Jeff is telling me he’s tried everything to build muscle but still can’t add any weight.
He works out. He uses supplements. He eats a lot. And still, he says, nothing happens.
I’m sitting in an Irish pub at a long table with Richelle and an assortment of her friends, many I’ve never met, including Jeff.
What do you typically eat in a day? I ask him.
He goes over what he ate today and it turns out that Jeff — who probably weighs around 150 pounds — eats less than my girlfriend. Like, way less.
To gain muscle, I tell him, you have to eat more calories than your burn. And right now it doesn’t sound like he’s doing that.
How much should I eat then? he asks, right as the waiter comes by and sets two plates of steak, veggies, and mashed potatoes in front of me.
Jeff looks at my two plates and then back at me.
Holy shit, dude, I don’t think I can eat that much.
Can I order the blackberry crumble for dessert? I ask the waiter. I need some kind of fruit to go with this.
The rest of the table stares at me.
Richelle pats my stomach. That’s my hungry boy, she says.
Yes. Yes, I am.
Other highlights from Day 10
- Kicking ass on my new and improved work schedule. Waking up an hour early was a good decision.
- Further horrifying Jeff and the rest of the dinner table by eating off Richelle’s plate, too.
How To Use “Outcome-Based” Decision Making
As I explained above, Jeff (the guy from the restaurant) wasn’t gaining any muscle because he wasn’t eating enough calories. But there’s probably a deeper reason why he wasn’t changing his body: He wasn’t using outcome-based decision making.
Instead of making strategic changes to make it more likely that he’d gain muscle, Jeff was simply trying a bunch of things at once (going to the gym, eating “a lot”, taking supplements, etc.) and not keeping tabs on what was really working. He had no idea what he should do next because he never really defined what he was trying to do in the first place.
One way we help our guys in the S2B Coaching Program — and, as it turns out, the same way JB is helping me with this experiment — is by using outcome-based decision making.
We try something and measure it. We see what happens and what the outcome is. If it’s working, we don’t change anything. If it’s not working — or if progress slows down — we make one small tweak and follow the same process.
It’s simple and incredibly effective.
Here’s our 9-step process for using outcome-based decision making yourself.
1. Decide what thing you want to accomplish or what change you want to make in your life. (Gain 20 pounds of muscle; find a better-paying job; start your own company; stop checking Facebook 30 times a day. Whatever.)
2. Pick one thing to try. Make sure it’s simple and that you can do it every day. (In the S2B Coaching Program, we start off by having each guy drink 3 protein shakes a day. It’s simple, effective, and easy to do every day. All good things when just starting.)
3. Commit to doing this one action every day for two weeks.
4. Measure the things that will give you objective feedback on how it’s going. (Again, in S2B, we have our guys measure their weight on the scale, take girth measurements, record body fat percentage, and take photos.)
5. Stick with the intervention until two weeks is up, even if your measures go up and down, and if you're feeling “it might not be working.”
6. Assess the success of your actions based on the overall measures – the general trend over time. (This is why I record my weight every day in the morning after I do my bathroom business. I’m collecting enough data to see what’s happening ove time, not just the weight fluctuations from hour to hour.)
7. At the end of two weeks, if the intervention’s working, keep doing it.
8. If it’s not working, or stops working, make one small change that you’re confident you can do.
9. Keep repeating until you reach your goal.
While the process seems like common sense, it takes some patience and discipline. When we want to reach a goal badly enough, the days can seem long and progress can feel exceptionally slow. Remember that any progress you make is great. In fact, this has to become your mantra.
Only gain half a pound that week? That’s great. In a year you’ll be up 26 pounds with a completely different body.
Know someone who’s making faster progress than you? That’s nice. Just don’t forget that most guys who try to build muscle will fail. Like most people, they make it either physically or practically unsustainable.
By using outcome-based decisions and making the smallest reasonable change when your measurements tell you it’s time to make a change, you’re more likely to succeed in the long term and leave the other guys in the dust.