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On Health and Happiness

Published at 2018-01-30 00:00:00 -0800

I just turned 45 in October. Yay me.

For the last 3 or so years, I’ve been pretty much ignoring the health of my ruby projects and focusing on my health and happiness instead. Put in the most simple terms: It’s been wonderful. I’m less stressed. I’ve had more fun. I’ve completely revamped my diet and lost 60 pounds without compromising any of my weightlifting or cardio abilities (fwiw).

Let me back up…

The Fear Based Diet

Three years ago, a couple weeks before my birthday, I had a bit of a health scare. I collect a fair amount of personal health data and noticed an anomalous trend; one that I couldn’t explain given the season, or for any other reason I could dream up. After some research and self-experimentation, I wound up diagnosing myself with metabolic syndrome, which used to be known as pre-diabetes.

HealthEvent

Given my family history, this was a real possibility. I was legitimately scared.

After more research, I decided I needed to not half-ass this and I needed to change things seriously and I needed to do it now.

What confused me is that I have always eaten pretty “healthy”. I ate pretty much what we’ve been told to eat by “the establishment” since the early 80s. I hardly ever ate fast food. Never drank soda. I never really had a sweet-tooth. I even limited my salt intake all the way back to the 80s. I do admit that I eat out a lot, but other than portion control my meal selection would fall mostly into the “good” category.

Without going into too many details, what we know to be “healthy” is a lie. Keys’ Seven Countries Study is a lie. What we “know” to be healthy is a lie, whether that’s salt, butter, red meat, etc… It’s all a lie. Lucky for me, being my blog and all, I don’t need to prove any of this and I’m not trying to convince you. I’m already convinced. But this all starts to sound like conspiracy theory (because it is). Besides, everyone knows that waffle house causes heart attacks.

I’ve done the usual reduced calorie diets in the past and they’re horrible. You’re grumpy, constantly hungry (food-obsessed, really), and they just don’t work. What I didn’t know at the time is that now there’s science behind why that is. But I did know I didn’t want to do that again. It hadn’t worked in the past and it got me to where I was at the time, so why repeat that?

So, after some research, I switched to a ketogenic diet. Ketogenic diets reduce the amount of carbohydrate intake to a bare minimum. For the first year, I ate less than 25g of net carbs (carbs - insoluble fiber). I was very strict about recording what I ate and sticking to my macro-nutrient guidelines.

My body’s response to the dietary change was fast and extreme. Within a week my liver had adapted to the change and I was noticing it.

  • I was never hangry. In fact, I was rarely ever hungry at all. This reduced my caloric consumption w/o even thinking about it.
  • My eyesight dramatically changed (for the better) in the first month.
  • I was no longer sore or stiff in the morning.
  • I no longer had acid problems.
  • I lost about 60 pounds over the course of the first year.

And I got to eat all the steak, eggs, and bacon (and whisky!) I could want. Win win.

Back to Today

These days, my setup is a fair amount like Justin Searls. I eat one meal a day. I do intermittent fasting for 22-23 hours a day and eat within a window of 1-2 hours. The only real exception I make to this rule is the heavy cream I get in my espresso earlier in the day. Unlike Justin, I don’t run 3 miles every day; instead, I move unreasonable amounts of weights once a week. This works out well for me.

I still eat a ketogenic diet, but I don’t count calories anymore. That got me into a bit of trouble after the first strict year as my set point was apparently about 20 pounds up from where I was. I’ve since lost that and have been experimenting with extended fasting for diet and other health benefits… But that’s a blog post for another time.

I’ve also been spending the last year focusing on other things that bring me happiness, like learning pottery, and more socializing. This has been beyond valuable for me.

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