How To Get Taller
Imagine clicking on this link, being directed to this page, and actually being given advice for becoming taller. Sounds absurd, right?
But wait! It turns out that the advice is legit because the person giving the advice is this guy on the right:
There. You feel better now, right? You’ll dutifully go about all of the various activities that you now know—based on his advice—are required in order to become taller.
What’s wrong with the above scenario? Consider this quote from Arthur Jones:
“The fact that somebody else can produce a certain degree of results does not mean that you can do the same…and it does not mean that the method used to produce those results was the best method, or even a good method.”
If you see two guys who got from Rhode Island to Colorado, and you want to go from Rhode Island to Colorado, you’ll do exactly what they did, right? After all, their way was 100% effective because they got there. And you’ll listen to every piece of advice they have to offer about the journey.
But, as stated above, the fact that they made it from Rhode Island to Colorado does not necessarily mean that the method used was the best method, or even a good method. Maybe they took a horse and buggy, maybe it took them six months, and maybe they almost starved to death during the journey. I’ve got a better way. Here are some car keys and a map. You’re welcome. Turns out that the “successful” travelers weren’t actually a success after all, even though they got to where they were going.
In other words, the fact that the guy in the first picture is super tall does not necessarily mean that he knows what made him tall, and does not necessarily mean that he can be effective in helping other people get tall as well. Maybe he’s an endocrinologist, maybe he’s a researcher, maybe he actually does know all about why he’s so tall—but the fact that he’s tall, all by itself, does not necessarily mean that he knows how he got that way.
Now, with this bit of background out of the way, let me tell you about an experience I had recently that highlights an equally absurd mistake that millions of people make every day.
I have worked on theatre tours since 2008. On each of these tours, there is a group of dancers, and for the most part they are all part of what can be called the Genetic Royalty. In fact, the audition process ensures that this is the case. They’re attractive, symmetrical, have good skin, have great bone structure, and so forth. Those who are not Genetic Royalty do not even get into the singing/dancing/acting thing in the first place, because from a young age they are not encouraged like their Royal counterparts (kind of like how short people aren’t strongly encouraged to get into professional basketball). Then, out of the members of the Genetic Royalty that do enter the field, those that have worked the hardest and developed themselves the best get selected to be part of a show. It is the combination of lucky genes and incredibly hard work that succeeds; both are necessary, but neither is sufficient by itself. It is these people with whom I have worked for the past five years.
What inspired me to write this post was a conversation I had with a female colleague about one of the female dancers who was a mutual friend of ours (not any of the dancers on my current tour—settle down, girls). This colleague was telling me about some nutrition and fitness advice that she had gotten from our dancer friend. Among these gems were:
- Be sure to eat a good breakfast to kick-start your metabolism for the day.
- Instead of three squares, eat five or six small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism “revved-up.”
- Switch up your exercise routine every month or so to keep your body guessing and give it something new to adapt to.
- Tennis, frisbee, parking far away from doors, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator are all great forms of exercise. It’s better than nothing, you know?!
- The girl can’t get pregnant if she’s on top.
Okay, that last one I just made up, but it’s no less reasonable than the others. Before I go on with my story, realize that each piece of advice is bullshit. False. Not the way it is. Sometimes this is just fine, like when someone is wrong but is still helping. Like, maybe some of the details are wrong, but overall they’re still doing a good thing and benefitting people. However, in this case, the advice is not helping.
It turns out that neither breakfast nor frequent feedings are necessary or beneficial, “muscle confusion” is not a real thing, and something is not always better than nothing when it comes to exercise.
So there I was, listening to all this “advice” that my colleague had been given from our well-meaning yet misinformed friend. In retrospect, I really should have said, “Everything she told you is bullshit.” But apparently I forgot to bring my ball bag with me that day, so instead I said something like, “Actually, that’s what a lot of people used to think, but the latest stuff that’s coming out is pointing to the fact that some of that isn’t quite 100% true.”
Her response? “I don’t know. She’s ripped, though.”
To which I replied:
The fact that somebody is in great shape does not mean that they know how to get you into great shape. The fact that someone is tall does not mean that they know how to make you tall. There are bald barbers who can give you a great cut, skinny chefs who can make a delicious meal, and fat guys who coach Olympic athletes. Pat Riley can’t dunk and Tom Coughlin couldn’t tackle a warm cup of piss, but you’d be a fool to ignore their advice on basketball or football.
The point here is to think for yourself. Accepting a piece of advice as true and reasonable based solely on its source is not only wrong, but worse yet: it doesn’t even make any sense. It’s Non-Sense. And it’s lazy. It’s saying, “I’m going to assume that you know what you’re talking about so that I don’t have to do any work thinking about this. That’s right; I’m going to let you do my thinking for me, and just because you have abs.”
On the Home Page of this website, there is a before/after picture of me. The truth is, 95% of what I now know about how to turn fat people into regular-sized people is stuff that the guy on the left knew also. Which is obvious, because if I didn’t know it, how would I have known what to do? You can’t start applying things you don’t know. To be clear: the advice I would have given ninety pounds ago is not different in any major way from the advice that’s in the Fat Loss Map, which has been working like a goddamn magic charm.
But because I know about this cognitive blind spot that we all have, I had to become the guy on the right before anyone would take me seriously. Am I better able to help people become regular-sized now than I would have been three or four years ago? Maybe, maybe not. My point is that you would not be able to determine that based solely on my before/after picture.
The most muscular guy in your gym probably doesn’t know shit about lifting weights. For whatever reason—genetics and Epi-genetics play a large role in this—he’s a mesomorph, has long muscle bellies, a large proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, poor neuromuscular efficiency (requiring more muscle mass for the same force output), a favorable fat cell distribution, ideal shoulder-width/pelvis-width ratio, and on and on and on and on and on. Because of all these factors, and thousands that we don’t know about yet, when he first stepped into a weight room and began his first routine—which may or may not have been a good one—he packed on muscle quickly and easily. Naturally, he attributed 100% of his success to his routine and his “hard work” in the gym, even though almost any routine would have given him similar results. So when you go up to him and say, “Hey, you look fantastic, how can I be like you?” he’s not going to point out his advantages and suggest a wiser selection of ancestors. He’s not going to tell you he woke up on third and thought he hit a Triple. Instead, he’s going to give you a bunch of bullshit advice that’s not going to work. And you’ll believe every word of it, because fuck, just look at this guy! But these are not the things he did to become ripped and huge.
They are the things he did while becoming ripped and huge. Maybe they helped, maybe they didn’t; but it is a mistake to assume they did just because he thinks they did.
You are making the same mistake as asking the guy at the beginning of this post how to get tall. The things he did while becoming tall are not necessarily the things that he did to become tall. Did he have to eat a lot? Sure. But eating a lot won’t make you taller. He also wore a bigger pair of shoes every several months, but buying a bigger pair of shoes won’t make you taller. Get it?
My colleague believed every bit of advice from our dancer friend. Relieved of the responsibility of thinking for herself, she could comfortably adjust her own “knowledge” to accommodate this new “information.” This is how bullshit spreads.
Stop believing everything you’re told from someone who is where you’d like to be. Think. Really think. There’s no harder work in the world, but it’s worth it.