The Idea of Weight Loss vs Execution

Let’s face it, we all have that killer idea every once and a while.

Like an epiphany, many people believe they know exactly what they should be doing in order to hit their weight-loss objectives moving forward.

And before I go any further, let me say that experimenting with a bunch of different things is often a proficient way to learn what works for you, so don’t let this story discourage self-discovery and experimentation.

Moving along, everyone believes they have the right idea when it comes to weight loss, they may even have mapped it out to a certain extent.

They may draw upon their previous experiences, the conversations they’ve had with friends about ‘what worked for them’ or maybe it was something they read or a combination of all the above. 

We may map out the perfect idea, fail to plan and therefore fail to execute. Or we may have the perfect idea, make a plan but still fail to execute.

Either way, the point is that even the best ideas and plans, fail, not because they aren’t brilliant ideas or plans, but because they fail to execute on the idea and consequently a plan.

Take for example the story of Webvan.

Webvan is perhaps the most expensive failed Internet company in the history of the Internet, though not many people may know about it.

They raised 800 million in investment funding from private investors and via the stock market, during the Internet bubble of the late 90’s/early 2000.

Louis Borders (of Borders Bookstores) founded the company, so it had good leadership.

They hired a cream-of-the-crop management team.

It certainly had the funding, the plan was diligent, they were to run the most high-tech grocery delivery service in the world.

They certainly had a concrete looking plan, at least on paper, in order to convince investors to give them that much money.

They beat out nearly all of their competitors, at least initially.

They expanded quickly, building massive 30 million dollar facilities and spending 200 million on advertising.

Well what happened?

They overspent, their projections were way off, the plan didn’t adapt to the market conditions and they failed to execute on a multitude of levels.

Ultimately, they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, after only about 2 years in business.

Great idea, bad execution.

This is where a lot of weight-loss ideas and/or plans fall short.

Great ideas on paper, but execution is such a critical factor for success, if not the most important.

Want a fitness example?

Take the story of Mr.X — name has been changed for obvious reasons

Mr.X, knowing I was a fitness coach for a living, wanted to pick my brain.

He proceeded to give me a brief history of his experience with fitness and map out his grand idea for getting in shape for beach season, 4 weeks from now.

We’re talking May/June here…

His brilliant idea?

He was going to join a Crossfit gym  fundamentally a fine program for weight-loss though not my favourite option personally.

I’m fairly confident in saying that the average Crossfitter probably gets better results than your average commercial gym-goer does without a coach or mentor, if for no other reason than the social support and coaching.

He was going to take on the Paleo Diet not necessarily my favourite approach to eating, but it would be a reasonably sound one for losing weight quickly with very little starchy carbohydrate consumption and a higher level of protein consumption.

Mr.X had a friend who had lost 40 lbs doing Crossfit and eating Paleo.

That friend now had, “kind of a 6-pack” and was obviously the envy of Mr.X.

As a result, Mr.X felt pretty strongly that this combination of low-carb eating and high-intensity workouts would yield his positive results.

On paper, he was absolutely right, it should have yielded the result he sought.

What actually happened?

Turns out, Crossfit and the Paleo diet didn’t like Mr.X too much.

Not only did the low-carb diet zap his energy levels for the first two or three weeks, he didn’t even get to the 4th week.

He found himself constantly sore and incapable of focus, thus consistently unproductive at work.

While he liked the intensity of the workouts, he didn’t really dig the competitive culture as much as he thought he would.

He pushed himself so hard he puked the first workout and a few more times after that.

The reality of 4 weeks out from a goal, and a lack of realistic expectations — having no previous training base to work off from — left him feeling dejected and depressed. He developed a bit of a distaste for the gym.

Not only did he fail to reach his goal, but he also never went back to the gym that summer and last we spoke, looked like he put on a few extra lbs instead.

Great idea, not the most realistic plan for him, and the execution obviously didn’t adapt to those realities.

Consequently, Mr.X was unable to reach his objectives, which is unfortunate.

Now I’ve run into circumstances like these quite a few times. I’d say they’re the norm. People with good plans who succeed despite poor execution are an anomaly.

I gotta say, it really takes the right experience, at the right time, delivered in a deliberate process, and incrementally adjusted based on feedback, to find success in weight-loss.

It’s really hard to just jump into a diet or exercise program, because there is often no real guidance. It’s typically just a set of rules, things you don’t do and maybe some things you should do.

No one shows you how to steer the boat and adjust the program though.

It’s like creating a business plan with 5 year projections, next year’s forecast could be totally different depending on what you do this year.

Recently I found the perfect tool to use in trying to explain this fact to people (I hope…).

Please observe the chart below:

The success of an idea — and I’ll use ‘plan’ loosely but interchangeably here too — is dependent on column one multiplied (roughly) by column two.

Expressed as an equation, it’s Idea x Execution.

When we take the Mr.X example above, he had a great idea but no execution and the resultant equation was 5 x 0. Therefore, he didn’t lose any weight.

Let’s say we have even an average idea or plan, and we elicit great execution.

1 x 15 lbs = 15 lbs of weight lost and perhaps about a 6% change in body fat percentage.

Now even a good idea with good execution is 3 x 10 lbs = 30 lbs!

Of course these aren’t specific numbers, I’m merely using them as an example of how execution amplifies the results of any plan. Having a good plan helps, but having a good plan that you execute well on is amazing.

I hope you can take from this that you should utilize your ideas, and you should create a plan based on those ideas, but don’t forget to execute.

It’s a critical component to your journey and success. Have a good plan, but also learn how to execute it well.