The most successful people aren’t necessarily the ones you want to listen to

On Apr 08, 2010 In Tags: , , , ,

I recently joined Twitter. Mostly, because I wanted to see what the fuss was about and it seemed like a neat way to tap into yet another network. The interesting thing about Twitter early on, is that (for those of us who have attention spans of gnats) that Twitter feed page doesn’t change very often unless you start following people’s Twitter feeds (I’m sorry, but “tweeps”? Seriously, no.) So I started searching for names of people I thought would be interesting to follow and whether they had feeds to follow or not. And on my journey through Google, I stumbled on this excerpt from someone I would consider to be one of the most impressive physique models in the world. I’ve broken them down, point by point instead of the entire crammed-in paragraph. but they are sequential (and I don’t think they’re taken out of context):

1) “A few “rules” I live by is that I try to go to bed on an empty stomach so my body is breaking down fat throughout the night.”

2) “I drink tons of water and stay away from sugar; I eat low-carb and high-protein diet; I don’t eat anything four hours before I go to bed; “

3) “I do cardio in the morning and lift in the evening before going to bed; I eat two large meals a day (sometimes only one), and above all I check my pride at the gym door everyday.”

4) “I don’t go after lifting a certain amount of weight. I go after the pump which is achieved quicker with lighter weight and proper form as opposed to your ego getting involved and causing you to lift a load too heavy for you that causes you to get out of form and possibly injured. “

5) “Also, on eating, I eat to fuel my body … not to satisfy an appetite. The hell with what it taste like — it’s about feeding your body what it needs, not your taste buds. Now, some will read what I say and call BS to my routine, which is fine.”

6) “This is what works for me, maybe it works for you, maybe not … we all are different, but what one cannot say is that it hasn’t worked for me as I have more covers than anyone else in the world in the last two years and recently named the number one male fitness model in America by Iron Man Magazine and just this month, named one of the “25 fittest Americans” by Men’s Fitness … hard to argue with success.”

Point number 6 is the absolutely, most difficult argument to counter. Clearly, what he does works for him. And he has the covers and nominations to show for it. The N of 1 trial is clearly a success. And it really is hard to argue with success.

However, almost everything this model reports that he does runs counter to the present-day advice of who we might consider as leading experts in this very field. Going to bed on an empty stomach, cardio in the morning, infrequent feeding, going for “the pump”? I haven’t heard anyone utter these phrases since the late 1990s.

This brings into question the entire premise of decision-making in fitness. Has this model succeeded _in spite_ of what he does, or is this, in fact, the optimal interaction between his genetics and environment? And from a consumer/trainer perspective, can any of us make decisions on our training/nutrition based on these “rules”? Albeit, he’s not proselytizing his rules; he’s just telling us what works for him. Nonetheless, the testimonial evidence is difficult to dismiss.

This case is where the rubber meets the road. Given enough monkeys with typewriters and enough time, Shakespeare will be reproduced. I suspect that this model would be the way he is, no matter what approach he took to his training and nutrition (short of being completely sedentary). How many clients/consumers are succeeding _in spite_ of what they are doing? And how much of that success can be attributed to the trainer or program?

I think the hallmark of an excellent trainer is one who can identify under what circumstances something is going to work, or not work; and one who is able to quickly adapt to things that aren’t working, despite there being a veneer of success.

The testimonial is never going away–particularly in the current trends of marketing strategy. Fitness professionals who tout numerous success stories are successful at producing results in a select portion of their client population. I, for one, think we would be able to differentiate those who are successful because they are truly savvy vs those who succeed because they are lucky to stumble on clients who will succeed no matter what they do to them if there were more on how initially unsuccessful clients became successful ones.

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