I love sports and when I have the time am an avid watcher of ESPN. Every Sunday morning during the NFL season, "experts" are tasked with the job of making predictions of who they think will win the game. The problem is that the experts aren't any better at making predications than you and I.

An expert is simply someone who has more experience than you. I would be careful putting stock in any predictions an "expert" makes. What they are GREAT at is assessing the base rates, how often "x" is going to occur in the general population. 

I learned about base rates first in Chip and Dan Heath's Book "Decisive". There they use the technique of "zooming in and zooming out" to better assess your options.

Zoom out: The assumption is that by reading their book you're looking to make positive changes in your life, yet the number of individuals who will is quite low. 

Zoom in: Considering what factors make you more successful than the base rate which are you're reading the book so it suggests that you are a person who seriously is interested in personal growth. So your changes of gaining practical benefit from a book like that is very high.

Decisions don’t occupy much of our time, they have a disproportionate influence on our lives. In our cars, we may spend 95% of our time going straight, but it’s the turns that determine where we end up. - from "Decisive" by Chip and Dan Heath. 

So that's great and all but how does that apply to fitness? I didn't read this post to get a book recommendation and a refresher in Psychology 100. Well I'm glad that you (maybe) bring that up.

For example: I'm deciding whether or not I should hire a personal trainer.

The first problem is how we frame the question in our mind. We turn decisions into either or choices which is seen by the phrase "whether or not" which then shuts down one of the choices and closes out your other options.

The real question is: How should I invest $70 and an one hour of time I might dedicate to training. I could choose a different trainer, use it to pay for 2 months of gym dues at the local club, or I could spend it on going out Saturday night to a bar. 

Another example: "Should I workout or go to happy hour?"
Well you already didn't really want to workout, so that's not much of a decision to make. Your only options were one you really wanted to do and another that you were lukewarm on. Instead say:

  • Should I workout?
  • Should I go to happy hour?
  • Should I workout after happy hour?
  • Can I squeeze in a workout tomorrow morning instead?
  • Can I workout during my lunch break? (this is a pretty good option since you'll be ingesting a lot of calories at a happy hour, backloads your calories)

There's no guarantee that any one choice is better than the other. But statistics (which are slightly outdated as the book cites studies from a few years ago but it stands to believe they're probably around the same) show that "whether or not" decisions fail over 50% of the time compared to only 30% failure rates when you considered more than only 2 choices. Remove biases by giving yourself multiple options that you would consider and start making better decisions today!