I gave up alcohol and sweets for a year

Hi friends,

Last Christmas 2022, I made 4 decisions

The 4th decision was a firm commitment, and also maybe the most important one:

I've been reflecting on this 11 month journey, as it almost comes to a close, and so far I have 3 big takeaways.

1. A big part of my success came down to NOT doing something

First of all, I failed plenty along the way. I didn't get 100% consistency (who does??!). But every time I fell off the horse, I got back on it. That was big. But even more crucially, I never over compensated.

Let's say my daily calorie intake goal was 1,800, but then I got ravenous and ate 2,500. The next day, I didn't adjust my goal downwards, to something like 1,000 calories, out of a sense of guilt or shame that I had failed or a desire to stay on track.

Nope, I just kept the goal at 1,800 and moved forward with the day.

Didn't exercise one day? I did not try to exercise twice as hard the next day. Instead, I simply worked to achieve the original goal of 30 minutes a day.

Not overcompensating for failures has been a huge part in helping me to stay consistent over time.

Since huge goals take months and years to achieve, one bad day doesn't really move the needle much anyways. But staying consistent, never getting de-motivated, and totally avoiding the cycle of shame and overcompensating? That has a huge effect!

I've since incorporated “don't overcompensate” into other areas of my life too and it's definitely a tool I will continue to use.

2. Mirror talk was weirdly effective in overcoming fear of failure

I was full of fear of failure before I started. I've been chubby my whole life, since I was a kid. And then overweight. And, eventually, obese. The idea of really tackling this, and not stopping no matter what, sounded like I was setting myself for abject failure and disappointment. Put simply, I did not want to face my fear of failure. I did not want to make these commitments. Why would I, when it felt like I had a 90% chance of failure, which would only make me feel even worse?

So I engaged in mirror talk, which sounds self-obsessed and yawn-inducing-ly self-centered. Thankfully, it isn't!

Standing in front of the mirror, looking into my own eyes, I named my bad habits. I called myself out for being lazy, undisciplined, and everything else that was holding me back. I also made my commitments there, with absolute firmness and sincerity of spirit, over and over again.

David Goggins calls it “mirror accountability.” I like that.

One reason I believe it's so effective is that if there's one person you absolutely cannot fool, it's yourself. It also helped me to take my own commitments more seriously.

And the great side effect is that it diffused my fear of failure. For whatever reason, the more I engaged in mirror talk, the more my fear of failure subsided and was instead replaced with a sense of determination.

I don't know why, but it worked! And that's what matters.

3. Any achievement I make is meaningless unless I give it away

I’ve lost 65 pounds.

My daily energy is massively greater than it was before.

I’m more confident.

For the first time in my life, I had to buy new clothes for the right reasons.

I can also do pull-ups for the first time in my life.

I think more clearly.

All of that is truly incredible! But.

Weirdly enough, none of that is what’s been on my mind as I’ve been reflecting. Which has been confusing to me!

What I've really felt, upon reflection, is that there is something gnawing at me from the inside.

And it took me a few weeks to figure out what exactly that is.

It is a sense that achieving these goals means nothing, unless I give away what I’ve gained.

What’s the purpose of more energy, more focus, and more confidence?

To sit around and feel proud? (Barf.)

What could possibly be more deadening to the spirit than such inward focused energy?

I am feeling a strange sense of urgency, that if I don’t take the gains and give them away, it will deaden me.

And so now, as I close out the remaining 6 weeks of my year-long challenge, this is the real question I need to answer:

What is the right way to take the gains of 2023, and give them away? The energy, the clarity, everything else: how do I use that to have a positive impact on others?

That question is gold.

And in a month, I hope to have a good answer!

Have a wonderful week!


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Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

November 14, 2023