The last 38 days plus today have been pretty good on a few fronts. I've let work keep me from really focusing on my health for years. But something about September 2nd made me commit to ruthlessly stick to a few simple rules and it's been going great.

Rule 1: Sleep at least 7 hours Every night.

I've tried for a long time to "try and get around 8 hours of sleep a night," forever. But I never picked a number and set it in stone and did everything I could to stick to it. Over the past 39 days I've accomplished this goal 38 times. (The morning after the Eagles Monday night game is my lone miss).

This was the hardest rule to follow and also I think the most beneficial. Because of rule 3 I was getting up early, so I had to make sure I was in bed going to sleep no later than 10:10, every night. In a hectic life working at a growing company and with a family, this means cutting out time where I can actually sit quietly and think or work on my own projects.

I think this has been the most beneficial. Getting sufficient sleep is like discovering a cognitive and emotional super power. I'm more effective and more relaxed.

Rule 2: Track everything I eat.

I use MyFitnessPal on my phone and I just put everything in there. I also set a calorie goal in there and try to hit it (ignoring exercise). The goal is a side-effect and natural consequence of tracking. I find myself incapable of tracking something and not trying to hit a goal.

This is because I really want to lose weight, and the only thing I've found to be effective is being very particular about what I eat. So I focus on hiting 1670 calories a day or fewer.

There have been a few times this was close to being missed. But I've done it every day since 9/2.

Rule 3: Go to the gym 6 days a week.

Now the rule is basically daily, because it's easier to stick to. I work best when I try to do something every day. If I had it 3 or 4 days a week it wouldn't work. I've gone 33 out of 39 days. So I'm right on track.

I enjoy working out, and feel much more energetic throughout the day when I do. The only way I can fit this into my life daily is to do it first thing in the morning. So I've been getting up at 5:10 almost every weekday and a bit later on the weekends (the LA Fitness gyms near me open at 7 or 8) and getting it in first thing. Also this does help with Rule 1, because I am usually tired by 10 anyway.

I'm seeing improvements in my numbers and feeling good.

So what?

I'm letting the hard structure of these three priorities drive my days. I need to fit everything in around them, and it's very clarifying. And I've been ruthless doing it. Not succumbing to whim or letting anything else drive my decisions. I've lost 17 lbs in that time, and at almost 40 days in I feel like this is pretty sustainable.

I picked 90 not because I'll magically stop then, but simply to have a goal. See what I accomplish in that time and then decide what I want to do next. At this point I'll probably just sign up for another 90.

But it's not been easy. Looking back, it feels easy. But I paid close attention to all the small decisions that I've had to make to keep up with this committment. And at each new decision in favor sticking with it, it does get easier. But that doesn't mean it's easy. It's been hard work. I think someone who commits to a program like this can do it, but, it's an ongoing process and not a single big decision.

AuthorKevin McAllister