We started this site arguing that people make health, fitness, and longevity too complicated. It is not hard:
- Move more
- Eat decently, mostly unprocessed food. Avoid sugars.
- Have friends with whom you spend time
- Exercise regularly, both with weights (resistance) and movement (aerobic)
- Sleep okay
- Don't drink or smoke
That's it. Honestly, it's not that hard, so stop sweating it (no pun intended). The hard part, mostly, is avoiding the data smog and sales pitches from people complicating things. You need to be disciplined about doing the simple stuff regularly, and not punishing yourself if you now and then don't.
But in 2024 it is worse than ever, There are more fitness influencers, more podcasts, more supplements, more magic exercises, more books, more calls for all sorts of screening of healthy people, more of ... everything. It is exhausting and leaves many people with what is sometimes called "health anxiety disorder", this unease that you're doing health wrong and that it has consequences.
We get depressed at how complicated people make these things, even if some of it is well-intentioned (and much isn't). There are books, articles, papers, and podcasts full of drug recommendations, the latest exercises, special foods and supplements, and dubious therapies, much of which is presented on weak evidence, or none at all, often by people selling something.
Simple should be simple. At the risk of putting ourselves out of business, we want people to feel in control of their lives, not in thrall to people making them paranoid that they're doing health and fitness wrong, or obsessing about Zone 2 heartrates, or worried that they're not getting enough protein daily, or whether they should buy an ice bath.
I (Paul) was cross-country skiing recently, and I met someone who was learning. Rather than enjoying how it felt to move efficiently over snow, however, the wind in your face, they were worried about their Zone 2 fitness. Is this good for my heart-rate training?, they asked me. How about appropriate adductor training?
Those are legitimate questions. Cross-country skiing can be good low-intensity training, even if it can also be brutally hard work. But take pleasure in. Don't complicate it. And certainly don't give yourself any anxiety about whether you're doing it in the best way possible to get maximum health and fitness benefits.
We try to get people to remember the joy of movement, what it felt like to be ten years old and whizzing around a park on a bicycle. Over-analyzing all of this is a trap, one that many are perfectly willing to lead you into and keep you there.
We are all guilty of over-complicating things. Too many exercises, too much data, and too much chatter about things that don't turn big levers. I (Paul) do it all the time. It is an easy trap to fall into, especially given entire industries out there are built around making you feel like you need more data, more hand-holding, more supplements, more magic movements, and more gadgets. And you don't.
Our commitment to you in 2024: Make simple even simpler and clearer, and avoid cant and complication—and say nothing if there is nothing helpful to say. To quote a favorite philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, "What can be said at all can be said clearly, and whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent".
We will not be silent, but we will keep it simple—and perhaps simpler yet. There is lots to say about simplifying, as strange as that might sound, and even more about being disciplined, but it need not be complicated nor anxiety-inducing. In fact it should be the opposite. It should be simple.