All or Nothing is an Excuse to do…NOTHING

Sinatra
“All or Nothing at All” is only great if you’re Ol Blue Eyes.

When Sinatra crooned “All or Nothing at All” with Tommy Dorsey’s band, it was romantic.  Hey, I fell for it, too, and like many of my clients, applied the same OCD principle to other areas of my life.  Until I finally realized…it wasn’t working.  I’ll admit, a certain amount of obsessive compulsion makes the world go around.  It fuels the kind of persistence needed to make things happen.

But for people who are obsessive compulsive about their obsessive compulsion, it’s just not a very good long game strategy.  “All or nothing” is another term for perfectionism, and perfectionism is a really just an excuse to do nothing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients blame their bad results on perfectionism.  They have one little slip-up and instead of getting right back in the saddle, they use their perfectionism to justify a landslide.  So one Oreo turns into twenty.  One chip turns into the whole bag.  One French fry becomes the entire plate. “You see, I’m an all or nothing kind of person”, they brag, as if it’s some kind of badge of honor.  It’s not.  It’s an honorable sounding reason to be lazy.  You’ve already set yourself up for failure because who can be perfect all the time for the rest of their lives?  No one.

This is such a common issue among my Type A clients who think they’re taking a macho stance.  “I’m so intense, I can’t do anything unless I do it all the way.”  It seems like an admirable creed until you realize over the course of a lifetime, it’s not sustainable.  It can work for a six-week training camp leading up to fight night, but who can train like that day-in-day-out, for weeks, months, years, decades?

And when applied to exercise, “all or nothing” can be dangerous.  On the one hand, people will often use it as an excuse not to exercise.  If they can’t do a full hour, forget it—not worth the trouble.  Or if they can only do 3 days instead of 5, there’s no point in doing 3.  So if they can’t do it “all the way,” hey, guess what?  They don’t have to do a damn thing!  We all know what kind of metabolic and structural issues this leads to.

While lesser known, the flipside to “nothing” is overtraining, and it can be just as harmful.  Earlier in the year the American Journal of Medicine published an article on several cases of rhabdomyolysis, a life threatening condition involving muscle breakdown due to over-exercise—in this case, spinning.  In my practice, I see a laundry list of other more common consequences of overtraining as well.  Dysbiosis—an imbalance of gut bacteria—is especially common in endurance athletes.  It can lead to GI distress, metabolic and immune dysfunction, not to mention adverse effects on body comp.  Over-exercise is a stressor to the body, which results in soaring cortisol levels, structural breakdown of muscle and joints, depressed immunity, and mood disorder.  So what’s so sexy about going all out all the time?

As I mentioned before, “all or nothing” has its place.  It’s good for short term goals, fight camps, bursts of inspiration.  But smart athletes have an off season.  And they don’t give up when a wrench gets thrown in their plans either.  Imagine if one of my fighters quit training camp because he didn’t get his morning run in one day.  For my recovering obsessive compulsives—and God knows I’m one of them, too—let’s take that Type A mentality and channel it towards something productive.  All my most successful clients have done this.  Train smarter, not harder.  Work hard at being more forgiving of mistakes while staying the course.  Be obsessive compulsive about not being obsessive compulsive.

 

Change Your Diet, Change the World

Car wreck
Did a bad diet cause this?

At the beginning of 2016, some speeding lunatic on the 405 took out the car on her left and me to her right, before spinning out and removing the entire front of her own vehicle.  She totaled all three of us, shut down three lanes of the 405—which made her very popular with all her fellow drivers—and I had to lay to rest my beloved Scion TC of 11 years.

Later that day, the Uber driver picked me up to take me to Hertz.  “How has your day been?” he asked.  Huh.  “I’ve been better…but at least I’m alive.”  I told him about Speeding Lunatic and he told me about the psychopath doctor who had assaulted his fellow Uber driver that week.  “You know what I think it is,” Mr. Uber offered, “and people think I’m crazy for saying this…it’s the food.”  Amen!

No, I don’t have a PubMed study directly linking assaults on Uber drivers to artificial sweeteners, but something is clearly wrong with the energy of this country.  And while I don’t think changing the food supply will entirely solve the problems of internet trolls, corporate corruption, police brutality, mass shootings, or the terrifying joke that is the state of our political system, I do believe it is foundational to getting us out of the cluster you-know-what we find ourselves in.

As an example, our food supply is highly estrogenic.  From soy to plastic containers, endocrine disruptors are everywhere (don’t get me started on personal care products).  Soy lecithin is in everything as an emulsifier to make your sauces, dressings, and chocolates creamy and smooth.  And so many of your beverages and prepared foods are packaged in plastic which leaches estrogen.  Little by little, all of this adds up to enough to hinder your brain.  I’m not kidding.  There are tons of studies you can find on PubMed linking impaired cognitive ability to phytoestrogens.

Now Estrogen Brain may or may not have contributed to Speeding Lunatic’s brain fog that morning.  Point is, there are a LOT of things out there making us sick in all kinds of ways and my Uber driver hit the nail on the head—so much of it is in our “food.”  I can’t even call it food.  Artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers unbalance gut flora.  Did you know most of your neurotransmitters are produced in the gut?  Yes, gut health determines your state of mind!  Soy (unless it’s non-GMO) and plastics slow down cognitive function.  Genetically engineered super gluten, pesticides and herbicides, and products from hormone-treated and grain fed animals are all highly inflammatory.  These things make people chronically sick.  Sick people don’t feel well.  This makes them angry and do stupid things.

No, cleaning up our eating habits alone will not solve all our problems but it’s a start.  The start.  Cooler heads will not prevail until we are thinking clearly, and clear thinking starts with what we put into our bodies.