Urban Earth Mom
Eliminating chaos since 1989


Slim Down With Agile Project Management

Any time you set out to achieve a particular goal you are creating a project for yourself.  Whether you are running multi-million dollar corporate projects or small, personal ones the steps you take are the same. 

1.    Future state: Decide what you want the end situation to look like and why you want to reach that particular goal.

2.    Current state: Look at where you are now and why you don't like being where you are at.  It is important to establish an emotional connection to a goal to drive you forward to reaching it when the going gets tough.

3.    Gap: List out all the steps to get to the end state

4.    Action: Start doing them.

In the corporate world agile project management is all the rage and rightly so because it saves a ton of time and money when done properly.  Ahh, you say and there is the catch "when done properly". But here's the truth, if you are a working mom, trying to de-stress her life or a small or micro business trying to build up you are in a better position to do agile projects than most big corporations.  Why? Because agile project management is supposed to be fast, and well, agile meaning able to move in different directions quickly and easily.  

Most big companies mire down agile in layer upon layer of rules and reporting requirements they call methodology.  Imposing rigid, complex methodologies stifles creativity and adds cost without bringing any benefit. What you end up with is an expensive solution that doesn't really help the meet the goal the project was supposed to achieve.  If you are not weighed down by such restrictions you're in a better place to reach your goals.

How does this method of running projects work?

You follow the first two steps to decide on the future state and then see where you are at currently.  But here is where agile differs from 'normal' (AKA waterfall) project management.  Instead of listing out all the tasks needed to close the gap in one big list and then doing them in sequence, the project is broken out into pieces called sprints.  Each sprint only lasts a couple of weeks and at the end of each sprint you assess how that piece went and look at the rest of the project to see if any changes need to be made.  

What does that look like in real like?

I've recently been using this method to lose weight.  I created a  16-week plan which can be extended if I don't reach my goal within that time period.  Running in two-week sprints. 

Future state -- lose 40 lbs. and feel a lot healthier.  Looking fabulous with my new slim bod will be a bonus 

Establish an emotional connection
•    I want to kick Lyme 100%
•    I want to be healthy long into old age
•    I want to look good while I age

Current state -- I am 40 pounds overweight, I am still feeling the effects of Lyme disease that I contracted 3 or 4 years ago.  I have also had 'asthma' my whole life but I am learning that may be due to yeast and not really a lung problem (in my particular case. I'm not saying that all asthma is caused by yeast but mine has been weird from the start, but that's a whole other story!). I am tired of being tired.

Gap -- I have some habits that frequently derail me from diets so I need to change them for something healthier that will encourage me forward.
Once I have those dealt with I can focus on temporarily on creating a calorie deficit to shed the excess pounds.  

Here is my agile plan:
Sprint 1: Stop drinking wine after work >>  walk and yoga instead. This puts wine back in the special occasion/party food category where it belongs. 

Sprint 2: Stop making poor snack choices >>  Make better snack choices. Lots more veggies. This will help use up the CSA box vegetables too. 

Sprint 3: Breakfast challenges >>  eat the same thing every day except special occasions. This will take away the temptation to go eat something that moves me away from my goal instead of towards it because there will be no daily decision making to do. 

Sprint 4: Meal planning:  My challenge with meal planning is that I get bored with meal planning so I need to mix it up and chose different methods to suit my mood.  I can, however, stick to one method for a month.
So I will come up with a list of the different ways I can put structure around putting food on the table.  Put together all the details around how each one will work.  Once I have the information together I can pick the ‘method of the month’ and go do it. 
My choices include:
•    Buy a meal plan
•    Create my own meal plan
•    Sign up for meal kit delivery (Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Sun basket etc.)
•    Pick one of my many cookbooks and cook from it for the month. This is the option I am choosing first. 

Caveat with any method chosen will be that I have to use ALL of the ingredients that come in the CSA box I get every week. The CSA box will last until Thanksgiving and I don't have a big freezer or the time to can a lot of produce right now so using up the veg will be a priority each week for me.  

Sprint 4 is where I will come up with ways to trim calories from my food without losing flavor.  Some that I can think of right now are:
•    When sautéing use water or broth instead of oil
•    Use more non-starchy vegetables than starchy ones or grains to lower the calories but still have filling meals

At the end of every two-week sprint there is a day or two to celebrate the successful impact I have had on my eating habits and to plan the next sprint.  Bonus is it doesn’t feel like a diet because it isn’t one. It’s a way to change my behavior forever and this is how I am told you lose weight and keep it off forever.  If I feel the need to diet for a short time though I can always slot in a two-week sprint at any time.  

That’s the beauty of agile, you can change direction at the end of two weeks instead of committing yourself to a year of work before any real results will be seen.

Sarah MooreComment