Julien comes to the Food Innovation Summer School by way of Sweden, where he is currently a fellow at the Karolinska Institutet, exploring innovation in the MedTech field. Originally from Montreal, Canada, Julien comes from a design practice and has taught and facilitated human-centered, interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, entrepreneurship and product management around the world. Since his background focuses a lot on health, we were curious to hear Julien’s approach to a healthy lifestyle, and how the Feat Summer Challenge keeps him motivated.
What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you?
It’s a good balance of food, physical activity, mental activity and of social activity.
And what are some things you do to keep a healthy lifestyle?
Now we get real! It’s completely on and off. I don’t think I eat completely healthily. I’m not very particular about what I eat. I don’t really keep track of what I eat and I don’t keep track of how much I walk. But I do road cycling for very, very long distances. Last summer I participated in an event which is 1,230 kilometers, continuous. I train for that. But still not in a super quantified way.
Have you ever used a wearable or fitness tracker?
I’ve used cycling GPS tracker that tracks things like your speed, heart rate, and location…but not so much to make sure I have enough physical activity every day. Even this kind of [long distance] cycling I do periodically. For example, for one year I’ll be super into it and then for a couple months not that much. I don’t really feel unhealthy when I’m off it.
Has the Feat Summer Challenge helped you get motivated again to engage in healthy habits?
There have been some elements of competition that are fun. I think at one point my team was leading, and then maybe even I might have been leading. That was kind of fun! When we were supposed to walk or take cars from the boat, we were trying to convince the other team not to walk by saying, “Oh wouldn’t it be nice in an air-conditioned car…but I’m gonna walk.” Things like that. The team aspect is interesting in this microcosm. We are looking for ways to socialize and teasing each other about competition is one way to do it.
But there are things that maybe I still would have done even if there wasn’t competition. For example [in Messina] there are hills, and Bianca and Leanne have found a way to get up to the hills. To me, that’s really aspirational. I want to get to the top of that hill by myself just for the view but as a side, I might kick some ___ compared to other teams if I do that, but it’s not the primary motivation.
How could food rewards get you more motivated to create healthy lifestyle habits?
Rewards have to show me something that I could adopt. I’m willing to learn about healthy foods, that’s one of the reasons I’m here, but I’m generally lazy. I’m all about spontaneity. For example, let’s say kombucha, I’ve had it four times in my life but it’s new enough. Imagine if I was offered a free or heavily discounted kombucha just 200 meters away from me because I achieved something, that would be a really awesome reward. I don’t think discovery really requires going that far.
How does your environment affect your food and exercise habits?
If you’re around people you’re going to eat differently maybe because other people have prepared the food. Or in a little community like this, I think it would I would be a lot more tempted to take turns sharing my own normal foods. Today is the French national day and I realize I want to take a turn preparing ratatouille or something, whereas I wouldn’t do that for myself otherwise.
The social aspect is also big because you motivate each other. Even with my roommate back in Stockholm we have been planning to motivate each other to be almost completely vegetarian. I think we might actually pull that off when things get more routine in the fall. It definitely encourages me to do things I wouldn’t do for myself. When I was living with my ex-girlfriend, she was working at a job far away and I was freelancing. I really liked that I could take the occasion to prepare food for the moment she came home because it would force me to disconnect my hands from the computer and do something completely different. So for me in terms of healthy lifestyle it was a super good occasion to do that, but again only because of other people.
What makes you pay attention to your healthy habits?
It’s interesting that this week we were talking about the awareness of what your body needs: when you need hydration and food and all those things. Before I started cycling I don’t think I was aware of that. Now I’m a lot more precisely aware. In the last couple of days, I’ve had dips in blood sugar which doesn’t usually happen. I knew coming here it was gonna take me a few days to figure out what my body is telling me, so I made a few mistakes. But now I’m able to tell when my body needs what.