Too Much or Too Little, Never in the Middle.

"The only constant in Nature is change."
We, as part of nature, are well adapted to cycles and variation. Yet we rigorously apply linear constants to ourselves and our lives. We work 8 hours everyday, 40 hours every week. We eat and exercise in carefully organized routines, repeated over and over. We chase calories in calories out. We become obsessed. We become neurotic.
 

Could that neurosis be a result of forcing regularity onto a natural system designed around cycles and variation? 

I think so, for a few reasons.

Balance is impossible
. After all, no animal we know of actually lives at energy balance, instead they swing back and forth between feast and famine. Overfeeding and inactivity are the rule until hunger motivates action. Balance may occur long term, but only on the average, and averages are misleading. After all if half the human population is female then we have, on average, one testicle apiece. 
The point  is that balance isn't the rule it's the exception. It's just one of many points passed as the system cycles back and forth.

Complex systems, like the human body, adapt to regularities
. If we reduce calories it will respond and reduce metabolism, forcing us to reduce intake again, and so on. If we perform the same exercises the same way to often they cease to create change. Our bodies adapt, and quickly. This applies to intensity, diet and even movements. I don't mean to say specificity is unnecessary just that progression and variation ARE necessary.

If balance is unsustainable, and regularity becomes ineffective, how the hell do we make changes?

With Cycles, naturally.
  
Cycles work because they allow some regularity without becoming repetitive.
This is already evident in fitness culture, at least its there if we look for it. Periodization is familiar to most athletes, it is simply changes in volume and intensity over a few months or a year. Allowing desired adaptations while limiting burnout. Cyclic low carb diets are effective and popular because the higher carb days give a mental break from the restrictions and make them sustainable psychologically while  keeping the body from depressing metabolism and hormone levels. Intermittent fasting is another example of cycling food.
Here is a great look at some of the myths of fasting . It seems eating every 3 hours isn't so important after all.

Hunter gatherer populations (and our stone age ancestors) rarely had access to the same foods for long periods of time. Animals migrate, and seasons change, altering the content and volume of their diets. They cycled because they had no choice.


This rather ripped New Guinea hunter-gatherer shows just how effective cycles can be for health and body composition.

We have the same foods and activities available everyday, day in day out, month after month. We have electric lights to illuminate the dark winter evenings when or ancestors simply went to bed earlier and got more sleep that part of the year. We are using technology to homogenize our lives.

This idea can be as complicated or as simple as we want to make it. Some training plans cover years and include micro and meso cycles, peaks and off seasons. Diet plans are notoriously complex. Some systems like Crossfit forgo planning in favor of constant variation. 

I like the the simple approach. Too easy, or too hard, too much or too little.
I make general goals, but don't over specify the details. Losing or gaining weight can be as simple as eating more meals that are a little too small, or too big. Building fitness means more hard days. I avoid the middle  as much as possible, it's expensive on recovery and impossible to balance.
The hardest part is keeping the easy easy, not moderate, and making the hard HARD. 
The same thing can be done with food. Some meals are very large, some are small, some I skip entirely. I eat seasonal veggies, and beef one week but fish the next. 
This is not the shortest route or the ultimate optimization of life to achieve a result, but it is a simple sustainable way to live free of neurosis and guilt...and look good naked.

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