A while back I was taking to a friend of mine who’s a big Blackjack enthusiast. He knows pretty much everything there is to know about the game – how it works, how to play winning systems, the odds for each hand, and so on. He actually spends quite a bit of time in the casino himself playing Blackjack.
Anyhow, we got onto the discussion of card-counting systems for Blackjack, which are basically systems that players use to try to get a mathematical advantage against the casinos, and he mentioned something very interesting.
He told me that the first Blackjack card-counting system ever invented, called the Hi-Lo system, was created back in the 1960’s. It’s a very simple and easy-to-implement system, and researchers have calculated that it has a mathematical accuracy around about 85%, I can’t remember the exact number.
Well as you can imagine, with the advent of computers a lot of clever minds have been put to use since then to come up with a variety of new and improved counting systems with accuracies well over 90%.
Now, you would expect that these new, computer-designed “super-systems” would be responsible for players taking a lot of money out of casinos, but the surprising thing my friend told me was that to this day, no system ever invented has ever proved more successful in the casinos than the old Hi-Lo system, despite the mathematics predicting otherwise!
Why is this?
Well, it’s very simple. The new systems are generally too complicated. There’s too much to remember, or too much mental arithmetic to perform, so the players using them make mistakes in the heat of play and don’t do as well as they should. That’s something that science didn’t anticipate.
So what does all this have to do with fitness?
Well, it got me to thinking, this is exactly the problem that many people who are trying to lose weight and get into shape face. The fact is, a lot of people make the mistake of setting out on programs that simply aren’t sustainable or usable in practice. They start diets that are based on military-strength discipline with no flexibility or allowance for the occasional harmless treat, or workout programs that are far too demanding for their abilities or lifestyle.
So in their search for perfection, they find themselves unable to cope with their program in reality and finally quit.
And there’s another, related problem that people trying to get into shape also face. These days we’re constantly being enticed by clever marketing to try the latest and supposed best workout or diet.
So in their unending search for the ultimate in fast results, people often drop whatever they happen to be working on at the time to try the new thing. The problem with this is that it becomes an ongoing cycle, and nothing they start is ever given a chance to work.
The moral here is that for weight loss and fitness, just as for blackjack, striving for what is theoretically the very best and most effective approach can often be your downfall in practice. A plan that’s just 80% effective, but that you can stick to long term, will still get you to your goals. A plan that’s 98% effective, even if it gives you great results for a few months, won’t get you to your goals if you can’t adhere to it.
Too many people overlook the practicalities of what they plan to do. Quite often a moderate approach will produce far better results than anything else. It’s simply a matter of assessing what your goals are, and what you’re realistically prepared to do and able to do on an ongoing basis to get there. Then you have to make sure that your plan is in alignment with these things.