Following rules works well for short-term transformations. Rules give us a straight “do this” path forward. That’s why it’s appealing to sign up for something that gives us a clear plug-and-play approach to losing weight and getting in shape. A strict calorie restricted meal plans fall into this category.
They work well for those who are already successfully doing the basics of healthy eating. And now want to tighten things up briefly to reach a specific short-term goal. All you need is the willpower to do what you’ve been told to do and the results will follow.
Unfortunately, these short-term transformations are often sold as the entry point for people who are just (re)starting their health and fitness journey. The catch is that these rule-based transformations don’t teach us anything, expect how to follow rules.
Our lives don’t give a shit about our diet rules. Stuff happens. Kids get diarrheal just when work wants us to put in more hours because Brian quit. And then our cats get diarrheal too. And somehow the neighbour we barely know gets her head stuck in their outdoor coal oven and screams for our help. Again.
What do we do when we don’t have the time and space to follow the rules? We quit. Because it’s too difficult and too rigid to follow rules when we are just trying to muddle through life.
The better, more flexible and sustainable option is to learn principles. A framework that doesn’t give us all the answers forces us to learn by trying, struggling, failing, and eventually learning what works, for us. When we put in the struggle, we build knowledge and resiliency to adjust our eating and training based on what life throws at us. Even if it’s double headed plastic forks aimed at our forehead.