100 Days YouTube series

Just finished watching a great YouTube series called 100 days.

The series follows two guys who are trying to “have a healthy midlife crisis” by eating healthier, meditating, and exercising. It’s somewhat artificial in that they have hired a support crew of psychologists, nutritionists, doctors, and maybe a dozen personal trainers to help them in the process, but this is part of making it a show instead of their life. They tried activities as common as  tennis, bowling, and golf, as well as more obscure activities like obstacle courses, rock climbing, roller derby, and even aerial circus training — filming the whole mess along with reflections on their progress, photos of their food, and frequent check-ins to see how some basic metrics are going (e.g. number of pushups in a minute, heart rate both before and distance from their toes in a forward fold).

You can find it here.

My first reactions to the series are:

  1. John tried a bunch of different physical activities until he found exercise he could stick with. For example, he’d never tried boxing and found that he really liked it.  He also found a bunch of stuff he hated, like swimming, roller skating, and rock climbing. Honestly, you could have a physical training and eating program that was designed by science based on your specific DNA sequence and it wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t stick to it, so finding stuff you actually like to do is crucial.
  2. That being said, I would have liked to see more strength work where John and Chris weren’t metabolically compromised (winded). Most of their trainers seemed more in the “smoke ’em” camp than working on making them stronger. Some of the other stuff seemed interesting but more geared towards “class” type fitness, which all tends to be “smoke ’em” and Malibu Barbie weights because you can’t spot 30 people doing squats in the rack at the same time. To paraphrase Pavel Tsatsouline: “it’s easy to smoke someone, just make them do jumping jacks until they throw up.” If they had used barbells and tried to push their base strength levels up more with their personal training sessions, I believe they would have achieved more against their starting metrics. Strength is the mother attribute: that’s why strength training has become part of basically every professional athlete’s routine, including things like car racing, speedwalking and golf. As long as you aren’t putting on tons of bodyweight to accomplish it, more strength is almost always a good thing.
  3. In general, I liked the psychologist’s advice the best – especially the 3-2-1 tactic.
  4. The nutritionist’s advice seemed the best when she was talking about psychological strategies to cope with changing your eating patterns – focusing on long-term change. I would not prescribe her eating plan for me, because I would overeat sugar and processed carbs (see next point).
  5. John finally got control of his eating when he committed to not drinking alcohol (at least during the week), cutting processed carbs and added sugar, eating at home as much as possible, and being religious about his food tracking.  All of these mirror my experiences completely: eating out leads to drinking, drinking leads to carbs, carbs lead to suffering (I will take up the issue of carbohydrate metabolism in a future post). Tracking gives you all the benefits I talked about in the Food Journalling article.
  6. I liked that both guys worked out together. Having someone be your partner in training and eating can really make it easier.
  7. I also liked the fact that when John found what was working for him, he stuck with it. Rather than moving away from the personal training after 100 days, he doubled down by scheduling in two workouts with his trainer per week to continue after the cameras stopped rolling. John’s continued focus on goal-setting after the series was over was also good. It helps if you’re training “for something”.
  8. The experience John had with workouts helping with his OCD and other psychological issues totally reflects my experience. The human body is evolved to move, and everything works better–including the mind–once you start doing that.
  9. The focus on their health and metrics other than weight was good–I think it was perfect for them specifically. Other people may need to focus on their weight as one of their metrics — but not the only one.

Overall I felt like the series really reflected some of the physical and mental changes that happen when you start watching your diet and exercising frequently. Highly recommended and worth watching.

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