Check out the full notes for “Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg
Eating a lot of potatoes.
On Ethan Suplee’s “American Glutton”, Kevin Smith tells the story of the heart attack that almost killed him. He says he got to that point because eating is entertainment for him. He could do it hours at a time. There’s nothing he likes to do more than to put good movies on and watch with his wife while grazing on snacks.
The heart attack served as a very scary, very effective epiphany moment.
From BJ Fogg’s “Tiny Habits”:
In my research on habit formation, dating back to 2009, I’ve found that there are only three things we can do that will create lasting change: Have an epiphany, change our environment, or change our habits in tiny ways.
Creating a true epiphany for ourselves (or others) is difficult and probably impossible. We should rule out that option unless we have magical powers (I don’t).
But here’s the good news: The other two options can lead to lasting change if we follow the right program, and Tiny Habits gives us a new way to tap the power of environment and baby steps.
You, of course, want to avoid having a heart attack. But it’s always an effective step for ongoing motivation.
After the heart attack, he got in touch with Penn Jillette about losing weight and learns about the program. One word: Potatoes. But here’s Kevin Smith expanding on that:
First part of the program is two weeks: nothing but potatoes. You just eat potatoes only. You can’t fry them. No oil, no butter, no milk. No salt. None of the shit that makes potatoes wonderful.
Nothing. Just the potato baked or boiled. That’s it.
[ … ]
If somebody gave you 20 pounds potatoes… if you could put them away, it ain’t against the diet. So when I heard this, I’m like, all right, so I can get as much mass as I want. I’ll never feel hungry. And I’m eating potatoes. I love potatoes and shit.
What you find out is… after day three, potatoes without salt, without fucking butter, without milk, without frying them. Without all the things that make potatoes tolerable is just… fucking plain-ass potato.
He acknowledges that it’s not exactly the potato that’s magic. It’s that you stop eating so much junk.
While it’s best not to give yourself a heart-attack-induced epiphany, you can still take a principle away from this: simplicity.
It’ll be easier to stick to a diet if you can remember it in the first place. Same thing with sticking to a writing routine. Or whatever other habit you’re trying to build.
Stone Cold Steve Austin: A: I came from a football background, and then I trained to be a pro wrestler. Did I try to have an athletic presentation? Damn right! But I was certainly not dependent on tying off my guns so my veins would pop out. That wasn’t my cup of tea. When I went from Dallas to Tennessee early in my wrestling career, I had a pretty good physique.
But when the money ran low, my conditioning was hit the hardest by my diet started living on raw potatoes, three meals each day. One potato for each meal.
I got flat. I was so goddamned tired, I couldn’t even do a pushup! It was obvious that my appearance wasn’t as important as entertaining the crowd and being in the kind of shape where I could work and make it look good on every single move. My advice: good diet, hard workouts, and less time looking in the mirror.
So put down the Steveweiser, grab a few potatoes, and listen to Kevin Smith on “American Glutton”.
(For more on BJ Fogg and his habit framework, check out this post.)