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Shugart's Hammer
No-Choice Strategy for Success

Chris Shugart
Director of Content

Join date: Oct 2002
Posts: 17782

The No-Choice Strategy for Success

David didn't have time to exercise three days per week as I instructed.

And we're not even talking about go-to-the-gym-exercise. We're talking about going for a simple walk. Given his age, lifestyle, and recent heart attack, that's all he needed to do. But nope, he "didn't have time."

I spoke with David again a few days later. This time I changed my strategy. "David, you have to walk every day," I told him. "Sometimes a short stroll, sometimes a long, fast walk. Every day. Rain or shine. Wake up and do it before work, do it at lunch, or do it in the dark before bed. Treadmill or pavement. Doesn't matter, but you have to do it daily. Christmas day too."

David never missed a walk after that.

Why? How can someone not have time to exercise three days a week yet manage to fit in daily exercise just fine?

The answer: David had the time to begin with, just as most people do. Hey, if you have time to watch TV and spy on your ex on Facebook, you have time to train.

So what's going on here? Psychology, that's what. When I suggested that David exercise three times per week, he started mentally flipping through his weekly schedule. Sure enough, every day seemed packed. There was always something going on. Tuesday might work, but not Monday. Work was too crazy on Monday. And Sunday he was off work but very busy with other things...

I'd given David options: pick three days out of seven to exercise. And that was a mistake. A big one. So I removed the options; I took away his choice... and it worked.

Lesson: If you give yourself too many options you're actually less likely to achieve your task.

If you say, "I'm going to try to eat more vegetables" your chances of succeeding are right up there with Obama winning the Mr. Olympia contest. But if you say, "I'm going to eat one pound of extra veggies per day, every day. I'll use frozen bags of vegetables to make it easy..." then your chance of success skyrockets. Seven bags of frozen vegetables in your freezer removes most of the choice. And the decision to do it "every day" means that you've removed your options.

The V-Diet uses this little psychological trick. NEPA (Non-Exercise Physical Activity) must be done daily. Just about all the meal choices and food options have been removed (you just drink protein shakes most of the time.) The workout program is written for you; you don't have to come up with one yourself. The supplements are pre-chosen for you and can be ordered in a package with just a click or two. You don't have to think about it much -- and that means you're more likely to succeed.

One squat rack and one pull-up bar in the gym is better than having fifteen leg machines and twelve back machines. A strict daily carb count, such as 100 grams, is better than deciding to "choose healthier foods" -- a decision that's poisoned with choices and wiggle room... and doomed to fail.

It's counterintuitive, but it works. Reduce choices. Remove the options. Super strict beats having abundant alternatives.

Try this strategy when you advise others about training and nutrition. Give them tight advice, not weak generalizations. Use this strategy on yourself too. You will find that you'll excel with boundaries rather than languishing with overwhelming, and often debilitating, choices.

No choice is often the best choice when it comes to self-improvement. -- Chris

PS: Tips, rants, and pontifications... in 140 characters or less. Follow me on Twitter.

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Join date: Jul 2009
Posts: 3234

Great article. Choice is evil, having no options work, completely limits the possibility to fail!

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Level 1

Join date: Jun 2009
Posts: 41

Nice article. I have always struggled trying to convince people to do certain things with regards to training and nutrition.

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Dani Shugart

Join date: Sep 2009
Posts: 184

We're ramping up the no-choice strategy at the Casa de Shugart. In the morning we hit the gym for cardio and later in the day we go back for weights.

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