The Worst Thing I Learned From a Healthy Month

I recently went through a month of being super healthy, and what I learned was not at all what I expected. I share this now as we wade through the holiday season of parties and end-of-the-year prep.

My wife and I have been married for 15 years. To take a moment to recognize that, we went to Scottsdale, Arizona, one of my favorite places in the U.S. and a spot she hadn’t visited in decades. (I’ll spare you the logistical gymnastics that made this getaway possible.)

The trip was fantastic. Sun. Cactus. Silence. Chilly evenings. Great food. One tarantula, no rattlesnakes. Did I mention the life-brightening sun???

We decided that part of the trip would be focused on wellness: to slough off the bad habits that had accumulated since the start of the pandemic. So, we picked a resort in a town improbably named Carefree and embraced its super-healthy ethos.

On the positive side, this meant a lot of walks in the desert, long nights of sleep, coffee for taste, and not as a way to get through the day. On the negative side, it meant no junk food, no processed foods, no energy drinks, drugs, or drinks.

Energy drinks and drugs are not our thing so that was a non-issue. I can easily pass on beer and cocktails. But open a bottle of red wine and I’m intrigued in the way I was as a teenager entering an independent bookstore: what knowledge and mysteries would this book – or, now, that slender bottle – hold?

But, if you’re going to go all in, you go all in. As Hunter S. Thompson said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Plus, I figured doing this “cleanse” – what an icky word – in the month before the holiday season would be good.

And it was.

Here’s the conundrum: Taking things out of my life to be healthier was so much easier than adding things in. No wine, no cheese, no chips at 11pm? No problem.

Regular exercise, in this distributed work environment, was doable: I could block it out midday, do a quick change, and be back to work.

But going to bed at 10pm and not midnight? That was a challenge.

What I learned the most in my month of health was how much I underestimated my need for sleep. I followed the plan and went from 5-6 hours a night to 8 hours a night, and it provided me incredible clarity.

But sleep remains the toughest thing to carryover from that month. I love it when I get it, but so many things I want to do – be a husband, a father, an entrepreneur building a community for Lead Dads as quickly as I can – crowd out sleep. If I could just stay up another hour…

I don’t have a solution. Just a wish for all of you this holiday season – that we get more sleep!