It's not math, it's behavior

Two of my favorite topics in the world are health/wellness and money. Both are interesting because they seem fairly simple on paper.

  • Eat these foods + do this workout = Fat loss
  • Follow this budget + invest in these vehicles = Wealth

Yes, that's an oversimplification, but it looks that simple on paper. Both of these subjects have the same caveat - behavior.

If it was that easy to follow a budget, we'd all be debt free with fully funded retirement accounts. But... there was such a great deal on shoes... and you needed the new iPad... and can't possibly live without your Spotify subscription...

If it was that easy to follow a diet,  we'd all be competing for the Sports Illustrated cover. But... you deserved that package of cookies after that day you had... and St. Patrick's day only comes once a year... and everyone was eating fries with their burger...

See what I mean?

To paraphrase from one of my favorite financial gurus:

It's not math that will change your body, it's behavior.

There is another reason why math won't solve your body woes. Your body is NOT like a budget. This may come as a surprise, but there's so much more to it than "eat less, exercise more". In fact, that formula probably won't work for very long. Your body is adaptive, and will soon realize what is happening and start holding on to that fat for the impending famine.

That's why I'm not a fan any more of counting calories. I recently heard Jonathon Bailor make this point in a podcast - we never counted calories 50 years ago when we (as a country) didn't have a problem, so why are we doing it now?

There's so much more to this topic that we will explore another time, but I want to leave you with something that you can do TODAY to start changing your behavior.


That means: instead of recording or writing down everything you eat in order to "stay on track" - why not record ONLY the times you go off track. This gives you an objective measure in a month if you haven't reached your goals. You may have thought you stayed on track, but in reality the exceptions started to add up. It also relieves the burden of writing down every.single.thing. you eat and makes it more sustainable.

My exception tracking method - Notepad in phone. The numbers correspond to the days of the month.

My exception tracking method - Notepad in phone. The numbers correspond to the days of the month.

You can do this in a number of different ways:

1. Notepad on your phone

2. In your calender (paper, computer, phone)

3. In MyFitnessPal or other online tool

What are you writing down? For me, it's exceptions to my personal Paleo approach to eating. For you, I would recommend starting with the obvious - added sugars, alcohol, and maybe processed foods or obvious "junk food".

I hope you are still with me because this is powerful stuff.

Let me know if you try it and what you think! I'll be back on Wednesday with a workout!



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Workout of the Week - 3/19

Finding time for habits