The human body is a complex system. Meaning that it is composed of a number of different parts working together in order to achieve a desired outcome, or a few of them. Airplanes, computers, cars, among others are all examples of complex systems. The human body is much more complex than these. The most important thing to remember is that nothing is linear and everything affects everything.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your mood is affected, as is your physical performance, as is your stress tolerance, among many many other things. If you eat too much or too little the same thing happens. When you have positive thoughts and your confidence builds up, your whole system reaps the benefits. The point being that doing X doesn’t only affect Y, it affects the whole alphabet and the numerical system as well.
This is why it is impossible to reach optimal physical performance without addressing exercise, nutrition, recovery, and mindset. It is also why all of these are intertwined and hold a direct relationship with each other. So how does one go about actually improving and working towards your goals? It can get tricky if you try to tackle every single factor at once. You really shouldn’t. Just as we learned in The 40 Year Old Virgin, if you don’t use it you lose it, it applies to fitness just as much.
The key is to simplify. Figure out your goal(s) first. Then make a list of strengths and weaknesses in relation to those goals. Find the biggest limiting factor and work on it specifically. You’ll still want to maintain an adequate level of capacity in the overall system, but you will add extra focus to the chosen limiting factor, or biggest weakness. In a matter of a few weeks, 8-12 generally, you can then retest and very likely see an improvement in the specific task and therefore a direct improvement into the system as a whole. Rinse and repeat.
It is important to note that we can only control what we can control. This means that if you are strictly outcomes focused you are exposing yourself to having a bad experience. Ultimately you cannot control what the results will be, you can only control what you can do in order to best move yourself closer to the desired results. Meaning that, you can literally be the hardest worker preparing for a weightlifting meet. You can take care of your training, nutrition, recovery, and mindset relentlessly and still lose to someone else that possibly did not work as hard come game day. That’s what we call life. It does happen. In order to avoid the disappointment of such outcomes, you should focus on achieving the tasks that are truly in your control and performing them to the best of your ability constantly and consistently.
Human beings are complex, we are unique, and we are adaptable. Few things are black and white, don’t try to force anything to be. Do what you can and enjoy the process along the way.