If you are just joining us, we are working our way through a New Years series on a practical approach to improving the following four health parameters:
- Sound Nervous System
We set the stage for the series by exploring Rest through the concept of Margin. Margin really gives us permission to create a space in our lives for the things that matter by starting to let go of all of the things that don't.
Next we are going to look into exercise and diet. We are going to do that through the lens of Margin's cousin: Minimal Effective Dose.
If margin invites us to create a space for health in our life, Minimal Effective Dose helps us to know with what and how much to fill it.
At its simplest, Minimal Effective Dose (M.E.D.) is the least amount of something you need to take or do to see a result.
Why Start Small?
This concept came up a few weeks ago in a conversation with a friend on what constitutes a healthy diet. He and his wife started out the new year with the intention of starting to change the way they ate, in order to improve their health (weight, cancer prevention, etc.). He asked me what I thought about a particular dietary approach put forth by Dr. Steven Gundry called "The Plant Paradox."
Dr. Gundry calls for a fairly restrictive diet, even among vegetables. I have been exposed to some of his material and I think it has merit. However, in discussing my friend's current diet state, it made more sense to address some of the easier "soft targets" first, like total carbohydrate intake. It wasn't that he may not get to a place where a more focused approach could improve his health. It was more a matter of what would have the greatest outcome for the least amount of energy at that point in time, especially when it actually takes a lot of energy to change large parts of our lifestyle, like how we eat.
Is There Ever a Time To Max It Out?
See if you recognize any of the following scenarios:
- Eat like there is no tomorrow through the holidays. Then on January 1st, throw out any remaining food that tastes good, fill the refrigerator with vegetables and the pantry with rice cakes.
- Realize you are turning 30-40-50-60 (insert age here) and decide to run/swim/walk/ride your age in laps or miles on your birthday, but don't start training until a month before.
- Look at the calendar and freak out because your imagined Florida spring break body looks nothing like your Indiana winter one, so you embark on a Keto-plunge diet in hopes of losing 15 pounds in two weeks.
We have all been in at least one of these scenarios, probably more than once! But, is there ever a time to set big goals and go for a maximum effective dose?
I think so. But almost always the successful completion of a really big outcome is made up of multiple Minimal Effective Doses over a long period of time.
Take running a marathon, for example. A lot of people could probably go out and run/walk a 5K (3.1 miles) without doing much, if any, training. Granted, they would be sore afterward, but likely would recover without too much issue. Show up to a marathon (26.2 miles) on race day without any training and there is pretty good chance you won't finish, and, if you do, perhaps cause some real damage!
If you aren't inspired unless it is a really big goal, no problem!
Set a big goal, but stage your "training" with small Minimal Effective Dose blocks.
This works for running a long race, losing 50 pounds or even learning a new language. It allows you continue to move towards a goal with the minimum damage and greatest likelihood of success!
(Dr. Sue and I on Sunday getting our M.E.D. exercise. It was freezing!)
Margin and Minimum Effective Dose Go Together Like Cookies and Cream!
(We will start the diet next week!)
Take the time to go back and read the last two posts on margin. You need to have some of that built in your life to succeed in making lasting change. The next few weeks, we will go over Minimum Effective Dose prescriptions for Diet and Exercise. I think you will find it worth your time!
Yours in Health,