February 3, 2023


All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.
—Paracelsus, 1538

I am not going to talk about how water or any food can be poison if you consume enough of it. Instead I want to talk about the all or nothing mentality that pervades efforts to improve health and well being. Here are a few extremes I have encountered with my clients:

1. Taking on every single nutrition intervention possible all at once. Trying to restrict when you eat, how much you eat and what you eat all the once. This ends with none of those happening well or for long enough. 
2. Trying to join a gym, show up everyday and also do some ‘cardio’ everyday.  Basically too much activity too soon without thinking through why that much activity makes sense for you. 
3. Neglect the obvious interventions like sleeping consistently at the same time, for the same amount or even managing stress. 

‘How much’ is the single most underrated question you need to ask yourself. Dosages can make or break interventions. Dosages give you the flexibility to do less, more or maintain new habits without feeling like you abandoned a new endeavour.  

Here are a few questions you could ask:

1. How much should I sleep to wake up feeling fresh and ready to go in the morning. 
2. How much do I need to squat for my legs to get stronger without it being counterproductive for my joints or burning me out.
3. How much time do I spend on a sled or air bike to emphasis my heart’s ability to recover from a bout of exertion
4. How much time do I spend on lower intensity activities such as walking, running, skipping, hopping, swimming or cycling to emphasis my heart’s ability to endure lower levels of exertion?
5. How much do I need to do of exercises such as hanging, push ups, rowing and pull ups to keep my shoulders healthy, ready and capable?
6. How much Greek yoghurt, cheese, chicken or other foods need to be stocked in my fridge to keep me from impulsively ordering for food through an app?
7. How much veggies do I need to chop or prep to marinate for the week?

When you start asking how much, you can start thinking in less binary terms about interventions. Knowing what’s the least you need to do gives new habits a safety net of the time and energy you invest to get it done. You could have a week where you could dial back, dial up or chill out. The next week, you know exactly how much to do!

About Adarsh

- I run a strength and conditioning facility in Chennai, India
- I work with my clients to make training and eating for better body composition a part of everyday life
- I coach online and in-person
- I design and manufacture strength training equipment for use in our strength training facility