During the summer of 2019, decades of eating every meal like a 14-year old who just got sprung from a POW cage led me to a painful fork in the road. My stomach was killing me. My hips were so tight it hurt getting in and out of the car. Both knees were cracking. And I had plantar fasciitis in my right foot. This put even basic walks around the neighborhood on hold.
I was also being a major pain to anyone within ten feet of my mouth. These ear assaults started years ago and got worse over time. A big part of my personality consisted of incessantly talking about what I was going to eat, complaining about overeating, sharing angst about upcoming workouts, then limping around and being overly vocal about the aftermath. Instead of being thankful I could afford personal circuit training and megareformer Pilates, I griped about both activities for 5 years and eventually managed to make low-impact treadmill walking the object of my derision. I was food “poisoned” and all forms of exercise had become my enemy.
All of this came to a head in June of last year when I visited my doctor. My cholesterol had increased from 189 in 2014 to 242 in 2019. I was stuck at an average weight of 197. Three years and counting. Yay! At a height of 6’ 1’’ this didn’t exactly make me look like a professional pizza taster. However, it did prompt my physician to recommend I get down to 190. Caught up in the moment I asked him, “What if I go full Rocky III Eye of The Tiger and shoot for 185?” He politely mentioned that would be impossible to do in a healthy manner at 53 years of age and suggested major dietary changes. This was new to me since I had spent most of my life exercising my way out of bad eating habits. I had lost 20 pounds on a few different occasions. I had experimented with cleansing gimmicks and fad diets. All for naught. The weight always returned. When I left his office, I knew I had signed up for a challenge I would not be able to handle. What now?
I wondered for a few days. Then I stumbled upon a commercial on Facebook for an app called Noom. It said something to the effect of, “For about the same price as a nice pair of shoes, Noom can transform your life in 4 months.” What did I have to lose? I’m sort of fat. I like technology. It was on. I submitted my email address and shortly thereafter I received a short survey about my weight loss goals. I typed in 190 and they responded with 183. What the heck? Are these people crazy? Am I a nut bag for arguing with a bot? This was followed by an offer for a 2-week trial with 4 different price options. I chose the third highest price thinking they were messing with me since the first two were conspicuously low. I also didn’t want them to think I was cheap. I later learned they would have said yes to any price I chose. They’re funny that way. Ultimately, Noom just wants you to start. So, I downloaded the app and yes, it changed my life.
Here are 6 major highlights of what went down (corny weight loss pun intended) and what I learned – most of which is broader than Noom, and of course, potentially applicable to your organization:
- Noom helped me articulate my big picture and drill down my “Why”: I wanted to get more joy out of life and needed more energy for God, friends, family, clients and prospects. Notice how I didn’t say I wanted to be super lean so LL Bean would feature me as a hot older guy modeling sweaters? Vanity plays don’t work. Transformation requires you to shoot for something much loftier.
- I became food “un-poisoned” by following a simple framework based on the 4 interdependent pillars of health – diet, exercise, sleep and stress. Each category influenced and reinforced improvements across the other categories almost immediately increasing energy, focus and dramatically reducing episodes of “hanger.” Hunger plus anger equals upset friends, family and waiters. Boy, am I glad that phase is history.
- For roughly 10 minutes a day, I interacted with a personal coach/goal setting specialist via text, a support group within the app, I tracked my weight, logged food intake, read articles on nutrition, discovered new recipes, took quizzes, laughed a lot, learned to classify food categories with an easy to follow color scheme, drank the right amount of water for the first time in my life and got very intentional about measuring food portions. I even learned that a green apple is filling. At first, I thought they were lying but I learned to trust the process rather than my instinct which had become a very biased informer over time.
- Within the first week, everything that was hurting quit hurting; enabling me to walk 2.5 miles a day without incident. (My dog is getting pretty ripped too.)
I lost 45 pounds between July 15th and November 15th of 2019 without starving or extreme exercise. PX90? No thanks. Noom uses humor, psychology, moderate exercise and positive reinforcement to motivate long-term change. My total cholesterol also dropped from 242 to 201.
- After subscribing to Noom for 6 months, I got my proverbial wings and use them to fly every day. And if I ever need a refresher, I will re-subscribe in 2-month increments.
What Are Your Pains?
Is your organization clear on your Why? Is everybody onboard? I figured out my personal Why a long time ago but obviously lost traction over time. People get set in their ways and repeat behaviors that work at cross purposes with their goals. BF Skinner was onto something when he said, “Rats unlike people actually learn from their mistakes.” Get very clear on your Why right now and you won’t have to bemoan opportunity cost 5 years from now.
Does your company follow any leadership or technology frameworks? ProviDyn has utilized Entrepreneurial Operating Systems (EOS) and the NIST Cyber Security framework for years. When followed, both provide tried and true templates for success. Why reinvent the wheel? The former has one really keen benefit of trying to put the right people in the right seats and holding them accountable with key performance indicators, including giving employees the opportunity to self-select out of the wrong position into the right one. Or leave the organization on their own accord - without drama or lawsuits. The latter is from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and provides a very easy to follow check list to keep your organization both secure and performing at peak capacity. In the same manner the right mountain climbing gear allows you to climb higher with reduced risk, NIST adds firepower to operations. It also allows you to confidently recommend the same framework to your clients. What could be more powerful than drinking the same coffee you are advising your clients to consume?
Sometimes you only need to make minor changes to ignite a chain reaction. Don’t be afraid to experiment and measure. “Metrics are very powerful,” said the guy who didn’t know what a tablespoon was before July of last year. My pain went away in the first week because I eliminated inflammation by reducing the consumption of animal protein. One 4-ounce burger, chicken breast or turkey sandwich/per day instead of one of the aforementioned for each of my three daily meals. The rest of my meals and snacks were heavy on fruit, vegetables and whole grains. I also quit blindly grabbing 5 handfuls of peanut better pretzels a day and putting 600 calories of dressing on my “salads.” These tweaks prevented my chronically aching stomach from impacting my sleep so I had more energy for my daily walks. Plus, I was almost instantly 5 pounds lighter which took a lot of pressure off my hips, legs and feet. Then for a few months in a row, I was consistently losing 2.5 pounds per week. I know pain is a strong motivator and I am so thankful I wasn’t too stubborn to listen.
Is your organization tolerating and ignoring operating pain? Do you wait until equipment fails to replace it? Do you recycle laptops by passing them lower down the food chain whenever your executives get the latest upgrades? Are you using an older software application with an expired service and maintenance agreement that only works with an operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft? Are your employees properly trained on Microsoft Office? Are you buying 5 licenses of a critical line of business application when you really require 10 copies? Does the owner of your company use Microsoft Exchange as a 5GB storage/archiving solution then complain about email being slow? All of these scenarios need to be evaluated and modified since they impact your work environment, hurt productivity and increase cyber risk. They also put increased pressure on the technology vendors who support you. Each one of these variables forces in-house IT or your managed IT services provider to react which is impossible to sustain over time without a major fail. On the other hand, better run managed professional IT services providers may opt to discontinue the relationship especially if they are charging you a fixed-fee and it ends up costing them money to constantly be in fire-fighting mode. And in-house IT professionals are likely to quit if things get too chaotic and toxic. Either scenario is disruptive and frustrating. Fortunately, each can be addressed with minor adjustments that yield big results.
I hope I have inspired you to rethink your approach to both personal and business health. I promise I am not employed by Noom nor do I have any equity in their enterprise. However, I do work for ProviDyn and we are always glad to help you get more joy out of your business endeavors. Are you sick of pain? Ready to entertain some new ideas? Let’s have a conversation!
I can be reached at 404-551-5492, ext. 508 and firstname.lastname@example.org.