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Make the least questionable move first

Years ago I was a tournament chess player. I would study books on every part of the game, and I have found that many of the principles I learned in chess are applicable to everyday life.

Today, I’m going to discuss one principle … one that I feel is directly applicable to finding the most efficient path to weight loss. Here it is:

When deciding among several moves that all seem to be of relatively equal value, make the least committing (least questionable) move first.

What this means, for the subject at hand, is that there are always multiple ways to take action for the sake of weight loss. When trying to decide which areas to tackle, you should choose the things you know you need to change first, and deal with the others afterwards. Most people do the reverse of this; they try to hold off on changing the areas they really need to work on until “later.”

Here’s an example: I have a client, we’ll call her Michelle, who is trying to lose significant weight. She has an ankle problem (which she is getting treatment for), eats at McDonald’s frequently, does no cardio except some occasional light walking, and she trains with me twice a week.

We recently had a discussion about what changes she should make to start on her path, and Michelle tells me that she wants to start by doing more rigorous walking. Now, at this point it’s pretty clear to both of us that her nutritional and exercise habits are in need of great change, but I felt that the nutrition was the better choice to focus more intensely on, and the walking should come more gradually. The reason for this is that the benefit of more intense walking is questionable, because she could hurt her ankle (which she has done in the past) and have a big setback because of it. Better nutrition, on the other hand, posed no threat to any other areas of her well being, and finding alternatives to eating at McDonald’s could only help her.

Now this is just one example, and with another client I actually recommended the reverse, because there were a lot of emotional ties to eating, which needed to be dealt with, but she had no physical imbalances that increased cardio would threaten.

I see people making questionable changes all the time, and it’s usually because they are avoiding the changes they know they really need to make.

The more we avoid the changes we know we need to make, the more we avoid our goal.

David M. Zappasodi holds a BS in Exercise Physiology, is a N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer, and is a Certified Metabolic Typing Practitioner. His interests include Ju Jitsu, yoga, basketball, swimming and surfing.