How to Use “Trade-Offs” To Get Better Results

When it comes to the work we put in at the gym, nobody wants to work harder than they have to. Why do 20 reps when 15 will get you the same results, right?

Every day of our lives, we are presented with choices. Options of what to eat, projects to accept at work, parties to attend on the weekends and so on. We all want to be liked and we all want to “do good,” but at what cost?

Every option requires us to make a choice. Every choice we make requires us to take action. It’s in our choices that many lose sight of the far reaching consequences of our decisions. Unfortunately, this is where progress in the gym either increases or decreases.

As a child, I remember being told this simple little phrase; “Every stick has two sides, and you only have two hands.” What my grandfather was trying to teach me at the time was the power of trade-offs.


By choosing one thing, you must, in turn, accept all that comes with it. By selecting one thing, you must give up something else to create the “space” to hold it. And in truth, we can only effectively hold so many things at once.

When we outline our fitness goals, we all know this means making some improvements. When we are alone and clear-minded, focusing on our “why,” the decisions seem obvious. Yet, when we are asked to go out on the town with friends, the “right choice” becomes much harder to make.

Most people make arbitrary fitness goals for surface level reasons. They want to lose ten pounds, or they want to “get fit.” Without diving deeper to get to the emotional reason (their why), it’s very easy to lose sight of what is important. We become blind to the power of trade-offs when presented with “fun” or familiar choices.

Let’s say for a moment that you’ve decided you want to lose ten pounds. You’ve joined the gym, bought new workout shoes and even blocked off your schedule to permit time. But now what?


By making this decision, you’ve accepted to spend the money taking it away from somewhere else. You’ve decided to drive to the gym after work through traffic. You’ll get home later than usual on a weeknight, which might affect your evening routine. On top of that dinner must be planned in advance because when you get home, you’re starving and more likely to make bad (or familiar) choices.

For some, this is a logical thought process to go through before committing to a new routine. For others, this might be brand new. But consider what other trade-offs does this impact?

You will also need to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. This may mean changing your sleep schedule. This may also mean planning out the food you are eating all day long so you aren’t starving when you get home. For everyone, this means making social changes like when, where, how often, and with whom you are “going out.”

When you break it all down, it becomes clear. To lose ten pounds (and keep it off) is more than showing up to workout with a pair of comfy sneakers. Trade-offs require you to consider ALL aspects of your life. This is also why the power of your WHY is so powerful.

So the next time your friends want you to join them on a Tuesday night for a drink, consider the trade-offs. What are you giving up in exchange for that night out?

Maybe it’s a couple hundred “dry calories,” and lowered self-control leading to snacking. Alcohol always leads to worse sleep and includes a possible hangover. And finally, you could have an entire day or two of unnecessary inflammation.

So consider the trade-offs next time you are asked to go out, take on that extra project or have a second scoop of Jenni’s. Only you can decide if it’s honestly worth it. It all depends on what you value more.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *