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  • Leah Barrett

The Simplest Explanation is Usually the Correct One


Occam’s Razor: “It states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”  In other words, don’t over think it.

In my work as a therapist, a nutritionist and personal trainer, I help people sort through the confusion. Do I leave or stay in this relationship?  Is the Paleo Diet better than a low-fat diet? Should I start a running program or is it better to take boot camp classes? I witness people jump through mental and emotional hoops, look front and back, up and down , and then circle around to find the “right” answer. By the time they stop and take a breath, they have often forgotten the original question.

Case in point. I was having a conversation with my sister the other day. And, Sis, if you are reading this, please know I use this as an example of many people’s perceptions and struggles in the word of diet and exercise with no malicious intent towards you. Anyway, she was sharing her frustration about using counting calories as a tool for weight loss. She pointed out that if wants to get up early to run 30 minutes before she goes into work, it’s better for her to eat a little something before she runs. She downs an energy bar which has roughly 200 calories. She burns 300 calories during her 30 minute run. She nets 100 calories burned. Why bother. To her credit, she begins to think of other options to this “dilemma”. Don’t eat before the run. Nah, doesn’t work because she feels horrible if she doesn’t eat. Run at a different time, say after work. Nope. Works 10 hour days with a commute each way only to get home to take care of her young children. Looks like the early morning run is the best time if not the only time to make this happen. Why bother for 100 calories burned.

I gently pointed out that she was making this much harder than it needed to be. That she was looking too closely at the trees and losing sight of the forest. I suggested sticking with the original plan. Get up early. Eat the energy bar. Go for the run. Feel good during the run. Feel even better after the run. Repeat. Build a new healthy habit. Consider burning an extra 500 calories that week (given running 5 days/week) instead of “only” 100 calories that day.

Bottom line? When it comes to setting out to make a change and trying to figure out the “best” solution for success. Notice if you are over thinking it. Instead, keep it simple and aim for small, achievable successes.

#countingcalories #occamsrazor

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