Inch by Inch

‘On this team, we fight for that inch. Cause we know, when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the fucking difference. Between winning and losing. Between living and dying.’

-Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino)

in Any Given Sunday (1999) by Oliver Stone

Word count: 625

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


  • Health assessment tools are like photos – they only give you a snapshot in time
  • A snapshot doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the actions leading to that moment
  • Place emphasis on tracking the actions/inches that affect the direction of their health
  • Track closely the variables that have a high consequence of impact, and accordingly for others

With his grovelling baritone, jaggedly enunciated words and intense expression, Al Pacino delivers one of the most memorable sport-cinematic speeches of all time. Even as a casual viewer, it’d be hard not to feel shivers down your spine.

Not many of us will ever be able to deliver a speech quite like Al Pacino. It’s hard to replicate one of the greatest actors of his generation, and perhaps all-time. However, the crux of this article is not about the act of delivering a speech. It is the concept we are going to extrapolate.

Health, as we know, is best viewed as a process. Health is an unlimited series of steps that push us into a favourable, or unfavourable position. Most assessment tools we have; weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood tests and physical fitness tests are only a snapshot in time. Assessment tools are like a photo – they only capture a moment. Of course, an argument can be made that the result can explain what has happened prior – but this is not always the case.

Like a photo, we can force a smile, or force a frown, irrespective of what has happened the previous second. In waist circumference tests, bloating can negatively skew the result. In blood tests, an incorrect fast can raise our blood sugar levels. In a beep test, a lack of sleep the night prior can lead to decreased performance.

What then, are the important metrics to track? The inches. In the context of physical health, this equates to the decisions we make consistently that impact this domain. Some like to call them ‘daily habits.’ However, habits are likely subconscious – and do not require very much effort. This is why they are called habits. For those who are habitually making positive decisions – not much needs to be said. However for those who do not – then decision making becomes important.

When tracking these inches, the allocation period of measurement becomes very important dependent on the consequence of impact related to that particular variable. For instance, sleep quantity is a highly sensitive measure. It is well documented that anything less than 6 hours a night for 3 days in a row can cause devastating effects on someone’s mood and overall cognitive function. Hence, it can be justified that this metric is assessed on a weekly basis – and if needing improvement; addressed.

Next, and by no means inferior in importance, is movement. This is where you must choose how often to measure dependent on your client’s lifestyle. Personally, I like to track how many times they’ve undergone training on a monthly basis. For most gen-pop clients, this allows deviation from a weekly routine that’s akin to most people’s lives. It also accounts for certain timeframes that are likely to cause disruption – like end of month work commitments. The actual number of times they’ve trained is again, dependent on the goal that you have set together.

I’ve elected to omit food from this article because a) it is a sensitive topic for most people, and b) food has a sociocultural impact that is less apparent in the sleep and movement domain.

By tracking the inches of our clients, we are emphasising the importance of the actions that lead to positive health outcomes. Because ultimately, every action they take will steer their health in a certain direction, and it’s our job to make sure the ship stays on course.

Yours in Health and Movement,
The M3 Team