The 5-Week Habit Forming Challenge Idea

Okay, so hear me out for a minute on this. 

There's so many challenges and gurus around nowadays, selling custom meal plans and workout plans of all descriptions. Most of them have been designed in a way that requires as little time of the creator as possible (which makes good business sense - simply sell a plan with minimal editing required e.g. adding starting body weight to change calorie intake numbers - and it's the fastest way to make money).

I've been thinking for years about how I could best disseminate the knowledge I've acquired throughout my weight loss and self-development journey. How could I possibly put what took me years of trial and error and deep thought into a generic plan that I send out to everyone? Choosing medicine as a career has made it even harder. I would ideally be able to give everyone one-on-one time to discuss their goals and habits, just like we try to do with patients (which is very hard to do about nutrition or exercise in a 15minute appointment when the real reason they came to see you is because of x, y and z).

If you're not familiar with my story, here's a snapshot:

  • 2012: I weighed 128kg (282lb) at least. I was pre-diabetic (hba1c of 42) and almost-certainly had PCOS (but I was too scared to get investigated). I hadn't done any exercise for years and regularly ate large quantities of food like it was a snack. I was on the tail-end of a severe depression and had used food as a coping mechanism, earning myself some awful habits. I was a social recluse, and saw my friends (the few I still had) probably once a month, if that.
  • 2015 onwards: I'm now around 88kg (190lb) but to be honest I don't really weigh myself much. I go to the gym 3-6x per week, lift heavy (145kg deadlift), am an almost-doctor, and am the happiest I've ever been in my life. If you told 2012 me that this was going to be my life, I simply wouldn't have believed you. Of course I could still lose more weight, but I've now found a lifestyle I enjoy and I feel healthy and content.

 

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So I've come up with an idea that I want to trial. Now is basically the last opportunity I have to put my time and energy into this. I'm on my last academic break before I'm a fully fledged doctor (12 months to go!). So the next 5 weeks, I can really commit to the trial part of this. If it works as I anticipate, future iterations shouldn't be as difficult (if future iterations are desired).

What I've always wanted to see come to life:

  • A program based on changing habits, rather than short terms bursts of motivation and dedication that don't last
  • A program that focuses on much more than an arbitrary food or exercise change - if it was as simple as committing to a different way of eating or exercising, we would've solved the obesity issue already
  • A program where I can offer one-on-one support in a way that isn't too time-consuming for me, but gives participants real value
  • A truly personalised plan for each person, not simply slight number adjustments on each plan dependent on each persons starting weight or goals

There's definitely a risk here that the time commitment for me to do this RIGHT will be more than I'm expecting. Basically, I'm unwilling to deliver something that I'm not completely happy with. I don't want to do it if it's going to be half-arsed - which is why I've thought about it for years and have never acted on it.

What I want to provide participants:

  • A social community for support during this 5-week habit forming challenge period, and beyond
  • A true lifestyle, attitude and habit adjustment that makes a noticeable difference to their approach to themselves, their life, their food choices and exercise
  • A body-positive, health-focused experience
  • Something that works for everyone, at complete odds with the usual "one size fits all" approach taken to lifestyle and diet modification
  • One-on-one support as required but without complete dependence on me as the person TELLING them what to do - the aim is to learn and form habits and new thought processes that support participants to do this themselves for the rest of their lives

As a business model, it would make more sense for me to want you all to rely heavily on me for the information and not teach you anything for yourself - thus returning to me and continuing to pay more money. This is the absolute opposite of what I want. I'm approaching this from a public health perspective - I want to make the most difference to the most people I possibly can, with the least need for my brain as possible. I want to widely disseminate what I've already learnt in a way that has a lasting effect. Of course, if someone wanted to do the 5-weeks again (that is assuming it is successful and is run again) to solidify their changes then I wouldn't be turning them away, but my aim really is for once to be enough. it's about the approach, rather than the "product".

A few disclaimers:

  1. Because this is entirely individualised, that means all dietary requirements can be catered to. However, because I am not vegan, egg-free, coeliac etc MYSELF, I may not be fully aware or up to date of all the available products etc. However, you can simply tell me and we can work them in.
  2. This is not designed to be me telling you exactly what to eat every single day. Perhaps at the beginning it will feel more like that, but the plan is for me to be able to talk through with you what you're already doing, make adjustments, and learn the WHY behind things so you can be equipped with the skills to do this for yourself in the future.
  3. Similarly, I'm not planning on giving you a workout plan that details every single movement for the week. I can give you one if you want, but google will yield you 1000 workout regimens if that's all you're after. Again, the aim is finding sustainable habit change and understanding WHY things work and why they don't so you can make your own adjustments in the future.
  4. Because it is the first time I'm attempting something like this, I cannot guarantee that it is smooth-sailing. If one particular part of this experience takes more hours than I'm expecting, the timeline may be moved etc. However, I assure you, I will be making absolutely every attempt to make this the best possible program I can and my standards are high.
  5. There will be hiccups, I'm sure of it, so please don't embark on this journey with me expecting it to be flawless - I promise you I'll be doing my absolute best to make it of the highest standard I can for a first-go.
  6. This challenge is not just about weight loss. I anticipate weight loss, however it's mainly just a side effect of positive lifestyle changes. The main focus of the challenge is on forming new habits that benefit you mentally and physically, not just on specific dietary changes.
  7. I am in medical training but there's no medical advice involved here. I will not provide specific medical advice or in any way take on a medical role. If you ask me a question that requires medical advice I will advise you to see your GP.
  8. The term "nutritionist" is not protected in New Zealand. I am not a nutritionist, but neither are most of the people who claim to be. 

A few perks of being in my first ever trial run of something like this:

  1. I'm in need of a 5-week habit reset of my own, so I'm going to be right there with you aiming to kickstart myself back into some more positive lifestyle changes that have slipped by the wayside (as is completely normal)
  2. I'll always remember my first crew so even if the experience isn't as seamless as other cut and polished challenges out there, I'll make sure there are some perks to being in the first lot e.g. advanced access to things in the future

If you want to commit to trying this experience with me, I've started off with an arbitrary cost of $30NZD /week for the 5 weeks, or $140NZD if paid up front for all 5 weeks. I won't make a comment on my perceived value judgment of the price, that's a decision for you to make. My payment options on this website are currently quite caveman-esque so if opting for $30/week unfortunately you do have to return to my site to keep paying $30 each week rather than it automatically being charged each week if using a debit or credit card. BUT, if you'd like to pay by automatic payment then simply send an email to informandfunction@gmail.com and I can give you the details to set that up (it is the easier option for NZ-based participants but I wanted to include my US and Aus pals because I know a lot of my readership isn't NZ-based). Otherwise, if you need to pay by debit or creditcard, there's a new tab at the top of my website to do so.

Please note, to fully take part you need a facebook account (and ideally will have the app on your phone) plus an email address to receive correspondence from me and reply to me. The other requirement of you is that you are seriously committed to giving this a shot, and that you're openminded to the suggested alterations to your lifestyle. This isn't a time for putting things off - if you commit now, the changes happen now. In terms of privacy, the only people who will know you're doing the challenge are myself and the others doing the challenge with us. I won't use any information you provide me without explicit consent.

The closing date for joining this first 5 week period is FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER 5pm NZT. The payment option will be removed from this website on Friday at 5pm, so you must have signed up and paid by then. In terms of the subscription, I can't make you continue paying $30 /week if the value isn't there for you, so you can leave at anytime in the 5 weeks, but you will be removed from further communications regarding the 5 week challenge. The group size will be capped at a certain point, aiming for the best group size for positive and efficient group dynamics so we all get the most out of this experience.

What you get:

  • A 5 week fully customised approach to nutrition and exercise based on your own goals and preferences (your plan/s will not be the same as anyone else's in the group)
  • A supportive group of like-minded people on the same journey as you
  • Coaching throughout the 5 weeks to educate you and reset your attitudes and thoughts around what food and exercise really means to you, making a lasting change in your mindset
  • A better understanding of yourself and a better relationship with yourself

What I expect of you:

  • Active engagement in the group
  • Commitment to investing time to learn, understand, ask questions and ultimately come away with a broader knowledge base (expect at least 2 hours of reading time per week)
  • Commitment to implementing change - not just in what you eat or what exercise you do, but in how you think

How to sign up:

  • NZers: Email me at informandfunction@gmail.com with your email address for correspondence, a link to your facebook page, and your preferred payment option (weekly or 5 weeks up front). I will give you the details to set up a payment and tadaa, you're in.
  • The rest of the world: If you click the tab at the top for the 5 week challenge, there are 2 options. Weekly or upfront. Note if you choose weekly you will need to return to the page weekly as it will not automatically deduct the amount weekly. At checkout you'll be asked for your email for correspondence plus your facebook page link. You can pay via credit card, debit card or paypal. I will receive confirmation and tadaa, you're in.

I look forward to starting this new chapter with some of you by my side!