elitefts™ Sunday Edition

How can I explain it? There aren’t many things that can get in the way of your progress like being OCD.

To be clear, I'm not talking about the textbook, medical definition of a psychological disorder. I'm using the term to refer to a perfectionist who thinks everything must be precise in order to make gains and make the best progress possible during the pursuit of physique goals.

It goes without saying (so I'll say it anyway, of course) that paying attention to detail will almost always get you better results no matter what you're doing in life. That isn't something that I'll dispute. What I want to discuss is what is important and what isn't and how focusing on insignificant details often leads to wasted time and effort as well as an exercise in futility. I see many people get confused about what is important and what isn't when it comes to diet, training, and supplementation.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to not overcomplicate something simple. It's all too common when it comes to evaluating your training or nutritional plan and I don't have any clue as to why other than we all want to make the best gains that we can possibly make. To do that, though, doesn’t require a complicated plan of action. Despite what some “gurus” would sometimes like you to believe, gaining muscle and losing body fat isn’t rocket science. If you're new to the game and are trying to figure out your body and how it responds to different training and nutritional stimuli, complicating the plan won't allow you to accurately evaluate what works and what doesn’t. You'll always end up with an outcome that says things are working or they aren't. Either way, the more complicated the plan, the less likely you'll be able to evaluate what or why it has worked or hasn't worked. If you can't figure out what worked or didn’t work, you've learned nothing.

There are many people reading this article right now who have started off a workout, had a bad exercise or two, and simply quit the workout. There are others who have cheated on their diet mid-day and then blow off the rest of the day with the mentality that, “I'll get back on my diet tomorrow.” There are others who will have a bad workout on Wednesday and not start up again until the following Monday. How many times have you heard someone say that he'll “be back on his diet on Monday” and it's only Thursday? Really? Can the chalkboard in your brain only be erased and started over every Monday?

ocd skip hill 061014

People who are successful in life, whether in the gym, in competition, or in their careers, don’t wait to start over. If you make a mistake or need to make a change to your plan, make it now, today. Having a plan is great and a necessary part of being successful, but perseverance is an equally important trait that successful people have, and putting off a change of plan is nothing but a giant waste of time. I tell clients all the time that living a lifestyle of being in shape or competing isn’t about perfection—it's about consistency. When you fail, you immediately get back on and keep pushing forward. That's what successful people do.

I get asked a lot of questions that I sometimes shake my head at. There aren't any dumb questions, of course, but there are certainly questions that make you think, “Why the hell is this person focused on that for?”

Please understand that if you do one more set of dumbbell presses, you won't overtrain. If you do one less set of a back movement, you won't under train. Training is cumulative and adds up over time in that if you have recovery issues and your system can't keep up, this will happen over time, not in a day or week or even one workout.

At the same time, missing one cardio session or even a couple cardio sessions won't result in you gaining body fat. As with training, cardio is cumulative, and your metabolism is influenced by many things other than just that one cardio session. It would be a rare situation if your metabolism actually slowed down much, if at all, after skipping a few cardio sessions if you had been doing cardio consistently up to that point. This is why you can do a lot of cardio at the start of a plan and not see a drop in body fat right away. It takes time for your body to get geared down into body fat burning mode.

There is a fine line between paying attention to detail and over obsessing about insignificant things that simply clutter your mind. In fact, I would go so far as to say that being OCD is actually stressful and counterproductive to what you're trying to accomplish. It doesn't take a mental focus that consumes you in order to be successful with your physique goals. Organize a solid plan of attack that supports your physique goals and stick to it for a predetermined amount of time. When that time comes, evaluate it and adjust the plan at that time. The person who focuses on whether her post-workout carbs should be rice or dextrose won't end up further along in the end.

A great trainer and nutritionist once said, “Don’t focus on perfection. Focus on consistency over time.” I heard the guy is brilliant. Just sayin’.