Around the time of my graduation from my MBA and the close of my tenure at GrubHub, I finally decided to confront a problem: I had gained a lot of weight. The time commitment of work + school had done no favors to my waistline, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I had tried to eat better and exercise more, but could never stick with it. Moderation never worked for me. The only times I had been successful were when I had bets with friends that I could abstain or do something specific for a month, like run or not eat pizza.
Being a growth marketer, I asked myself what kind of approach I could take to address this. Well, in my work, I do experiments that drive small gains that compound over time. Why couldn’t I do that with my health? I decided to give it a try. Knowing that abstention works better than moderation for me, I devised a plan. Every month, I would create a new healthy habit or get rid of a nasty habit, and stick to it for 30 days. If I could stick to it for 30 days, I could stick with it forever. If I successfully adopted a new healthy habit or abstained from an existing bad habit every month, over time, I could seriously optimize my health.
I started in December 2013 with a not very difficult change: I stopped salting things. For January 2014, I really stepped it up a notch by abstaining from caffeine or sugary drinks. I have now been doing this for almost 20 months, and am down 20 pounds. I have been able to stick with almost all of these habits. Here has been my schedule:
December 2013: Stop salting food
January 2014: Eliminate caffeine and sugary drinks
February 2014: Start running once a week
March 2014: Start work out routine after running
April 2014: Start using standing desk
May 2014: Five mile run once a week
June 2014: Give up cereal for breakfast and instead eat banana
July 2014: Eat food over a plate of spinach instead of a plate of rice
August 2014: Swap one type of cookie snack for a healthier one
September 2014: Five mile runs twice a week
October 2014: Do seven minute workout after five mile runs
November 2014: Do thirty minute workout after five mile runs
December 2014: Use standing desk at home
January 2015: Boulder twice a week
February 2015: Eat carrots once a day
March 2015: Play tennis once a week
April 2015: Added exercises to workouts
May 2015: Only snacks allowed at home are fruit
June 2015: Swap banana for breakfast with carrots
July 2015: Swap cookies with cereal
What can you do if you apply the logic of small experiments that compound over time to other areas of your life?
Currently listening to Yuck by Alpine.