Minimum Viable Fitness Guide Part 1: Why It's So Hard to Lose Weight


Get fit by doing the minimum. This will be the program that finally works for you.

First...why is weight loss so hard?

When you're building a startup from nothing, you don't try to build everything at once. Not only would that lead to lack of focus, you just don't have the resources.

Sure, you may have a grander vision in mind, but you work up to it. Facebook is a giant now, but it started as a social networking site for Ivy League students. To build a company you start with the simplest idea that you think will stick, build and iterate until you get traction, then scale.

Most entrepreneurs or people in the tech industry would agree with the statements above. Yet, they approach fitness very differently. They'll start big--deciding to run every single morning, completely eliminate carbohydrates and alcohol, or
even food altogether--and then wonder why they failed.

The main reason is that, unlike with startups, they don't view their resources as limited. People think they can just exert enough time, self-control, or self-motivation, and fitness will come.

Enter Minimum Viable Fitness, the program that will get you fit by doing the minimum.

Part 1. Introduction to Minimum Viable Fitness and Motivation

What's different about Minimum Viable Fitness?

The difference is that, as a busy professional, this will be the program that finally works for you. Now, that's a double-edged sword. Here's why.

Most of what people
think they know about nutrition and exercise is wrong. That's why many programs you've tried may have failed you before.

For that reason, many of the recommendations that you'll see here--e.g. no cardio or not eating until lunch--may seem unconventional, even questionable by most people's standards. (The same people who also struggle to lose weight, mind you.)

As your coach, it is my job to explain the reasons behind what you will be doing.

As my trainee, it's your job to trust me and have faith in my recommendations. They have worked for everyone who has followed them.

That means do not skip a recommendation because it
seems unnecessary, and do not add things to the protocol based on what you feel like you should be doing.

After all, if you're here, chances are what you were doing before was not working, right?

Following the MVF protocol could change your life completely, but this requires being worry free about trying to adhere to preconceived notions of what a fitness regimen
ought to be like.

For example, Samantha, a busy Harvard Law grad, struggled to lose weight while maintaining her social life. Her previous regimen made her feel absolutely "tired and exhausted" after her grueling treadmill workouts; that's what she (and many people) thought exercise should be like.

Shortly after becoming a client of mine, she began to worry because her workouts left her feeling like she could have done a lot more, rather than exhausted. I told her to give me her trust and not to fret. Had she not put her faith in my methods, she would have ended up right where she started. Instead, she ended up losing 8 lbs in one month.

What I am saying is that I need your absolute commitment and trust for 16 weeks. In return, MVF will change your life.

What will occur in these 16 weeks, if you keep an open mind, is what I like to call the "rewiring of the brain." You will begin to think about fitness very differently as you start to see results and find motivation.

Motivation? I've never kept up a routine before. I'm worried.

At this point, some of you might be feeling doubt, especially if you've failed before due to a lack of motivation.

Some of you might be worried that no fitness regimen can make up for a deep-seated trait that prevents you from succeeding.

Perhaps you think you don't have enough willpower, your genetics suck, or you're a workaholic who will never have enough time for fitness.

I want to dispel these notions about fitness right now.

Why people fail at fitness

The biggest myth in all of fitness is that it is about "willpower" or simply "eating less and moving more." The corollary is that any fitness failure to something so simple as "eat less, move more" is a failure of character.

For many of you, this is very familiar. There's a good chance that at some point in your life, many of you have probably tried to "eat less." Perhaps you only ate salads. You probably tried to "move more" too by running or maybe even trying Crossfit.

And I bet while these methods might have worked for a bit, eventually you fell off the wagon. You became too hungry and couldn't help but break your diet. Maybe travel or work schedule derailed your exercise program.

In reality, you didn't fail because of a personal flaw. You failed because your plan was doomed from the start due to sheer biology.

Here's the problem with "willpower" and the age-old recommendation to "eat less, move more."

You see,
willpower is a finite resource. You cannot will yourself to run every single day if you hate running (and let's be honest, most of us hate running). You would simply deplete your pool of willpower, the very same willpower that you use in order to force yourself to "eat less."

At the same time, the process of "eating less and moving more" creates a physiological response in the body as you lose weight.

Your body is always fighting to remain at homeostasis. This is likely for evolutionary reasons before calories were abundant; it was important to prevent starvation in times of famine.

Let's take a glimpse at your body's biology.

Your fat cells secrete a hormone called leptin, and your body is very sensitive to the total amount in circulation. When fat cells shrink, less leptin is secreted, and your brain senses this. It responds by triggering several downstream events--namely, an increase in hunger and a decrease in metabolism.

An increase in hunger means that you need to use more willpower to stick with your fitness regimen. A decrease in your metabolism means that you need to do
more exercise in order to keep seeing results.

The end result: spiraling motivation.

You might think that you fell off the wagon because you were stressed with closing a finance deal or with your large product release.

In reality, there are physiological reasons that almost anything would have thrown you off the wagon.
The only way to succeed at fitness is to create positive feedback loop

In laymen's terms, that means engaging in fitness??related activities, and then seeing enough results to motivate you to keep going.

When you decide to start any fitness regimen, there is a certain amount of friction or "pains" working against you--the pain of giving up your favorite foods, taking time to exercise, giving up alcohol, being constantly hungry, etc.

After some time has passed, you will have to determine (consciously or subconsciously) if the results are worth continuing. One week into a fitness regimen, you might ask yourself a few questions:

Did I lose enough weight? Do I look better in the mirror? Do I feel healthier and more energized?

If the rewards outweigh the pain, then the feedback loop is renewed. The strength of your feedback loop can be summed up below:

Strength of Fitness Feedback Loop = Fitness Reward - Fitness Pain

Creating this feedback loop is the only way to succeed in fitness. It's the same way that a business must eventually become profitable to exist. You must create this feedback loop to stick to a healthy lifestyle. There is no alternative.

If you've always struggled with maintaining a fitness regimen, it doesn't mean that you're a pathetic, weak-willed individual. It means there was a breakdown somewhere in creating this feedback loop: the pain of dieting was too high, you did not accumulate enough reward, or funny enough, you didn't measure your progress.

This is the concept behind Minimum Viable Fitness

Enter Minimum Viable Fitness. This is how we'll create that positive feedback loop that makes you stick to your fitness regimen.

Much like Minimum Viable Products are created and iterated upon in order to get traction, Minimum Viable Fitness is the minimum protocol that's required to create results.
We'll eliminate everything that yields a low ROI on your time and implement protocols that yield massive ROI. These protocols create habit rather than deplete willpower.

And don't be fooled. The most minimal protocols, executed correctly, are incredibly powerful.

Want to know the "dirty secret to fitness?" (I feel like this should be on a scammy display ad.)

It's that fitness is easy, but certain preconceived notions make it hard.

A majority of people therefore embark on regimens that revolve around these low-ROI notions and eventually give up.

Here's an example of how MVF works by flying in the face of most definitions of fitness, while delivering great ROI.

Let's take a look at the preconceived notion is that there are foods that are "healthy" and there are foods that are "unhealthy." In reality, no food is truly "healthy" or "unhealthy." It all depends on context--meal timing, accompanying diet, caloric goals. (We'll learn more about this in Section 3)

Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, for example, makes a great accompaniment to a meal that follows a bout of resistance training. After strength training, insulin sensitivity (the required insulin response to shuttle nutrients into cells) is higher meaning that sugar can be consumed without adverse effects. In fact, carbohydrates are welcome, as they create an anabolic (i.e. muscle-growing) response.

You can slam down some Cherry Garcia to your heart's content, thereby not feeling deprived and saving your willpower for something more important--your startup.

Eat four of them on a lazy Sunday afternoon, however, and you'll have issues.

By separating fact from myth, high ROI from low ROI, and tying them into your goals and lifestyle, you can get fit using very little time and very little willpower.

Again, this requires keeping an open mind. Many myths are things that you've heard repeated thousands of times, ever since you were a kid.

Hey, did you know that breakfast isn't the most important meal of the day and you're probably better off skipping it?

Part 2: Minimum Viable Nutrition

Part 3: Minimum Viable Training

Part 4: MVF Guide to Drinking Alcohol

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