control over our body composition. They are protein, carbs, fats, and calories.
Each time we eat we check how many grams of those nutrients the food we're eating contains. By doing so we have knowledge to make a decision about the next food we eat that never existed before. If the last meal I ate was full of carbs and protein then I know I need to get some fat at the next one. Each time I enter a log of what I ate I increase the potency of the next eating decision I make. Each time I skip a log the next meal becomes a guess - the same as a zero out of 10 or skipping an assignment.
I wondered about kids who turned in work that was wrong or bad. Do they run the risk of failing? And if we carry the analog to nutrition would dieters who enter food logs that aren't correct still benefit?
"If there is effort, even if it is really bad and incorrect we can work to improve. This forms the basis for all learning and helps to empower kids to know that no matter how hard they struggle, they can improve as long as they keep showing up" a principal told me.
Ditto for food. As a matter of fact no one's food logs are 100% accurate. And they don't need to be. Any logs are infinitely more accurate than no logs. C's and D's - the equivalent of 6 and 7 out of 10 can earn you a college degree. Any food logs that similarly C and D level can get you lean and keep you there. There just has to be some type of entry and effort.
The surest way to failure is to blank your assignments both in the classrooms of school and logging of your food.