Opportunity Cost

August 22nd, 2017 by

“the unrealized flow of utility from the alternatives a choice displaces” (Frederick, Novemsky, Wang, Dhar, & Nowlis, 2009).

I saw this on a blog yesterday (credit to Justin Kompf and Tony Gentilcore) and I thought it was great and “on point”. To reach (even maintain) health and physique goals, there are choices-a lifestyle design-which must be made a large percentage of the time. These choices result in sacrificing in other areas-that’s the opportunity cost. That means wine with the girls, beers with the guys, eating grand dinners at restaurants, etc., multiple times weekly isn’t realistic or feasible…not if you are serious about things and are simply paying “lip service” to “how much you want it.”

This has to accepted. We all wish we could just do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and end up with the body, health and confidence we “wish for and want”…but that’s a pipe dream. Maybe a couple decades from now there will be a food and activity pill which can be tailored to each person individually and allow everyone to look like a cover model, but in the meantime, you have to accept other areas of your life are going to be different. If you don’t accept that, that’s fine, but don’t expect to get very far.

For some people-and I respect this-they just don’t care and they’d rather just not workout, eat whatever and however they want, when they want, etc. They may say “Yeah, I’d like to have 6 pack abs, but I don’t want to do all that or give up all the fun.” To each their own. I truly do respect people like this vs. people who SAY they want it, talk a lot about it, are given a road map to do it and then complain about it. Or say “this doesn’t work for me” when they only do it 50% of the time and then seek out a detox tea.

With the above said, on the flip side, sometimes going off plan/regimen makes sense. The enjoyment and liberation those occasions provide outweigh the alternative of staying on plan: Vacations, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc. Plenty of opportunities to do that.

There are 365 days in a year. Going to the 90/10 rule we often talk about , you get almost 40 occasions to ease up and enjoy without having much of a detrimental impact on your results and goals. These are times when qualitative nutrition-or just splurging-is good enough, that you can take a week off from training or greatly reduced it, and it’s all good. The opportunity cost here is that your progress may just be maintained (and maintaining a goal is a good goal in itself), or you take a very small step back, but, if you’ve reached this mindset and have achieved the all elusive “balance” everyone speaks of, you’ll know this is now a lifestyle and you’ll get right back on track the next day, when you get back from vacation, whatever it is, and you’ll be just fine.

But here’s what I do know: this can’t be a 50% thing. It probably can’t be 70-80% either. If you’ve read some of my recent posts, I’ve talked about weekday vs. weekend eating and activity. Many people, Monday-Thursday, are totally dialed in. Friday-Sunday? Time to reward themselves for all their hard work, with the net improvement being exactly 0.

Again, if someone is ok with this, and the goal is just not to get any worse-or they don’t particularly care-then awesome. They might be able to pull that off. But if someone is constantly talking about how much they “want it”, and then talk about how X or Y didn’t work for them, when they are, in fact, not really following a plan more than 50% of the time…well.