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Be a 2-Percenter

It's the best way to improve your health for the long-haul

Be a 2-Percenter

Happy New Year. Last week we covered how to determine if and when you should quit your New Year’s resolution. Learning to develop quitting as a skill, paradoxically, can get you ahead.

But now, let's tackle a more important question: How do we set goals that we don’t want to quit in the first place? And what kind of goals are most likely to lead to lasting change?

These questions are exactly why I started the 2-Percenter movement. It all started after I stumbled upon an alarming statistic while writing my bestselling book, The Comfort Crisis.

2: That’s the percentage of people who take the stairs when they also have the option of taking an escalator.

Once you see that, you can't unsee it. But the more I researched, the more I realized the figure applies far beyond the staircase. It turns out that only two percent of people will do the harder thing that has a greater long-term reward if there’s an easier option.

Be a 2-Percenter

Around the New Year, there’s a push for radical change. We make epic resolutions. We plan to hit the gym hard seven days a week, meditate for 40 minutes daily, never eat a carb again, and on and on. It sounds great in theory, but oversized aspirations that push you too far out of your comfort zone for too long don’t last.

I’m all for the occasional epic challenge. Case in point: Misogi. But every day shouldn't feel like a Misogi (or even close to it). They're a once-a-year test. Regularly challenging ourselves epically backfires.

So what should we do? More research shows that accumulating little moments where we embrace discomfort can have a larger impact on our health than heroic efforts. The 2 percent of people who take the stairs and apply the same logic throughout their lives are consistently healthier than the people who go all-in in short bursts.

2-Percent Here, There, and Everywhere

  • It applies to exercise. One study found that actions like taking the stairs or carrying groceries can be more powerful than our exercise routine. Little acts like that can burn an extra 800 calories across a day. That’s roughly equivalent to an 8-mile run. Even shifting and fidgeting while sitting can burn as many as 400 more calories a day compared to sitting stationary, according to research from the Mayo Clinic.
  • It applies to food. Estimates suggest that only 2 percent of people who lose weight in a year keep it off. The research shows that those 2-Percenters didn’t fall for heroic crash diets. They picked a sustainable way of eating, stuck to it despite occasional hunger, and found more productive ways of dealing with their cravings, like going for a walk.
  • It applies to mental health and productivity. Smartphones and computers are a quick fix for the discomfort of boredom or work stress. But they’re a key reason why America is experiencing a mental health and creativity crisis. Occasionally embracing boredom, although uncomfortable in the short term, has been shown to improve mental health, productivity, and creativity in the long run.
  • It applies to your physical health. Most people take pills or undergo procedures rather than putting in the work to fix the root of their problem. This happens with everything from heart disease to chronic pain. But these temporary fixes don’t often solve the underlying problem, which is not moving enough and overeating.
  • And more …

It’s essential to be a 2-Percenter now more than ever. We leaned even further into comfort and ease during the pandemic. Our new habits have stuck.

During the pandemic, activity levels plummeted by 25 percent. The average person ate more processed food and gained between 10 to 20 pounds. Rates of heart disease and diabetes spiked. We added another hour of screen time to our days. Anxiety and depression boomed 25 percent globally. Deaths from drinking jumped 25 percent, while drug overdose deaths reached the highest they’ve ever been, over 100,000.

So let’s do something about it. This month, I partnered with Huckberry, to bring their audience of adventurers a 2-Week 2-Percent Challenge. Try it if you're looking for a fun new way to roll into the New Year. If you've already taken my 5-Day 2-Percent Challenge, you may want to take it as a refresher.

Sign up, and you'll get eight emails. Each will teach you a new way to use the 2-Percenter concept to improve your life. Of course, every email will end with a challenge that pushes you (slightly) out of your comfort zone.

Click here to join the Huckberry 2-Percent Challenge.

2% Top Two

My two favorite things this week:

One: My New Year's Resolutions

Read them here.

Two: Rucking

I have rucked every single day of 2023. It bears repeating: rucking is the ultimate 2-Percenter exercise. It makes walking my dogs a little bit harder—but a lot more effective. I use a GORUCK Rucker 4.0 (link below) with a hip belt because I can loop the leash handles through the hip belt.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week,


Sponsored by GORUCK

When I decided to accept sponsorships for this newsletter, GORUCK was a natural fit. Not only is the company's story included in The Comfort Crisis, but I've been using GORUCK's gear since the brand was founded. Seriously. They've been around ~12 years and I still regularly use a pack of theirs that is 11 years old. Their gear is made in the USA by former Special Forces soldiers. They make my favorite rucking setup: A Rucker and Ruck Plate.