Social media is full of great success stories. Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash.

 

Person X succeeding on Program Y proves nothing.

 

A friend started a new strength program and added 6lbs of muscle in 12 weeks. Great! A family member started a new diet and dropped 4lbs of body fat in 8 weeks. Awesome! Guess what? It proves nothing for you.

 

These days, it seems like the web and social media is full of folks touting their success stories. Everywhere you scroll there’s someone letting you know that they did this or that program and now they look and feel awesome. That is a genuinely great thing! We aspire to be in a world where everyone has these moments on a consistent basis.

 

At the same time, these proclamations also seem to say that the program is the cause of their success. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. We don’t know and they probably don’t either. A sample of one teaches no lessons.

 

Here are the questions you should be asking:

 

Did the person change anything else along with that program? — It could be that they started eating an additional 800 clean calories each week. Or started running with a group of friends as well. Or they quit their job. Or a host of things that lead to positive changes in one’s health and might have contributed to the “success”.

 

Would the person have achieved the same results or better doing something else? — This is what we call the counterfactual. It’s the trickiest idea to wrap our heads around, even in our day to day life. You choose to hop on the Keto train for 4 months and lose weight. What if you would have lost more weight on Intermittent fasting? You don’t know. We will say this: progress is progress and is usually good enough for most of us. It’s just that when it comes to the truth, we still don’t know if diet X worked because diet X is special or because it controlled calories, just like any other diet might.

 

What were they doing before? — Anyone, ANYONE, achieves results when they go from nothing to something. Even when you’ve been on a fitness routine, but you haven’t seen results for a while, a change-up to something else is likely to have some impact. 

 

Would this work for me? — Ultimately, this is the question we’re interested in. Other people’s experience tells us nothing of our own. Their circumstances are different: their job, their families, their time, their stress, their diet, their training, their mindset. It’s all unique.

 

Person X succeeding on Program Y does not say anything about you succeeding on Program Y. But here’s what it does: it creates curiosity. It leads to asking questions, to inquire about the program. Maybe you ask more people, maybe you do some research, and maybe, hopefully, you give it a shot, WITHOUT the expectation of achieving the same results as some other random person. That is key.

Then and only then can you find out what truly works for YOU.