In scientific papers there is a very nerdy way of explaining how many subjects or people there were in a research study. You could argue it’s not totally necessary, that actually the authors could just say “there were 10 people in this study” but instead they say “N = 10”. To the outsider this might not mean much, it’s a barrier to fully understanding what’s being said. In many ways I hate this. I hate that there is often a secret language or acronym for things that aren’t actually that complicated at all, but if you don’t have the lingo, you’re left out and immediately put off. Having said this, there is a reason why they write like this, it isn’t to exclude, it’s to actually to keep things consistent and simple so to use as few words as possible. Why? Because ‘experts’ like to hear themselves talk and give an ‘expert’ an audience or an unlimited word count then they will go on and on about how much they know and how much you need to learn. IT’S THE SAME IN THE WORLD OF HEALTH OR WEIGHT LOSS. This makes it a very overwhelming and confusing place to try to navigate. You basically have two options when you go it alone on a health kick;
You find and follow an expert or professional who will give you a detailed prescribed programme to follow BUT never asks you a thing about you, your health, your physiology your lifestyle. The programme works for a while, you see some success, but you also don’t follow it to the letter and so your achievement plateaus.
You dip in and out of things that look interesting or easy or ‘worth a try’. Maybe it’s a fasting diet, or maybe it’s low carb, or HIIT (high intensity interval training). This stuff instantly seems attractive because it’s packaged well, looks sexy and seems to be ‘easy’! But again, shock horror it works for a while, but tails off. It’s not your thing or its not fitting in, or it doesn’t feel good.
The outcome to both of these scenarios is shame, regret, low confidence and frustration. You feel like a failure yet again. You may even consider yourself ‘lazy’. You’re not!
So know this… YOU ARE N = 1.
You are your own person, your own body, your own genetics, your own lifestyle and your own wants, desires, and goals. Because of this your health isn’t something that can be magically improved by following a set generic programme. More importantly, if you don’t understand yourself and your own health needs, then how can you choose a programme or lifestyle that will help you achieve your sense of ‘health’? Get curious, understand your own body AND mind. Know yourself inside out.
What makes you feel good? Why do you eat how you do? If you’re not enjoying it, why do it? What do you do everyday? How do you live and spend your time? Do you really know how much time you spend sitting, walking, moving? What are you eating? I mean, people often say to me, “uh I want to get fit”. And I say, why? What is fitness to you? There are so many definitions of fitness. I ran parkrun 5k this weekend and I felt sooooo unfit. I’m not unfit at all. I run a lot and I love to run long distances but totally find running 5k horrible compared to running 20 miles. Why because there are different types of fitness. After all Usain Bolt might be the fastest man on the planet, but would definitely look unfit running a marathon. So be clear about what you want and mean by ‘fitness’. I mean, be REALLY honest and reflective with yourself about this. Once you know this, only then can you match a health intervention to you