Ben's Bulletin Issue #3

Last week, I didn’t publish my newsletter. Normally, I would've all the excuses to continue that trend. Not this time. I owe it to myself to continue this writing journey, even if it’s by admitting my own flaws and vulnerability. So here it goes.

My main reason for not publishing last week was my weight. No new low. No downward trend. But stagnation around the same level (115.4kg).

This week is even worse. 116.7 kg 😨. I have to be honest with myself and with that I've to be honest with you.

This newsletter will not be like other social media humbug. It will not be unicorns and rainbows. It will be raw, vulnerable and honest. Because if I make this newsletter about only my highs, I won’t do myself any favours. And for you, it will be just another blog.

With that said: this blog will be about identifying my flaws, working on them under the realisation that I’m human and that learning and getting better is part of the deal being here after all, hoping that along the way I can communicate lessons that help others out there as well.

🎯 On Strategy and Execution

“Forget about outcomes. Focus on making a little progress every day." Ryan Holiday

I've read this the other day and knowing what I know as someone who's implementing business strategy through effective implementation practices (project, program, portfolio management), I'll have this advice:

If you take Ryan's advice without a grain of salt, you'll be going off track within days.

I understand where Ryan's coming from. Consistency and persistence are key to creating anything of magnitude or consequence. But these need to be directed. If you don't have direction, how will you make sure that your hard work contributes to something meaningful and of value?

"There's nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." ~Peter Drucker

Initial alignment of your What to your Why is key to ensure that your actions will contribute towards your strategy.

And constant tracking of this alignment during execution will be the key for creating anything of magnitude and consequence.

🌿 Towards better health

As mentioned in the introduction, my weight’s stagnating. No, that's actually a lie. It’s been going up. This week alone by a whopping 1.3 kg.

And this is not a phase of “I’ve tried everything but I’m hitting a plateau here” but instead a “Garbage in. Garbage out.” theme.

Here are some of the pitfalls I identified:

  1. I didn’t track my meals: when I track my meals, I become aware of adequate portion sizes and nutrition tables. When I don’t track meals, my portions grow day by day and the food quality decreases along with it.
  2. I skipped on my diet: the main benefit of a time-restricted meal plan is that it only allows eating within a set window of time. There’s a much lesser chance of overeating when there’s less time to do so.
  3. I value exercise over diet: taking my morning walks again, I rationalise my uncontrolled eating. “You deserve this.” or “You worked hard for this.” According to Spencer Nadolsky “with exercise only (no dietary guidance), studies show most people only lose 1-2% of their weight.”. That just ridicules my excuses.

So here are the actions I'll take this week to avoid the pitfalls above:

  1. Track the tracking: with one of my fairly consistent habits being journaling, I’ll track every evening whether I have tracked all my meals. Stacking one broken habit onto a working one. I’ve also brought the myFitnessPal app onto my phone’s front page for quick tracking.
  2. Schedule time for family meals: The reason I had breakfast yesterday and the day before was that I find comfort in eating together with my whole family. I somewhat don’t have that feeling of connection over lunch and dinner for the following reasons.

    a) For lunch, I’m either out at work or taking adhoc lunch breaks when working from home, rarely eating together with my kids and wife.

    b) For dinner, both my wife and I are tired from the day and often default to unhealthy options, which we don’t consume at a set time.

    Scheduling time for family lunch (when working from home) and dinner will create a valuable family ritual and reestablish that sense of connection that I longed for when eating breakfast the last two days.
  3. Let the fridge fight my addiction: I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with candy. Merriam-Webster defines {addiction} as a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behaviour, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence.

    This is 💯% me when it comes to sugar.

    It’s compulsive - I simply do when I’m in the pantry. I get the snack and eat it. The taste is irrelevant to me - quite the opposite: when I do focus on taste, I don’t particularly like it.

    The harmfulness of sugar is undebatable (even though the industry tried covering up sugar’s lethal effects for decades) and I can see it in myself (see this week’s weight gain).

    And finally, the withdrawal symptoms: I’m more irritable throughout the first couple of days. This will subside after a week or two but subsides within seconds when eating sugar. Which drives me to go to the pantry and start the cycle once more.

    So to break my addiction, I’ll do two things:

    a) replace unhealthy sugary snacks with healthy ones. I’m not talking celery and carrots. I’m talking yoghurt and fruits, which I do like.

    b) keep fridge stocked up with healthy options. I enjoy good foods like salmon, steaks, broccoli, salads, etc. If they’re not available in my fridge though, I default to snacks and items in the freezer (which are rarely healthy).

🏆 Weekly Win

A play session with my 3-year-old son sticks out. Both my phone and watch were charging. The absence of both leads to me really leaning in, focusing on play and engaging with my son. It’s something of deep focus that I rarely experience when notifications, emails and social media pull your attention left and right.

This is a valuable lesson and I want to take advantage of this during work and other relationships.

  1. Leave the phone out of sight (in my bag at work; at my desk at home).
  2. Enable Do not disturb mode on my watch so notifications are disabled during these important times of focus.

😖 Weekly Loss

Not using my mornings for my most important work: writing, shooting, editing.

I haven’t made a YouTube video in a while. Since Freedom App blocks access to YouTube during my morning hours, my default procrastination activity has become watching training courses on SkillShare. So I’ll have to add this site to my blocked lists as well.

The writing part is fun. What blocks me from filming is mostly the continued anxiety (despite having two videos available) of others judging my content. I’ll re-read Tim Urban’s post on Wait but Why about Taming the Mammoth: Why you should stop caring what other people think.

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