Every year for the past 5 or so years my friends and I have adopted a rather strict set of rules to follow every January, and we called it Health Month. Here’s the old Facebook page and a rather hotly-debated Livejournal post from a couple years ago about it all. Sounds familiar, right?
I’ve been thinking of ways to “gamify” Health Month for a couple years. It was the Livejournal post above in fact that made me realize that the rigidity of the rules was, while a great simplifier, also a fatal flaw of the whole endeavor. Thus, the more flexible and personal rule-selection process of healthmonth.com was born (slowly, over a couple years).
This year, I’ve decided to get most of my health month inspiration from Tim Ferriss’s new book, The 4-Hour Body, which I gobbled up on a plane the day it was released.
For those interested in following, here’s my plan.
Beginning of the month:
- Get starting weight
- Get starting body fat percentage with calipers (too poor to go use the $250 DEXA scan at the moment)
- Measure my waist, arms, legs, etc to get a baseline
- Take “before” pictures (front and side). Look as fat and gross as possible.
Wake up ritual:
- Weigh myself
- 1 hard boiled egg (5g protein)
- Protein powder shake (20g protein)
- 4 glasses of water
- Coffee with cinnamon or green tea
- AGG (alpha-lipoic acid, green tea flavanols, garlic extract)
- Fish oil (omega 3s)
- Vitamin D
Exercise Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday after breakfast (consider checking out CrossFit)
Lunch and dinner:
- Try to repeat the same simple, cheap meals as much as possible
- No white carbs (including brown rice)
- Don’t drink calories (no milk, soy milk, soft drinks, or fruit juice. 1 coffee & 1 glass of red wine per day is okay)
- Nothing with lactose or added sugar
- AGG supplements (alpha-lipoic acid, green tea flavanols, garlic extract)
- Take a picture of everything I eat or drink (post to new Posterous blog)
- 20 air squats or push ups right before and 60 minutes after meal
Cheat day: Break any/all of the diet rules every Friday.
- Glass of red wine (optional)
- Policosanol (good for cholesterol)
End of the month:
- Get ending weight
- Get ending body fat percentage
- Measure my waist, arms, legs, etc, subtract the starting total
- Take “after” pictures (doubt there will be any difference but why not?)
To see this translated into Health Month rules, check out my profile page.
What’s my goal with all of this? I just looked back and realized I weigh 15 lbs more than I did last year! That’s not cool. So, I want to lose some weight, of course, because that’s definitely not muscle that I gained. 20 lbs by the middle of 2011 is my goal, though I can gain some of that back if I do it via muscle (hence the body fat tracking). Gain 10 lbs of muscle, lose 20 lbs of fat… that also works and seems like a fair trade for a rather specific set of rules.
Back in 2003 I did this experiment with myself called Mecember where I attempted to gain 5 lbs and then lose 5 lbs, just to give myself a tangible sense of the amount of “work” it would take to go in either direction. It was a great exercise, and pretty much won me over as a dedicated self-tracker. From it, I realized on a very deep level that the more I understand the link between what I eat, drink, do, etc and how I feel, how healthy I am, etc the better. It’s time for a little reminder, I think.
The only way to really figure out health is to test out the theories on yourself. How best to “play” health is a highly personal adventure, and endlessly fascinating to me. I’m excited to see what I learn from this next round.