My Biggest Fitness Secrets that DIDN’T Come from Fitness, Part 1

In business they say innovation always comes from the outside. FedEx used the “hub and spoke” system from telecommunications to improve how quickly a package could be delivered. Social media used gamification from video games to increase how long users spend looking at their phone. 3M once consulted with a makeup designer to develop new post-op safety procedures, which drastically reduced infection rates.

The fitness industry has tried to decrease America’s obesity epidemic for over 30 years, but, from my perspective, to no avail. I think the industry should look outside fitness to innovate their approach.

With over 15 years of personal training and searching for better ways to support my clients in the Spokane area and the northwest, I’ve found two ideas outside the fitness world that have absolutely changed the game for me.

The first is called The Thriving Body Model and is borrowed from evolutionary anthropology. The second is called Holistic Multipliers, and it actually came from the world of large corporate business consulting. In order to give each idea the time it deserves, I will start with The Thriving Body Model and come back to Holistic Multipliers in a subsequent issue of the Huckleberry Press.

I remember first reading about the Evolutionary Winter hypothesis in a National Geographic or maybe a Nature journal. The author used this idea to explain the recent rise in depression levels. Here’s the gist of the hypothesis.

For the bulk of history, humans worked as Hunter-Gatherers or semi-agrarian. Because we spent the most time in that phase, that is the lifestyle our biology is most attuned to.

Early humans had two massive seasons to deal with: summer and winter. Nature is very different during those times of year, especially in the Northwest.

During summer, there is an abundance of food and sunlight. Because of that, humans had the habit of moving around more, looking for food, enjoying the sun, and socializing. Between the activity and the food, the body got a lot of signals of prosperity. During summer, the body has everything it needs to be at its best and to thrive.

During winter, food is scarce and it’s dark and cold. Because there’s no food to forage, and it’s miserable outside, humans hunkered down in their cave. It was dark, lonely, and sad. During this season, the body is just trying to survive and it shuts down a lot of non-essential functions in an effort to get through the next couple months.

Now, we live in a post-industrial society where seasons no longer have that same impact. My alarm goes off at the same time in August as it does in January. We work in buildings detached from the sun, under artificial light bulbs that have no concern for the tilt of the seasons.

Although humans are less dependent on the season, our biology is still connected to the habits of the seasons. We can tell our body to be in summer mode (a.k.a. thrive mode) all year long by doing the habits of summer. Alternatively, we can tell our body to be in winter mode (a.k.a. survive mode) all year long by doing the habits of winter.

In health and fitness, the biggest goal is to be constantly thriving. We want our body to feel fully functioning, without worrying about survival. Unfortunately, I believe our society has morphed into a world where winter habits are the default.

Recently, I’ve been moving away from the fitness industry obsession with calorie balance (burn more calories with exercise, eat fewer calories with strict diets) and I’m encouraging my clients to chase a “thriving body” by maintaining habits that support and nurture the body. 

What kind of an impact has that had?

Many of my clients report having much more enjoyment with their exercise and nutrition habits. Instead of suffering to make a bigger calorie deficit, they enjoy each action that makes them thrive. They also more easily adopt healthy habits around sleep and stress management.

Ultimately, my clients find that its easier and more enjoyable to drop the pounds and increase their energy without pushing for a struggle. They’re also happier overall in their lives.

Quick tips to thrive: be active each day (think, like walking, looking for berries), get enough sleep, reduce screen time at night, eat lots of produce (think, abundant summer crops), and socialize with good people.

Next installment: We’ll intrude into a Fortune 500 company boardroom to see what Jay Abraham has to offer on Holistic Multipliers.

Force Multipliers plus Compounding Interest allows my clients to get more results with smaller efforts. If you want to see what this looks like in action, I encourage you to check out The Health REBELs Podcast or send me an email at

By Steven Hicks