Before I got into lifting weights, my one big obsession was playing guitar.
I had two electric guitars, a bass, and an acoustic. I was basically gonna be Slash from GNR, but without the top hat, or the cigarette dangling from my mouth.
My first guitar teacher, Jean-Marc, taught me the pentatonic scale, and many others, both minor and major. He made me practice each one hundreds of times until they were hardwired into my brain.
In the beginning, I really resisted. Running scales felt repetitive and boring, like homework.
I’d be like, ‘I don’t want to learn scales. When are we gonna play some AC/DC?’
I knew I could crank out a decent rendition of *Back in Black*. But I’d really hear it from Jean-Marc if I didn’t practice my scales. Because HE knew, if I nailed the basics, I could play anything. He was right. I went on to win awards for both rock and classical performances. I was voted Best in Music at my high school graduation.
When I started coaching people on nutrition, I found the process was very much the same.
The #1 complaint I’d get is ‘not enough variety’. But until you establish the habits that are the foundation for your success, narrowing it to 1-3 options for each meal is the way to go.
It simplifies everything. Meal prep. Grocery shopping. You learn to identify portion sizes. You discover what foods you like that also work best with your plan. You find a system that’s effective, and also easy to stick to.
People always want new or different. That’s what’s exciting. But the truth is, when you really break it down, success is routine and boring. It’s mechanical. It’s doing the right things well, and doing them repeatedly. In my experience, people who need a lot of variety from the word ‘go’ rarely develop the consistency to make the right nutrition a habit. But when you understand the basics, trying new things becomes second nature. You’re just expanding your repertoire.
Once I had every scale known to music at my fingertips, not only could I play AC/DC with more accuracy, but I could easily pull off new musical genres whenever I felt like it. If I’d never invested the time to “get my reps in” and play scales, I wouldn’t have accomplished most of what I did as a musician.
Get your reps in too. Learn the basics of whatever you want to be good at, and do it a thousand times over. Stick with simple, straightforward and repetitive until you get it right.
Once you master the basics, branching out is a logical next step you can enjoy without compromising your results.