My Corner of the Web

How Everyday Commitments Transformed My Life


Finding My Path to Change

Today, I share a bit of my fitness journey with you. Something as simple as building habits has made a massive difference in my life.

Of course, we’ve all had struggles, especially with everything that went down in 2020 (thanks, COVID). Back then, I felt pretty low – I weighed 150 pounds (6 foot 4) and had recently started antidepressants.

My doctor insisted I get some exercise, even if it was a few minutes a day. But let’s be honest; I struggled to get out of bed in the morning. I’m a voracious reader; one book I came across was BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits. And let me tell you, it inspired me and transformed my life!

The most valuable concept I learned from Fogg was B=MAP. It’s been potent in both my personal and professional life. So let’s dive into how I put this into practice through three phases of fitness.

Phase 1: Laying the Foundation with Planking

I started with the most ridiculous exercise: planking. The shower takes around a minute or two to get hot at my house. I love my morning shower, which I already do 6-7 days a week. So it was the perfect hook.

So while the shower was heating up, I dropped to the ground and did a 60-second plank. I felt self-conscious (not to mention weak), and my wife, Crystal, thought it was funny. She was an avid Peloton rider putting in 45-minute+ sessions many times per week. My planking looked tame by comparison.

Before this, I only tried planking during “Planking Competitions” at 3 PM daily at my first startup. Who knew something so simple could become such an essential part of my life?

It didn’t take long for it to become a routine. And soon, my body started asking for more.

Phase 2: Leveling Up with Peloton

In the spirit of starting small, my next step was to get on the Peloton. I rode daily at lunchtime since I already had a good habit of leaving my desk at lunch and working from home.

I would get up from my desk, change into gym clothes, and immediately get on the bike. I committed to myself: “You don’t need to pedal or turn the bike on; sit there for 10 minutes on your phone pedaling.” But once I was on the bike, I found it much easier to pick a 10-minute class. Little did I know there was something called HIIT at the end of it!

Between early 2020 and fall 2021, I rode 428 times and had a 60-day and 60-week streak. I got up to 180 lbs and was in the best shape of my life! Or so I thought. And then I threw my back out, walking up the stairs. I couldn’t walk. I never knew that kind of pain even existed. I immediately sought professional help and found out I had a herniated disk.

Phase 3: Achieving Balance at Fit District

I walked like a 90-year-old man for a couple of weeks (maybe this is where geriatric olympics came from?). In rehab, I learned about core strength. Unfortunately, I was so focused on the bike that I neglected other parts.

I wanted an expert to help me build a more well-rounded regimen. My first two experiments with fitness went well, but this one was stressful. Planking and Biking had one thing in common: they could happen almost immediately. I value the low latency habits. Now, I was considering strength training, which meant I would likely have to get out and go somewhere.

I looked into trainers who would visit my house and online classes, but neither fit. One-on-one training was costly and online courses might lead to me making mistakes. I never wanted to experience that pain again. I wouldn’t wish that pain on my worst enemy. That’s when I found Fit District.

Fit District had qualities like personal training. You don’t share equipment during class, and you get a dedicated spot to work out. It also had small class sizes – 10 people per class at most- so I could get 1-on-1 attention if needed.

So, I signed up for their 5-day-a-week package and showed up Monday at 6 AM. One hack that motivates me is a reminder that if I pay for five days a week and I miss a day, it makes each one more expensive. This reminder pushes me never to miss a day.

I’ve been a client since October 2021 and have attended almost 400 classes. I’m now the same weight (~180 lbs) but way smaller. I can fit into clothes that I wore when I was 150 lbs! I’ve also never felt stronger or had more energy. You should see my planks now!

Lessons Learned and the Power of B=MAP

So here is some advice:

  1. Read BJ Fogg’s book. Learn B=MAP. Use it on yourself and others (it’s incredible for product design!)
  2. Don’t think or try to “motivate” yourself. Shrink the challenge until you do it without fail. Use a debugging mindset when you do fail.
  3. Find something else you’re already doing and hijack it to build a new habit at the same cadence.

Expanding My Routine for Personal and Professional Growth

I’ve built other habits like walking, writing, gratitude journaling, and marriage rituals. This technique is fantastic for anything you’re trying to do (or stop doing).

One habit I recommend for startup founders is a decision log. Write down your decisions each day and the rationale behind them. It’ll prove invaluable to your future self, employees, and critical thinking skills.

I’m working on a new product for Founders to automate decision documentation. Their staff uses it to get context on decisions. If you struggle to write and communicate decisions, consider joining the waitlist. I’d love to chat with you!

Small Steps, Big Changes

There you have it, folks! Building habits has transformed my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I hope my story can inspire you to take a closer look at your habits and consider how they could help you become the best version of yourself. Remember, small steps can lead to significant changes. Good luck, and happy habit-building!