Challenge 01: Food Log: Less than a week left

Well, if you started playing along from the beginning (Oct 2), we’re coming up on the end of the 66 days this Saturday. How are you doing? I know I started off well, then fell off the bandwagon for a bit, and lately have been more on task. One of the main things that’s helped me is automating/simplifying the logging using “quick capture” and “batch processing”. To do that I’ve been using the Drafts App on iOS to quickly capture my food intake, which then emails to Podio, and then I can batch process my notes in Podio (updating the date/time as necessary), and use a Globiflow script to create the consolidated log. Maybe there’s an automation script/process that could help you?

Ok, so what? At the end of the day what does having a bunch of lists of what I ate get me? It’s a legitimate question, and one I’ve asked myself, esp as I was falling off the bandwagon. Hopefully, it’s helped you be more mindful of what you’re eating (granted, it hasn’t much for me), or gotten you in the habit of recording your actions/activity (success for me here), or had you notice some patterns for your eating (be it time of day, activities, mood, etc).

As you come out of this first challenge I’d like you to ask yourself what you noticed or learned from the exercise that you could focus on in the next challenge? Let me know with a comment what you’re thinking. I have some ideas, but would like to get your take/ideas.

Challenge 01: Food Log: Check-In

Ok, so it’s been approximately two weeks since the Food Log challenge started. How have you been doing? Have you logged everything you have ate or drank every day? I’m pretty sure I have at around 95%. So, naturally I would expect you to be asking, “Ok Mark. So I’ve been writing all this down. What’s the use?”

Well, there are a two main things at play helping to set the foundation for building better habits over time. The first is just the act of building consistency in something simple. How are you going to be consistent with something difficult if you can’t first be consistent with the easy. The second is collecting data. To make progress you first have to establish a baseline by recording data.

So, if you’ve been playing along at home lets start with the next step by first reviewing my data (in all it’s ugliness). But first, keep up your logging! Date, time, and food/drink. This is a 66 day challenge and we’re only 14 days in. If any of the following seems overwhelming then just continue with the logging and skip this (come back to it). It’s more important to build the consistency muscle. For those looking to level up…

6:50 – coffee
7:15 – malt o meal
9:10 – cold brew mocha
12:30 – pork, chicken, beans, potatoes 
2:15 – buddy bars
3:20 – cold brew mocha
5:40 – 4 fish sticks, chicken mush, mixed veggies
6:45 – 6 donut holes 
7:40 – 3 sips shake, 4pc cheese
8:30 – English muffin w butter
9:50 – 3 squares chocolate

6:40 – coffee & 4 donut holes
8:50 – latte
12:15 – 2pc pizza
6:25 – tortalini in sauce & Brussel sprouts
10:20 – Apple cider

7:30 – English muffin w PB, tortalini, coffee
9:15 – latte
3:40 – buddy bars
6:10 – shrimp stir fry
7:50 – 2 muffins

7:00 – coffee
8:40 – 2 donuts & cider
10:00 – donut & cider
1:40 – donut
2:00 – latte
6:40 – 2 quesadillas, avocado, 1 muffin
7:10 – tea

7:30 – coffee
8:10 – malt o meal
11:00 – coffee & 2 muffins
1:35 – 3/4 quesadilla, 1 muffin, rice
5:30 – latte, spicy Thai salad, baguette @ Panera
8:45 – chips, chips & dip
10:15 – 4 chocolate squares

7:30 – coffee
9:00 – coffee, 2 muffins, 5pc bacon, 3/4 English muffin w PB
12:45 – 1/3 Apple, 1.5pc pizza, 1/2 PBJ
5:50 – burger & fries @ Red Robin 
8:35 – popcorn

6:45 – coffee
10:10 – latte
2:20 – coffee, snack sized Reese’s & Snickers
6:30 – brisket chili, corn bread, Brussels sprouts, pie, ice cream
8:30 – avocado 
9:30 – Brussel sprouts

6:30 – coffee
9:00 – latte
12:00 – brisket chili 
4:45 – buddy bars
6:45 – brisket chili w rice, corn bread
8:00 – cheese cake and ice cream 
9:35 – chocolate peppermint tea

7:10 – coffee
1:00 – brisket chili 
2:00 – latte
6:50 – brisket chili, chips
10:15 – cornbread, banana 
11:00 – chocolate squares 
11:45 – meat sticks, cheese

7:40 – coffee 
8:50 – latte
12:30 – rolls, French fries, chicken fingers
4:00 – buddy bars
5:45 – 2 donuts, apple cider 
7:00 – 2 pork tacos
7:45 – donut
8:15 – applesauce w ice cream, tortilla w cinnamon butter

7:00 – coffee, 2 donuts
8:00 – coffee 
10:40 – chicken fingers, donut 
2:15 – ham & cheese sandwich, carrots, pear
6:00 – bammi, nachos, coffee
8:50 – cheesecake

7:15 – coffee, donut holes 
8:20 – coffee, bagel w PB
11:00 – latte
12:45 – burger, chips
7:20 – coffee, salmon, rice, beans
8:30 – ice cream

8:45 – coffee, donut holes
9:15 – coffee
2:15 – Thai salad, baguette, latte @ Panera
6:00 – Fudge
6:20 – 2pc pizza, fudge

Alright. So besides how absolutely riveting that information is, let’s start to put some of the data to work. For example, I can see that the earliest I ate or drank anything was 6:30am, but generally my food/drink consumption tends to begin around 6:50am. The latest I ate anything was 11:45, and generally my food/drink consumption end time is all over the board. Also, there are way more sweets on there than I’m excited about, and definitely not enough fruits and veggis – as my wife will be quick to point out :).

Well, the next easiest thing is to start tablizing the information like so (note, your table may be different, but feel free to copy this if you’re looking for inspiration – I’m sure it will be enhanced over time anyway)…

Date1st food/drinkLast food/drinkFruitsVeggies
10/16:50 AM9:50 PM02
10/26:40 AM10:20 PM01
10/37:30 AM7:50 PM01
10/47:00 AM7:10 PM10.5
10/57:30 AM10:15 PM03
10/67:30 AM8:35 PM0.50
10/76:45 AM9:30 PM12
10/86:30 AM9:35 PM01
10/97:10 AM11:45 PM10
10/107:40 AM8:15 PM00
10/117:00 AM8:50 PM11
10/127:15 AM8:30 PM01
10/138:45 AM6:20 PM02

… with is slightly depressing when looked at it in that way, but since we were base-lining and we’re not passing judgment – it is what it is. Based on the table, other data, and podcasts/articles there are 3 things I want to focus on…

  1. Finish eating/drinking at least 2 hours (3-4 preferably) before bed (which in my case means generally by 7-9pm – but I’m going to target 8pm).
  2. Increase my fruit/veggie intake.
  3. Decrease my sweets/junk food intake.

So what about you? How are you doing with your logging? What do you want to focus on in the coming weeks?

Challenge 01: Food Log

Ok, here’s the first 66 day challenge/habit… Log everything you eat and the time of day. Doesn’t matter if you take photos of everything, write it down electronically, on paper, or do some combination, but by the end of the day have 1 consolidated list of everything you ate – including those little snack size Snickers I know you’re eyeing – seeing as it is near Halloween and all 🙂

Now, do that for 66 days. Every day. Every thing you eat (and drink).

See, super easy! I’m not even asking you to change anything about what you eat or drink. Just write it all down. Now, this may be simple for some, but if you’re like me I’ve tried to do this time and again. Usually by about the 4th day I miss something, then just say “ah, what’s the use” and quit.

Using HabitShare this is actually pretty easy – as I’ve been piloting it for a couple days. On any day, you can tap the circle for the day, then just click the triple ellipse “…”, I select the “Empty” icon at the start of the day, add your entry to the text area, and save. At the end of the day, just set the status to “Success” (the green check) if you’ve logged everything. You can even setup multiple reminders throughout the day so that you have a little tickler. For me I have 3 reminders for my “Log Food” habit scheduled at 7:15am, 12:30pm, and 7:15pm.

Now, obviously this is setting us up for future challenges, but for now the goal is to get in the habit of tracking and logging something daily. As I mentioned, don’t worry about analyzing or adjusting now unless you truly get the itch. Just build the logging/tracking habit.

Return of the Challenge

So it’s been a few years since my last series of challenges, and a few things have changed since then 🙂

For one, as posted yesterday, I’m now using HabitShare to track my habits and that’s where anyone that wants to participate in these new set of challenges can share their progress as well. Just be sure to let me know what email address you signed up under or look me up in the app to share.

Also, between reading things like Atomic Habits and The One Thing, the challenges will be a little longer (66 days to be exact) in an effort to make the habit a little more ingrained, but feel free to work on them as long as you see fit. That said, my plan is to start a new challenge monthly until I run out of ideas or fall off the bandwagon – which is why I’m hoping some of you will join in – to make the journey a little more fun.

Now, don’t worry, I realize the holidays are coming up which is why the first few challenges will be relatively easy to get you in the habit of following a habit on a daily basis.

Hope to see you on the journey!

Habit Tracking

I’ve used habit tracking apps off and on for years to try and get my life in order. The last one I tried,, seemed to hold promise, but then they switched their model to be more coaching centric and less focused around social sharing. Plus, let’s be honest… I fell off the bandwagon a bit myself.

Anyway, I recently started considering getting into coaching, but still wanted to find something that would be more social and flexible in terms of being able to share certain things with some people and not others – as well as not locked into sharing 50% of your income.

Well, I think I may have found that app. It’s called HabitShare. Check it out on the App Store of your choice or start by visiting

Once you’ve installed it, let me know if you’re interested in joining any of my 66 day challenges, or want some free coaching on a habit of your choice! It’s my treat as I see if it’s something I want to do on an ongoing basis, and so I can build up my skills.

The monk sat in the corner…

The monk sat in the corner as the devil looked on.

I know, sounds pretty ominous, right? Well hopefully not so much, but this blog is intended to maybe be a little bit more raw. I don’t know. We’ll have to see as we go along 🙂

Anyway, I’m glad that you’re here with me. Whether you identify more with the monk, the devil, something in between, or are striving towards your ideal I hope you’ll stay a while.

More later, but for now… “welcome”.