“I Know” Syndrome


“We all like to know stuff. In the training and nutrition world, we’re fascinated with knowing NEW stuff.

But knowing is not the limiting factor. It’s the doing that’s the problem.

Specifically, it’s the doing of the key, basic things repeatedly — with relentless consistency — that gets people into wicked shape.

That’s why I say knowing sucks.

No one ever got into shape just by knowing. My best advice is to stop spending time and energy trying to learn new shit. Instead, spend time and energy doing what you already know works. If you can do that day in and day out, in 6 months you’ll have a remarkably different physique.

Let’s all start learning less and doing more. I guarantee that your physique will improve exponentially.” — Dr. John Berardi

The #1 comment I’ve heard over the past 10 years about nutritious eating (and exercise) is:

Ryan, I know everything about nutrition (and exercise), I just don’t do it.

Wait a second. Why are most of us so concerned with acquiring more knowledge?

Most smokers know cigarettes can kill them.

Most drinkers know alcohol can lead to stupid decisions.

Most young adults know they should be saving money and avoiding debt.

Most conscious adults know that fast food meals are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor.

Knowledge doesn’t change these behaviors. So why try to know more?

Well, pursuing knowledge can make us feel like we are doing something productive. Have you ever found yourself using your pursuit of knowledge as an excuse to accomplish less? You tell yourself: Just one more piece of information — then I will have everything I need to begin!

Sometimes it’s what we know best that we fail to do

I don’t trust crazy shrinks, broke accountants, divorced marriage counselors, nor fat nutritionists. They might know the textbooks, write the papers, and impress during lectures – but if they aren’t executing, I’m not listening.

And this is what many of us are becoming: non-executing experts.

Americans strive to learn more about calorie counts, read new books on crash diets, review videos of barbell curl technique, and work through net carb equations in the bread aisle at the grocery store.

But isn’t this like learning about electrical currents, watts and circuits when you’re just trying to light up your living room? Unless you’re an electrician, wouldn’t it be better to just learn how to flip the light switch?

Understanding a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it

Mastering nutritious eating and exercise goes beyond knowledge. It takes practice.

You might know all about the insulin response to carb-dense foods, but do you know how to eat a reasonable diet each day for health and leanness? (Show me. Don’t tell me.)

Focusing on practice rather than knowledge is a key element in lasting behavioral changes. Try acting your way into a new way of thinking rather than thinking your way into a new way of acting. Read that mind bender again.

Overcoming “I know” syndrome

OK, so you’re afflicted with “I know” syndrome. What do you do? Look for more information on it? (Ha ha! Just kidding.)

First, orient yourself towards action. Towards doing. Whatever that is. Right now.

Take baby steps

Think of what tiny step you can take right now to start moving in a positive direction. This could be the most pathetic-sounding behaviour change in the history of humankind, but as long as it’s moving you in the direction you want to head, do it.

Change your environment so that you’re “forced” to change

Buy only nutritious foods while leaving trigger foods at the store. Get a gym membership across the street from work/home. Move the TV out of your bedroom so you sleep enough. Park the car farther from the door. Get a dog that will chew up your couch if you don’t walk it regularly.

Behavior is contagious

Get someone else involved so you can reinforce each other. Knowing you need to work out is good, but having a workout partner waiting for you at the gym is gooder.

Practice your way into a new mode of thinking

A thousand hearings aren’t worth one seeing, and a thousand seeings aren’t worth one doing.

Don’t just plan nutritious meals and workouts…

Don’t just think about nutritious meals and workouts…

Don’t just learn about nutritious meals and workouts…

Don’t just talk about nutritious meals and workouts…

Instead, actually eat nutritious meals and work out.

Unless WE change, our actions won’t

We need to change at the core level. This means a new identity.

If you’re the type of person who lives by excuses, then you’ll always find excuses and never get things done. But if you define yourself as the person who gits-r-dun, then the excuses magically disappear.

Attitude & awareness

Attitude and awareness are far more important than knowledge.

With the right attitude and awareness, you’ll end up getting the knowledge you need. Without attitude and awareness, you could be a walking encyclopedia on nutrition, exercise, and psychology — yet still be overfat and unhealthy.

Focus on the successful exceptions, not the failing norm

Expose yourself to new realities. This helps us break pre-conceived notions. Do you really know how lean and healthy people live? Learn from them.

What to do today

Ask yourself one question: What could I do, RIGHT NOW, to change? Then do it.

Learn more

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