The 100% Problem

We're taught to strive for perfection. But when it comes to nutrition, science suggests trying to be perfect is a faulty foundation...

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • The 100% Problem

  • The Unbreakable Plan

  • Weekend Challenge

Arnold’s Podcast

Motivation every day. Want Arnold to help you start your day? Each morning, we post a new podcast with tips you’ll find in the daily email and bonus stories, wisdom, and motivation from Arnold. Listen to Arnold's Pump Club podcast. It's like the daily newsletter but with additional narration and thoughts from Arnold. You can subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The 100% Problem

What if you didn’t have to be perfect with your diet to see amazing results?

Researchers looked at what happens to your mental health when you go on a restrictive diet plan. The researchers found that people who went on restrictive plans had higher levels of binge eating, more food cravings, less control, more preoccupation with food, and more guilt when they ate foods they enjoyed.

In fact, according to the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a list of more than 10,000 people who have lost weight—and kept it off for years — tend to eat carbs, enjoy breakfast, and avoid extreme restrictions and gimmicks. It’s the opposite of what you hear in most diets, and that’s not a coincidence.

As we all know, sometimes, life will send your plan into the gutter, which is why programs that require 100 percent compliance tend not to work. Because — when life happens — anything less than perfection is considered a failure and punishable by extra workouts, fasting, or dramatically cutting calories.

But science suggests you don’t need to be 100 percent to see incredible results. Long-term success — the type seen by people who lose weight and keep it off for years without losing their mind — is found when you avoid zero percent weeks.

A zero percent week is when one bad day of eating results in abandoning all healthy habits, and saying you’ll start eating healthy again next week. This is a 0% week. And if you really want to win the game of health, you have to step away from manipulative plans, and build a new mindset that is proven to work.

Here’s your new game plan: stop chasing 100 percent weeks and start avoiding 0% weeks. Instead of every decision being black and white, or every day being make or break, zoom out, see the bigger picture, enjoy some flexibility, and give yourself space to build better habits.

Healthy people don’t say, “‘I screwed up this meal, or I missed this workout, I should just take the rest of the week off.”

No 0% weeks is the true path to success. Because you’ll see you don’t need to be 100 percent to feel better, look great, and upgrade your health. Instead, when you stack 50% or 75% percent weeks — week after week — you’ll reach your goals without the stress or desire to quit.

Because success isn’t built by doing something great for a very short amount of time. It’s accomplished by being consistently good for a long time, and that is how you become unstoppable.

Ketch’s Corner: The Unbreakable Plan

We’ll celebrate our daughter’s first birthday this weekend, and we couldn’t love her more.

Since I have a year of parenting under my belt, and I know we have a lot of new parents and expecting parents in this village from your emails, I wanted to take on one of the most common things I heard.

“You can forget about your workouts.”

One of the first things I learned when I joined the new parent club is that it can feel like a cult of misery. We’ve talked about negativity bias here, and I’m not sure there is a better example than new parents. We are better at sharing the negatives — the lack of sleep, the dramatic change in lifestyle that it takes to live for someone other than yourself, the diaper blowouts — than we are at sharing our wonder in watching these new humans see the world with fresh eyes and learn new things every day.

That’s fine as a coping mechanism, but if you are in those early days without sleep, know that it gets better literally every day.

And, from my experience, finding a way to keep your fitness routine going makes it much easier.

Here’s how I did it.

Teamwork + Communication

This is really the whole playbook for parenting. But when it comes to training, you can’t just yell “headed to the gym” as you head out the door like you did before kids. You have to plan together and find the windows that work for both parents. You have to give your partner the same time for themselves that you expect for you. Be open, honest, and, most importantly, flexible.

Don’t Let Perfect Prevent Possible

This is where flexibility comes in. My workouts in the early days looked nothing like my workouts pre-baby. I had some days when I deadlifted for 12 minutes, going as heavy as I could. I had days when I ran 10 sprints up the hill by our house in 5 minutes. I had a lot of days where my training was only bodyweight exercises. When she finally started sleeping until 7, I had a lot of days where my workout was a 3-mile ruck at 5:30 in the morning to keep our dog happy. I had to recalibrate my expectations to match my new reality (hat tip to friend of the Pump Club Brad Stulberg’s new book).

Build Reasonable Steps to Your Big Vision

My pre-baby goal was to deadlift 600 by my birthday. That wasn’t going to happen, so I decided to find a new, smaller way to lift my goal weight. I elevated the bar to decrease the range of motion. I worked up to doing rack pulls with 600 pounds, where I was probably lifting the weight a couple of inches. But I was lifting it! Then I trained until I could lift it with the bar just above my knees, and now I’m working my way to lifting with the bar below my knees. It isn’t the big PR lift I used to do to celebrate my birthday, but it lets me celebrate a new PR of lifting an extra inch every so often, and by my 40th birthday next year, I’m committing to you now: I will fully deadlift 600. And it will be the little reasonable steps I took, the inches gained every month or two, that fuels that celebration.

Train at Home

This one, I think, is advice people don’t give enough. If you have to commute to the gym, the barrier is really high, especially in those early days. Gold’s is a 20-minute drive for me, so the commute back and forth would have been longer than my workouts. Fortunately, I’d built up a simple gym with a rack in my side yard during the pandemic. But even if you don’t have equipment, your body is the greatest training tool. That’s why we share a workout you can do anywhere with no equipment every Monday. The Countdown (our most popular lunge and push-up workout that is in the welcome email) helped me avoid quite a few zero days. Your time becomes more valuable when you become a parent. You don’t want to spend it in traffic.

These lessons got me through the first year and helped me prove the naysayers wrong. And I’ll be honest: there are some days you will have to force it. The strange paradox of training is that it gives me more energy. I have never finished a workout, whether it is 5 minutes or an hour, and thought, “That was a shitty way to start my day.”

You can do this. We are here for you. If you have your own tips and tricks for new parents, reply and make the subject line “Parenting.”

Weekend Challenge

When we launched this newsletter with our New Year challenge in January, we asked all of you to pick three daily actions that you would check off every day on the path to your bigger visions. And then we watched thousands of you focus on habits like reading more, exercising more, eating healthier food, meditating, and many other forms of self-improvement.

We were impressed by how many of you shared that one of your visions was to learn a new language, and we loved your updates about how much you learned by studying 15 minutes a day.

Our village started with 50,000 people in January when we issued that challenge. Now it’s nearly 600,000!

Imagine how much we can change the world if all of us commit to three daily actions that we know will improve our lives and the world around us.

Which is why this weekend’s challenge is so important. It’s time to revisit your vision and try to accomplish something new during the last four months of the year.

Do you want to be the type of person that exercises more? That volunteers more? That learns a new language?

Once you figure out your vision for who you want to be, write down three daily actions that will get you closer to that vision. Put them somewhere you will see them every day this month.

Now, here is the wild thing about what happens as the Pump Club grows. One of the members of our village reached out. He works at a company called Babbel, which helps people learn to speak a new language with just 15 minutes of practice per day, so you don’t pronounce things like a forehead.

We tested it out, and it’s fantastic. Babbel teaches bite-sized language lessons for real-world use. Their lessons were created by real language experts, so instead of random phrases, Babbel users learn to have real-world conversations, which is why it’s forehead-proof.

Babbel saw how many of you wanted to learn a new language in our original challenge, so we wanted to offer a discount for the village to help make your big vision a reality. 

For a limited time, you can get 60% OFF a Babbel subscription. There’s even a 20-day money-back guarantee if you’re not fully satisfied. Simply click here, select the language you want to learn and start working towards your vision.

We love it because anyone can start speaking a language in just three weeks. So, if you start the challenge this weekend, you could check off a big goal by October.

If you give it a try, let us know what language you’re attempting to learn!

Thanks again for joining us for another week. We hope it was a great one. Here’s wishing you a fantastic weekend!

-Arnold, Adam, and Daniel

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell