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N=1: You Are The Experiment

By Cody Burkhart

N=1. A sample size of one: you.
You are the test bed. You are the lab rat. The results are your own.
This blog is intended to help you improve your health and performance with information and research on new methods and parameters, and as a ground-zero for getting dirty.
We want to empower you to test things on yourself; to explore the possibilities and extract what works for you and what doesn’t. You may find that adding turmeric is groundbreaking in your life, but don’t just trust the tests or the guru. Be your own guru. Feel your body, respond to it, keep what is good, and discard what is bad. It’s that simple.
We are going to chase the limits here. You will see us at our mad-scientist best. We are going to remind you of knowledge built off years of testing and then we are going to try to break it. Nothing is going to be off limits. Lots of things will be complete failures. We may find solutions to problems we weren’t even trying to answer.
It’s going to be raw.
Scientist or not, you have likely seen sample sizes at one point or another in your life. A sample size, at its simplest form, is the number of items that a test was run on to generate enough data to make fancy stats; fancy stats that tell you what the general results were of the test and what can be expected of future application. Essentially, if I take 100 people and apply the same test conditions to each of them, I can say that my sample size is n=100. My results of whatever is tested will likely yield some sort of pattern and average. If you read my results, you can have a good idea of what the affects will be if you, under the same conditions, attempted to apply the tested regimen to yourself. You will likely find yourself falling within the error band of the “normal” results. But sometimes… you won’t.
You may respond highly to a specific program or stimulus. You may not be a responder at all. No one else has the same genetic make-up, environment, diet, training program, sleep schedule, etc. as you. We are all unique specimens and that is, by far, the most fantastic, and often most frustrating, component.
Rather than be confused about why you didn’t see the same results as the test group in the newest late night infomercial you stumbled upon to make massive gains, reflect, instead, on the wise words of Sir Winston Churchill:
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
We want you to become the optimist. Find the successes in the failures. Find the possibilities in the difficulties. We want you to start looking at experiments the same way you did as a kid when you were trying to make lava flows out of food coloring, vinegar, and baking soda: getting your own hands dirty and having fun.
All you have to do is try what you want, when you want, on your own. Never take our words as the truth above all other truths. Let yourself be the proof in the pudding.
We are all unique. Test conditions are highly controlled; life is not.
This is the origin of n=1. You are the test bed. You are the lab rat. The results are your own.


*On the road or multitasking?  Listen to the audio version of the N=1 Blog below.

Jason Donaldson

Jason Donaldson is a Human Performance Coach who opened the first CrossFit™ affiliate in Western Australia in 2007. Jason has been a team member since 2011 and plays an integral role in SH//FT. As Director of //Performance, Jason oversees all coaching and training programs along with the subscription management. Jason is a lifetime athlete having played many sports, including two decades of Australian Rules Football. He has completed many endurance events such as trail runs, OCRs, cross-country mountain bike races and off-road duathlons.

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