September Challenge – Habit Forming

“Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” – Jocko Willink, from the book “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win”, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
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Do you consider yourself a leader in your own life?

I do, sometimes. Other times, I feel a little aimless. Floating. Coasting. Wasting.

When I do feel like I am leading my own life, I feel charged up. Amped. Unstoppable. The feeling is a good one. So why can’t I sustain it?

Habit, is the simple answer. Lack of good habits, or an abundance of negative habits, both play apart in why sustaining excellence can be extremely difficult. We have all tried to implement good habits or break bad ones in our own life.

  • January 1st, go to the gym. 
  • Every birthday, stop smoking. 
  • Each crummy day at work, start learning new skills. 

We typically start these habits off with a bang, but end up with a whimper. Why is that? Why, even though we recognize the value of the habit, we still fail to do the work needed to make these goals a HABIT?

James Clear, famed author of the book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” utilizes the 21/90 rule. This rule states that if you commit to anything for 21 consecutive days, doing it with purpose, you WILL create a new habit. Continue that habit for 90 days, and you have implemented a permanent lifestyle change.

A habit, much like climbing a mountain, is most successful when taken ONE STEP At A TIME. That’s why I am calling our Dad Level: Viking September Challenge, the Summit in September.

The goal is to choose a habit that will add value to your life, and implement it EVERY DAY in September, from the 1st until the 30th. The 30th will be Summit Day, and it will be the point where we look at where we are, and back to where we came from, and decide if we have created that new habit. If it is valuable, I recommend that everyone keeps going, all the way to the next summit. Until that habit has become an integral part of our daily life. Until we no longer lament the inability to make lasting, positive change. But instead, get excited for the next challenge to conquer.

Join us over in the Dad Level: Viking Facebook group to keep up with the challenge and learn from other men who are doing what needs to be done to become better.

Stop blaming and start doing.  Get some.

Week 1 Results – The Fruit of No Fruit

Week 1 for my weight loss challenge was a success. 8.6 lbs lost in week 1. I had a lot of good wins, a few good losses, and a refined idea of how I will improve in Week 2.

What are you guys doing to get better this week?

I cut wa back on carbs, for one, but other than that, I really didn’t do anything too hard core.  I just counted my calories, and made sure that even if I did have a small cup of cie cream, I was still below my self-imposed daily limit.

Week 1 = 7 Days, 7 Wins (100% stuck to my goal)

I had some good improvements, and some not so good actions.

Week 0 vs Week 1_Results
Week 1 AAR
Starting Weight: 337.0 lbs
Week 1 End Weight: 328.4 lbs
Week 1 Weight Loss: 8.6 lbs
Total Calories Allowed: 15,190
Total Calories Consumed: 12,352
Calories Below Limit: 2,838
Calories Burned By Exercise: 89
Calories For Maintenance (3,170 per day): 22,190
Calories Below Maintenance: 9,538
Week 2 Daily Calories Limit: 2,084
What did I get done this week?
* I lost 8.6 lbs, which is 2.55% of my starting weight.
What didn’t I get done this week?
* I was aiming for 10 lbs. I thought I was on track, but didn’t quite make it.
What did I do well?
* I hit my challenge goal of staying below 2,170 daily calories, 7 days in a row. That was a 100% success.
What didn’t I do well?
* I didn’t eat very clean. While I stayed below calorie levels, some of that food was definitely not something that someone who is aiming for fat loss, SHOULD be eating.
* I did not get nearly enough exercise in.
What will I do better this week?
* I will eat more clean, adding more vegetables and fruits, while paying more attention to my macros (especially protein intake).
* I will start a weight training program this week, and return to rowing. I will also aim to get a minimum of 15 miles per week in from rucking.

Start and Stop – The Way To Get Nowhere


That is what I feel every morning I wake up and step onto the scale.

I have been failing in my….attempt, to lose weight.  I hesitate to use the word “attempt”, because I don’t know if what I have and have not been doing, meets the definition of the word.

I am currently at 337.0 lbs, as of 7:00 AM this morning.  40 years old, and 337.

That is not acceptable, not for the life I am working toward living.  At that weight, I won’t be much of a Viking Dad for my son.  At that weight, I will be lucky to even BE a Dad, for much longer.  I can’t change my age, but I CAN do something about the weight.  And I am.

Why now?

I am tired of not feeling full of energy.  Too fat to feel comfortable in most settings.  Dressing “comfortable”, aka slob style, because nice clothes don’t fit me properly.  Pools and beaches being my own personal hell, because I damn sure am not taking my shirt off in public.

Rock bottom for me was January of 2018, when I was at 371.  In 2018, I worked hard to make it all the way down to 318.  Then I stopped.  Got lazy.  Got passive.  Lost discipline.  Made it back up to 337, with each 5 lbs increment being my “will not pass this weight” point.

2019 has been the year of “going to”, so far.  I’m GOING TO lose the weight.  I’m GOING TO row 1,000 KMs, etc.  Still waiting for that time to come, which it never will, unless I make changes.

I am changing the nomenclature to “doing it”, now.  I have no choice.  I cannot falter.  I cannot regress.  I can only do it.

This is the end of my old story.

This is the start of my new story.

I am committing to sticking to my goal of caloric deficit, which will come through having a sane diet, and a commitment to exercise.

My current weight each day, multiplied by 10, will be my daily threshold to maintain my current weight, and measure my weight loss goals against.  I will aim for 1200 calories below that threshold, factoring in burned calories to the equation.

For example, today my threshold is 3,370 calories.  If I go for a ruck and burn 600 calories, that number goes up to 3,970 calories.  As long as I hit 1,200 calories below that number, which would be 2,770 calories, I hit my goal.  Calories will be tracked via MyFitnessPal, calories burned via apps on my phone (and calculations for exercise where an app doesn’t measure calories burned accurately, like with weight lifting).  Here’s the equation, for any math nerds who are interested:

337.0 X 10 = 3,370 calories
600 calories burned by rucking
3,370 + 600 = 3,970 calories
3,970 – 1,200 = 2,770 calories limit for the day

The penalty if I miss my goal, beyond remaining a fat fuck and scoring an ❌ for the day instead of a ✅, is 25 burpees, videoed, and shared for all to see.

I will post each morning, with the results of the previous day’s calorie count.  Video will come shortly thereafter, if I need to.  But I don’t plan on making many of those burpee videos.

I am allowing myself NO CHEAT DAYS.  If I decide to have a cheat meal, I will burn those excess calories off via exercise, or I will do the burpees.  Simple as that.

Thanks for those of you who are in this challenge with me, or those who follow along for accountability and/or encouragement.  I appreciate you.

Full disclaimer….I don’t know if this is necessarily the BEST way to lose weight and reach my goals…but it is the way I am committed to following, until I realize otherwise.  I have done some research on this, but I am NOT a doctor, so don’t take anything I say here as reason to follow.  Consult with your physician before starting any exercise or diet plan.

Here I am currently:

Starting Body Photo_5-24-19

Starting Weight Photo_5-24-19

400K To Prepare For May – Day 25 (April 29th, 2019) – The End

Well, we made it to the end, Day 25.  I knew that 400K steps in 25 days, was going to be difficult.  I slacked, myself, only completing a very tiny amount over halfway. That being said, we had a lot of really great performances, including 3 finishers who surpassed 400K steps!

All in all, I would say that the challenge in April was a success.  So, without further ado, I give you the final data for Day 25, and the overall challenge.

Total Steps for Day 25:  205,199

Total Steps Over 25 Days:  4,438,483

Participants for Day 25:  14

Day 25 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Leaders for Day 25 were:

1.  Jorel Gilbert –  Super impressive grit in this guy!

  • 25,255 steps on Day 25.
  • Exercise for Day 24:  Shadow Boxing

2.  Aaron Smischney – Finishing out STRONG!

  • 23,525 steps on Day 25.
  • Exercise for Day 25:  Weight Training

3.  Joe Aagard – Back in the top 3!

  • 22,430 steps on Day 25.
  • Exercise for Day 25:  Rucking Squats

The overall standings at the end of the Challenge, are below:

Day 25 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Overall Leaders After Day 25:

1.  Pramit Baul – In the overall lead for a VERY impressive 10 consecutive days!

  • 447,680 steps to close out

2.  Matthew Halk – Saved the best for last to break 400K!

  • 413,162 steps to close out

3.  Jorel Gilbert – My man made it VERY interesting at the wire, but couldn’t QUITE catch up to Matt.

  • 410,429 steps to close out

The remaining challengers finished with the following steps:

4th Place:  Ryan Gillett – 346,974 steps
5th Place:  John Winsborough – 334,717 steps
6th Place:  Aaron Smischney – 329,410 steps
7th Place:  Dustin Charbonnet – 320,702 steps
8th Place:  Nicolas Bean – 291,605 steps
9th Place:  Jeff Bennett – 263,741 steps
10th Place:  Joe Aagard – 254,770 steps
11th Place:  David Ford – 241,086 steps
12th Place:  Mike Denmon – 200,039 steps
13th Place:  Nick Martinson – 140,974 steps
14th Place:  Jim Mahan – 130,188 steps
15th Place:  James Patterson – 121,521 steps
16th Place:  David Yancey – 101,595 steps
17th Place:  Nick Hyllestad – 67,000 steps
18th Place:  Jarrett Harris – 22,890 steps





Our participation rage varied from day to day, and it was hard to keep a really accurate graph during the challenge, because people would sometimes post their steps a couple of days (sometimes weeks) late.

  • We averaged 14 participants per day
  • We had 18 total participants over the 25 days

Daily Challengers_400K To Prepare For May - Final_PhotoShop




Steps Per Day

The steps per day also seemed to vary, and not necessarily in accordance with reduced or increased participation counts, which was kind of strange.

  • Maximum daily step count of 230, 468 steps
  • Minimum daily step count of 140,012 steps
  • Average steps per day was 177,539 steps

Daily Steps_400K To Prepare For May - Final_PhotoShop




The Climb To 4 Million + Steps

The final numbers, while not quite as high as the 5 million steps I was HOPING for, 4 million steps in 25 days is still pretty impressive.  We definitely would have reached 5 million if we had went the full 30 days of April.  There’s always next time!

  • Total Steps:  4,438,483
  • Average Steps Per Challenger:  246,582
  • 400K Finishers:  3
  • Maximum Individual Steps For The Challenge:  447,680 steps (Pramit Baul)
  • Maximum Individual Steps For One Day:  32,918 steps (Aaron Smischney)


I will probably come up with more stats to share, but for now, my wife is looking at me with purpose, which means it is time to take our son for a walk.

The purpose of this challenge, was to get people moving AND exercising.  One thing that I didn’t really share in the daily updates, was the type of exercises that people were doing.  Anywhere from weight training, to bodyweight exercises, to building fence, boxing, and dancing.  I will probably share this in another post, when I have time to collate all of the data into something that seems interesting.

For now, I will go do what this challenge was intended to do.  I will get up, and get moving.

Thanks for following along!  And sincere thanks to everyone who put in the work on the daily to get their steps and exercise in, and make this challenge such a success.




400K To Prepare For May – Day 24 (April 28th, 2019)

Day 24 was a drop in steps, but still in the 6 figure range…so at least there is that.  I really thought that we would top 4 million steps on Day 24, but it looks like we will save the best for the last day.

We still only have one challenger at 400K, which is surprising, even though it was a bit of a stretch…I thought for sure Matt would close the distance to 400K on Day 24.  But there is always Day 25!

Here are the results from Day 24 of the 400K To Prepare For May Challenge:

Total Steps for Day 24:  104,428

Total Steps so far:  3,996,890

Participants for Day 24:  8

Day 24 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Leaders for Day 24 were:

1.  Jorel Gilbert –  The man won’t quit!

  • 18,635 steps on Day 24.
  • Exercise for Day 24:  Cycling

2.  Matthew Halk – Painfully close to 400K, but not quite over the top yet!

  • 16,015 steps on Day 24.
  • Exercise for Day 24:  Abs

3.  Pramit Baul – Cruise mode, engaged!

  • 15,330 steps on Day 24.
  • Exercise for Day 24:  No exercise

The overall standings so far, are below:

Day 24 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Overall Leaders After Day 24:

1.  Pramit Baul – Still steppin’!

  • 428,345 steps so far

2.  Matthew Halk – Almost to 400K!

  • 396,187 steps so far

3.  Jorel Gilbert – Closed the gap to 2nd place a bit…will he make a charge?

  • 385,174 steps so far

I fully expect 3 400K finishers by the end of tomorrow.  Time will be the judge!

400K To Prepare For May – Day 23 (April 27th, 2019)

Day 23 was our highest total day in almost a week!  Nice to see us all ending this thing VIKING STRONG!

Additionally, we have our first 400K finisher!  Pramit closed the day out at 413,015 steps, once again being the first to hit a new level.

Not to be outdone, Aaron had a huuuuuge day, setting a new single day record with 32,918 steps, while completing a GORUCK altitude challenge, to boot.  Out-freaking-standing!

Here are the results from Day 23 of the 400K To Prepare For May Challenge:

Total Steps for Day 23:  159,157

Total Steps so far:  3,892,462

Participants for Day 23:  10

Day 23 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Leaders for Day 23 were:

1.  Aaron Smischney –  Breaking records wherever he goes, even his own!

  • 32,918 steps on Day 23.
  • Exercise for Day 23:  GORUCK Altitude Challenge

2.  John Winsborough – Making another appearance on the leaderboard, all while lifting weights and clearing brush.

  • 21,345 steps on Day 23.
  • Exercise for Day 23:  Clearing brush

3.  Pramit Baul – Taking it easy on all of us with ONLY 20K steps on the day…

  • 20,466 steps on Day 23.
  • Exercise for Day 23:  No exercise

The overall standings so far, are below:

Day 23 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Overall Leaders After Day 23:

1.  Pramit Baul – First to 400K!!!  Congrats!

  • 413,015 steps so far

2.  Matthew Halk – Will Matt reach 400K in one more day??? (yep…still rhyming)

  • 380,172 steps so far

3.  Jorel Gilbert – Hanging tough in 3rd, and REFUSES to leave the leaderboard!

  • 366,539 steps so far

How many of us will break the 400K barrier?  My money is on 3….could I be proven wrong?

400K To Prepare For May – Day 22 (April 26th, 2019)

Day 22 was another day in the 120’s, which I will gladly accept!

Pramit draws tortuously close to the 400K steps, goal which is freakin’ fantastic!  He will be there tomorrow, for sure.  Who will follow him onto the 400K level?

Here are the results from Day 22 of the 400K To Prepare For May Challenge:

Total Steps for Day 22:  123,538

Total Steps so far:  3,733,305

Participants for Day 22:  10

Day 22 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Leaders for Day 22 were:

1.  Jorel Gilbert –  Taking a 1st place finish on his road to recovery!

  • 17,185 steps on Day 22.
  • Exercise for Day 22:  No Exercise

2.  Dustin Charbonnet – Back on the leaderboard!

  • 16,100 steps on Day 22.
  • Exercise for Day 22:  Body Weight Exercises

3.  Mike Denmon – How about that?!? I made the leaderboard!

  • 15,829 steps on Day 22.
  • Exercise for Day 22:  Burpees

The overall standings so far, are below:

Day 22 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Overall Leaders After Day 22:

1.  Pramit Baul – 400K ios but a whisper away…yeah, I rhymed on purpose.

  • 392,549 steps so far

2.  Matthew Halk – Fairly comfortable lead in 2nd place…but not TOO comfortable.

  • 364,651 steps so far

3.  Jorel Gilbert – Valiant comeback attempt in the works…can he get back into 2nd place?

  • 354,820 steps so far

Looking forward to the next barrier to be broken, 400K steps!

400K To Prepare For May – Day 21 (April 25th, 2019)

Empire crumbling….steps dwindling….hopes of reaching 4 million steps…dissipating.

If you or anyone you know would like to contribute to this great cause, please let me know…I would be happy to count your steps as well!  Share with all of your steps counting friends.  I am not picky.

Here are the standings after Day 21:

Day 21 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom


Overall standings so far:

Day 21 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom


Total steps walked at the end of Day 21:  3,539,100 steps.


400K To Prepare For May – Day 20 (April 24th, 2019)

If you have been keeping up with the challenge, you will notice a significant drop-off as of late.  Hoping we can all pick it up and make the end of the challenge a strong one, even if we don’t hit 4 million steps.

Here are the charts for Day 20:

Day 20 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom


Overall Leaders:


Day 20 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom


Steps walked after the end of Day 20:  3,449,508 steps.

400K To Prepare For May – Day 19 (April 23rd, 2019)

Life has been hectic lately, and I have let other things creep in that should not have.  Unfortunately, those new things have taken away some of my time to update the challenge for the month.  Fortunately, I have removed those items, and have removed that time loss.

All that being said, the next few days of updates will be sparse in details and commentary.  Hopefully I can amend at a future date…but probably won’t lol.

Without further ado, here are the graphs for April 23rd:

Day 19 Daily Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Day 19 Overall Leaders_ID_Logo_PS_Zoom

Steps walked at the end of Day 19:  3,339,636

4 million steps is going to be a stretch, unfortunately.