This is not a contradiction. It’s easy in the sense that you throw a stimulus at someone and composition changes. It’s hard in the sense that there are physical and psychological/emotional limitations to the stimulus any individual can or should manage.
The first obstacle we face is sampling bias. A program only showcases positive testimonials. So we don’t know if we’re looking at survivors of really crappy training programs or if we’re gaining an insight to a solid methodology.
This is no small problem. Large stats can help you see why the sample bias stats are unhelpful and possibly intentionally dishonest. In the US, about 15% of the adult population has some sort of gym membership or regular fitness practice. Among them, around 1% keep this up for more than 12 consecutive weeks at any given time. Right away you can see how we don’t even get a glimpse of what works for most of the populace. Because nothing is working for most of the populace.
The second obstacle is that wildly successful and popular programs magnify the sample bias. I mean, it’s really cool that thousands of people succeeded, if that’s even true. But, that still likely represents a 99% fail rate. We’re leaving out the hundreds of thousands of tries, the millions of exposures, and that for none of those people was this methodology a fit.
Now these are just the distractions. But inherently, there is a real difficulty in body composition beyond all of this marketing noise that convinces you that you should be doing the wrong thing. There is a difficulty in real physical and emotional limitations for most people.
You see, as a business, if your model of fitness is very simple, emphasizing hard and frequent workouts and sacrificial nutrition, it’s a mythology, but self-reinforcing. Only a small percent of the populace can do this. Even fewer can do it safely. But when they do, they “succeed.” Voila. You are vindicated. Your devotees are now a walking billboard. Never mind that it cannot be a fit for over 90% of the population. Instead of us viewing the method as being garbage, we shame each other and ourselves for not living up to the phony sample bias method.
This is where is gets real hard. We now have incredibly unrealistic expectations of ourselves. But I want to make it clear that improving fitness is as simple as taking one single step any given day to progress from where you are currently.
There is nothing amazing or singularly fantastic about my approach. But it is unique. Sometimes I have clients begin with a 1-5 minute daily physical practice. Yes. ONE MINUTE. Oftentimes we start with extraordinarily rudimentary beginnings, because I’m constantly thinking about that other 99% of people who haven’t made it work. And I don’t think there is damn thing wrong with any of them. The only people I think are wrong are those propagating the sample bias myths, and therefore concluding with some sort of judgement on others or fat-shaming in general.
Listen. I get it. I have faced terrible challenges. And sometimes, when you’ve been in a bad place, the simple act of standing up is exhausting. Do I think someone like that needs to be ashamed of not getting in all their steps, their calories low enough, their frequency of workouts high enough? Hell no. We have to restore them first. We have to empower them first. We have to embolden them first. Then, there’s legitimate troubleshooting which must occur to figure out a sensible program for people with injuries, health concerns, time limitations, emotional hang ups. Just “go hard” is not a strategy or a program.
Taking a step in the right direction is where it begins and where we often must return. You can ignore all the brief transformation testimonials out there. It’s sample bias. Outside of their inspirational effect, they have nothing to offer you. Just be you. Just do your thing. Focus on your steps. Place one foot in front of the other.