Lift, data, food

Three things that have been big for me this year are LiftApp, data, and food. You’ve seen me talk about LiftApp several times. It’s been really helpful in tracking my progress on goals. Recently, when I was feeling bummed about not being great about reading my Bible daily which was one of my goals for the year. I checked out my stats on Lift and realized that I had read it almost 300 days in the year. The Data helped me realize that I had done better over the course of the whole year than in the last few months, which was encouraging. I’ve been trying to be more mindful about real information this year. The facts (like the previous example) help me see where I’m at objectively rather than based on my feelings. This year, I also gained a stack of weight due to my love of food and my lack of discipline in exercise and running.


In the new year, Lift is combining diet and data doing “the largest randomized trial of popular diet.” It has two aims:

#1. Help one million people make a healthy diet change leading to: weight loss, overall health, and/or more energy. We’re providing 10 popular diets with expert advice.

#2. Perform the largest-ever measurement of popular diets. What works? How do popular diets compare? How can we all be more successful? We’re working with UC Berkeley on the science and the analysis.

People have the option of adjusting their diets to follow any of the following 10 diets (including the option of being given a random diet to follow):

  1. Paleo: eat like a caveman, mostly veggies, meats, nuts. Advised byPaleohacks and Nerd Fitness.
  2. Slow-Carb: lean meat, beans, and veggies; abstain from white foods like sugar, pasta, bread, cheese. Based on Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body.
  3. Vegetarian: vegetables, but no meat. Cheese and eggs are optional. Advised by No Meat Athlete.
  4. Whole foods: eat only recognizable foods and avoid processed ones. Advised by Summer Tomato.
  5. Gluten-free: no wheat, rye, barley or wheat-based foods.
  6. No sweets: a simple diet change that affects your insulin swings.
  7. DASH: USDA’s current recomendation.
  8. Calorie counting: the old standard.
  9. Sleep more: the science says this should work. Advised by: Swan Sleep Solutions.
  10. Mindful eating: learn mindfulness to recognize when you’re full. Advised by ZenHabits and the Center for Mindful Eating.

When I first heard about this a few weeks ago, I was really interested in the idea, just none of the diets. Well, you know I’m already doing #5 and #6, so I thought there was no real way for me to participate in this. Recently I was listening to a Micheal Hyatt podcast (I forget which one!) and he was talking about how helpful it was for him to start tracking his calorie intake in order to understand whether he was exercising enough. I’ve always been wary of counting calories because it can become a type of eating disorder, but I also have to face the fact that I just eat anything and everything whenever I want. I have zero data about what I’m putting in my body versus how I’m spending that energy (watching Bones on Netflix, these days).

So I tried MyFitnessPal for a few days to count my calories and it was eye opening. I was sometimes 1,000 or 1,500 calories over what I should be consuming based on my activity level! I was reminded of the story from The Power of Habit that talked about those who started tracking what they were eating, it became a Keystone Habit in that they suddenly became aware of what was going into their bodies, but then they also became aware of how they were exercising and spending their money. Their whole lives turned around because of being mindful of this one thing. (Random fact: this article on Keystone Habits is the most visited post of mine via Google).

I’ve decided I’m going to participate in the study doing #8: monitoring my calories. I want to invite you to join me on “the largest randomized trial of popular diet.” All you need is to sign up here and download Lift to your phone (or use it on your browser), or read more about The Quantified Diet

Happy Tummy, Happy Brain

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been wheat free and sugar free. During that year I cheated several times and lived to regret it. I now know that I just don’t operate well if I’m cheating on these foods. My stomach is a disaster and my head spins and I get headaches. I just can’t cheat.

The other factor that I’ve realized heavily influences how good I feel is how many greens I’m eating. This is a problem. I’ve never been good at eating my vegetables. Even fruit. I like a lot of fruit, but I will rarely reach for fruit if chips or cookies are an option. If fruit is served, I’ll for sure it eat and love it. I still haven’t figured out the mental barrier about fruit.

Smoothies, however, I don’t seem to have much problem with. Plop a few berries and a banana in a blender and that thing is down my hatch without a second thought.

For the last few months I’ve been tracking “Eat Veggies” and “Eat Fruit” on LiftApp. I started tracking it because some days I actually at no fruit or vegetables. Since I was a little girl I would get headaches if I didn’t have protein and so that has always been the focus of my meal planning and it’s not abnormal for me to forget to make veggies to accompany it. Since tracking my intake on Lift, I have noticed that I’m noticing more whether or not I’m eating my F&Vs, but it’s still not enough. I’m really tired of how sluggish I’m feeling.

Enter the 30 Day Smoothie Challenge.


I heard about it through GiddyYoYo on facebook and decided I needed to do it. It starts May 1 and continues for the rest of the month. When I first read about it my first thought was, “Jess, do you really need to add something else to your list of things to do?” My initial answer was ‘No’ but as I read on about how the purpose was to develop the habit, well, you know me these days. I’m all about the habit. I’m pretty desperate to eat better.

I already have convinced a few friends to join me but I wanted to let you guys know about it too. The way we eat totally affects our daily performance including mental clarity and energy. I believe this now! So go ahead and sign up to get your smoothie recipes and join the FB group, or check out my Pinboard of smoothies for ideas.

Leave a comment to let us know if you’re in or not!

Developing Keystone Habits


Don’t forget the giveaway that’s going on right now. Click here for more details.

I’ve already gushed about Lift App before. This time, it’s not because I’ve actually received the T-shirt they sent me to say thanks for the first post (though I did). This time, it’s because I’ve experienced some cool psychology that I had only read about until now and I believe it’s thanks to Lift App.

Remember when I read The Power of Habit? I learned a lot from that book including about what Duhigg calls Keystone Habits. Research shows that committing to one keystone habit can improve and bring positive results the rest of your life. One example is food journaling. You can read in detail about it in this HuffPo article but the summary version is this: ask a group of people who want to lose weight to track their food intake. At the beginning they may forget a lot. Slowly they’ll remember to track one meal a day or maybe one day a week. Over time, they’ll remember more and more until they’ve started tracking everything. Then what happens? They become more aware of what’s going in their bellies.

“The researchers hadn’t suggested any of these behaviors. They had simply asked everyone to write down what they ate once a week. But this keystone habit — food journaling — created a structure that helped other habits to flourish. Six months into the study, people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone else.

“After a while, the journal got inside my head,” one person told me. “I started thinking about meals differently. It gave me a system for thinking about food without becoming depressed.” (article)

I’m totally experiencing this with Lift. I have a list of thirteen habits I’m tracking. Not all I’m trying to do daily, but ideally I would get to that point. I had an 18 day streak with reading my Bible until we did a lot of travelling this past weekend. I’ve been writing and reading more because I’m tracking these habits.

But flossing?

I’ve flossed 5 times since I started tracking in January. Three of which were this month.

In February I had had enough of the “Floss!” at the top of my screen always taunting me. “You should floss,” it said. “I don’t want to,” I would reply and then consider deleting that goal from the list. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Probably because my dentist wouldn’t be very happy with me and neither would my wallet for having to pay my dentist so much.

As I saw everything else on my list being lit up in green as I checked them off, the 1 minute it took to floss started seeming less daunting. I became more and more motivated to get the Floss lit green too.

So I decided: I’ll try to floss once a week. That is SO manageable.

Then when I did that two weeks in a row, feeling on top of the world, I decided I could manage twice a week. See where this is going?

Last night as I looked at where I was in my list as I was thinking about my evening and I realized: if I plan things right I can knock them all off. Providence agreed by getting a giant piece of apple (Eat More Fruit) stuck in my teeth, forcing me to floss.

All this to say: you should try Lift, or figure out a system that works for you if an app doesn’t. It’s worth it!


photoI was telling my coworkers yesterday about much I am enjoying Lift App. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I get to see my progress.
  • It encourages me (“Congrats, Jess! You’re on a 5 day streak of drinking more water!”) daily.
  • I actually derive pleasure/value from that BIG GREEN checkmark. Never before has a digital check mark been of value to me.
  • Other people can give me props.

It’s basically a community/app/thing based around achieving goals/to-dos. I only have one “friend” connection on it and he’s not really a friend so much as a guy I have a tech-crush on who I see all the time in St. Henri and I’m too afraid to say hi (he co-writes books with Chris Brogan). He also wrote about Lift this week and what he says is really helpful so I’ll quote him. He’s actually writing about morning/evening routines, which is something we’ve been talking a bit about since this blog’s inception. (How many of you just thought “whoa, inception” and thought about the movie? Me too). You can read the full post here on Julien’s site In Over Your Head.

My life is structured around a set number of goals to complete every day. Some of those goals are tiny, others are large. Here is an incomplete list in picture form:

As you can see, I have tiny habits, like ”Smile at a stranger” (which breaks my usual pattern of looking grumpy all the time), and then I have large ones, like “Finish all to-do’s,” which is a pointer to a another HUGE list in another app.

When I finish all of my habits for the day, like the ones in the list at right, I’m done. But there’s more to it than that.

I also deliberately plan the orderin which I will do these, and the reason I do this is because it helps keep me cheery and motivated to do more.

So I wake up and immediately floss and weigh myself. These are like little wins that get me started on my habit building. Then I go into “Process mail“ and maybe ”Take fish oil“ (very good for you btw).

Then my day is started and I’ll go into my calendar and see what my day is going to look like.

I also force introspection every day through a habit of free writing, which helps me think about my own path, or my work, or whatever else I feel like putting some thought into. You cannot trust yourself to think through important stuff in your head only. Because we are so distracted, it simply does not work. So this forces it to go on paper, where I won’t quit until I hit like 750 words.

So it’s almost like my day is structured with easy win > hard win > easy win > hard win-style loops that will keep me from feeling exhausted. Some stuff is easy, others are hard. With breaks obviously. And of course I forgive myself if ever I don’t get everything done. I draw a lot from Alcoholics Anonymous style ideas so that I can think one day at a time.

The final thing I wanted to mention about this is that often, at night, it is a great idea to just do one more thing. It can be small or big, doesn’t matter, but it helps set you off on the right foot and feel like you were extra productive today. For you that could be anything, maybe doing pushups, or writing a blog post.

I never thought Lift would be as helpful as it is. I don’t even know where I heard about it, but I’m lovin’ it. If you want to add me as a friend/follow me it will automatically suggest me as a friend if you’re following me on twitter, or you can search my name and follow me. Make sure you let me know so I can follow you back and encourage you, too!

Have you found any app or anything that gives you the reward or “lift” you need to reinforce your habits? Comment here and let me know. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...