Tip: Stop It With The Obsessive Counting!

Here's how "over-quantification syndrome" leads to poor results with training and diet.

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Over-Quantification Syndrome

One of the worst fitness trends is the ridiculous over-quantification of everything. The key word here is "over" – rep tempos, macros, calories-crunching, rest times by the clock, FitPal, Fitbit etc. I keep having to remind people of Einstein's quote:

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

The human body will always be far more than a bunch of pretentious outside-in mathematical equations. Things like recovery needs, maximum versus optimum work capacity, internal biochemical and hormonal environments, refeeds to replenish glycogen stores and to optimize metabolism – these qualitative elements can't be number-crunched. They can only be assessed and observed.

Watch Pumping Iron

On the training front, watch Pumping Iron from the 70's. Pay attention to the training sequences. What do you see? What don't you see?

Back before the days of GH and insulin and bloated bellies, these world-class physiques were created with crappy equipment and keen attention to biofeedback. What you won't see in Pumping Iron is anyone practicing rep-tempo nonsense, or resting by the clock, or stopping between sets to write a bunch of numbers in a training log.

No More Neurotic Calorie Counting?

As for diet, the National Weight Control Registry monitors people who've lost a substantial amount of weight and have kept it off long-term. They look for common denominators of success. They find that calorie-counting is NOT a major contributor to taking weight off and keeping it off. More general lifestyle habits like regular meal times and eating breakfast matter more.

Recently, a study from the University of Pittsburgh showed that number-trackers like Fitbit did NOT help people lose weight compared to those who went on a diet and didn't use such technology.

The fact is, wannabe gurus in the fitness industry love to dazzle consumers with fancy formulas and mathematic equations. They love to play doctor, and they take this way too far. The truth? Most of these quantifications don't offer true control – they give an illusion of control, often without any relevant context.

The Wisdom of Your Own Body

The problem here is that the more effort you put toward outside-in dictations, the more you lose the ability to listen to the wisdom of your own body.

Over-quantification syndrome is the pretention of expertise. True expertise is far more sophisticated. You can never number-crunch your way to a satisfying relationship with your own body.