It’s All About That Process

If you want to do something, anything well, you need to put effort into it. This much, you probably heard from your parents time and time again.

But figuring out how to exert the effort needed, well, that’s a harder one. And unless your parents were psychologists, they probably didn’t have a great answer for you. Of course plenty of time, the effort (and progress) come easily. But it obviously becomes easy to struggle when you hit a rough spot no matter how excited you are about something. We’ve all hit those roadblocks on any long-term goal.

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Make Your Goals Into Weekly Ones!

Throughout building a goal tracking platform, one question among many was “what timeframe(s) should we support?” Our initial bias was to include all of them: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and custom. This seemed like a good idea at the start: people obviously want to do some things every day and other things are New Year Resolutions.

While it is true that the timeframes can differ, we’ve discovered a clear winner when it comes to what timeframe gives you the best chance of sticking with a goal: weekly!

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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 and we’d be happy to help you get started!

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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Achievement Oriented: A Running Story

As we launch, WeAchieve is sharing stories of goals both made and missed. If you have a story to share, let us know and we’ll be glad to share your story!

Running as a hobby is something that people either “get,” or they don’t. For the first 22-odd years of my life, I didn’t get it. As we went through college, I had good friends who would head out for runs, and the best I could manage was a “what are you going on a run for? You are going to end up right back here in an hour, except all tired and sweaty!”

Of course, this isn’t a story of not running. My running story begins when I was going on a trip with two friends. Prior to that, the two of them discussed my odds of taking up running, and I was given a 5% chance by one, and a 0% chance by the other. This was fair: I hadn’t run more than a couple miles in at least three years, and often balked at having to walk to the other side of campus. But social validation is a powerful motivator, and thus a running story was born.

It was the winter of 2009, and Pennsylvania was COLD. Perhaps the first step is the hardest — I geared up and stepped out the door, wondering what I was doing. “Trying to run” was an apt description, as I ran for a bit then was forced to walk time and again. Records indicate that I ran 2.5 miles in 24:29, but that definitely included many pauses to catch my breath. But I went out six of the next seven days, determined to give this a shot and prove my friends wrong.

My running log in the early days, almost 9 years ago!

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