Minimum Effective Dose

You’ve signed up. You’ve completed your food journal and sent it in. You’ve filled out your questionnaire and gotten the response email, had your FaceTime or Zoom call and now the big day… something is coming in the next email from PP and it’s going to change your life!


You go to bed excited, you wake up and you see the email arrived late the night before. This is it, the thing that is going to finally change everything! Hello shirtless / bikini pics and nothing but smiles!


As you read through it you notice something. This isn’t that much… they only sent me a few small habits to change. Some of it is even ADDING to my food intake. This can’t be right… there’s no way I can be skinnier AND fit AND happy by simply making a few small changes. It says we’re going to progress and change things, but I’m excited and ready NOW. I want results NOW!


Be honest, as you were reading that…. Did you think of Veruca Salt from Willie Wonka? That’s definitely how I typed it.


This is how most people react. They are shocked, and ask our staff to limit them more, “take more food away” or “add more exercise”. This is usually due to one of a few reasons:


  • Motivation and excitement are high because of the new relationship with a coach or dietitian on our staff.
  • They had a poor previous or current relationship with a coach, trainer or loved one who taught them that more restricted diet and high intense exercise is the only way to succeed.
  • All of their information about diet and exercise comes from social media, magazines or other less credible sources that insist on “will power” and “intensity” as the only ways to ever improve.
  • Bad relationships with food led to high levels of exercise and great short-term results, but they are now in a position again where they are unhappy with their health, appearance, or performance and need help.


These are all important things to address. This is why we have tough conversations with our clients from time to time. The better we understand our clients and athletes, the more we can help them to understand their decisions. The more we know their decisions, the better we can help them with their relationships with food, health and the people around them. The more we can help them improve those, the better we can assist them in improving their health and lives.


When it comes to our coaching style, we are very much about the Minimum Effective Dose. That includes the steps and habits we lay out in our first email to our clients. The psychology behind habit forming, shows that making things easy to start is important.


The brain loves victories. It fuels it and us to keep moving forward. When met by too many set-backs and failures, specifically early on, people are more likely to quit. That’s why it is so important to pick 1-2 EASY to moderate habits to start with and absolutely crush them. As you start to consistently do them, you’ll start to crave doing more, and the snow ball effect starts to take place.


So, how do we take this excitement and motivation and put it to good use?


If you’ve ever seen an old cartoon where a character rolls a small snowball down a hill and it goes on to collect more snow until eventually it’s a massive ball with incredible speed… that’s what we want your successes to look like. The most important part of that whole process though is making the snow ball.


With enough momentum in the right direction and time that snowball can turn into something major that WILL change your life. If you are dedicated to building that little thing and making it perfect then the long-term effect as it is rolling down the hill will be much better. This will allow it to grow faster and continue to increase its velocity and size. This is what a healthy lifestyle looks like. It is a person who has become a great expert at not will power, but at combining and unfailingly performing small daily tasks that align with their goals.


The minimum effective dose, and specifically this snow ball analogy, is no different than a very wealthy individual. They are often not a genius, nor do they have some magical skill you don’t, but rather they have been saving and investing intelligently to support their goals consistently over a long time. No matter what else happens they are saving and investing to move towards their goal. It started with them saving just a small amount of money consistently. They built the best small snowball, daily habits that met them where they currently were, and then pushed it down the mountain at the highest rate of speed they could while having it add snow, in this case representing money, each revolution.


So, let’s take that example and apply it to how the minimum effective dose can positively impact your life. When we set your goals, we specifically choose things based on your current lifestyle, eating habits and goals. When the decision are made, it is one we make together with our clients or athletes. We do, however, often tell our clients what level of the skill or habit to start at.


Let’s see how this works in the real world. Meet Susie, a female client wanting to lose weight, she is single and works full time. She often eats larger portions than necessary due to a lack of prepared or purchased healthy food. While talking with Susie on our consultation Zoom call, she says she wants to work on her grocery shopping and food prep. Because she works, she has the money and has said she has the time to prepare her food. What she lacks is the education and experience of how to meal prep. From there we choose which of our Meal Prep Options she wants to utilize. For her specifically, our short morning prep option works best.


To begin with, Susie’s habit will be to prep two meals to take to work and eat them that day. We work on this habit daily, and give her a checklist each week so she can see her results for what she is working on. During this time, we teach her some of our biggest lessons. Once she has mastered this skill for 2-3 weeks, we then start to add the next habit, which we agree together, is to now prep three meals before work and eat them for the day.


These consistent habits, education for how and what to prep, and support from her coach leads to an increased confidence, and large progress toward her goal. That habit of prepping two meals per day has now snowballed into three, and from here we are now gathering momentum. Then we start the daily habit of walking. Once these habits of three meal prepped meals per day and a nightly walk are engrained in her, we then compound that with the next step of lifting weights 3x’s/week. 


This means that over six weeks, Susie has gone from consistently overeating, to eating appropriate portions at least 3 of her meals per day. She is also walking nightly and working out 3x’s per week. 


Want more help with figuring out your minimum effective dose? Click Here to talk with the Powell Performance staff and sign up today.

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