The Health Problem

Posted by Bo Pedersen
on March 13, 2018

According the WHO, obesity has tripled since 1975. 39% of people aged 18 or over are overweight or obese. These are global numbers; in the US, UK, China, and other places, the numbers are much higher.

On the other hand, it is well known that weight loss and improved fitness are attainable by eating better, and exercising more.

If improving your health is so simple, why are billions of people overweight (including me)?

Goal setting

Gtmhub helps companies set and manage goals. We use the following example to illustrate what constitutes a good goal, with measurable metrics (also referred to an objective and key results, or an OKR):

Objective: Improve health

Key results:

  • Blood pressure 120 / 80
  • Work out on average at least 3 times per week
  • Cook 3 healthy meals per week

Time frame: Next 3 months

In this example, we intend to ‘Improve Health’, measured by three highly actionable key results:

Blood Pressure; a quick DuckDuckGo search tells us that alcohol, smoking, lack of physical activity and excessive salt intake are major causes of high blood pressure. I’ll start by monitoring my current situation and take action on my salt intake.

Task 1: Get a blood pressure monitor

Task 2: Don’t add salt to meals

Working out; exercising three times per week has worked well for me in the past. In a busy lifestyle with work, family, and friends, working out three times per week has been manageable. More than this has proven hard for me to maintain in the long term, and less than three times per week generates sub-optimal returns.

Task 3: Carve out 2 additional weekly slots for exercise.

Meals; also a tough one in our household, with adults and children coming and going due to work, after school activities and socialising at weekends. I’ll keep it simple and just focus on simply buying the ingredients required.

Task 4: Choose 3 healthy meal options

Task 5: Write shopping list for 3 meals

Task 6: Buy items on shopping list

Now what?

So far so good. I’ve defined my objective, with measurable key results, and I’ve identified a set of actions to make progress.

Now I have to stick with it, in this case initially for 3 months. This is where most diet and exercise regimes fail. How can I increase my chances of success? Three proven ways to drive long term behavioural change:

Announce it; don’t keep it a secret. If I’m the only one who knows about it, I only have to face the man in the mirror when I quit. If I announce it publicly, suddenly I’m accountable to others. Share your goals as widely as possible to increase the penalty of quitting. Who would you least like to let down? Tell them.

Don’t do it alone; find someone to share your goals with. This is the magic of Weight Watchers, Cross-fit, and any team sports. By joining a group, you submit yourself to peer pressure, and letting the team down carries a social penalty.

Keep a regular routine; Don’t make it up as you go along. Carve out the time required to deliver on your stated commitment, and then make it a routine. I play football every Monday night, and I really don’t like to miss it. Routines require less mental effort. You do it without thinking.

Putting it into practice

I now have a set of clear actions, i.e. tasks, to make progress against my objective. I will check in my progress as measured by the key results every Monday at noon.

Task 7: Set weekly Check-in reminder

Updated OKR

We have now updated our OKR with specific actions, and we have defined the weekly reporting cycle.

Objective: Improve health

Key results:

  • Blood pressure 120 / 80
  • Work out on average at least 3 times per week
  • Cook 3 healthy meals per week

Time frame: By 31/05/2018

First Check-in: 12noon, Monday 19/03/2018. Weekly thereafter.

Priority Tasks:

  1. Get a blood pressure monitor
  2. Don’t add salt to meals
  3. Carve out 2 weekly slots for exercise
  4. Choose 3 healthy meal options
  5. Write shopping list for 3 meals
  6. Buy items on shopping list
  7. Set weekly Check-in reminder

Stay tuned

Now all that remains is for me to follow through and stick with the program. Simple… (stay tuned).

 

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