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Friday, April 25, 2014

Not Simple

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- A. Einstein

There are few interconnected issues bothering me, and dealing with them will probably take a few posts.

If you're on Facebook or Twitter (and other social media, I imagine), you may have been subjected to the endless parade of "motivational" posters featuring pictures of predatory animals accompanied by quotes about warriors, or greatness, or great warriors. Or Spartans, because those assholes are still popular, apparently.

There's a common theme that runs through many of these posters, and the posts of people within the fitness, martial arts, and self-defense community, and that theme is often that life is very simple, and any difficulties you face are all in your head.

Fat loss is simple. If you're fat, eat less and move more. Stop making excuses fatty.
Lift heavy things, get strong. If you're weak, it's because you're lazy.
Victim or Warrior. The choice is yours. It's simple.

This is, of course, all bullshit.

" ... these "no-nonsense" solutions of yours just don't hold water in a complex world of jet-powered apes and time travel." -- Superman, JLA CLASSIFIED

For a small portion of the population (usually young, single, gym rats), stuff like this IS simple. For a much larger portion of the population, it isn't.

I have close family members who STRUGGLE with fat loss. And yes, it is a struggle. And no, saying "eat less, move more" isn't a solution. It's a bullshit answer. Because the reality is more complicated than that.

Saying "oh, it's just this simple" is really a clever way of saying "I don't have the skill set necessary to answer your question or the time to find a solution that will work for you, so I'm just going to toss a little zen fortune cookie at you to cover my own incompetence."

Are there people out there who do not make progress because they are lazy and unmotivated? Absolutely. I see them all the time--they show up at Sityodtong, train for about two weeks, realize they aren't ready for the UFC, and leave.

But there are also people out there who have a hard time making progress (or even getting started) because juggling a full-time job, two and a half children, two pets, and a spouse is freaking hard work, and if you pile more stress on top of that, it becomes harder.

These people don't have time to read thousands of journal articles to figure out what the latest science says about nutrition, or to spend days digging through the endless and varied literature on fitness to figure out what the best method is for them. They are lost, and the fitness industry rarely helps. And those who crow on and on about how "simple" it is are the least helpful of all.

I would much rather have trainers start saying "Yes, it is hard, and yes, it is confusing. Here, let me help you out."

When you belittle the struggles of the working parent, when you sneer at the person who tells you that she desperately wants to get to the gym,  but just can't find the time, when you blow off the student who just can't seem to figure out the most fundamental technique, what you are really saying is "I only want people who are easy to train. I don't have the time to invest in your struggle."

Why should you be surprised when these people don't invest back in you.

By all means, simplify things as much as possible for your clients or students. But stop pretending that everything is simple.

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