30 Day Health Reboot

I’ve really been dogging it on the health front. Metrics, self graded, have been in the toilet since middle of last year. To be honest, they were only good for a total of three months last year. Diet and exercise, captured by those metrics, was shit and it is reflected in my cardio fitness, strength fitness, body weight, and body composition all being in the toilet. When I had my comprehensive annual physical and blood work I figured my middle-aged body was probably going to show signs of being worse for the wear. Thankfully everything was still in line. That’s a dodged bullet not a sign that the status quo is okay though. So here I am one week into my 30 Day Health Reboot.

I’ve documented goal accountability many times, but at least with each annual review such as in the 2021 Annual Review (still haven’t 2022’s review but have the data). Essentially it applies a four point scale grade, just like in school, every day to each of five categories of my choosing to target. These categories are pretty static and are derived from pretty standard advice on things that help increase longevity. This includes things like having a good diet (Goal #1), getting enough sleep (Goal #2), getting enough activity (Goal #3 and #4), and keeping my mental faculties up to snuff (Goal #5). How I choose to do that over any given period is 100% subjective though. Perhaps the dialed in diet for one period could be 100% whole foods vegan. In another phase perhaps it is just a “Blue Zones” inspired diet. The arbitrariness shouldn’t mask bad behaviors. It is against the whole process for me to choose a diet goal of eating nothing but fast food. Beyond that though the grade is about how much I’m adhering to the goal, or not.

As someone who has tracked everything I’ve eaten for over a decade now I understand point of diminishing returns of this whole observation affecting behaviors though. It works great in short burts. One of the reasons for dividing up the year into 13 phases is to not only give me a chance to adapt these goals but to give me possibilities of short term score resets. It’s like the psychological effect of New Year Resolution just every four weeks. When I’m in a really slack phase it is often the looking at the charts that gets me to say, “Wow I need to shape up!” But usually the real catalyst for these things is the reality of clothes not fitting well any longer. While it usually isn’t a surprise as to how I got there it is instructive to see how far off the rails I’ve gone.

I have had intentions of getting shit dialed in “for real” since early last year. I was on a pretty good track for that in late winter of 2021 and then again in mid summer. After that though it was all down hill from there. Speaking grade wise I mean that literally. While I knew my travel and social schedule at the beginning of year was going to impede getting off to a good start, I had every intention of getting it dialed in by mid-February at the end of all that. Newsflash, that didn’t happen. A few fits and starts here maybe but for the most part it was status quo of not eating great, not exercising at all, not meditating or doing any mental exercises, and only making decent improvements on getting sufficient sleep.

2022 Daily Grade Graph
2022 Phase Grade Graph
2023 Daily Grade Graph
2023 Phase Grade Graph

So what does this reboot look like? By far the thing I have the biggest problem dialing in consistently is exercise. I can run a good clean diet for awhile but getting my butt moving has always been a problem for me. If longevity and activity weren’t so heavily correlated I wouldn’t care necessarily. I’m still at an age where for the most part my lack of fitness intrinsically limits what I want to do. But those years of coasting are coming to an end sooner than later. The longer I keep out of the having that stuff dialed in the worse it will be for me in the long run. It not just about probabalistically shaving years off my life but also shaving quality years off my life. So that is a huge focus. But along side that is also polishing up meditation and diet.

So the 30 Day reboot goals looks like the following:

  • Goal 1: Eat a Blue Zones inspired plant dominant diet averaging at least 90 grams of protein a day
  • Goal 2: Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night
  • Goal 3: 20 minutes of focused cardio exercise (indoor cycling, running, swimming)
  • Goal 4: Daily calisthenics or yoga
  • Goal 5: 15 minutes or more of meditation

If you went into my previous posts on this topic this list doesn’t look that extraordinarily different. The only thing that is truly substantially different is Goal #3, activity. That used to be an amorphous “getting enough steps” or “burning enough calories”. That has obviously proved too loose to keep me focused, especially without a running event to train for. Without the training I can get a decent amount of movement walking around, and that is certainly a good thing, but I really need to get into a daily exercise mindset. I’m therefore attempting to do this by using the gamification metrics that the Peloton system provides. I have the cycle there collecting dust so I might as well use it.

Now, going from no exercise at all to cycling each day is not something to be taken lightly. That’s true for a young person but doubly true for someone my age. The point is to create a lifestyle rhythm that has a good 30 minutes of exercise in it each day. This week of having a short 20 minute ride and then doing my calisthenics and yoga right afterward seems to be something that I can easily manage.

For the first week I did all easy rides. Today was the start of the new week. To commemorate that I added my first “hard ride” in as well. The rest of the week will be easy rides. Again, the point is to create a lifestyle rhythm. Next week I’ll add a second hard ride and the third week I’ll add yet another. That will then be my baseline for the rest of the thirty days: 20 minute rides each day with 3 hard days evenly spaced throughout. I have travel coming up so that may get replaced with a stationary bike at a local gym or maybe mixing in 20 minutes of running here and there. Either way every day it is imperative that I get that exercise in. Meditation is in a similar place. I had a pretty good meditation streak last year. I want to revive it again. I’m starting with the 15 minutes of sitting at a time but slowly want to work that up to at least one thirty minute session a day.

As you can see from the graphs I finally have things dialed in. A good 30 day streak of that would be a wonderfully nice reboot. Carrying that through the end of the 6th phase of the year would give me some good momentum moving forward. Where do I go from there though? That is sort of the rub of this whole thing.

Like diets, reboots often feel like a short term tune up thing. “I’m going to eat X Diet to lose 10 pounds!” And then what? The point of all of this tracking and grading is about long term health not short term dropping of body fat or putting on muscle. Those are great short term benefits but to stick this has to be a new lifestyle thing. I have to feel off about missing a workout day, rather than the current default of rationalizing any pretext to put off exercising just one more day. Out of context that can sound like a dysfunctional point of view. But look at the targets here. These are not Herculean physical efforts. These are not goals of eating nothing but cabbage soup every day, increasing barbell weights by a certain percentages, needing to run 10K per day, or anything of the sort. These are relatively bare minimum levels of recommended diet and exercise advice. It is just that I have a life time of my brain being wired to be mostly working against these goals.

A focused reboot therefore hopefully rolls into another several weeks of maintaining that tempo. Then another and another, until the whole thing feels more hardwired. As it becomes more second nature do I up the requirements? Perhaps. Let’s get to that point first before I worry about it.