Are you mowing the lawn while the house is on fire?
Back in October of 2020 I completed Precision Nutrition’s Level 2 certification course, a year-long curriculum that covered everything from the science of behavior change, motivational interviewing, and self-awareness, to hormones, the microbiome, supplements, athlete nutrition and more.
Looking back over everything we learned over those 12 months, what really stands out to me is that for all the specific, nitty-gritty details we can go into when it comes to someone’s nutrition, ultimately it comes down to focusing on the ‘big rocks’* – the foundational habits that we do consistently over time that are the key factors in our overall health and wellness.
No matter how complicated the situation may be, if someone is eating zero vegetables or not getting good quality sleep or is unable to manage their stress, no supplement or complicated diet strategy or workout program will be useful until those principle factors are addressed. Or to use my favorite analogy from the course, if you’re focusing in on the smallest details and ignoring the fundamentals, you’re mowing the lawn while the house is on fire :)
It’s really easy to get caught in the weeds and make things more and more complicated in an effort to make progress – we often feel like if something is not super challenging then we’re not doing it right. In reality, taking a step back, simplifying, and making sure we are able to do the big rocks consistently (~80% of the time) is the foundation for long-term, sustainable health.
I came up with an acronym I like to use when I’m tempted to get overly complicated either for myself or my clients, STARR, which stands for:
Simplify. Take Action. Record outcome. Reassess. (Then repeat! I guess it should be STARRR, but that seems a little weird...)
If you think you may be ‘mowing the lawn while the house is on fire,’ check-in with yourself on the key areas that you know help keep you healthy and feeling your best. Simplify it down to one step you can do right now to make that thing happen consistently. Take action. Record what happens. Reassess and repeat. And if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed I’m more than happy to help with any part of the process!
And for further reading on this topic, here's a great article from James Clear on mastering the fundamentals:
Onward and upward!
*The analogy of ‘big rocks’ refers to the concept of putting rocks into a jar – if you put in the smallest pebbles first, there is no room for the big rocks (aka your priorities). But if you lay the foundation with the big rocks first, then the smaller stones will fit in around them and fill the jar.