Admittedly, I used to identify with the ‘biohacking’ movement. This was circa 2013/2014 when I was just embarking on a journey to restore my health. After years of over-training, the product of running intensively in a chronically underfed state, I was desperate to discover some promising means to ‘hacking’ my way back to health. Alas, I was engrossed by the minutiae and became somewhat dogmatic when questioned about my unorthodox practices.
‘Biohacking’ is a term formulated by a specific crowd of health and fitness enthusiasts, and denotes the practice of modulating one’s own biology to engender greater longevity, wellness and even performance. It is a movement that has evidently grown in popularity, as seen on social media, and can be lauded for its intention to innovate novel ways of improving health.
However, in an increasingly morbid and fat developed world, the vast majority of us do not benefit from scientifically ambiguous strategies. In fact, I would argue that to succumb to the allure of ‘biohacking’ is to impose on ourselves an additional barrier to sustainable health and wellness. It is merely another distraction, masquerading as a productive pursuit to expedite one’s goals.
Personally, and empirically, progress is positively correlated with minimalism. In all domains of life but, in the context of this article, health and fitness. Fatiguing our mental-processing and decision-making faculties on trifles consequentially diminishes the time and effort we can devote to the fundamentals. Concerning one’s self with ‘biohacking’ before mastering the basics is like obsessing over which ETF to invest in before earning an income.
We must humble ourselves to the admission that mastering the basics is a lifelong journey, and one that is intrinsically rewarding. As with anything meaningful, ‘hacking’ our way to accelerate its attainment is usually implausible and always unfulfilling.
With diet, minimising the choices of foods and consistently consuming moderate-to-high protein makes the process so much more effortless. The truth is, you don’t need to “eat a rainbow” of colours every day to get in all the micronutrients you need. Most wholefoods already possess a wide spectrum of macro- and micro-nutrients that cover your bases. Think potatoes, spinach, eggs, fatty fish etc.
So while there’s purported advancements in discovering the ‘ultimate’ nutrition regime for long-term healthy bodyweight and composition, there’s little progress made in the way of sustaining human behaviour. Deliberating over an excessive variety of food choices daily weakens our resolve to commit to the habit, consumes precious time, and often insults the hip pocket.
Dopamine is generally considered the ‘pleasure’ hormone, but the reality is that it flourishes on novelty. When we anticipate new experiences, new foods, new sensations – and satisfy them – dopamine is downregulated and requires further novelty. Hence, over-eating is as normal as Covid-19 now.
Variety is not the spice of life. Nor is it an efficient path to success.
The same can be said for training. From physiotherapists conflating strength training with ‘functional’ activities, to the recreational gym-goer ‘confusing’ their muscles with constant exercise variety. The only confusion lies in what goal they are striving for, because science and logic most certainly don’t consider this best practice.
My purpose isn’t to deride people’s training regimes. Witnessing proactivity when it comes to health is fantastic, and I commend anyone performing exercise.
I do want people to fully reap the rewards of their time and effort, though. Because unless you’re a health or fitness professional, you don’t want to be spending perverse amounts of time in the gym, scoping research, questioning best practices; that isn’t your job. That is my job.
And one is deluding one’s self if achieving the greatest results with the least amount of time and effort isn’t the ultimate goal.
I want to inculcate to the masses that the basics are indeed sexy, and progress will escalate exponentially the more simplified your regime becomes. Because when there are only a select number of movements to perform, or foods to eat, or meals to consume, or goals in mind (notwithstanding ambitious ones)… We have no choice but to make it count.
Be a minimalist, and strive towards mastery the old-fashioned way.