Here is the One Heart Five Habits book review that never finished the editing cycle back in March 2021. Re-edited for brevity and its new context.

Upon turning 40 my doctor diagnosed me with hypertension. This is bad news as hypertension is known as the silent killer. It is a major contributor to cardio vascular disease, the number 1 attributed cause of death globally.  

I ordered a smart blood pressure reader and flummoxed my doctor with unusually high readings for  someone so seemingly healthy. 

We experimented through trial and error with some meds and found one that worked. My blood pressure readings  improved but remained too high. My diet didn’t seem problematic to me, I thought to myself, I don’t eat fast food, I don’t add salt to my food… we eat fresh vegetables and fruit… we walk for exercise… anywhere from 3.5 – 10km excursions… I didn’t understand how my diet could be the problem. My doctor recommend the Netflix show Gamechangers and a few other research and inspiration activities but nothing struck me. I didn’t do much in terms of followup, other than take my meds. 

I am not entirely sure what caused me to search the internet  but I came across a book I hadn’t heard of, called One Heart Five Habits and added it to my virtual library. I devoured it. It was an exceptionally easy and inspiring read. What struck me most about it?

Despite the fact that I was pretty convinced that the salt issue didn’t apply to me, the book convinced me that it did… Eating out, even at a fancy restaurant, you’re going to get more salt than dining at home. Tips for looking at the labels of packaged foods to assess salt content, resulted in realizing that even my organic, premium choices for home were still, quite often, too salty. 

I felt like I ate plenty of fruit and vegetables… until I took the challenge of eating 8 servings of fresh fruits or vegetables in a single day… ditto for water. That’s a lot! I was no where near that level, and still struggle to fit that much in over the course of a day – even while working at home! 

One Heart Five Habits was also super encouraging, setting  and reinforcing a tone of “every little bit helps…” it’s not an all or nothing equation. Each alcoholic beverage you skip, helps. Each extra walk, each serving of fruit, veg or water… it all contributes. I found this motivating. 

I enjoyed the book so much I was happy to pay the $6 for the app to track my progress. The app was super basic, there was a couple of rough edges in the user interface, and I think I even spotted a typo. Its privacy details weren’t updated in the app store at the time of writing, and it didn’t integrate with any of your other heath apps, so you’re manually transcribing your weight, blood pressure, minutes of exercise etc. That said the UI is pleasant, gives positive feedback when you tally yet another fruit or vegetable consumed, and I found it quite effective for tracking my progress.

So, how were my results? 

After 3 months (Jan – March 2021) I was trending down both with respect to weight and blood pressure, despite suffering through some stressful life circumstances. However, I struggled to maintain the regime and after making a career move I proceeded to gain back more than I’d lost. I gained a total of 26lbs between May 2021 – April 2022.  I was the heaviest I’d ever been. Which was also no good for my blood pressure.

As I mentioned in my last post, A Skeptics Interrogation of A Skeptics Guide to Stutz, it’s at this point April 17th 2022 that I made the internal commitment to speed walk 8k (meters) a day and thereby proceeded to lose all the weight I put on and more. And more importantly I’m not done! Next week I’ll share more on how I landed on this commitment and why I think I’ve been successful keeping it for more than 9 months. 

A Skeptics interrogation of Stutz – A Skeptics Guide

A skeptical reader coming across my last blog post: Stutz – A Skeptics Guide could conceivably harbour a few objections to the premise and positioning… these objections might sound something like: 

“Wait, you say you’re skeptical, but there seems to be a fair amount of alignment and no shortage of woo woo, avocado, neo-Christian liberalism at play here… prove to me that any of this nonsense has been remotely helpful to you empirically, and not just some west coast, feel good, mental fantasy whose fundamental purpose is to distract from the drudgery of everyday. AND if all you got is, “Have faith!” Or “Trust me!” Or some other bollocks, then good riddance. I’m justified in never even trying any of these suggestions! ” 

I think that’s a fair ask. And while perhaps it’s framed in a less than friendly manner, one I feel compelled to address. 

Feel free to verify for yourself, in the many years of new years resolution posts on this blog, and or exercise, weight goals type posts – I have regularly failed to persistently tame my weight, appetite and habits. Forays that first appear to have promise such as, no carbs after 2pm, or One Heart 5 Habits which I thought I blogged about circa 2020, but apparently didn’t, sadly don’t last and fall by the wayside. Same with habits lists and habitify which too apparently I failed to actually blog about. 

So where does that leave us?

The first week of April 2021 I weighed an average of 224 (19lbs heavier than my solid run of 205lb 2012-14.) By the same period in 2022 I was up an average of another 20lbs, 244lbs. I hit the heaviest I’d ever been at 246 and change on a 6’1 frame. Something had to give. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t been trying between 2014 and 2022, with various diet attempts, various exercise regimes. However, nothing stuck. Even if the initial results were good. 

April 17th 2022 I made a personal commitment, which I’m pleased to report I have kept very consistently since – despite snow falls, and rainy winter days and some trips for pleasure and more for work..  I kept this one inner commitment. My commitment has been to complete an 8km speed walk everyday. My typical pace is quicker than an 8 minute and 30 second kilometre. So what has that done for me?

My average weight over the last week has been 219.1 – I’ve lost 27lbs, in 9 months, and I’m not done! (This time period also includes the very problematic winter holiday season with all its tasty delights.)

Not only have I lost weight, but I feel great. I feel the extra energy to pursue intellectual pursuits like this blog. The discipline to get out for my exercise, to choose not to have another glass of wine before bed, to tackle some of the things I have been putting off. I’m feeling energised. And I’m confident if you put your skepticism aside, and try the advice laid out in my Skeptics Guide to Stutz you will too. Give it a try – let me know how it goes, and fire away with any questions. Good luck! 

Visual Management, Willpower and Weight Loss

As you know from my Learning to See post I’m currently working towards another professional designation. What you don’t know is that the credential being pursued is Lean Bronze Certification (LBC).

One of the many Lean tool philosophies is Visual Management. Visual Management is about using visual indicators to affect people’s behaviour and the overall performance of a system or value stream. I recently adopted a visual tool to incentivize my personal goal to lose weight.

To understand my weight loss predicament you should be aware that I live in the present. In a recent personality survey, the Maieutik test, I was roughly attributed to spend 25% of the time in the past, 50% in the now, and 25% looking forward. This seems intuitive to me – one of my personal credos is of sensible hedonism. Bringing us to the problem of why I’ve rarely been able to lose weight. The notion of weight loss and better health is sort of abstract and the immediate pleasure of a snack is far from.

A friend and colleague of mine listens to many audio books, and one day during a coffee or cocktail, he was telling me of one of the case studies in the Influencer, where a set of research indicated that the number one thing you could do that would help you lose weight was weigh yourself daily. It sounded interesting, but inwardly I was skeptical. I could not make the connection as to why measuring yourself daily would make such a dramatic impact. I also knew that for me I would tend to forget the exact measurement anyway; I’d have a rough idea but not the exact numbers in my mind, thereby making exercise moot. Would I really have the will power to get out the scale every morning? Too many obstacles. Nevertheless, weight loss came up amongst my foundational vitality goals within my happiness project.

Then at long last came a solution, the Withings Wi-Fi enabled scale! Using my love of gadgets to get me on the scale daily, leveraging the principles of visual management to keep me inline, and the promise in the Influencer actually worked! The desire to keep that line trending down the next morning, this real goal as opposed to some abstract good health goal made all the difference in my commitment to eat better.

Eat better you ask? A different colleague of mine has cracked that code – cut out carbs after 2pm (assuming a 10pm bedtime). 4.2 pounds in a week? For me the proof was available if I could forgo the pudding. Previous to this experiment, I would not have thought I was a big snacker. I don’t stop at the store on the way home to buy chips… but if they are in the house… well, not anymore! My morning date with my Withings scale is, strangely, enough of an incentive to practice restraint, which is paying off for my vitality and my waistline.

I’ll update my progress and the graph in a few weeks, to keep you up to date on progress towards my goal to lose 10 or more pounds.

Gallery / Status Updates

One month in and I’ve lost 7.1 pounds. My third week set me back a little bit,  I was seduced by thin crust gluten free pizza after 2pm… twice… how bad could that be? Apparently bad enough. However all is now well, I’m back to my  lowest weight and the trend line is once more pointed downward.