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Sideshow: Project 50 Conclusion

Mar 15, 2022
The Project 50 Challenge Mitch started in January is over, and it didn't go as well as he had hoped. Mitch talks about how he did, if he plans to continue, and what he learned from the experience.

Episode Transcript

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Scot: Back in January, we talked about the Project 50 Challenge. Mitch decided he was going to take the challenge, and we're to a point now where 50 days has gone by. So we're going to find out how Mitch did.

This is the Sideshow edition of "Who Cares About Men's Health." My name is Scot Singpiel. I bring the BS to the festivities. The MD to counter my BS, Dr. Troy Madsen.

Troy: Hey, Scot. And I didn't tell you, I took on the 50 challenge too, the 50-day challenge, Project 50 Challenge, whatever we're calling it. Not to the extent that Mitch had discussed, but with some modifications.

Mitch: Oh, that's great.

Scot: And also on the show, of course, the guy we're going to be talking to about the Project 50 Challenge, Mitch.

Mitch: Hey.

Scot: I think the first thing we should do is just give a brief, 45-second summary of what this Project 50 Challenge was and why you decided you want to do it.

Mitch: So Project 50 was a challenge that was going around the internet in end of December, start of January. And it was seven habits that you committed to do for 50 straight days. And the idea was if you did these seven things, you would end up being a completely different person in 50 days and a healthier one as well.

Scot: All right. And what were the seven things? Can you summarize those?

Mitch: Yep. Seven things. One, wake up before 8 a.m. Two, create and do a morning routine. Three, exercise for one hour a day. Four, read 10 pages a day of something non-fiction. Number five, dedicate one hour towards a new skill. Six, follow a healthy diet for all 50 days. And seven, track your daily progress in a journal.

Scot: Okay. And we had an extensive conversation about each one of these things, the viability, would this be hard or easy, is this something that could happen. If you want to listen to that episode, it is the "Project 50 Challenge." It was out on January 11th. I believe it was Episode 93. So you can check that out. We'll be here when you come back and we can find out is Mitch a different person after 50 days?

Troy, can you give me a drumroll, please?

Troy: "Brr." That's the best I've got.

Scot: Mitch, are you a different person 50 days later?

Mitch: No. But I've learned a lot about myself.

Troy: Good or bad things?

Scot: I would contend you are a different person, but maybe not because of the Project 50 Challenge.

Mitch: Sure.

Scot: All right. So you started it. You were pretty gung ho. Tell us what happened.

Mitch: So I was going along, and like we talked about in the previous episode, I was finding new ways to condense these things down and really integrate as much of these habits into my daily routine as possible. While it was difficult, it was not quite as difficult as I was expecting. It's a lot to manage, but you can fit it in here or there.

But about, I'd say, three weeks into the process, I got COVID. I got extraordinarily sick for about a week and a half. And not only that, I've had some lingering fatigue symptoms afterwards. And that kind of put a kibosh on the entire effort. Not only is momentum and motivation hard to do when you're sick, I was really sick and it was really hard to get back into it. So I kind of failed at the Project 50 Challenge.

Troy: I was going to say you did it at least part of that time, didn't you, Mitch?

Mitch: Yeah, about three weeks.

Troy: Three weeks. Project 21.

Scot: Yeah. I think we should have a discussion. Is Mitch a failure? I think that should be the . . .

Troy: No.

Scot: That should be the first topic of conversation.

Troy: He did it for 21 days. When I heard about the Project 50 Challenge, I thought, "This sounds incredibly difficult." So I think just to even have done that for 21 days or whatever exactly he did is quite an accomplishment in itself.

Mitch: Yes. And I did learn a lot, I think, about myself and my approach to the kinds of things that it was trying to accomplish.

Scot: So when you started out the Project 50 Challenge, you had the energy to do it. But then when you got better again, what was it that kept you from wanting to start it again after you had recovered from COVID? Or have you really not recovered all the way from COVID?

Mitch: Well, I am dealing with some fatigue symptoms afterwards. And it's something I'm going to my doctor for, but there are days that I am still completely wiped out. Whether it's long COVID or just lingering whatever, it's taken me quite a while to get back to being able to even work out 30 minutes a day.

And so that's been my trouble. Jumping from 30 minutes of exercise a day to an hour is a big step anyway, but getting all the way down to zero and trying to get back up to one hour when you're dealing with these lingering symptoms, it's been hard.

Troy: I can imagine. Yeah. That's a big setback. But again, I'm impressed. Number one, I was impressed that you wanted to do it. When you told us about it, I thought, "Wow, that's a lot to take on." And then number two that you did it for as long as you did, and it sounds like even now you're still at least bringing some of those things back into your routine. So I think that's great.

Scot: All right. Mitch, what lessons did you learn about yourself through the Project 50 Challenge even though you didn't make it to Day 50?

Mitch: Yeah. So one of the things that I've been really trying to focus on lately with my own health in relation to all of the Core Four is to stay curious about your health, and try things out, and not be angry with yourself if they don't work for you, finding that individual approach to things.

Now, while the seven steps that they were trying to do were pretty intense, I did find a couple of things that really were helpful to me and my mental health, my physical health, and they're things that I continue to do to this day.

Scot: All right. This is like panning for gold, Troy, right now. That's what we're doing. We were panning for gold nuggets that Mitch has to offer us.

Troy: Let's see what we can find here.

Scot: Yeah. I'm looking forward to this.

Mitch: So the big thing for me that I have adopted and absolutely love, especially in these weird trying times of unprecedented event after unprecedented event is the morning routine.

Now, I also found out that I am more of a night owl than a morning person and getting up super early and working out and trying to be creative was not for me. I'm just a drag. I just drag in the morning. I'm one of those people that I need that morning cup of coffee before I can be creative. And it's not until the evening that I actually get my most work done.

But the morning routine of not using your phone for that first hour, even if I'm not journaling, even if I'm not making a master list of what to do, but just not reading the news for an hour, not seeing what emails I have or pressing projects or drama from friends or text messages or anything, just an hour to start the day all to yourself has been really life-changing in the last couple of months.

It gives me an opportunity to talk with my partner and really have a connection there. It allows me to focus on . . . start the day with a big chunk of time that is not stressful in any way, shape, or form. And I found that it has completely changed the way I feel throughout the rest of the day.

Troy: And are you doing that . . . because you mentioned before also you were rolling out of bed right before you had to start work and that kind of thing. Are you finding that you're getting up fairly early, and then you've got that hour and a nice way to ease into the day?

Mitch: Yeah. And it gives me a little time to eat breakfast and get my mind straight. And especially when you don't have all the beeps and boops and the notifications and then doom scrolling or whatever, when none of that is happening and you can just have a breakfast and you can just get ready for the day and shower, even though I'm working from home, all those basic things, it's really, really nice. It's really, really good to start the day that way.

Scot: All right. What else did you learn from the experience?

Mitch: Well, the other one was a little surprising to me, and it's one that we don't necessarily talk too much here about here on "Who Cares About Men's Health." But it was actually Rules 4 and 5. It was read 10 pages a day and dedicate an hour towards a new skill.

And while doing that every single day can be really difficult and really time-consuming, I found myself filling my day with things that I really enjoyed doing and learning.

So there was an intellectual stimulation that came from reading something that was non-fiction. I found some really cool old history books that have been giving me some new perspective on world events these days. Read a couple of self-help books. Even just 10 pages a day, you can get through some of these shorter books in a week.

And when it comes to learning a new skill, finding even half an hour to unplug from everything else and play the guitar. I downloaded Rosetta Stone and tried to learn a bit of a new language. And I'm not going to say I'm fluent in any way, shape, or form, but that intellectual stimulation is exciting and it is something that I look forward to.

And especially after so much time during COVID that got "blah" and the days ran into one another, it's been really, really enjoyable to get curious about things that relax me and things that intellectually stimulate me through the day.

Troy: So what language have you been learning?

Mitch: I've been refreshing my old German skills.

Troy: That's great. So your new skills. Because that was a part of this that really intrigued me, was this idea of spending an hour a day on a new skill, which seems amazing, but that's a lot of time.

Mitch: I've been really surprised at how much . . . I was rusty at guitar and any time I'd pick it up, I'd be like, "Ugh, I'm not good anymore," and I would feel really defeated. But just this blocking out even a half hour to just noodle or learn a couple of chords of a song or something like that, just how much enjoyment I got out of that after years of not playing, it's been really, really cool.

And then the last one that I really found surprisingly helpful and surprisingly motivating was tracking your daily progress. Now, in the past when I've tried to lose weight in the past, it's been 100% on the scale. I step on the scale every day and I'm like, "Well, crap." I'm not losing as much weight as I would like or whatever. And that can be really discouraging.

But by tracking everything from "How many reps did I do? How many was I able to do before failure? How much weight did I do exercise to exercise?" journaling my thoughts, and things that I accomplished through the day, and new ideas that came from the reading, and just seeing every day the small, incremental changes that are happening in the positive way and being able to make a habit out of acknowledging those and writing them down and being able to look back at your progress is extraordinarily meaningful for me at least. And it really helped me stay motivated.

And even though I didn't complete the full 50 days, and even though I'm not doing all seven challenges every single day, and even though I'm not riggedy ripped like some of these Instagrammers who did it for 50 days and swear that that's all they did, I know that I made some progress in those three weeks and the week sets. I'm able to look at it and say, "You know what? That did work for me," or "You know what? That didn't work for me and I have this log of why."

And in the effort to stay curious, it's really, really helpful. It's that gold panning type thing that you were talking about, Scot. It's like unless you are taking the time to really track that kind of stuff, how do you know if you're actually succeeding or not? If you're just focusing on what you look like in the mirror or just focusing on your general feeling rather than the actual things that you're doing, how do you stay motivated? So it's been great. It's been absolutely great.

Troy: See, Mitch, I feel like you did Project 50 the way that seems a little more realistic for all of us. You gave it a good shot and you had a big setback, but you're still incorporating things. It may not be every aspect of it, but I think the way you've done it is a success.

You gave it a fair shot, and you've got a lot of things that you're continuing to do, and you found value in it. And in a lot of ways, it hasn't just changed your life because you said, "Oh, I did it." It's changed your life because you're now doing some of those things and carrying those forward into your routine.

Mitch: Yeah. Thank you.

Scot: All right. Well, we've concluded that Mitch is not a failure. So that's good.

Mitch: Yes.

Troy: You're not a failure, Mitch.

Scot: Go ahead and put that in your progress journal.

Mitch: Not a failure.

Troy: Not a failure according to Scot and Troy.

Scot: All right. So was there anything else that you wanted to hit about the Project 50 Challenge before we move over to Troy?

Mitch: No. I think we hit . . . Those were the three big things that I've been doing.

Scot: All right. I love your overall attitude about just being curious. Being curious, trying some stuff out, not judging it before you try it for a few days. Who knows? It might be something that really works for you.

Troy, how did you integrate Project 50 into your life?

Troy: Scot, again, like I said, when I heard about it from Mitch, I said, "This seems like a whole lot to take on." But I also was thinking very much about, "How can I consolidate this into one hour a day?" which I wasn't successful in doing, but trying to multitask.

But again, I think some of the things I really appreciate . . . I did focus more on that morning routine. And again, social media hasn't been such a big deal for me. Scrolling on my phone, not such a big deal, but just being a little more aware of that in my morning routine has been . . . I think just became a little more focused on, "Don't get on your phone, don't read the news, have that time to yourself." And then part of that morning routine has been going out for a run with my dog, which I always enjoy.

The one piece of it that was very intimidating to me is this idea, and we talked about it originally, of spending an hour a day on a new skill. And from the start, I just said, "I am not going to do that. I just can't find the time for that." So my modification for that was very similar to Mitch's. It's so cool to hear what you did, Mitch. I used to play the piano a lot, and I really enjoyed playing the piano. And I've got a piano in my house, an electric piano that was a gift from my grandmother and my parents when I was in medical school. I used to play it all the time, and I really enjoyed it.

It just sat there, and I'll sit down here and there and play it, but I said, "You know what? I'm going to sit down every day and play at least one song. And if it's just one song, that's all I'm going to play." But then I found as I sat down, I would play a song and I'm like, "Ah, just having a good time." And I would open up a book of piano music and maybe play two or three songs or maybe more.

And that, to me, was I think the most rewarding thing to come out of this, to say, "I'm going to do it. I'm going to try to relearn a skill I had that's gotten kind of rusty." And I've just really enjoyed playing the piano every day. So I appreciate you for posing this to us and that's what I took from it.

Mitch: Oh, that's so cool because that was just it. For me, it was like the new skills were a little intimidating. I did work on a cookbook or whatever, but shifting to, "I know some of this. Let's get the rust off. I know I enjoyed this at one time. Let's try this out," it's been great. And I'm so glad to hear that you were doing it too.

Troy: Yeah, that's cool to hear you did it too, because I thought about it . . . I was going to learn breakdancing or relearn it from what I knew in my youth, but I decided I was never that good at breakdancing, but I was pretty good at the piano. So I picked it up again. It's been fun. It's been good.

Scot: I told you that I probably was not going to participate because I'm still in my graduate school. This will be my last semester and I just didn't think I'd be able to take additional things on, which I did not. However, what it did do is it did make me refocus some things that I had done before.

So I've had a morning routine for a long time and I'd gotten away from it. So I got back into my morning routine and I incorporated some physical therapy stretches in the morning.

Mitch, I'm like you. I need that cup of coffee to get going. But a lot of times if I just start my day with the stretches even before the coffee, if I do it while the water is heating up, that wakes me up. Just those gentle stretches and movements really wake me up. So I enjoy that because it makes me more alert.

And the other thing I just refocused was some basic stuff like making sure that I'm getting to bed at the time that I want to get to bed, making sure that I'm getting out of bed at the time I want to get out of bed. Not hitting the snooze.

So I didn't really add anything new, but I just refocused some stuff and it has paid dividends. So I have appreciated that. And I look forward to the chance to maybe learn a new hobby. I don't know what that would be, but anyway.

Troy: That's great. We can start to propose hobbies to you if you'd like, Scot. I was thinking magic. We talked a little bit about magic already. You could learn some magic.

Mitch: We're a drummer or a bassist away from having a band. The "Who Cares" band.

Troy: Any takers here, Scot? The "Who Cares" band.

Scot: "Who Cares About Men's Health" band. Is there anything else to talk about with the Project 50 Challenge, the recap, the conclusion?

Mitch: Well, one of the things I wanted to do is if you are stumbling upon this episode because you tried the Project 50 or you typed it in and you were like, "Oh, hey, there's someone who has tried it," maybe approach it in a way that isn't a succeed or a failure. And don't judge yourself compared to all the guys and gals who were on the internet showing all of their progress the whole time for social accolades and thumbs ups and likes and everything. Just try some things out for yourself and see what does and doesn't work.

Troy: So now, given that we've done this, does this make us influencers? I don't know.

Mitch: Yes, 100%

Troy: Cool. Putting it on my résumé.

Scot: Right now.

Troy: Right now. Internet influencer.

Scot: Well, Mitch, thank you very much for sharing your story about the Project 50 Challenge. That was fun. I enjoyed that.

If you have any comments or would like to contribute to the episode, if you did the Project 50 Challenge, would like to share your experience, you can do so. A lot of different ways you can get a hold of us, and Troy is going to fill you in as to what those are.

Troy: Yeah. You can find us on Facebook, You can email us, Website is Call our listener line, 601-55SCOPE.

We'd love to hear what you've done with the Project 50 Challenge if you've done it or if you're doing it now. And please tell us about that new skill because we're looking for recommendations for what Scot can now do. So let us know.

Scot: All right. Thanks for listening and thanks for caring about men's health.

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