Everyday Achiever Profile: Brian

Achievement Oriented is sharing profiles and the routines of everyday people who set out for a goal and do something great. No celebrities, just everyday achievers.

Today we’re talking with Brian, who decided to change his lifestyle in 2018 in order to live healthier. As a result, he was able to lose 50 pounds over the past year. It hasn’t been easy, balancing his approach with those of a demanding job, but it’s been impressive to see, and has a bunch of friends and colleagues asking how he does it.

We sat down with Brian to get the story on how it all started, the details of how it went, and what he’s planning for 2019.

A before and after for Brian: From the end of 2017 to end of 2018

Q: So, let’s talk results first. What’s changed between 1/1/2018 and 1/1/2019?

Over the course of the first half of the test I dropped about 50 pounds, going from 205 down to 155. The second half of the year I maintained my new weight while cutting additional fat and adding muscle mass (as measured via DEXA scans). 

Brian’s weight over the past four to five years. No advanced analytics needed to figure out where this trend started to change!

Q: Wow, that’s incredible! How did this all come about? What made you decide to start to live healthier?

Well it all started with read The Obesity Code by Dr Jason Fung in November of 2017. The book really crystallized for me how traditional diet advice fails to help people and that “Eat less, move more” is destined to fail in frustrating ways. His suggestions focus on cutting sugar and artificial sweeteners, and paying attention to the timing of your eating.  I had slowly been gaining weight since my mid-20’s and just felt like I needed to do something. 

Q: So once you made that decision, how did you go about coming up with an approach? What perspectives influenced you the most?

I really just followed the guidelines from the book. There are a number of other people who I follow on Twitter that have provided helpful perspectives on things, notably Dr. Tro and Dr. Ted Naiman. They are big fans of “eat densely, move intensely”

Q: Okay, getting into the details, what was your approach? How did it go?

Cutting soda entirely was really important. I’ve found that “no” is a lot easier than “low”. Same thing with cutting snacking. 

The other thing was moving to time restricted eating. I slowly transitioned away from breakfast and now generally eat between noon and 8 pm. 

Other than that I didn’t really change my workouts at all. I was working out a bunch while I gained weight, and I now know that exercise is super helpful in a lot of ways but doesn’t do much for weight loss. 

Q: There’s a lot of advice out there on how to lose weight. Is there any conventional wisdom or pervasive beliefs that you feel are just dead wrong?

Breakfast being the most important meal of the day or that you should eat lots of small meals. The insulin hypothesis of weight gain argues against both of these points of conventional wisdom and I haven’t seen any rationale for them.

Q: Lastly, what are your plans for 2019? How much of the routine are you sticking with and is there anything else new on the horizon?

People often ask me what the hardest thing has been. I honestly think it’s been super easy. Once you know what does help and what doesn’t it’s much easier to be less strict about your diet. I’ll have birthday cake or chips and queso, I just follow it up with a fasting day. 

2019 is about maintenance. If I can keep my gains for a full 12 months I’ll know that I have a sustainable path in my life from a diet perspective. 

Do you want to give Brian’s approach to weight loss a try? It’s easy to start by tracking just five metrics in WeAchieve. No need to meticulously track calories, carbs, fat, or more.

  • Time of first eating
  • Time of last eating
  • Number of Sodas
  • High Intensity Workout Minutes
  • Weight

With each of these, you can then set goals to fit your own lifestyle. You can start with goals to:

  • Don’t eat before Noon 3 days of the week
  • Never eat after 9pm
  • Do 60 minutes of High Intensity Workouts per week
  • Have 6 no soda days each week

And of course, don’t forget to set a milestone to reach a new weight, say 10-15 pounds lower than where you are today so that you can celebrate your success!

Of course, feel free to customize and experiment. Every person is certainly going to have their own experience. But by tracking key actions in WeAchieve, it’s easy to see what is making a difference and make adjustments as necessary.

Need help getting this setup in WeAchieve? E-mail us at help@weachieve.io and we’d be happy to help you get started!

The Most Important Skill to Handle Complexity

Deep understanding of complexity is needed now more than ever, and it doesn’t just show up in your head overnight.

Today’s world is complex and becoming more so. Such complexity feels inevitable, yet there’s a tinge of irony in a world like ours where much of the complexity is created through a desire to simplify. Amazon and the world of e-commerce illustrate this well. Because of their desire to get any product to any person in a day or two, a huge array of purchasing options have sprung up, enabling you to choose from hundreds of products, many of which have been created to simplify some other problem.

Today’s complexity largely comes from navigating a world of many solutions to simpler problems. Buying insurance? You can do it from your living room, but you have thirty different choices. Reading the news? It’s all in your pocket but you have hundreds of conflicting options, good luck!

Complexity and Your Wallet

complexity and your wallet

Similarly, the business world has become more complex as a way to deliver simpler solutions. Where a generalist would have sufficed in the past, highly specialized roles have become the rage. Many software engineers now specialize in particular languages and frameworks rather than learning new ones. Marketers are expected to know a whole set of tools and processes depending on the role.

But no role exemplifies this more than Data Science. Even ten years ago, the general idea with data was to hire smart people who knew some math to figure things out. Now, companies are looking for people with incredibly specific skill sets – it’s not uncommon to see job postings that, as an example, want someone who has used gradient-boosted decision trees to predict out-of-stocks. Haven’t done that before? Too bad, someone has.

Navigating Complexity: What it Means for You

navigating a maze - this is complex

But what does all this mean for anyone navigating such a world? It’s clear that the ability to understand and deconstruct such complexity – true mastery of a subject – is as valuable as ever. But deep understanding of any subject doesn’t happen by chance. Mastery requires persistence – the ability to stick with, grind through, have grit. There are many such terms all used to capture the same concept. Without a persistent pursuit of a subject, you have little chance of mastering it, let alone sticking with said subject as it continues to evolve.

Of course, persistence is hard to measure and depends on many different factors. Angela Duckworth attempted to quantify “grit” in her work on the subject and makes the case for its importance. But understanding how to develop and nurture such a skill is still deeply dependent upon one’s own situation. Indeed, it is safe to say that if there was a panacea for developing such a valuable skill, evolution would have found it by now.

What We’re Doing About It

statue representing grit and persistence

That brings us to WeAchieve. If you don’t know by now, WeAchieve is a brand new accountability engine designed to help you keep yourself focused your on long-term goals. Mastering anything is a long-term goal, and thus we are focused on figuring out how to aid that process. What we’ve built so far was done so to leverage several things that researchers agree aid in building persistence: developing a plan, setting achievable and quantifiable targets, and selectively sharing process-focused steps with select friends or family.

The current state of persistence can be understood by looking at what percent of people achieve their New Year resolutions. Most research measures this around 8%. To be sure, some part of this 92% failure rate is innately human – we can’t help but reach for the unobtainable. But we also firmly believe that the 9% success rate can be much higher. Why not 16%? Why not 32%? With 150 million Americans setting New Year resolutions each year, what would the world look like if 40 million more people were hitting the goals that matter most to them? We believe it is a much better world, and it’s the one we’re striving for.

Destroying the 4 Great Goal Barriers

Last week, we covered why goal setting matters more than ever. Hopefully that resonates even if it comes with a rose-tinted view of how goals work. The sobering fact is this: reaching any worthwhile goal is HARD. No matter what, you are going to face unfamiliar landscapes, obstacles large and small, and will suffer setbacks large and small as well.

We’re building WeAchieve to provide the best possible ways to overcome these challenges. Just because it is hard to achieve a goal doesn’t mean nothing can help. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite: certain approaches can lead to dramatic improvements. WeAchieve seeks to help people find the ways that work for them to avoid some of the common challenges or pitfalls that people tend to fall into.

Walls as a barrier to success
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How to Use Peer Pressure to Achieve Your Goals

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”  – Bruce Lee

In today’s society, peer pressure often gets a bad rap. It’s usually associated with why we make poor decisions: everything from alcohol abuse to excessive spending can be caused by peer pressure. We are taught from a young age to resist peer pressure; that we should be ourselves and not bow down to pressure from others.

Unfortunately, it’s a battle that most of us will never win. Humans are social creatures by nature, and peer pressure will always play an important role in how we interact with each other. However, the good news is that there is more and more research out there showing the positive effects of peer pressure. Because peer pressure is such a big influence, we can use its influence to promote healthier and better behaviors, such as achieving our goals. Below are a few techniques using peer pressure that you can use to help you achieve your goals.

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Why Goal Tracking Matters More Than Ever

person looking at goals and charts

By most estimates, personal goal setters are a minority. Recent data suggests 15-20% of people regularly set goals for themselves outside of a work context. As with most social science, there are some fantastic claims around the power of goal setting, many of which are probably not reproducible. Indeed, two of the most common studies you’ll hear about have been debunked as urban legends. “Set goals and you’ll double your income, be happy, wise, and live happily ever after,” may sound good, but we all know that isn’t how it works. Realistically, we know there’s likely some bias in terms of the personality and motivations of goal setters outperforming the other 80%.

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