Courtesy of Madefor
Courtesy of Madefor
Each month of Madefor focuses on one area of self-improvement at a time.
The brainchild of the founder of Toms and a former Navy SEAL, Madefor is a 10-month wellness program that focuses on building healthy habits. No app required.
Even in normal times, the modern world is stressful. It seems like there’s always an email to answer, a new social media platform to scroll through, or a news alert pinging your phone, tethering you to your screen. Add in a global pandemic and a seemingly endless lockdown keeping us all inside, it’s no surprise that mental health is declining while screen time increases.
But a new wellness company may help you with that. Blake Mycoskie, founder of the Toms shoe company, and Pat Dossett, a former Navy SEAL, launched Madefor in early March, mere days before coronavirus lockdowns went into effect across the country. The timing wasn’t intentional, but it is oddly perfect for a 10-month program that aims to improve your mental and physical wellness through analog practices aimed at building healthy habits.
Five years ago, Mycoskie stepped down as CEO of Toms and sold half of the shoe company he founded in 2006. Despite the company’s success, he was constantly stressed out, wasn’t present with his kids, and often found himself thinking, “I did it all and this is what I got?”
“I didn’t have the energy to make an impact in the world, if I wasn’t good myself,” Mycoskie said.
Once he stepped back from his company, he dove deep into the science of well-being to find the practices and habits that could make a demonstrative change in who he was. But the idea to share those practices with others didn’t come to fruition until Mycoskie and Dossett went on a surfing trip with their buddies a few years back. During the trip, Mycoskie asked his friends the question, “If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work anymore, what would you do?” Dossett’s answer essentially became the framework of Madefor and the two took it from there.
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Madefor aims to curate the things that make a difference in people's lives, Dossett says. They admit they’re not wellness or lifestyle gurus, but they built a team with deep domain expertise. With the help of leading neuroscientists and psychiatrists from top schools like Stanford and Harvard, as well as other scholars, physical therapists, and registered dietitians, the Madefor team developed a 10-month program that helps people “bring their best selves to the world.”
The program is based on neuroscience and around the idea of strengthening your neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to adapt. Neuroplasticity can be achieved two ways—via a short intense experience like a car accident or birth of a child, or small steps done with intention over time. Madefor relies on the latter to build 10 life-changing habits over 10 months.
“The science around behavioral change led to the fact that small steps done repeatedly over time is the only thing that leads to significant change,” Mycoskie says.
Each month, members receive a box dedicated to one of these 10 areas. Inside the box is a booklet that goes over the basics of the science behind the program, as well as a daily challenge to complete for 21 consecutive days (some months have shorter 4- to 5-day challenges). Each box also includes a physical tool—like a water bottle or set of stationery—designed to help you complete the challenge and form a new habit.
Unlike other self-improvement programs, there’s no corresponding app.
“Our program is analog first,” Dossett says, pointing out that it’s important to unplug from your devices to take small physical steps to improve your life offline.
The program doesn’t reveal the specific habit you’ll work on until the box arrives at your house each month, but Dossett and Mycoskie gave us a sneak peek of three areas of focus to give you an idea of what you can expect.
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If the idea of the program is to bring attention and awareness to a small thing, Dossett says the smallest thing we can get you to do is to drink water, which is why the first month focuses on hydration. The challenge for this month is to simply track how much water you drink and record how you feel at the end of each day in a journal. Easy, right? Dossett and Mycoskie say it’s 50 percent hydration and 50 percent attention. Instead of trying to drink a certain amount of water each day, this month is more about bringing awareness to how your actions make you feel.
Struggled with breathing exercises and meditation apps in the past? Don’t dismiss this month’s breathing challenge just yet.
“What I love about this month is it strips away all of the marketing and hype around breathwork and drills in on what’s really going on when you breathe,” Dossett says. “Turns out intentionally deploying our breath is one of the most powerful tools we possess to prime our body and mind for whatever situation we face. As a father to new twin girls, I lean on this tool often.”
Don’t expect a diet plan from the month that focuses on food and eating habits. Instead, Dossett and Mycoskie say that the fuel challenge will change your relationship with food and how you eat, without ever telling you what to eat.
The course is designed to be flexible for people with busy schedules and many responsibilities. Since each challenge is only 21 days long, it gives you a little wiggle room to start it when your time allows.
“Departing and returning is a natural part of the progress,” Dossett says. “Things that come up don’t have to take you entirely off course. The value in this program is the small steps we compel people to take over time.”
For example, even though my second box arrived more than a week ago, I haven’t found the time to start my May challenge just yet. But that’s OK—I only need 21 days to complete the tasks before the next box arrives for June, and I plan on following through. I’m already seeing results: After completing the “hydration” month, I found I have fewer headaches and less stress—a shocking accomplishment considering what we’re all experiencing right now.
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