With just a couple clicks we are bombarded with lists.
- Top ten super foods
- Top 5 anti-inflammatory foods
- Top 7 best yoga poses
- Top 10 lists of top 10 best berries
You get the gist of the list.
But let’s not forget the ‘optimals’:
- The perfect proportion of carbohydrate to protein that one should consume within the first 45 minutes post-workout for optimal recovery
- The optimal amount of protein to consume per kg of weight
- The optimal training plan to increase your pace by 2 minutes per mile
- The mostest, bestest exercise to yield six pack abs
- Butter coffee
And make no mistake, we are drawn to these lists and optimals. We can’t help but click on what we think could be the very, very, very best. The optimal. The elite.
I believe we’re allowing ourselves to be lead astray.
Often these lists and optimals can leave us feeling pressured and stressed. For example, we check out the top 5 anti-inflammatory foods list, then feel a ton of pressure to eat them every single day. Every. Single. Day. I mean, do you even know what could happen if you don’t consume the top 5 every day? You guessed it. Frickin’ inflammation. Like nobody’s business…
And yet, somewhere in our minds we know–that is IF we hit pause for just a moment–that we’d actually be just fine.
Here’s the reality…
These types of clicky-baity things (‘clicky-baity’ is a word, starting now) appeal to (nay, pray upon) our intense desire to live the best life possible. But the truth is, they’re only ever selling ‘elite status’ in one particular area. Just food or just yoga or just meditation or just productivity or just six pack abs. You get the idea.
Problem is, when we strive for elite status in only one area of our lives, we often move further away from an elite life overall.
In other words, sometimes doing less than super duper optimal in one area means a better chance at an optimal life.
But, I want to be clear: the information in these lists and optimals may very well be incredible.
The question is simply this: How are you going to use the information once you learn it?
Now, a little story…
In the Fall of 2016 I registered for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K ultramarathon, and decided to perform a little experiment. Here’s what I did and didn’t do:
- I did NOT follow a training plan
- I did NOT have a race day nutrition/food plan
- I did NOT look at the course, nor have any knowledge of elevation, terrain, or even aid station locations
- I DID show up to the starting line with a single bottle of water and nothing else—no back pack, no gels, no extra socks, Band-Aids or any of the other stuff I had carried with me during previous ultras.
Why would I do this?
I wanted to see if I could have a successful race without the requisite big ol’ amount of time and energy devoted to crafting an (in theory) optimal game plan.
My best race day ever. Great day. Fun day. Strong finish. Fast recovery.
But here’s what else I know…
Had I followed a professional training plan and/or worked with a coach, had I planned out my race-day food plan and trained with it in mind, had I studied the course ahead of time and crafted a pacing strategy, had I carried my food with me rather than spend time eating at the aid stations, I could’ve finished the race faster. Of this I am 100% sure.
But here’s what else I know…
I am not an elite runner. I have no desire to be. I just love running, love the challenge of ultramarathons, and want to treat my body and mind well along the way so that I can continue to run for years to come.
I wanted to have a successful race, but in the way that I define success.
While the lists and optimals may be right on the money information-wise, they may not be applicable to the life you’re trying to live.
In other words, living an ELITE LIFE means knowing how to use information in ways that benefit your entire life.