Quieting The Bees
In our overstimulated world, it’s tough to shut out all the noise and conflicting information about fitness and nutrition, but the solution is always the simplest one.
Photo: Damien Tupinier
In the early 1990s, the advent of the full-length, late-night infomercial was upon us. This new format of selling products and services became a runaway pop culture hit, with some of its frontpeople even becoming global celebrities.
With no disrespect to Richard Simmons, the one infomercial personality that I recall the most featured a woman named Susan Powter. Sporting a bleached buzzcut and a brutal honesty about her personal struggles with relationships and weight control, she became quite literally an overnight sensation.
The first time I saw her infomercial that was selling a program called "Stop The Insanity", I was absolutely in awe! Everything about this woman was speaking to me in a way that no other weight loss program - or any commercials for that matter- ever had.
Here was someone who had not just a commanding presence, but a complete, sarcastic, been-there-done-that-can't-fool-me attitude that appealed and resonated with exactly the right crowd. Namely, anyone who's ever tried dieting to lose weight, failed and was just fed up. As in, around 95% of us.
Ms. Powter tapped into a goldmine. Her program was an immense success and made her a household name all over the world.
One of her program’s biggest appeals was its simplicity. Her message consisted of two main ideas:
1. The diet industry is lying to you
2. Fat makes you fat; therefore, if you eliminate fat from your diet, you will lose weight
Whether this was right or wrong can be a topic of lengthy discussion to this very day, but let’s set that aside for the moment.
What Ms. Powter did was genius. In a nutshell, she asked for the enthralled viewer who has tried and failed to lose weight to shut out all the noise, the conflicting information on diets and the thousands of diet books and styles lining the shelves of bookstores across the world in favor of a simplified, streamlines plan.
I borrowed the main title of this article from a dear friend. I think it’s brilliant. Whenever she found a remedy for some pretty bad anxiety that she was dealing with, she would call it “quieting the bees” which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense.
With anxiety, confusion, stress and all the other potential uninvited guests in our heads, it’s nice to feel some relief from the constant ‘buzzing’ that they can cause.
I’d like to extend this analogy into the world of weight loss and fitness.
When Susan Powter yelled “stop the insanity” in her infomercial while pretending to rip out her nonexistent hair due to sheer frustration with diets, I think retrospectively that she was pleading for singular focus. In my opinion, she couldn’t have been more correct.
This voice from the past resonates today more than ever.
These days, it’s even tougher to shut out all the noise and focus on just one message. We live in the most overstimulated era in our history. Look no further than your phone. We are constantly connected with our attention and focus all over the place.
One thing I have always struggled with in the past is to attempt to make sense of the incredible amount of information about fitness and nutrition that’s available in every possible form of media.
There are even websites dedicated to finding answers. This is where anyone can ask questions about any topic and get answers to them by absolutely anyone. The problem here being that at any given time, there are multiple, conflicting responses, which takes the inquirer right back to square one.
But it’s still possible to quiet those darn bees – and in fact, vital.
A Curious Co-worker and the Comfort of Routine
Eye on the prize
Photo: Paul Skorupskas
For many years of limited success when it came to losing fat and gaining muscle, I took my cues from books, magazines, websites and word of mouth. I would commit to one type of program only to find another one soon after that sounded better and switch to that. Before I knew it, a friend would tell me about the latest training or lifting method or supplement that I would then immediately jump onto.
In short, I never gave anything a chance to stick.
This kept me in a consistent state of limited results and frustration. Looking back, I really don’t know what else I expected given this jumping around from one place to another.
When I started working with a personal trainer and nutritionist, I was at what I’d describe as “fitness rock bottom”. A place where I had all but given up hope and was throwing a real Hail Mary by hiring another person to help.
Perhaps it was reaching such a dark place where I shed everything I thought I knew that made me decide to only focus on one thing: what my trainer and nutritionist told me.
I promised to myself that I would put blinders on to all other information about working out and proper eating, no matter where it came from. My closest, most trusted friends could give me the latest and greatest information on these topics and they would roll off me like water off a duck.
And only then is when I finally achieved my long sought-after transformation.
My advice to you is to get one thing that you can focus on. Whether that’s hiring a trainer/nutritionist and only listening to their advice or following one of the many programs online – choose one and stick to one.
Trust the process that you chose. There are no guarantees that anything will work, but the are no guarantees that they won’t either. What I do guarantee is that if you flip-flop between programs and methods, you won’t budge from where you are today.
I’m also not suggesting that new information should be ignored. It’s always good to keep the latest information on what works best on the backburner for a bit of time while you’re focusing on what you’ve committed to right now. Unless it’s a small change, it can always be later.
The bottom line
From what I’ve learned, I would advise giving any new exercise and/or nutritional program at least one month. That will provide plenty of time to get a good idea of whether it’s working for you or not. If your measurements, weight and the all-important mirror test are aligned with your goals, then stick to it until the progress slows down. Only then look to something else to try. You can always go back to some old favorites after a few months to a year.
The message is simple. But it’s not easy. It’s actually harder than one would imagine and it’s precisely because of the unlimited amount of information on health, fitness and nutrition that’s out there and the all the flash and shine used to present them to us.
That only serve to distract us from our purpose.
Slap on those blinders my friend and you will automatically eliminate distractions and multitasking without having to do anything else. Of course, you can always bolster this ability by mindfulness, meditation and gratitude, but then again – the simplest solutions are always the most beautiful (and effective) ones.
Until next time,
Power to simplicity!
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