The Weekly Retrospective

At the end of each week, you’ll complete a Weekly Check-In which is a parallel to a Scrum Team’s Sprint Review and Retrospective. In Scrum, these two events would be separate but since we’re a team of one we get to bend the rules a bit.

The Weekly Check-In is your opportunity to consistently assess if what you’re doing is working or if it isn’t. It pulls together what you accomplished during the week and gives you the opportunity to adjust for the coming week. While the Daily Check-In should only take a couple minutes, give yourself a bit more space to complete the Weekly Check-In. Don’t rush through it. 15-20 minutes should be sufficient.

 
 

Are We Done Yet?

A key piece of Scrum and Agile is agreeing what it means for a Task, Story, or Epic to be considered “done.” While we'll never be “done" since these are meant to be consistent behaviors, we do need to continue to move the needle forward and focus our practice on the next skill, habit, or behavior.

So, "done" doesn’t mean “stop,” it means “continue," it means to keep going, it means pass Go and collect your $200. It means we’re making progress.

We need to know when it makes sense for us to move on to the next thing.  How will we know when it’s time to move on to the next skill, habit, or behavior?  

There are a few ways to go about this.

First, you could simply time box it. This is one of the primary approaches we use when leveraging Precision Nutrition’s curriculum. We get as much practice in on a particular habit in two weeks and then it’s time to move on to the next one. Remember, we’re not stopping the prior habit, we’re just putting our focus and attention on the new one.

Second, you could use something like this as a template:

You’re “done” when you no longer have to consciously think about doing the skill, habit, or behavior the majority of the time.

We’re after consistency in everything that we do. When you’re first starting out, it’s going to take focus, effort, and energy to learn how to do something new otherwise your current automatic behaviors will naturally take over. But, we need to acknowledge that we can’t account for every single situation where you may want to use that SHB. Otherwise, we’ll never move on to anything else. That’s why, if we can do something without thinking the majority of the time, we’re focusing on proficiency and not perfection.

Note that for this approach you may find yourself on a particular habit a bit longer. If after 3-4 weeks you haven’t started working on your next SHB from your backlog, consider doing so.

Third, create a consistency metric that you include in your metric tracking and check-ins.

For example, if Eating Slowly is the focus, after two weeks what will the goal be? At least one meal a day? At least one meal every other day? Every meal?

Or if you’re food journalling, do you want to track four out of seven days per week?

If you’re on a fitness SHB, maybe you’re cool with getting to 2 days a week of resistance-focused training, and while you’re focusing on other things, you’ll continue to work toward that third day.

Each approach has its merits, and each approach is centered around helping you progress in a systematic, structured way. As always, pick the one that seems to resonate the most with you and try it. Like everything else, if it’s not working then let’s adjust or try something completely different.

 

Biofeedback

During your weekly check-in, you’ll capture some biofeedback information. You don’t have to do this each week, but your weekly check-in is when you’ll have the opportunity to do so.

Bio-Feedback provides us with something quantifiable. It's observational data gathering. It gives us a numeric way to help determine if we’re making the progress we want to make. It also helps us expand what it means to make progress. Maybe the scale hasn't moved in a couple weeks but for some reason you have had more energy than you've had in years. 

Go ahead and tell me THAT isn't progress. I'll wait ;-)

That said, do not live and die by your bio-feedback (e.g., the number on the scale). Just like everything else, bio-feedback provides insight as an assessment tool so that you can consider adjusting.

Remember that changes in your body take time as does the feedback it gives you.

Let’s talk about what bio-feedback we might want to capture.

There is no right and wrong to this piece. You’ll want to make sure the bio-feedback A. means something to you and B. you can consistently monitor. The latter is important because it might be tempting to want to include 10 bio-feedback items each day each week but that might become too much overhead.

Notice, too, how I’ve been using bio-feedback in its plural form. This is critical. Bio-feedback, in isolation, means little at all, especially when it comes to transforming our body, mind, and life. Nothing and I mean nothing, exists in isolation.

So, we’ll need to make sure we’re capturing a few different bio-feedback items. I recommend between three, and five but two is completely fine as is 6+. Anything more than one and I’m happy. Again, remember what I mentioned above about consistency. We need enough bio-feedback for it to mean something but not too much where we are unable to consistently track.

I’ve already included a couple of basic ones in your weekly check-in. How are you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally on a 1-10 all create a metric that we can track and use as feedback to adjust or stay the course? For example, if for three weeks straight you’ve marked something below a 6 or 7, it might be worthwhile to take a look at why and what we need to adjust.

Here are some you can consider capturing. Know, too, that after practicing a certain SHB, you may want to include a metric for that specifically. For example, you may want to wait until you’re focusing on sleep to add in a sleep metric. Completely fine. This is your life. The PFF is just a framework to help live it up.

Possible Biofeedback:

  • Bodyweight
  • Measurements
  • Progress Photos**
  • Sleep Duration
  • Sleep Quality
  • Hunger Levels
  • Energy Levels
  • Consistency Metrics
  • Training Volume (weights used x reps performed)
  • Portion Plan Adherence 

**A quick note on progress photos. If you have any body transformation goals at all, even in the slightest, take progress photos. Take a front, side, and back view photo (use a timer on your phone’s camera or have someone close to you do it) on day one and then at regular intervals throughout.

I've specifically included progress photos in the Weekly Check-In for that very reason.

Visual changes are often the most powerful. The numbers might not be changing like we want them to but something sure is. Often the only way to see this is through photos. Trust me when I say that the slight discomfort of taking the photos will be short lived and is easily outweighed by what you see over time. So be sure to wear something comfortable. Just because you've seen scantily clad before and after photos doesn't mean you have to bare it all. Wear a full ski suit if you have to. Just know that nobody has to ever see the photos but you.

Reprioritization And Refinement

It’s important to focus on what matters the most to you. But it’s also important to know that jumping around from this thing to that thing is always going to take you longer than sticking it out.

This is where many of have gotten tripped up in the past. We start out with a particular focus but get distracted by something flashy and new and then again by the next “miracle.” And then we wonder why we’re not making any progress in any direction. We’re figuratively and literally spinning and circles.

That doesn’t mean our priority won’t change; it just needs to be a conscious choice. Maybe after practicing a few Food-Focused SHBs, you no longer have the same aesthetic goals and want to put more attention to your Fitness-Focused performance goals. Or you’re starting to feel incredible and want to push that a bit more by emphasizing your Lifestyle-Focused optimization goals.

Whatever it is, it happens, and acknowledging this shift is something that is central to Agile and Scrum and is something I purposefully built into the Perfect Fitness Framework. Our lives are dynamic and changing, so our approach to our health should be too in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re starting over with each shift.

When we’re working with Precision Nutrition’s curriculum, we adjust this priority-shift with a focus-shift. If you want to focus more on your fitness goals, then we’ll focus more on the corresponding workouts and progress in that realm. If it’s Lifestyle-focused, then we’ll focus more on consistency with prior habits and some side challenges. If it’s Food-focused, then we’ll put as much energy and attention into our current SHB and the corresponding lessons.

With the Perfect Fitness Framework, you have a bit more flexibility in that you can physically adjust the order of your backlog. You can even reintroduce an SHB you previously practiced to put more focus on that again. The Big 15 List I gave you is just a starting point. If you want to move the 10th thing in the list up to number three, two, or one, do it. But make sure it aligns with what matters to you. 

Before making any changes, be sure to revisit your responses to where you want to go and why and make updates here as well if these have changed. If you still want the same thing, then you might not need to make any changes to your backlog.

One other important consideration when practicing your skills, habits, and behaviors is that these, too, may require some level of iteration. That is, the SHB itself may be too "macro" and we need to refine it by breaking it down into more manageable chunks.

For example, you might not be at a place to jump right into a 3 day a week training plan. You might need to go once or twice for a couple weeks before that third day really has a chance to stick. It's completely fine to build in some natural progressions.

Or, as you’re practicing eating slowly (consumption pace) you may need to look at eating slowly for one meal as a win for a week. Then the next week maybe this expands to two meals each day. Maybe it takes three or four weeks to be proficient in doing this at every meal.

Build these natural progressions into your timelines. Just because I recommend two-week iterations doesn’t mean that’s right for you. Certain SHBs maybe only require a week. This might just be your “show me” moment before moving on to the next. 

Others may take 3-4+ weeks for you to be proficient and call it “done.” 

There’s no right and wrong here. Don’t move on until you feel confident in your skill, habit, or behavior. There’s no rush. 

Evan CookComment