It’s kind of a strange saying, isn’t it? “Throw the baby out with the bath water.” I have to admit, now that I have a baby, the image this conjures up is nothing less than horrible.
This phrase (or idiom if you’re playing Scrabble), paints the picture of getting rid of everything whether or not it has benefit, merit or worth and failing to step back for a moment to decipher what is essential and what is not. In other words, throwing the good (the baby) out with the bad (dirty bath water).
And, while I hope that none of you would be so foolish as to actually throw a baby out with the bath water, my guess is that, at least in a metaphorical sense, you do this more than you think.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve tried to do a body weight squat a few different times, but every time you do one, something happens and you tweak your knee, it swells up a bit and is tender for a few days. What’s the natural conclusion? “I can’t do squats.”
Or how about an overhead press? This movement has been demonized lately as being injurious and dangerous, and it’s not uncommon to have clients who experience pain while overhead pressing. The conclusion? Stop overhead pressing.
Even better, how often do people attempt to lose weight, fail to get the results they were hoping for and resign themselves to “being unable to lose weight”?
In each of these cases, the poor little baby is getting chucked out the window with the dirty bath water.
Let me explain what I mean.
In the example of the squats, most people come to me without any idea of how to properly perform a body weight squat, let alone with with any kind of external load. It’s no wonder they experience pain. However, after we spend some time re-grooving proper movement patterns, they are able to perform a squat without any pain.
With the overhead press, often times it isn’t the movement that is the problem. The issue is that the individuals body isn’t prepared to perform the movement correctly. They may simply need to be able to extend their thoracic spine more effectively. So, we do some dedicated extension work for the thoracic spine and lo and behold-they can overhead press with out any discomfort.
As far as the “failed diet” goes, the baby almost always gets tossed out. I can’t tell you how many times I have talked with clients about their attempts to lose weight and I instantly see the huge gaping hole in their efforts.
“There’s a good chance that the fact that you were going through a divorce and your stress level was through the roof is the reason you were unable to lose any weight.”
“Oh, so you eat “great” through the week, but then drink yourself into oblivion Friday and Saturday night and get zero sleep due to the partying.”
“OK, so to sum up-you did the South Beach Diet for three days, the Zone for a week and then the HCG diet for a day and a half. Gee, that sure is a mystery.”
Each of these are real accounts from clients of mine. They had all come to the conclusion that no matter what they did, their efforts were wasted, so why try any more? In each of these examples, we were able to retain a lot of what the client was doing, but made some changes to make the good things even better. We got rid of the bath water and held on to the cute little baby.
(Quick side note: for those of you who relate to feeling frustrated by your fat loss efforts, details for my fat loss seminar are coming very soon. Stay tuned!)
More often than not, the reasons why things aren’t working are just a tiny bit below the surface. You just have to do a little digging.
The next time you think “This isn’t working…I should just start from scratch”, take a step back and determine what is “baby” and what is “bath water”. There’s a good chance that there is a little of both in what you’re doing.
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