Last weekend, I recommitted to healthy living as my number one priority, and I told you I am starting a new plan. This week I'm back to share.
My motivation is sky high. I want to set a good example for my kids, and I want to keep up with them on the ball field for a few more years. I want to keep my health for decades and strengthen my quality of life. And I as mentioned last week, while it's what's on the inside that matters, thousands of years of human history suggest people are judged by how they look more than we'd like to admit.
So what to do? What would I do if I really meant it? How would I place my bet to get maximum health as efficiently as possible?
Ok, so I have an unnatural fascination with acronyms. I like to have a snappy, memorable device to capture big ideas. CHRZ, pronounced "chores", stands for the four things that I believe absolutely get results in improving health, well-being, and effectiveness:
C - Calorie counting
H - High intensity interval training
R - Reasonable rest
Z - Zero in-box
Calorie counting. As a long-time observer of dieters, it's clear to me calorie counting is the most effective way to go. Over the 100-plus weeks of the Pounds Off Playoff, I've almost always lost when I've counted calories, and usually just went sideways on everything else. The examples of calorie counting leading to huge weight loss are too numerous to mention. My plan is to eat 700 calories less than my maintenance amount.
High intensity interval training. I bought into the conventional wisdom of the 1990s that even moderate activity will improve your health (and on some level, I suppose it's true). As a sedentary person, it was alluring to think all I had to do was park in the farthest space, squeeze in some 10 minute walks, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. But a recent blog at nytimes.com makes a compelling case that brief, high intensity training is the most effective of all. The post advocates one minute at near max effort, followed by one minute of recovery, for a cycle of ten reps total. While I'm very new to this approach, I can't help but notice how similar it is to riding our super hilly local bike trail, which is basically a minute of uphill followed by coasting, repeated several times. I saw results from those rides almost immediately. My plan is to do HIIT sessions 3 times per week, in addition to other activity.
Reasonable rest. I remember a news report from years ago that said people are better rested if they go to bed at 10:00 than at midnight, even if they sleep for the same length of time. It made no sense to me, but my experience has been exactly that. If I go to bed late - especially if I have to fight to stay awake - I don't feel as rested the next day. And if I don't feel rested, it is much harder to keep to a disciplined eating plan. My plan is to get to bed in the 10:00 hour.
Zero inbox. This may seem like the old, "One of these things is not like the others...", but hang in there with me on this. We all know stress can lead to overeating. The single most effective thing I've done to combat stress is empty my in-boxes. These days, that's my physical in-box at work, my email in-boxes at work and at home, my Instapaper account, and my DVR. When the content piles up, it weighs on me. I'm not breaking any new ground here, just using the tools productivity developed by experts like David Allen and Merlin Mann, who coined the term "Inbox Zero." My plan is to stay as close to inbox zero as possible at all times, and clear all in-boxes by midnight Saturday every week.
I'm already a week into this four-tier strategy of doing my CHRZ every day, and I'm seeing results. More to come...