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We love shortcuts. But who will win: the tortoise or the hare?

At the beginning of the year you set some new year’s resolutions. You either got started on them, or you kept promising yourself that you would start “tomorrow.” But, tomorrow never came.

And then COVID hit. And you found yourself back to square one.

You lost all the progress you made to start the year. Or, you used COVID as an excuse to keep putting off what you should have started months ago.

Gyms are back open, and are accepting new clients.

Trainers online are promising quick fixes and magic bullets.

Today, you were thrilled to discover that you could achieve your goals EASILY AND FAST in the next 30 days! Woohoo—you are probably wondering what took you so long to get started in the first place?!

Of course, I’m referring to the get-lean-quick shakes, the crash diets, and the zero-money-down gym sign-up programs that prey on people like us.

There ARE shortcuts to fitness. But there are also a lot of lies out there.

When can a shortcut help us and when does it hurt us? Here’s a four-question test that I took from Seth Godin’s blog.

1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time, or is it a crash diet?

2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health?

3. Is it an additive? Will it improve over time?

4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret?

Let’s take a few examples of past fitness trends (and the stuff you’re probably being pitched on your Facebook feed today) and hold them up to our four filters of shortcut validity.

Weight Loss Shakes

1. Is it repeatable? Can you stay on this diet of shakes forever? No. Are you really going to do this for the next 40 years? Probably not. You are going to want to eat real food.

2. Is it non-harmful? Actually, they’re harmful. Shakes like these are full artificial sweeteners, usually corn derivatives or chemicals. On one hand, you’re brought closer to insulin resistance (diabetes). On the other, you’re ingesting a chemical concoction.

Most shakes also use a combination of appetite suppressants, caffeine and a mild laxative to keep you full and alert. But your body quickly downgrades its energy expenditure to match, and when you go off the shakes, you quickly gain weight—and it’s all fat. Long term, weight-loss shakes make you fatter and sicker.

3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Well, you’ll probably start to hate taking protein shakes instead of eating real food. You’re getting smaller by starving out your metabolism.

4. Can it survive the crowd? Sure … except that, eventually, someone will tell you the truth. The only people sharing their huge weight loss from diets or shakes on Facebook are the people who make a commission by signing you up.

The Keto Diet / Paleo Diet / XYZ Diet

1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time, or is it a crash diet? People have been using ketosis and intermittent fasting and high-fat diets since it was popularized in recent memory. And if you’re trying to beat a sugar addiction, a short ketogenic period might actually help! Cutting out sugar is a great way to get started down the right path.

But the real question is, “Can I sustain this for the rest of my life?” And the answer to ALL “diets” is “no.”

Once you cut something out, your body will get used to working without it. And when you re-introduce that food back into your system, your body won’t remember how to process or metabolize it.

2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Long term, kicking sugar is a very positive thing. But rapid weight loss, binge dieting, or any unsustainable practice will always have a rebound effect. You have a relationship with food. One-night stands with diets will always come back to haunt you.

3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time? You might get better at eating paleo. But you might also become neurotic about food. There’s a reason people with eating disorders jump from diet to diet: They love the feeling of control, and diets give them a clear “good and bad” line. Unfortunately, that’s not sustainable in life, and everyone knows the term “yo-yo dieting” by now.

4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret? If you’re part of a group and dieting together, you’ll definitely have more success. You eat like the people you spend most of your time around. If everyone eats a ketogenic diet, you’ll do better at sticking to the ketogenic diet. SHOULD you stick to it? See above.

Joining A Gym

1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time? Yes. You can join a gym and keep going for 40 years. We think you should do coached fitness, but even a $9.95 access-only gym will benefit you long term (if you show up).

2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Yes. There probably are no negative effects. Very few people get injured in the gym- especially when you have your own personal coach.

3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Yes. Training with weights has a compounding effect. You get stronger, your muscles improve your metabolism, and you get better … UNLESS you’re sticking to the same old 3-sets-of-8-reps program you did last month. You need constant variety.

4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret? Yes. Discount gyms will see a huge influx of new members at the beginning of the year (the average date most new gym-goers give up and quit, except in coaching gyms like Hustle One Fitness.) And you can’t really “fill” a discount gym, because their business model is based on members who never show up. We’re the opposite, so we have a membership cap.

Joining a Coaching Gym or Personal Trainer or Nutritionist

1. Is it repeatable? Can I keep doing this for a long time? Yes. I’ve been working out for 14 years, and I still love it. Everyday is a new and exciting opportunity to try something new, lift heavier, or increase my flexibility even more!

2. Is it non-harmful? What are the downstream effects on my health? Yes. When a gym works 1:1 with its members to measure progress and set goals, the effects compound, and you don’t waste your time doing stuff that doesn’t work. At Hustle One Fitness, we don’t waste your time or your money.

3. Is it additive? Will it improve over time? Yes. When an objective source measures your results, they can point to what’s working and help you focus more. Your personal coach will be your guide along your fitness journey and will help bridge the gap between where you are, and where you want to be.

4. Can it survive the crowd? Does it have to be a secret? No. Coaching businesses are anti-crowd; because of the 1:1 relationships involved, coaching businesses can’t take 1,000 clients. But maybe that’s OK.

You’re going to get pitched a new workout routine or fad diet today. If you feel like you’re being sold, don’t buy. And if a new super-secret fitness method isn’t sustainable, don’t start it: You’ll probably be moving backward.

Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.

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