The Importance of Being Boring

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The number 1 secret the health & fitness industry don’t want you to know.

I know, I know. Everyone is offering ‘the one secret’ for optimal health; that one killer diet hack; that single best exercise for *fill in the blank*.

Well despite the click bait title title I’m not going to try and sell you some kind of Ab Destroyer device or diet pill, no quirky pyramid sales system or novel Tibetan nose candle.

In fact, I’m not actually going to try and sell you anything, other than to encourage your dull side.

You see the health and fitness industry tells an awful lot of fibs. Some of them do this because, sadly, they don’t know any better. Others are of a more nefarious nature, cashing in on people’s pain and suffering.

The majority of the industry however are just trying to desperately grab your ever-increasing lack of attention.

Social media and the hyper-information age has made us all expect ever-changing content and eye-catching stimuli at the simple swipe of a finger.

For the personal trainers and health coaches out there the pressure to stand out on these platforms has become monstrous. When you are competing with everything from ‘gibbons and hedgehogs’ (Kelley’s favourite you-tube videos), shirtless hunks (my favourite you-tube videos) and people hurting themselves on camera (yawn), talking about getting 8 hours sleep a night just doesn’t cut it.

Even making this made me vomit in my mouth a bit.

As a result we are now inundated with novelty. Ridiculous Insta reels that make one’s skin crawl. Perfectly good, honest strength movements bastardised by performing them on a Swiss gym ball, on a paddleboard, whilst playing a nose flute. (*edit. Having looked them up on Amazon I have now bought myself a nose flute. Watch this space Instagram)

All this just to try and grab a second of your ever-mercurial attention.

As well intentioned, or ill-conceived as this is, it is my humble opinion that it does nothing to aid the general population in advancing their health and wellbeing.

We are left with a bewildering confusion of what to actually do. A paralysis by analysis that leads us to constantly hop from programme to programme and diet to diet without ever sticking around long enough reap the benefits and gain the gains. This then perpetuates the notion that there is something wrong with YOU. If those fitness influencers can get 12 pack abs doing that then why can’t you?

It’s not you, it’s them. The likelihood is that what got them jacked is not what they are peddling. What got them jacked is the best kept secret of health and fitness.

Get ready. I am about to blow the social media health and fitness industry wide open.

Becoming fitter, healthier, leaner, etc is not that difficult. It’s just extremely boring and takes a bit of time.

Boring, by it’s very nature is not sexy or exciting, it’s…well, boring. No one wants to sign up to our next Boring Bootcamp, or read our Kettlebell Boredom e-book. And so this, I would argue, vital ingredient to your health journey is a difficult one to market. So people don’t.

But anyone who has excelled in any endeavour will agree that the ability to handle boredom plays a massive role in their success.

Look at the winners of The Sports Personality of the Year Awards. ‘Personality’ is not really something they seem to possess. But laser-like focus to do the same thing over and over again until they have reach world domination in said thing? They have that in bucket loads.

You see the way to get better at something is with consistency. Consistency is king. If there is one skill to work on above all others it’s the ability to keep turning up, even when you really don’t want to. Even when it’s boring.

old cave drawing made with paint

We humans crave variety. Seeking out novelty would have been advantageous to our species throughout our evolution. Eating one single food source exclusively would have created problems both with toxin build up/nutrient deficiency and resource depletion. The same would have gone for sticking around in one location. The need for novelty allowed us to try new food and explore new places, thereby allowing us to develop further and find new niches. In fact it was so necessary that we hard wired a reward mechanism into our own brains in the form of dopamine responses.

Fast forward to the present day with it’s limitless food choices and little or no need to move and those systems that have served us so well are now being hacked by our modern systems to cause us strife.

Being comfortable with being a little bit boring allows us to re-harness our own systems for our benefit.

So what do I mean by ‘boring’?

Let’s look at three of our Five Circles of Health as an example: Food, Movement, Sleep.

As I said before, the process is not too difficult. The difficulty lies in being consistent.

You want to get stronger. Easy. Pick 3-5 movements (eg push, pull, hinge etc) and perform 3-5 reps for 3-5 sets, 3-5 times a week, adding weight to the lifts each session/week. Stick with the same combination of movements/exercises until you plateaux, then you can either deload or change up the movements.

What you are not doing is flip flopping between different programmes, at least for 12 weeks minimum. It’s not super exciting but it is bloody effective.

Take a look at programmes like Strong Lifts 5×5, Starting Strength or the Primal Blueprint Fitness programme, or get in touch with us and join one of our online programmes.

Want to lose some body fat? Simple. Work out your caloric needs to maintain your current body weight and reduce it by 10% to put you in a mild, but sustainable calorie deficit.

crop kid weighing on scale

This involves tracking your calories for a short while, which is dull as dishwater, but it’s not forever. Once you establish a good understanding of your needs you’ll only need to do this periodically as a check in.

Still struggling with over eating hyper-palatable foods? Fine, just stick to a simple meal plan. Create a schedule of 2-3 weeks worth of meals and cycle through them. Not only does this save money and remove decision fatigue, but it will support your bodyweight goals if they are inline with the above calorie plan.

Is this a bit boring? Yes. It takes some of the spontaneity out of eating, but again it’s not a life sentence. Once we have established a new baseline and achieved some of our desired goals we can allow a little more flare into the kitchen. And I’m not suggesting you eat gruel anyway, just saying that keeping it simple is effective.

I really like the Nutrivore Meal Matrix as a simple way of constructing meals. With 10,000 meal options it’s far from boring.

Want to get a little more shut eye? No problem. Pick a bedtime and wake time and stick to it religiously until it becomes your new norm. Leave your phone outside the bedroom and remove any light source from the room.

None of these strategies are very sexy. None of them make a good Instagram post or witty tweet. None of them leave you desperate to part with your hard earned cash. But all of them work, and work well.

The only reason we think they are a little boring is because of the FOMO induced by our social media feeds. When you realise you gain far more than you miss out on, it becomes easy.

And the whole point of keeping it plain and simple at the start is to ease the transition from new stimulus to baked in habit. Once we have done it enough times for it to become habitual it no longer takes up any real estate in our minds or emotions.

white toilet paper roll on silver holder

I always explain to clients, quite coarsely, that we ultimately want to get our movement practice/sleep hygiene/eating patterns to the same level of emotional and cognitive outlay as wiping your bum after having a poo. Stay with me on this.

I assume that you poo and wipe probably every day, and this daily activity neither causes you much trepidation or concern (all things working well). It’s probably not something you actively look forward to doing, but you wouldn’t dream of not wiping after you’ve been.

You look at it with a degree of emotional attachment. It’s just something you do. It would be a bit weird not to do it.

Well all habits that we create for ourselves can become like this. By keeping them simple and reducing the need for decision we can quickly create these new habits until they become an automatic response. Like wiping your bum.

It’s 9.45pm. Time for bed.

It’s 4pm on a Tuesday. Time to squat, bench and row.

It’s Saturday. That means it Keema for dinner.

No thought process; pure automation. No inner debate. No get out clauses. Just simple strategies for success.

And once these habits are well established you then have free rein to make them as varied and exuberant as you please, because you have the boring basics well and truly in place.

So let everyone else be the flitting butterflies of life, endlessly changing tack from one thing to another, never truly gaining the benefits from any of it. The average lifespan of a butterfly is 2-4 weeks, by the way.

acorn hanging on tree near green leaf

But you my friend, are a mighty oak, laying down deep roots to create a strong foundation; able to weather any storm that comes your way; with single minded focus to grow strong and live long.

Oak trees are anything but boring.

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