How to get 2% better with Weightloss and Healthy Habits

FINALLY!!! The code has been cracked on how you get 2% better each week for sustainable weight loss!

For YEARS, I’ve been telling clients that you don’t need to be perfect. Far from it in fact. That is an expectation I always have to fight with. You expect to be perfect, and then feel tremendous shame and avoidance when it turns out you’re human.

Often, when sharing that the focus is to just get 2% better each week, regardless of where you’re at right now, I get the same bamboozled exasperation.

“But Steven… HOW!?” 

For years I’ve been tossing my hands up in anguish and pleading that it’s just an analogy, a metaphor. It’s not literal! The sentiment of ignoring any current status and emphasizing small improvements week to week is what’s important.

Until now!

You may not know this, but I have an operational standard I often reflect on. My continual mission and evolution is “How can I help more people and help people more.” You can actually get a behind the scenes look into that on an episode of the Fitness Business Podcast that I was a guest on recently. (Apple Podcasts Link or Spotify Podcasts Link)

Recently during the reflection of how to help people more, I tweaked my accountability check-in system to be more consistent with clients in The Health REBELs Solution program. While discussing with clients, I took in a lot of feedback plus what I observed from years of coaching experience and created a new daily check-in system.

Each day, in the private client community, I ask my clients a handful of basic questions. Some of these are qualitative and subjective, some are quantitative, and a few serve some hidden ulterior motives (my brain is like an iceberg! What you see on the surface hides a mass of overthinking below).

Quick tangent. Yes, I do daily check-ins with my coaching clients. It’s a great way for you to stay consistent with healthy lifestyles all week, and it takes 1-2 minutes to respond which is 0.1% of the day. I don’t consider that a tall ask for the outcomes health coaching gives you. Communication is also a client responsibility in an accountability partnership. For more on my thoughts of what productive and effective accountability looks like, check out episode 136 of the Health REBELs Podcast (video below).

For the quantitative questions, the ones that are action and habit based, I have assigned a point value based on… well, a lot of criteria… We’ll get into that a little bit more as we dive into each question.

Each habit has a point value assigned to it. Each day, when you respond to the daily check-in, I add those responses to a spreadsheet. At the end of the week, each client gets a weekly total which, conveniently, adds up to 100 points.

Each point, each habit, is worth 1% of the total for a “perfect” week.

Quick Note: I never expect a client to get 100points. Nor do I want that for them or myself. The actual target is 70+

And now… NOW!! Now I can tell people objectively how to get 2% better each week. If your weekly total came to 25 points, then all I want is for you to get 27 points or so the next week. After that, can you get to 29 points? 31 points? 33?

Eventually, keeping that trend, you’ll continue to get a little better until you’re exactly where you need to be.

You and I are at a crossroads now in this article…

A picture of a man standing at a crossroads

On one path, we have streamlined and simplified suggestions. On the other path, I’m about to word vomit the entire check-in process with points and explanations. We’ll start with the simple path.

How you can use this idea

Outside of the obvious “Join the Health REBELs Solution and have us do it with you” answer, here’s how you can use this idea for yourself.

Pick a handful of habits you know will make a significant impact to your health and wellness. Exercise is an easy choice, eating veggies, staying hydrated, getting sleep, etc. Maybe you want to add other small and simple self-care things like meditation or journaling. Maybe even phone-free time periods.

When you have your habits you want to practice, assign a point value to each. Easiest is a simple 1 point for each habit, or you can do a graduated point system. Maybe you think journaling is more important for you than exercising, so journaling gets 2 points and workouts get 1. Maybe sleep is more important, so you give it 3 points.

When in doubt, keep it simple.

If you did things absolutely perfectly all week long, how many points would you score in that system? Is it 50 points? 10 points? 100? What’s 2% of that? (In case you hated your 7th grade math teacher, just take the total points and multiply by 0.02)

That’s what 2% looks like each week.

Now, each day (yes… EACH day), take a moment to record how many points you scored. For simplicity, in the coaching program, we ask about yesterday’s habits to prevent people guessing what they’ll do later or timezone conflicts. You can do that reflecting early in the morning, or late at night before bed.

A lot of people will often look back on their weeks and say they didn’t do enough, say they aren’t good enough. When you have a system that can encourage future-focused improvements, you no longer need to fall victim to that sort of negative self talk.

The Health REBELs Check-in Approach
(This is current as of the writing of this article. Health REBELs perpetually adapts and evolves in pursuit of “How can we help more people and help people more?”)

Each day at noon, I do a daily check-in with clients. I ask 10 questions, 4 are subjective and 6 are objective.

  1. Traffic Light: Are you Green, Yellow, or Red Light?
  2. Gratitude: Tell me 2 things you’re grateful for.
  3. Tell me something good you did yesterday
  4. Did you workout? What did you do?
  5. How many steps did you get yesterday?
  6. Did you have a screen free wind down?
  7. Did you give yourself 7+ hours in bed?
  8. What was your nutrition score yesterday?
  9. Did you watch any REBEL Lessons? Which One?
  10. Are there any challenges you need support with?

Now, if you want, let’s take a deeper dive into the purpose of each one and why we assigned points to some.

Traffic Light: (zero points)

A coach’s responsibility is to provide support and encouragement. A simple temperature check like this allows me to quickly identify who may need support or encouragement soonest. It’s a preventative question that keeps small problems from ballooning into large obstacles. Because it’s not action based, there are no points.

Gratitude: (zero points)

There are two benefits to gratitude I really want you to take advantage of. The first is physiological. An active gratitude practice has been shown to physically alter the structure of the brain making it healthier and more efficient. Psychologically, a gratitude practice also trains the brain to look for positives in the environment. This increases your resilience to challenges and obstacles making it easier to maintain healthy habits consistently.

Bonus coaching ninja trick! ?‍?

Asking for gratitude prior to asking about habit performance also increases positivity and resistance to any “lackluster” responses that may follow. This allows for more openness, honesty, and fruitful conversations which ultimately help you get better coaching.

Something Good You Did: (Zero points)

Some days, sh?t hits the fan… Some days your answers are going to suck and maybe even be embarrassing. You didn’t workout, you ate poorly, didn’t get enough sleep. It was a bad day and you don’t want to talk about it.

Even on our worst days, when asked for something good, we can look for the positives and change the negative spiral going on in our heads. This again creates a warmer conversation and honest dialogue, so you get better coaching.

Did You Workout Yesterday? (2 points)

This is pretty obvious. Working out helps us be healthier. Asking you directly also helps me as a coach. Even though we create custom workout plans for clients that get logged in our app (←Link goes to an app tutorial video if you want to see how it works), sometimes people do things that don’t show up. Maybe they did a hike that didn’t get logged, or a bike ride with their kids.

I give workouts 2 points because there are a lot of health benefits (over 50!) that come from that one habit.

How many steps did you get yesterday? (1 point for 6k+, 2 points for 10k+)

Steps are the easiest way to measure NEPA, or Non-Exercise Physical Activity. As amazing as workouts are, NEPA can be 3x as effective for weightloss as we highlighted here, it’s easier and safer to do each day, and there are much fewer obstacles to it.

Even though NEPA is an umbrella term that includes gardening, walking, dancing, cleaning, etc., steps is the easiest way to measure it. Even though many fitness standards require 10k, the research really supports 7k steps being the point where health benefits start to be meaningful. 6k is about 2x the average american’s daily steps, so it’s a good place to start for health and points. Bonus point to those that hit the 10k mark.

Did you have a Screen-free Wind Down? (1point)

Sleep is a big part of health, but it’s more complex than you might expect. There are three systems that regulate sleep, and the easiest way to manage two of those three systems is with a simple wind down routine. Many people mess this up with too many lights and screens before trying to fall asleep, so we give you a point for giving yourself the best chance at falling asleep.

Did you have 7+ hours of time in bed? (1point)

We can’t actually control how much sleep you get, but if you go to bed 5 hours before your alarm goes off you don’t have a chance! Over 80% of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation, so ensuring you get at least 7 hours in bed helps prevent that.

Together, good sleep habits equals the points of a workout, but can reasonably be done every day… There’s a lesson to be inferred there…

What was your Nutrition Score? (up to 6 points)

I have a proprietary nutrition habit tracking system that awards you up to 6 points each day for a handful of habits. I go in full details about this in episode 138 of the Health REBELs Podcast (releasing Wednesday, August 16th).

All in all, nutrition is worth 42 points a week, or 42% of the total. There’s another lesson to be inferred there about the importance of nutrition on your outcomes. By comparison, working out 7 days a week can only get you 14 points.

Did you watch any REBEL Lessons? (4 points, 16 points max/week)

Part of the coaching program is an exclusive learning platform we call “The Health REBELs Lessons.” This is what elevates our weightloss and wellness program above the typical personal training program. These lessons redefine what healthy habits look like that are realistic and really stick.

By regularly going through the various lessons, it redefines and reaffirms healthy habits that last a lifetime. Because the benefit of most other actions fade shortly afterwards (1 workout won’t keep giving results for a whole year), but lessons last, we upped the value of taking time to learn with 4 points. However, because they are such high points, it would be easy to break the system by just doing a lot of lessons, so we put a max at 16 points.

Are there any challenges you need support with? (zero points)

The final catch-all question to find and overcome your challenges. Sometimes I won’t know what to ask you. This gives you a chance to offload anything you need, open up a collaborative conversation, and overcome any hiccups or barriers to move forward.

Total Points!

In total, if you were perfect every single day of the week (which you won’t be. At least not consistently), you would earn 100 points. But I don’t expect that, I actually expect 70.

Workouts (2 x 7) = 14
Steps (2 x 7) = 14
Sleep (2 x 7) = 14
Nutrition (6 x 7) = 42
Learning (16 max) = 16
14 + 14 + 14 + 42 +16 = 100

But what’s actually reasonable? Well…

Workouts: 4 days a week for exercise is pretty reasonable (recommendations are 2-6 depending on schedule needs. For an average, 4 gets consistently good results). Even if those are 10-15 minute workouts. Minus 6 points from perfect workouts

Steps: NEPA should be an everyday thing. “If you have a heartbeat, move your meat! That’s the cost of ownership.” But you don’t need 10k steps a day. I think 5 days of 6k+, with 2 days over 10k steps is a reasonable ask for people who want to support their bodies and their health. Minus 5 points from perfect steps

Sleep: Maybe 2 nights a week you get less sleep than you hoped. Maybe stayed out for an event. Maybe you got rushed and missed your sleeptime routine. Reasonable and Deliberate expectation for sleep is to Minus 2 points from perfect sleep (Worth noting how much priority is put on sleep! Even when giving generous wiggle room everywhere, sleep is still near non-negotiable territory!)

Nutrition: The nutrition system has wiggle room built into it to allow you a reasonable amount of “treats” and special foods and events. On top of that, I add more wiggle room in by only asking clients to aim for 38 out of 42 points. In this setup, I add a little more wiggle room by saying 37 points is reasonable (hey! Getting the impression that I don’t expect people to be perfect?) Minus 5 points from perfect nutrition

REBEL Lessons: One of Health REBELs core values is continual improvement. The whole point of this article is how can you get 2% better each week. For that, I do think an active and continual reflection and study is necessary. I also understand you have a lot in your life and a lot pulling on your time. Even though the REBEL Lessons average 5 minutes, I only reasonably expect clients to finish 1 lesson a week. Minus 12 points from perfect Lessons. 

All in all, when adjusting for reasonable expectations, if you score 70 points in this accountability system, you’ll be set up to be an absolute rockstar down the road. And if you’re coming up a little shy, all you need is to get 2% better each week. Or, if you want to go even further and get bigger and more dramatic results, just keep going 2% better above the 70 points.

If this system is an approach to accountability you want to experience, I encourage you to check out a preview of what The Health REBELs Solution program looks like, or you can reach out to me directly here.