Project May 2016: Hacking the Life Hacks

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I am sick of motivational quotes and “life hacks” that, if followed, are potentially going to make me the world’s greatest person that ever lived. In fact I’ve read so many of those lately that if I’d spent the time in the gym, or reading something of worth, instead of searching for a quick fix to my general lack of fitness and my inability to cram all the things I want to achieve into a seven-day week, I’d be probably be sorted. I have therefore come up with my own little experiment to see if there is any value in the advice I’ve been reading lately or whether those that achieve such a superhuman lifestyle are indeed, just not of this planet. There are keyboard Yodas everywhere – Facebook is a rich ground where these motivational thoughts are shared and shared again by those who, I assume, want to position themselves as some kind of low-rent enlightenment guru. Add to this to some of the people who write on @Medium – who share their secrets of success, or other people’s success and really do position themselves as upmarket lifestyle gurus, and in some cases, charge you good money for it, then you realise free advice is everywhere. From reading all this stuff, I have noticed some trends that I want to try adopt over the next four weeks.

These are:

  1. Small changes are habit forming
  1. A healthy diet would probably make me feel better
  1. More exercise would probably make me feel better
  1. Organising my time better would lead to benefits – particularly to my PhD study
  1. Getting up earlier – because it is supposed to make you superhuman
  1. And loads of other stuff that I can’t possibly believe but hey, let’s see…

quotesfeat-e1449188591429So on May 1 (yesterday), I started out on exploring the value of some of the ideas I have read. The first thing I’ve done is try to place some running into my routine. I do not exercise regularly and many of the armchair philosophers advocate that getting fit is vital. I have managed to squeeze in two x two mile runs so far, going out early before my family get up, there for fulfilling two of the requirements (numbers 3 and 5) and if I keep it going and keep writing about it, that will also fulfil item number 1. Having enjoyed the May Bank Holiday weekend, my diet has been questionable – I have had plenty to eat and drink. Tomorrow, May 3, I’ll start to follow the Chubster diet – I’ve read the book, it allows you to drink beer and eat cake and is simply about calorie control. When I started it last summer I did lose a few pounds before chaos took over and I abandoned the plan. This happens a lot. I have a full-time job that I love. It’s both fun and demanding. I’m married to a headteacher and I have six-year-old twins. On top of that I’m addicted to FIFA 2016 on the Playstation and have a busy social life. Crucially, I’m also a part-time PhD student with all the stresses and commitments that brings. So for the next four weeks I’m going to blog what happens to:

  • See what happens
  • To stay motivated
  • Test out some of these motivational theories

I’ll use lots of accessible tech to chart my progress from Nike Running software to record my exercise and MyFitnessPal – On May 1st, I weighed 16st.11 or 226 lbs and I’ll use anecdotal evidence linked to reading and writing of my PhD to note the benefits there. I’ll categorise my experiment under ProjectMAY2016. Please feel free to share your advice on items 1-6 and I’ll share my experiences and also reference some of the relevant motivational stories I’ve used. This is in no way linked to any university research, although I might learn how to do things a little better. Frankly, I’m just interested.