Since you are human, like the rest of us, then you are limited in 3 dimensions. You are limited by the time you have to make a decision, your ability to think through the problem, and the information you have.
I want to apply these limits to the realm of exercise and cooking for a second. The other day I was working with a wonderful client. We expressed a common thread in that neither of us learned to cook when we were younger. She asked me how I started to be resilient and learn to cook for myself. In 2006, I experimented with removing gluten from my diet. I had heard gluten could be a cause for inflammation in my body and I was interested in its impact on my chronic right knee pain. Within 6 weeks all the pain I experienced in my right knee was gone. So really, I told her, I had to start eating meat and greens.
The idea she was trying to express to me was simpler. So I asked, do you mean how did I learn to follow a recipe? How did I learn to cook more than just meat on the grill and salad out of a container? Yes, she commented. I told her I am still learning how to follow recipes and cook by using them. Luckily, my wife, who started off our relationships cooking amazing pasta and sauce out of a can, has developed competence in the area of cooking.
Now by her example I have developed enough resilience to want to cook a meal or two for her. And this brings me to my first point. The “time limit” that comes with making a decision. I expressed to my client that if she learns to cook now, if she invests the time in her late 20s and early 30s, then she would close a gap and keep it closed for the remainder of her life. How many times have you been nagged by food? What should you cook? How much of a portion should you eat to be satisfied? Are you an over eater? Do you eat for emotional comfort? There are lots of attachments each of us has to food.
To stay on topic I am going to switch to exercise. Suppose you spent 1-2 years learning about your body. When you like to exercise, what exercises you need to heal past injuries, and how often do you need to exercise to feel good energy. Suppose you knew those answers and could freely design an exercise program for yourself. Suppose your body adapted to each exercise appropriately because you knew what muscle you were contracting and how to do so. Since you have this body for another 30 years at minimum, how much energy and time would knowing these answers save you? The problem is we naturally impose a time limit. I must be ready by summer. I need a beach body. I have to get ready for this event I have coming up.
The challenge with learning how to cook and how to exercise is that the result is often intangible. Yes, on one hand, the result of cooking is a meal, and the result of exercise is the shape of your body. Yet, the process of cooking, the process of exercising, they require deliberate execution of previously outlined steps. To complete those steps efficiently you must have the confidence to take and step into each sequential step. Because if you start to doubt yourself, doubt the process, and ask the wrong questions at the wrong time, you could end up with a disaster. Think about it for a second. The second problem is the cognitive limit. Suppose you cook a delicious meal that you quickly scarf up after you plate the food. And you do not realize you could have done a better job. You did not know what you did not know. Unless you have candid feedback about your efforts you might falsely believe you have performed your best.
One of the best things to happen to the Internet has been Instagram. Now you can be cool by videoing your exercises and posting them on the Internet. Or, another way to put it, the video you took which offers you an objective view of yourself. Video for exercising helps to put your movements into perspective. Form is form. The pictures people take of their food is another example. A good picture of food can make the food look more delicious and savory then it really is. On one hand the Internet and Google have been amazing because of the abundant information they have provided. The problem I find as a coach and personal trainer is that people are unsure of what information they need to know to cook a couple of simple dishes, and what exercises will help them get past their current hump. Hence, the third problem, limited by not knowing the right information, and knowing too much useless information at the same time.
The three limits which make cooking and exercising more difficult are:
- Time limit
- Cognitively limit
- Information limit
The solution is simple. Decide on one movement or exercise objective you want to achieve, that if you knew the answer to it would make the next 30 years simpler. Decide on one cooking task that if you knew how to do competently, you would save yourself hours of hardship. Now suppose you are a great scientist who has been asked to solve these problems, you know your hypothesis, the solution, and you are merely testing different processes until you find a match. I challenge you to stop prematurely closing and stopping yourself from finding Do-It-Yourself-Answers. Keep fighting until you have a 5 step process for your concerns. And then get your repetitions in and continue practicing. For some, the planning part can be the hardest part, and once you have 5 steps, the whole project becomes easier.
What are you limited by today? Suppose today’s effort could be used to remove that limit from your life, where would you like to be limitless?