We’re strong believers in self experimentation as a way of continually improving ourselves. These experiments aren't just fun; but are the only way to build a truly custom-made lifestyle that’s optimized just for you and your goals. So, as a shot of inspiration we’ve created this list of 101 mini experiments to help build a stronger, healthier and happier you.
I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.
We've split the experiments into themes and you'll find a link at the end of the article to a self-experiment framework to start putting them into practice!
Getting Started Experiments
We’re big fans of clarity so these experiments are all about understanding your goals, maximizing your chances for success and planning for what’s to come.
#1 Before diving in, stop and breathe. Ask yourself “What is it I really want to achieve or change about myself?” This will be your guiding goal from which all other experiments should be designed to step towards.
#2 Create a (health and fitness) plan of attack.
#3 Make a pledge to transform yourself.
#5 Tell people what you’re going to do. Sharing your goals with others increases your changes of success with more accountability.
#6 Setup a body transformation competition with some friends or colleagues.
#7 Download the Fitstream Body Tracking app for free and immerse yourself in the community.
#9 Keep a health and fitness journal to explore your progress, learn more about yourself and start planning for the future.
#10 Write down your morning routine. What tweaks can you make to optimize the start to your day?
Food and Diet Experiments
Your diet is usually the best place to start to make dramatic improvements to your health. No one size fits all is particularly true when it comes to diet. Try iterating your way to good health, better mood, a lean body and more energy with these food experiments…
#11 Calculate your TDEE (Google will help you). This will tell you how many calories you should be taking in each day. Eat less to lose weight. Eat more to put weight on.
#12 Search Google for “Healthy Recipes” and cook something new.
#13 Ban any junk food for one month. You can’t out-train a bad diet.
#14 Keep a food journal for two weeks and track your eating and drinking habits. Track what you eat, the amount, timings and how you felt before and after (were you still hungry, full, stuffed), and any cravings. What did you learn? Are you taking in the right amount of calories? Drinking enough water? Too much alcohol?... get a good baseline and try to improve on it each day.
#15 Give up refined sugar for one month (the first two weeks will be hardest but it gets easier we promise!)
#16 Pick a fruit or vegetable you’ve not tried before. Buy it, cook it, and eat it. Try to cook with a different coloured vegetable each night of the week.
#17 Book a food allergy or food intolerance test.
#18 Plan and batch cook your meals for the week.
#19 Give up alcohol for one month… or if that’s not possible, choose more wisely (wine, beer, or spirits with club soda are a better choice than sweet drinks and cocktails).
#20 Drink two litres of water a day for a whole week.
#21 Cook up a batch of healthy snacks.
#22 Try cooking with a new herb or spice today (there’s life beyond salt and pepper!)
#23 Try an Alkalising Diet for one whole week (eating only alkalizing foods).
#24 Cut out caffeine for 10 days.
#25 Try a new protein. There’s more to meat than beef and chicken (maybe try a new seafood, or how about venison, duck, or bison).
#26 Fast for a day or for a week keep your eating into a 9 hour period each day only.
#27 Veggie day! For a single day, strip meat from your diet and only consume fruits and vegetables.
#28 Research a supplement you’ve not tried before that’s related to your goals.
#29 Eat no sugar or fruit before mid-day and see how your energy levels are affected (starting the day with sweet goods can start the craving cycle for the whole day, so keep it as a treat or dessert instead).
#30 Eat what fruit and vegetables are in season right now.
#31 Forget eating by the clock for the day and try timing your meals only when you’re really hungry!
#32 Have a "No Snack Week", where you eat only three meals for the day and nothing in-between.
#33 Stock a supply of “emergency food” for those times that you just can’t face cooking (some good options include; eggs, frozen vegetables, canned fish, nuts).
Exercise and Activity Experiments
Now it’s time to move. Devise a training regime that works for you and gives the best return on investment with our exercise experiments.
#34 Sprint! It’s much more effective than long distance running for fat loss and building lean muscle mass.
#35 Test your one-rep max deadlift, squat and bench press.
#36 Try a new rep scheme in your weight training that works for your goals.
#37 Plank - it’s a fundamental core building exercise with no crunching!
#38 Begin training for a freestanding handstand.
#39 Get out into the wilderness and organize trek or hike.
#40 Run on the beach.
#41 Do not rest until you’ve set a new PB (Personal Best) for an exercise that day.
#42 Find a pull-up bar and just hang, for a total of 3 minutes each day (as many sets as you need!).
#43 Sign-up for a mud run.
#44 Bike to work, class, or the local shop.
#45 Learn to dance.
#47 Aspire to join the 1000lbs club
#48 Try a new sport to you or sign-up to a CrossFit class - the sport of fitness.
#49 Swim. start with 12 sets of 2 lengths.
#50 Find a training partner.
#51 Create a Fitness Travel Pack - a small bag to throw in your luggage to help stay in shape on the road or in a hotel room.
#52 Create a home gym or training space.
Experiments for the Mind
Diet and exercise are common areas of focus for many people but the mind is often overlooked. Develop more focus, mental clarity and enhanced mindfulness with these experiments.
#53 Start a gratitude journal.
#54 How are you feeling? Write it down.
#56 Each morning, write down ten ideas a day about anything at all. They don't even have to be good. It can have an incredibly positive effect on your life (thanks to James Altucher for this idea).
#57 Give someone else a boost - browse our Livestream and congratulate someone on their progress or write a nice comment.
#58 Aim to move outside your comfort zone each day. This is where real growth and progress happens.
#59 Track your mood each morning, afternoon and evening, every day for a week.
#60 Run a “no complaint” experiment for 21 days. No complaining, gossiping, or negativity.
#61 Before going to sleep this evening write down three positive things that happened to you that day.
#62 Set yourself a goal and a deadline. Make a $50 pledge with a friend or family member that you'll achieve it.
#63 Write "no excuses" on the bathroom mirror.
#64 Watch Rocky (the movie! Or any other motivational classic in your collection).
#65 Today, choose to be the most positive person around.
#66 Write your eulogy and then live your life backward.
#67 Capture affirmations and recite them each day.
#68 Contact someone from your past who has positively impacted your life and thank them.
#69 Create a “Jar of Awesome” (a jar where you add a little note whenever you get excited). This is a great mood elevator and helps you to learn appreciation.
#70 Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed just pause and practice conscious breathing, with ten long, slow breaths.
#71 Play! Find time to disconnect and unwind by breaking away from your typical day and simply playing (whether that’s board games, computer games, sports or just chasing the kids around the garden, aim to do something fun).
Self-experiments are useful to learn about what works specifically for you but these experiments are focused on learning from others. Invest in yourself by taking the time to learn from people who’ve been there and done that...
#72 Take ten and read an article on something health and fitness related that you’ve wanted to explore for a while now (how about intermittent fasting, HIIT, Paleo, High-Bar Squats...)
#73 Browse some success stories online from people who’ve transformed their body (try searching for “weight loss inspiration” or “muscle building transformation”). What can you learn from their journey?
#74 Learn more about yourself with a DNA or a Genetic Test - companies like 23andMe will test and analyze your genetic profile.
#75 Browse the top health and fitness podcasts and subscribe to something new.
#76 Buy a new book from the top Health & Fitness Amazon list (and read it!). Be obsessed with learning.
#77 How high can you jump? Research how to jump higher.
#78 Research gut flora and make some tweaks to your diet based on findings (like eating something fermented)
Regular progress check-ins are essential to take a step back, look at your progress and reevaluate your actions.
#79 Reflect on your progress. Take a look at your starting photo and measurements from experiment 4! How far have you come and what did you learn?
#80 Complete a 60 Day Retrospective. What have you accomplished in the last 60 days? What are your current challenges? What will you accomplish in the next 60 days?
#81 Write a progress post about what you’ve achieved and learned. This is a great way to share your experiences and to help inspire others.
#82 Test your body fat % and record the results. Repeat every 3 months.
#83 Set yourself a milestone, a timeline, and a reward for hitting it.
#84 Write a letter to yourself ten years in the future. What’s your life like?
#85 Plan your workouts for the week. When, how and what will you train?
Rest, Relaxation and Recovery Experiments
To move forward, sometimes all it takes is a little downtime...
#86 Take a warm bath and relax. Even better, add Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes and soak (magnesium deficiency is a very common problem).
#87 Take a cold shower.
#88 Iron out those knots with some foam rolling or a light mobility session.
#89 Monitor your sleep patterns for a week (think about… how rested do you feel each morning? how many hours did you get each night? how easy is it to fall asleep?)
#90 Create three new playlists 1. Inspirational music 2. Chill out playlist 3. Workout music.
#91 Spend a full week getting at least 8 hours sleep a night.
#92 Book a monthly massage.
#93 Give someone a massage.
#94 Take a digital detox - spend six hours without anything that has a battery or power supply, or, at the very least, for two weeks, ban any devices with a screen one hour before going to sleep (it's proven to disrupt your sleep hormones).
#95 Book a trip to a spa.
Most of us spend a huge proportion of our time at work so this is a great place to focus on making our workplaces that little bit healthier.
#96 Build a standing workstation - too much sitting is killing you! There are cheaper versions now on the market and some great Ikea DIY guides on the internet.
#97 Add a plant to your desk or workspace. Adding plants to your life is proven to give a positive psychological boost.
#98 Sit up straight. Pay attention to your posture for the day.
#99 Set an activity alarm (every 30 minutes have your phone alert you to get up and move or do some quick exercises in the office)
#100 Buy a pedometer and track your steps each day for a month. Aim for 8000 steps before leaving work for the day.
#101 Create a healthy snack food tin for your office to stop you hitting the vending machines (try some nuts, seeds, dried fruit or boiled eggs).
That’s some list! We hope you’re feeling inspired. Even one or two of these experiments have the potential to change your life.
So, where do you go from here?
At the most basic level, running an experiment can be as simple as trying something and seeing how you feel, but by adding a little bit of structure to the process you can get more useful feedback and results. We’ve written this quick guide on how to run self-experiments with a simple framework -
The Self Experiment Framework
- Know what you want to achieve (your goals - this will help you pick which experiments are right for you).
- Plan how to get there (answer the how, what, when, where and why).
- Track your progress (capture your starting position and progress throughout).
- Some common items to track - weight, body fat %, energy levels, body photos, mood…
- Analyse your progress (pause and reflect on what’s changing).
- Adapt your plans.
Your willpower is a finite resource so try not to run too many experiments at any one time. This also helps you isolate the impact of your improvements to a specific experiments and doesn’t mix them up.
Fitness Journal Your Progress
Keeping a fitness journal is the best way to monitor your progress with these experiments, record your results and actually see the effect they have on your mind and body.
We’re working hard to build the best body tracking service available with a supportive, positive community behind it. Download the Fitstream App for free today and track your transformation.
Hopefully, by trying experiments like these you’ve learnt a little bit more about yourself, developed some healthy habits and are getting closer to your goals.
If you only aim to get 1% better everyday. It soon compounds over time into incredible transformations.