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Health Challenge Wrap-Up and February’s Challenge

January was hard. I didn’t think I was going to make it through this challenge for the first week. I remember thinking that if only I could only do what I wanted to do, then things would be fine. But that’s not how it works. Once a habit like eating certain things at certain times engrain themselves, it’s very hard to get rid of them.January’s challenge of no gluten, sugar, or coffee was the hardest one I’ve done so far. And yet, at the same time, I think it might have been one of the easiest. By the end anyways, I didn’t even have to think about it. I had made a new habit thinking about what I was eating so much that it wasn’t really conscious any more. Healthy eating just happened. It didn’t start out that way though.The first week was really tough. I remember running up against my first piece of chocolate during the challenge. I tried. I really did. And then I ate it. Instead of focusing on why I shouldn’t and all the benefits with sticking with my challenge my brain short-circuted, told me that I wouldn’t last through the challenge anyways, and then put my hand on the chocolate. There’s no way to resist after that. After a couple of instances like that I was wondering if I really could do this. I wasn’t sure. I had to try. Just focus on one day at a time. One day at a time.The second and third week took a little bit of work as well but they got easier. The turning point was one day at work. Normally, I’m a huge sucker for free food. If it’s tasty and free there is 0% chance I will turn it down. It’s usually in my stomach before I’ve had a chance to think about it and possibly decline the offer.So there they were, sandwiches on fresh buns and cookies. A bunch of them. They were just sitting on the lunch room table, leftovers from someones meeting. I felt it. “Free Food!!!” my brain was saying and before I knew it I was opening up the plastic cover. Then the little angel on my shoulder kicked in (for the first time this month it felt like).”What are you doing?””But…””What is your amazing, fancy challenge about this month.””Right.”And away I went. The interruption actually happened between trigger and response. It seems like if you can groom this break in the chain to happen, you have a chance to actually do what you want to do after a trigger happens. If the interruption doesn’t happen, you’re toast. There’s no way you can resist. You’ll just keep going the same as you did before. No change. So much for a challenge.Think about what you want your actual reaction to be and you’ll have a chance. Your brain will do what you want if you tell it over and over. And over. And over. And over. And then a few more.Since that day, things went smoothly. Sure there were terrible food, coffee and donuts around but I held off. It was tough when I was hungry and the food of some delicious donuts came wafting through the office but I held one.Then I had a binge day at the end of the month. What a great idea! I think I made myself sick by eating too much. Chocolate, pizza, cheesecake, a burger, milkshake. Wow. Put that all together in a sentence and it sounds terrible. I may have gone a little overboard but it was sure tasty.What did I learn from all this?Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t doIf you sit there and think of what you can’t eat all day, then you’ll go out and eat it. If you’ve ever ridden a mountain bike you’ll know this idea quite well. If you look at the  tree while you’re riding, you’ll hit the tree. If you look at the rock, you’ll hit the rock. If you focus on the trail, you’ll ride on the trail.I forced myself to focus on what I could eat and made that as delicious as possible. I also made sure I had enough to eat all the time. Being hungry with no proper food is a guaranteed ticket to the vending machine full of crap. This is where the habits come in. Making all the meals you normally make are habits. You’ll need to adjust to remake these habits if you want to make new healthier things. Force yourself to find new recipes and make them a lot. Keep the good ones and toss the rest. Eventually you’ll replace all your standard meals with awesome food.Make good habits easyThis one is dead simple but it can be so hard. It was in front of me the whole time but it took Brian from PhilosophersNotes to point it out in one of his notes. If your good habits are hard to accomplish, you probably won’t do them. It doesn’t matter how much you want to, if it’s too much work, you’ll bomb. Make it super easy. He puts his toothbrush within easy reach so when he’s done eating in the evening, teeth are brushed and that’s the end of eating for the night.For healthy eating, make sure there are tons of healthy snacks and food around. Make big lists of easy healthy recipes and make them ahead of time. Make large batches so you have leftovers if you feel a lazy day coming on. If something about eating healthy is hard, make it easier. If a bunch of friends eat out a lot and you don’t want to, make them come over for a potluck, or just don’t hang out with them during the initial stages of your eating challenge.Make bad habits hardIf something is very difficult to do, you probably won’t do it. For example, if you smoke, only keep one package  in the house and keep it in a safe under a pile of books in the back of your closet. You need to have lots of time between the trigger or the initial craving and actually smoking. The longer the better. It gives you time to think about what you’re doing (And the little angel on your shoulder to react. She’s a little slow.)Do not buy unhealthy food. Get rid of every single unhealthy thing in your house. If it’s there, it will get eating. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry. Always grocery shop with a list. Only buy what’s on the list. If you haven’t to drive half an hour and pay money for something that’s unhealthy, chances are it won’t happen. If the chips are two feet away from the TV, they’re going to be gone in 5 minutes. Tell everyone about your challenge. Everyone at work knew what I was doing. Those donuts looked incredible but everyone would have said something about why I was eating a donut during my challenge.PatienceChange can only come so fast. When something is deeply engrained, it’s going to take a while to change. Take things one moment at a time. Even a day can be overwhelming when you think of the whole thing. One minute at a time. Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing this minute? Yes? Awesome. Next!Deal with each craving as it comes. You can beat them! Once that one is dealt with, give yourself a pat on the back and then move one. There will be more but don’t think about that right now.Get to the end of the daySimilar to the idea above. Just get to the end of the day. That’s easy right. It’s only ever a few hours away. Just get to the end of the day and then the next will be easier. And the next even easier.Healthy Eating: Find awesome recipesThis one is specific to healthy eating. Find good recipes. If you don’t have good healthy recipes, how do you expect to eat healthy. Healthy food just doesn’t fall out of the sky. Read everything you can on healthy food and healthy living and then go get that healthy food. Stock your fridge and pantry with the healthiest food you can find and only eat that. Once healthy food is your only option, it’s easy to make a choice between snacks or meals. Healthy or Healthy? Easy choice.February’s Project Launch ChallengeI had a few ideas for what I wanted February’s challenge to be. The clincher was that I finally decided to set a date for the launch of the PureOutside Adventure Kit for Mount Benson. It’s a hiking guide for the trails on Mount Benson in Nanaimo. I’ve been pushing it around for the last 8 months and nothing’s really happened with it. So as much as I hate deadlines, I put one on it. Guess what, it’s happening. I’m working like crazy on it to get it to a launch-ready state and it’s coming out March 2, whether I like it or not.That meant I won’t have much time to work on another challenge this month. Finding time to work on the guide is hard enough as it is. If I had another fun challenge to compete with my attention, I know which would get done first. I decided that since this will be my first product launch, I’m going to use it as a challenge.The challenge has a couple different parts. The first is to actually launch this thing. It’s been a long time in the making and I’m scared to put it out there it must happen. Nothing better than a 30 day challenge to kick it into high gear and launch the crap out of it. The second is to learn how to launch well. I’m sure things are going to be haywire right from the start and I know it’s going to take a few launches to really get it right but I’ll be devouring everything I can find on launching products. Conveniently, Tyler Tervooren’s Bootstrapper’s Guild is all about launching a product right now. I’m in the middle of that info so I’ll be putting into practice what I learn right away!That’s about it for me right now. Back to working on the hiking guide. If you have any tips on launching digital products, let me know! I need to know everything I can!