HomeVenture CapitalHow I Shifted from Simply Counting Energy to Supercharging My Health Exercises...

How I Shifted from Simply Counting Energy to Supercharging My Health Exercises | by Mark Suster

Mark Suster

That is a part of a weight reduction and health enchancment sequence that I’m writing to share how I went from 222 kilos and unable to bike greater than 20 minutes on a Peloton to 153 kilos and working 8–12 miles / day in simply 18 months.

I’m no superhero and I’m not going to offer you some unrealistic story that’s unachievable. I’ve been on an 18-month, constant, centered, data-driven method to enhancing every little thing about myself from meals to exercises to sleep (Oura Ring) to water consumption (Hidrate). I’ll publish much more in regards to the gear I used and what works and what doesn’t however at present is about how I began to supercharge my exercises.

To date I’ve written about the psychology of meals and individually about the meals companies I take advantage of and at present I’m going to speak about how I gamified my sports activities routines to extend constant efficiency each month.

I’m not a world-class athlete and I by no means will probably be (nor wish to be). However I can run a 10k in sub 8-minute miles which for 52 years previous and a busy, full-time job isn’t too shabby both. I can sneak out after a day of conferences and put in 10 miles and nonetheless be again at my laptop 1:45 later and typing away or Zooming (with a hat and nonetheless sweaty :)).

I quantified my meals consumption initially by way of Noom and later MyFitnessPal the place I preserve a meals journal. It’s tremendous straightforward to trace every little thing and on the finish of the day it tells you not complete energy but in addition breakdown by fats, carbs and protein (plus sodium, and so on). I monitor my weight each morning very first thing after I get up on a Withings Physique+ scale.

Armed with meals & weight information and targets I turned to growing my train alongside decreasing my energy. Noom had a rule that you may “eat 50% of all energy burned” in order that if I burned 700 energy in a day I may eat an additional 350 energy so I grew to become further motivated to burn these 700 energy! After I began I didn’t really feel I had the time for monster exercises (and in actuality I wasn’t prepared for it) however I discovered that I may use my Apple Watch to trace my walks and after that every little thing grew to become a stroll. I grew to become much less serious about taking the subway in NY after I may stroll 3 miles to my assembly simply by leaving a little bit bit earlier and taking calls alongside the way in which.

I finished planning breakfast, lunch and dinner conferences and as a substitute did walk-and-talks. I wished to see what number of miles per day I may stroll simply doing the issues I usually did each day. Calls had been finished on my AirPods and with my cellphone in my pocket. I grew to become as obsessive about my every day strolling targets as my meals logging had turn out to be. I might meet individuals for hour-long hikes and never hour-long lunches.

I might plan a day round which calls I may take whereas I used to be strolling and which conferences could possibly be cellular. Someday when my automotive was within the store I requested my colleague Stuart for a journey house however I requested him to drop me a mile away from my home so I may stroll the final mile. I grew to become a bit obsessive about hitting my every day targets. It was solely quarter-hour further however I used to be glad to have the additional mileage earlier than supper time so I had extra energy accessible to eat if I wished them.

It grew to become a life-style, a behavior. Not in a single day. I made small adjustments and locked in these habits. Then I might all the time search for different issues I may add. It was all in regards to the numbers, the every day targets, the weigh-in each morning, protecting to my energy targets and never breaking my “streak.” It was a sport. I used to be gamifying myself.

I used the Apple Watch to point out what number of days in a row I had hit my strolling targets and my calorie targets and I didn’t wish to break streak. I even discovered myself standing up in conferences in order that I may “shut all three circles.”

I knew that I used to be giving over to a sport, to numbers, to mad thoughts video games of streaks however I made a decision to embrace it. I satisfied myself that if I broke streak I’d then not get again on the horse. It’s like the children with their obsession with Snapchat streaks.

Then I discovered my subsequent set of metrics to take me to the subsequent degree. After simply 4 months I had hit my first huge goal getting my weight from 222 to 200 and now this quantity that appeared unimaginable after I started was now in sight. 1–8–5.

I had by no means been capable of hit it earlier than as 195–200 all the time appeared to be my yo-yo level the place I’d revert again to unhealthy habits and quit no matter fad food plan received to me to 200. Not this time. I used to be prepared for the subsequent degree.

Subsequent up in my larger push was Peloton. I began driving once more and located it exhausting. I began on my superior newbie Ally Love rides for 20 minutes. I used to be hooked on the positivity. At a time the place the world was a continuing Trump dumpster fireplace of detrimental information I discovered Ally’s positivity so up lifting.

So I set a rule. I made a decision I might journey Peloton with Ally within the mornings BEFORE I might test my cellphone in order that I might begin the day with positivity and never angst. I made it a rule with myself, “No cellphone till after Ally.” Then it grew to become “No cellphone till after Ally, a bathe and a espresso.” The longer I stayed off my cellphone the extra peaceable my mind was within the mornings. I wasn’t going to vary the unhealthy information, however I may delay myself from feeling mentally exhausted by all of it.

That is when the facility of psychology actually shone by way of. Having someone telling you that “you are able to do it” and inspiring you to be your finest self is actually infectious.

“Hit it! Stop it! And say you probably did it!” she would shout with a giant smile on her face. I began saying it to my spouse each morning. It was a metaphor for “this isn’t so laborious” and “I really feel self righteous after I’m finished!”

20 minutes grew to become half-hour grew to become 45 minutes. And there was a lot information! I may enhance my cadence and my rigidity and management outputs to see how a lot complete output I may do in a given time. I may examine myself to different riders or to my earlier time. (Peloton printed how many individuals journey every journey and also you see the place you rank). I didn’t must “win” I simply wanted to come back in across the place within the pack that I anticipated to for my health degree (For me my objective was all the time high 20% on the bike, high 5% on runs).

It pushed me tougher, it grew to become my very own little competitors with imaginary individuals I used to be driving towards and with myself.

I grew to become happier each day. Extra outcomes a greater mindset and naturally higher and higher outcomes on the size.

The an important perception hit me. Every time I wished to “get into form” I might work out with thoughts of a 20-year-old however the physique of a 40-something (now 52) 12 months previous. I had a couple of nice exercises however invariably injured myself each time.

My Peloton teacher Matt Wilpers mentioned there have been three issues for all athletes to give attention to:

  1. Frequency > Period
  2. Period > Depth**
  3. Solely then do you have to give attention to degree of effort / depth.

His recommendation was this. Most of us attempt to come again from being out of form and do actually laborious exercises. And naturally we injure ourselves after which cease figuring out and placed on weight once more. He mentioned it was OK to not give attention to depth.

** (Word that there’s a sound place for HIT exercises “high-intensity coaching” to be blended into different kinds of exercises however I’m simplifying for these making an attempt to enhance general endurance and health)

When you’re doing 2 days / week are you able to make it 4? When you’re doing 4 may you make it 5? Solely while you hit 5–6 days do you have to give attention to getting 20 minutes to half-hour to 45 minutes.

Frequency of labor outs issues far more than length of exercises which issues far more than the depth of exercises. Most individuals get this backwards.

So I made it a rule I needed to get in not less than 5 Peloton’s / week. I needed to do one each week (I’m on 65 weeks in a row as we converse and I even pressure myself to do digital ones after I journey in order that I don’t “break streak.”

I might rotate between biking and working so I didn’t use the identical muscle mass each single day. Quickly I used to be doing 7 days / week — some straightforward, some tougher. Quickly 45 minutes grew to become 60 grew to become 75 grew to become 90. Now I can journey 2–3 hours no downside.

I began noticing that on sure rides different individuals had a lot larger “output” (depth) than I did. So I began texting buddies and asking how they did it and getting recommendation. My cadence improved, my resistance improved, my output improved, my muscle tone improved.

In the direction of the top of this era my health degree had elevated to a degree the place I may begin jogging outdoors once more and I did one thing I hadn’t finished since I used to be 35. I began working within the mornings after I traveled and I invited colleagues to jog with me. As a result of I needed to get up early I finished ingesting as a lot alcohol at night time. Besides after I visited Lindel in Austin. However that’s a distinct story. And as punishment I nonetheless received my ass out and ran Woman Chicken Lake on 4 hours sleep.

If my conferences had been too early within the morning I might schedule one hour between our final assembly and dinner and as a substitute of checking my cellphone or sending useless Tweets I might get in a 40 minute run after which 20 minute bathe. I began making my as lots of exercises social as I may.

I felt wonderful.

Then I made a mistake which brought about me to plateau for 60 days and begin to wonder if I had hit some intractable flooring. I had stopped utilizing Noom. I figured with the exercise machine I had turn out to be I didn’t want to trace what I ate any extra. I figured that my health would now carry me ahead to the brand new me. I used to be between 185–190 kilos and I figured this have to be the 50+ flooring. No one returns to at least one’s faculty weight.

“I’m 51 now so I’m not speculated to be lower than 190 kilos.”

Besides {that a} easy Google search advised me that the correct weight was for a person who was 5’10” (okay, okay, 5’9″, properly, it relies upon who’s asking) and it mentioned 144–176. Shit. How was I in such good condition and I used to be nonetheless 10–15 kilos above the perfect weight for my peak???

My huge perception was this:

When our exercises improve we give ourselves “license” to eat extra as a result of we really feel we’re earned that. The energy you eat usually exceed the energy you burned. You may’t outrun the fork!

I got here up with a plan. And every little thing modified

I went again to foundational stuff. I spotted by then that simply working or biking or strolling however not listening to what I ate was an excuse for me to not be disciplined about meals as a result of, properly, I really like meals. I observed that after a run Stuart would eat a bowl of fruit at Pret-a-Manger whereas I might order oatmeal, a small sandwich, a restaurant latte AND fruit despite the fact that we went on the identical run collectively. If I ran within the morning I used to be utilizing it as an excuse for why I used to be allowed to order dessert on the restaurant after dinner.

No extra. I used to be prepared for the subsequent degree. And albeit Covid had simply began and I assumed, “I assume I’ve to set an unrealistic objective like hitting 175.” I hadn’t finished that since my 20s. I by no means dreamed of hitting 160 (not to mention 153).


I made a decision to get again to watching the “energy in” and switched from Noom to MyFitnessPal (MFP). Noom was nice for getting me into the correct state of understanding why I made unhealthy meals selections however now I actually simply wished the perfect, most effective approach of monitoring what I ate.

MFP has an enormous database of meals so typing in what I used to be consuming was tremendous easy. And it has a bar code scanner, which saves a ton of time.

I arrange weekly targets and a date by which I used to be going to hit 175 (“yeah, proper!”). I pushed myself to eat dinner earlier — often earlier than 7pm, cease ingesting alcohol and cease consuming after I used to be finished with dinner. I created a rule of my two “cheats” after dinner. I may eat as much as 3 popsicles (30 energy every) and/or one bag of microwave popcorn (100 calorie pack) and I ate them proper after dinner so I’d cease consuming early. I began chewing Trident sugarless gum after this small snack as a “rule” that I used to be not capable of eat the rest after I had the gum. It grew to become one other gamification. I advised myself if I broke the rule even as soon as then the rule didn’t imply something and it will lose its energy. So I by no means let myself break the rule. It was like Matt Wilpers telling me, “you didn’t flip up right here for 45 minutes simply to blow your food plan within the ultimate quarter-hour!” I needed to yell it into my very own ear.


By the point I used to be 185 I had turn out to be much less fearful about telling individuals I used to be making an attempt to be fitter as a result of by then it was type of apparent. I had already misplaced 35+ kilos and it confirmed. So I began speaking to my little brother, Matt, about weight and my targets. We agreed to be accountability companions. I might take a display screen seize of my every day targets in MyFitnessPal and ship them to my brother.

I might ship him the log that confirmed “every day calorie objective, complete energy consumed, complete energy burned” and I’d ship him a little bit notice like “I drew the road at present — no cheats!” or “I type of imploded and ate an excessive amount of licorice so I pressured myself to journey an additional half-hour this afternoon.” It felt very nice to have someone else to be accountable to even thought in truth it was actually simply accountability to myself and I used to be hacking it to create an exterior strain to be my higher self.

I received comfy telling my brother my weight so each week I’d ship my weekly log and I grew to become massively motivated to have someone to ship a graph to that confirmed my weight down by 2.2 kilos! It grew to become addictive. Type of just like the Dopamine rush you get while you share an excellent picture on Instagram and all your folks “like” it.


By now every day walks and rings in Apple had been now not ok. I wanted tougher targets, I wanted extra formidable exercises, I wished to tear by way of extra energy so I may hit my weight targets. I used to be mentally and bodily powerful. I used to be able to compete. However how?

I found a function on Peloton that had a month-to-month leaderboard. You may enter problem the place you’ll routinely log your miles and days ridden (or run) towards any of your folks who joined the problem. I made a decision in Could 2020 to hitch the driving problem so I gave up working for the month and determined to place myself on a 31-day biking problem. Me towards any punk who thought they might beat me on the bike!

I’m certain none of them had been actually even paying consideration however I created imaginary rivals in my thoughts. Sincerely. My primary opponent was Andrew Peterson. Why? As a result of he’s such a rattling good rider. Each journey of his he’d journey additional and tougher in every half-hour of a journey than I presumably may. However I had a plan to “beat” him. I might simply journey longer. I’d set my alarm and get up early earlier than work to get a 90-minute journey in and I knew he rode within the afternoons. My plan was to put on him down. To make him log in each day and assume “crap, he put in one other 30 miles!” By the point he was driving I might sneak again proper earlier than dinner and I’d get an additional 20–half-hour in in order that I may get one other 8–10 miles.”

Sure. I’m bizarre. Sure, I KNOW he wasn’t actually paying consideration in any respect and didn’t even know I used to be driving. However I knew that the sport I performed labored on ME. I wanted a competitor to beat and I didn’t wish to lose this imaginary competitors in Could and I set a objective of profitable for the month and shedding wasn’t an possibility. I’ve to confess that some individuals did discover. I began getting texts from some buddies saying “rattling, you’re placing on a ton of miles on the Peloton this month!” (which solely fueled me extra as a result of I assumed “see, persons are watching the race!”).

My spouse thought I used to be completely mashugana and I imply it. I might inform her about my plan to get up early and make Andrew wince when he noticed what number of miles he was going to need to journey to beat me for that day. My plan was to demoralize him earlier than he needed to journey so he wouldn’t even dare attempt to go additional. No, I by no means advised Andrew any of this till maybe now.

On Could thirty first the competitors ended. I received. Not by rather a lot, possibly 20 or so miles however I used to be able to journey from 9pm to midnight that night time if I needed to with a purpose to keep forward.

I used to be so happy with what I had achieved on the bike that month. My legs and lungs moved to an entire new health degree. I used to be so happy that I went out and acquired myself a brand new street bike and promised myself that because the climate was getting higher I’d get out and journey extra open air.

I didn’t do a display screen seize on that actual finish of month however in the midst of Could you’ll be able to see what this obsessive exercise and sport I performed (with myself) did to each my exercise regime (727.7 miles between April 23 — Could 22 or 24.2 miles / day.) And that excludes all the working and lifting I used to be doing.

This clearly isn’t Olympic-level biking however as you’ll be able to see it did burn a further 31,000 energy throughout this month or greater than 1,000 / day and since I used to be holding myself accountable in MyFitnessPal and never simply “consuming something I wished as a result of I used to be figuring out so laborious.” I used to be gamifying each energy in and energy out. Listed below are the outcomes throughout that interval as measured on MFP and despatched to my brother in the midst of June, 2020.

I couldn’t consider it. 190 had turn out to be 185 after which 180. After I began my obsessive Peloton burst I used to be already beneath 175 and 6 weeks later I had approached 160. 10% of my physique weight in 2 months with none loopy food plan. I used to be prepared for my subsequent huge problem and set of instruments.

That’s after I found Strava. And every little thing modified once more. Strava has turn out to be my Mecca. It was next-level neighborhood. It was subsequent degree information and statistics. It was next-level leaderboards and challenges and progress. Strava received me open air once more and social once more (with masks or Buffs) and made me linked to the bodily worlds once more.

However I’ll save that for the subsequent submit. This has already gotten lengthy sufficient.

I simply wish to go away you with one ultimate thought …

The toughest train choice is 1 vs. 0. Beginning vs. not. When you begin, doing the work is rarely as laborious as you think about. As I kind this it’s 4pm and I promised myself I’d get in a run earlier than darkish. So I’m about to move out (and thus not test for typos, sorry). I did the identical factor yesterday late afternoon.

Okay. I did it. I’m again. Took my 18 minutes however received my butt out the door and on some hills.

I by no means really feel like beginning. However as a result of I don’t wish to break streak I all the time do. I begin out by telling myself I don’t must go far or laborious, I simply must go. As soon as out it’s all the time simpler to go a little bit additional or a little bit tougher than my pre-exercise mind desires to enroll to. Frequency issues! And Strava is the software that helps me gamify my frequency. I’ll clarify why within the subsequent submit. However for now, right here’s my Strava trophies for at present, I solely pushed myself for PRs a few segments.

Oh, and now I can actually take pleasure in my dinner tonight !!! Under is my present tally on MyFitnessPal with energy remaining. Sure, I actually do that each day.

Upcoming posts will cowl:

  • Strava
  • How I Discovered to Sleep (Oura Ring)
  • Steady Glucose Monitoring (Ranges)
  • The Finest Gear I’ve Found (Health trackers, headphones, footwear, socks, water options, anti-chaffing, bikes)
  • Music options
  • What I’m engaged on subsequent (weight coaching, Tonal, pushups, and so on)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments