The “Fatty” Startup

Three years ago, I decided to invest in the most important startup that I have founded: “me”.

Weighting almost 300 lbs (135 kg) and with 11 months until my wedding, it was time to care about my health and prepare to have nice pictures in the most important day at my life.

So, why am I writing it on Linkedin instead on Facebook or Instagram, where I can share pictures about the before and after? It’s not about how much I lost, but HOW I did it and why I considered it one of my greatest achievements ever.

Just to put everyone in the same page: I had 11 months to lose 110 lbs (50 kg) and I was the kind of guy that didn’t have any discipline to make it happen. Almost everytime eating junk food, not respecting time for lunch, dinner, etc, etc.

So, how to give the first steps, also considering that I had just started my role as a Founder and CEO in a Rocket Internet venture, one of the most agressive investment funds? I know lots of stories of people there who gained lots of lbs, working heavily and with no time to even eat or exercise. In my case, also no surgery or medicines, I should lose weight just eating the right food! Very simple to solve it, just have discipline! Simple? Are you nuts?

No, no one is crazy here. And then I learned my first and probably the most important lesson on the “Fatty” Startup: (1) ALONE YOU WON’T ACHIEVE ANYTHING THAT YOU AIM, you need to have a team. My team was my fiancée (my wife today), who also needed to lose almost 80 lbs (36 kg), and doctors, family and friends that supported. But, with no doubt, my COO in this startup was her. Everyday, all my food schedule was ready, prepared, cooked, everything was in the right place and at the right time. Thanks, Paula!

Since we started, it wasn’t to hard to naturally learn the second great lesson, that is one of my mantras: (2) KPIs! I know that it again sounds crazy, but the scale was my best friend, which I “visited” every morning, my first daily activity. As a tech guy, I chose to have a Withings model, connected to my wifi network, syncing everytime I was weighting. It was really amazing to have all my data collected in real time in a cloud based mobile app, with amazing charts about my performance and knowing how I was performing and how many milestones I was achieving. Thanks, Withings, you are awesome!

“Nobody can do it for you, you have to do it yourself”

So, if I needed to lose 110 lbs in a little more than 330 days, it was almost 0,3 lb (0,14 kg) per day. Easy to do it, huh? Obviously not! In the beginning was a little easier, but after some months these numbers were expected to decrease a lot, as doctors mentioned. So, everyday, I needed to check my numbers and verify if I lost more or less this amount, and organize my strategies: if I was successful in a day, I should maintain the nice work for the next one. If not, I needed to be more strict with food and exercises. But, with no doubt, everyday checking the numbers made me more comfortable to know that I was in the right path. In my experience at Rocket Internet, I received one of the most valuable advices: “Know your numbers!”

And how to deal with meetings, lunchs, weddings, places where I couldn’t eat the right food? Very tough! Also, during the “development” of the “Fatty” Startup, I joined Zendesk as the Country Manager for Brazil. And then I ask you: how to deal with anxiety, in a new role in one of the most admired companies in the world, going to USA for 3 weeks, and still keep the good performance on my diet?

That time I failed. Three weeks just eating everything that I was not allowed to, going to happy hours, integrating with the team, eating all the food that was available at the amazing office in San Francisco. I couldn’t handle, and gained 22 lbs (1o kg) during these weeks. For your knowledge, at that time, 7 months after the kickoff and with 83 lbs already lost (38kg), I lost the traction and needed to move back, but learned the third important lesson for a startup: (3) NEVER LOWER YOUR HEAD! If you got some mistakes, lost the traction or did something bad, recover yourself and keep moving forward! It was easier that I could imagine, and less than 10 days after getting back to Brazil I was at the same weight that I left, and could continue to pursue my numbers.

And I did it! With one more trip to San Francisco during this period and again gaining some lbs and losing in a few days after getting back, at the exact day of my wedding the scale was showing 110 lbs (50 kg) less if compared when I started, and the final result was: 184 lbs (83,5 kg). Amazing! Mission accomplished! My startup “went public”!

The rest is just story, and these 3 lessons were just possible because of a 4th one, that was the “motor” of the others: (4) FOCUS! With no discipline to achieve the aimed goals and if you don’t have a “closing date”, you have great chances to procrastinate, fail and quit what you’re doing. I never thought about quitting because I knew where I needed to target. Focus on the numbers and move on, giving away everything that wasn’t necessary at that time.

“I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday”

Two years after, here I am! But, wait, I’m not so skinny as I was, I’m a little chubby again. I was recently “promoted” to the daddy level (Lara is only 3 weeks old), and again having the partnership of my wife (but this time gaining some weight — ok, for her it’s expected). Unfortunately I got some extra lbs when I needed to control myself!

And then I learned the 5th and last lesson of the “Fatty” Startup: (5) NEVER SETTLE! Your startup will have ups and downs, don’t think it’s time to rest. It’s never time to give the chance to lose everything that you built. It’s a building that is continually growing, with infinite floors. It’s your job to keep building it.

So, how will the story end? My new target is to get back to my “wedding numbers” for the 6-months party of my daughter. At about 55 lbs (25 kg), very likely to happen. Will I be succeeded?

Wait until June… :)

Want to see pictures of the before and after? Want to express your opinions or learn more how to deal with it? Leave your comments! Write to me!

My email is joao.oliverio@gmail.com or find me at Linkedin: http://linkedin.com/in/joaoluisoliverio

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