You Are the Solution to Your Own Situation

Shane Trotter


Mansfield, Texas, United States

Strength and Conditioning, Kettlebells, Youth Development


“I want a hot body, but I also want tacos.” –Nacho Libre


Rationally, we all would prefer to be healthy. We’d love to be capable, physical specimens full of energy and confidence in our longevity. In theory, it would be awesome to arrive at work each day having already worked out and to have no qualms about subsisting on only whole foods. All of us desire health, to some degree, anyway. We can all have it, too. It all depends on one question. How badly do you want it?



The Odyssey details the epic journey of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, who left home after all of Greece was called to fight in what would become the 10 Years Trojan War. Afterward, Odysseus is assumed dead. His son and wife are left to fend off ill-intentioned suitors as he embarks on a 10-year adventure to return home.


Odysseus faces many trials, none so great as the song of the sirens. These creatures' voices were impossible to resist. Literally, no man could hear the sirens' song and resist the temptation to sail towards them, crashing into the rocky cliffs of their island - think moths to the bug zapper.


Odysseus Is the Original Nacho Libre

He wants it all. He’s determined to be the only man to ever hear the sirens sing and live to tell about it. He has his crew block their hearing with wax under firm orders to tie him to the ship’s mast and ignore everything he says until they are securely away from the siren’s sound. Here is a man, who knew how to manage his situation.


In Odysseus, we have an example of how to create situations that promote our success. Often we want to eat better, or workout every morning, but we never change the situation. Odysseus followed three steps to successfully craft a situation that guaranteed his success:


  1. Self-reflection - He determined what it was he wanted.
  2. Education - He figured out all he needed to know about the sirens from Circe.
  3. Planning - He crafted a plan that understood his capacity for human emotional weakness and mitigated the emotions by controlling the situation.



In the famous stale popcorn studies, conducted all over America, we are given insight into humans and our irrational eating behaviors. Experimenters offered free popcorn to moviegoers. Popcorn came in two different size buckets - each contained far more than could be eaten. There was a huge size and a more huge size. Each bucket of popcorn was weighed before being given so that the experimenters could determine exactly how much was eaten.


You Are the Solution to Your Own Situation - Fitness, fitness, self confidence, energy, meal planning, healthy eating, personal trainer, whole food


Now, this popcorn was exceptionally stale. A couple of consumers even demanded their money back before remembering it was free. There was little taste reward for mindless consumption of these kernels. Still, nearly everyone ate. Crazier still, those with the largest size buckets, ate more. How much more? “Approximately 53% more, or 21 dips into the container.” The larger the bucket- the more available - the more we eat.




The knee-jerk response might be the condemnation of our society’s mass inability to monitor their own behavior and quell impulses, even for unpalatable foods. Do we really feel this compelled to stuff our faces? Is our behavior really this mindless and unintentional? Apparently, yes, and it is everyone. It is our natural tendency. Sure, we can train more willpower and mindfulness, but even those have limited power against our human nature - against the siren’s song. There is a larger moral at play.


As Chip and Dan Heath conclude, “What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.”


Putting aside the fact that people ate what tasted like packing peanuts just because it was there, let's get to the breakthrough: people ate more of an inexhaustible resource, just because it was presented in a larger container. Consider the situation and compare it to modern society- the dessert buffet laid out at every staff meeting - the entire tray of desserts each couple feels compelled to bring to any gathering - supersized portions- liters of cola- Sam’s Club, Costco, etc. Houston, we have a problem.



You Are the Solution

Just follow Odysseus’ 3 steps.


  1. How bad do you want it? The solution is as simple as committing to a respect of the premise of health. It magnifies every effort and offers more and better years.
  2. If you respect it, educate yourself, it is a lifelong process that need not be done today. Just begin the process of learning.
  3. The final step, plan for the situations that induce failure and mitigate your emotions by controlling the situation.


Here are some more concrete examples:


  • Most nutrition issues stem from eating an overly processed, sugar-infused Western diet. The bulk of most diets are comprised of foods created in labs that couldn’t exist 100 years ago. In short, they aren’t real, whole foods available in nature.
  • Are you a mindless eater? We all are to some degree. Control your situation. Go through your home and eliminate any foods you’d prefer not to eat often.
  • Ice cream is fine as an occasional treat, but perhaps it's best if you have to go out for it.
  • Don’t focus on starvation. Replace chips with better snack foods like mixed nuts.
  • If you have a big issue with mindless eating, replace the bowl of chips with a bowl of broccoli, baby carrots, and snap peas. No one gets fat from too many snap peas.


Learn to Prepare Food at Home

Learning to prepare food at home is a necessity for most. It's more difficult to control food choices away from home. Again, this is a process you can enjoy if you remember that there is no deadline.


  • Consider smaller plates and bowls.
  • Buy a good lunchbox that maintains the temperature well.
  • Make sure you stock your workplace with plenty of good options for you.
  • Create a contingency plan for a day when bringing your lunch fails. Where can you get healthy food around your work? A grocery store salad bar? Chipotle?
  • At home, explore easy, healthier meal options. Make lists of the healthy foods you like and play with combinations or just get a nice new Mediterranean or Nordic diet cookbook.
  • You can’t plan for everything, but you’ll be amazed what a calendar check, 15 minutes of planning before your grocery trip, and 30 minutes of food prep can do for your week.


Fitness Is Exactly the Same

How can you create a situation that guarantees you do the work that your rational mind wants you to do? It need not be extreme.


  • Play the long game, but determine what you need.
  • It may be setting three alarms, the third alarm set by your workout attire.
  • Maybe it’s accountability with a trainer, or a class twice a week.
  • Maybe it is as simple as promising yourself you will go on a 30-minute walk with your dog every morning before work.


You could go extreme, as well. Sell the car, buy a bike, and Uber when it rains. Odysseus tied himself to a mast, after all. I can’t decide for you, because I don’t know you best. You do. How badly do you want it?

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