Greetings Everyone! I’d love to share with you some details about my recent health transformation! The other day I met with my new physician and gave him the abbreviated story of my recent diet changes and weight loss. So I figured while it is on my mind I can give you all the high level overview as well. I plan that this will be a multi-part story since it is not only a long story, but a story I plan on continuing to make changes and improvements on.
So here are the numbers. By December 2014 I was pushing over 250 lbs! This was a new high even for me, but I knew things were bad when I got fitted for a tux for my brother’s wedding in August 2014 and my waist size was 44 inches! That’s 6 inches larger than the pants size I typically wear of size 38, and I finally realized why I was in pain wearing my pants every day. In January 2015 my wife and I attended the Raw Food Institute where I lost 8 lbs during the week-long retreat, and much more by sustaining what I had learned from the program. When I got fitted for my tuxedo on February 1st, 2015 for a friend’s wedding I was size 40! Not bad for only 1 month of work. I returned again to volunteer at the Raw Food Institute in April, which further kickstarted my metabolism and weight loss. I realized that I had dropped so much weight I needed to get re-fitted for my friend’s wedding again, so on May 15th, 2015 I got re-measured for a size 37 waist! Not bad! Now (October 2015) I am maintaining my weight around 196 lbs and comfortably wear size 36 pants. Pretty good story overall.
One revelation that I want to share before I get started is this concept of having “good genes.” Until this year, I figured that genes are locked-in and completely dictate your body’s health and functions. If your genes make you disposed to obesity, asthma, allergies, diabetes, cancer, etc, then I figured it would be futile to try to avoid this by “living healthier”. However, I’ve proven to myself that I have a lot of control over my health, and that recent research in Epigenetics and the Gut Microbiome are reinforcing what I have been learning with my own body. This is very liberating knowledge, that I understand the effects of a slice of pizza vs a slice of quiche on my body!
In the spirit of practicing some Lean Techniques, I’ll be writing the rest of my story in the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle. I want to emphasize this mindset because as I explained in my last post on Setting Life to Hard Mode we need to create optional challenges for ourselves, and then keep iterating different solutions until we find one(s) that works. PDCA is a simplified way of taking action against a problem in a cyclical way.
Plan: Where do we want to go? How do we get there?
I have never worried about my weight. I was taught that a higher than normal mass was acceptable, as long as you are feeling good. In December 2014 I was not feeling good. I would wake up not feeling refreshed, I was dependent on coffee to keep me awake even though the coffee itself was giving me headaches and jitters, and my concentration and productivity were at a low. So really the plan was to improve my energy and overall wellbeing. The original plan was to attend the Raw Food Institute to try how a diet and lifestyle intervention would do.
Do: Complete the PDCA cycle on several different alternative solutions.
The Raw Food Institute not only gave us great results and knowledge about food and lifestyle, but it also sparked my interest to keep trying more improvements and see how they work. Here is a short list of the improvements that worked.
1. Raw Vegan Foods! Filled my diet with green veggies, sprouts, green juices, avocados, nuts, and fermented foods!
2. Bulletproof coffee: using the Bulletproof coffee beans with butter and coconut oil gives great quality coffee with no jitters or crash! Also keeps you full for a long time and kickstarts fat metabolism.
4. Meat from healthy & happy animals: preferably grass fed, local, pasture raised.
3. Yoga: great functional movement to build strength and reduce stress.
4. More high quality sleep! Key for stress reduction and repair.
Check: Review and analyze the changes and see what you have learned.
As I mentioned above I was looking to improve energy levels, make my pants fit better, and lose some weight. While energy is difficult to track, it was key to be mindful of the changes I was making and think about my mood, happiness, concentration, etc. I did take some Before and After photos to help keep me motivated and have a good benchmark to reference.
Act: Take action based on what you learned in the do step: If the change did not work, go through the cycle again with a different plan. If the change did work, update your standard procedures to reflect the new improved state.
The key to all of these changes is to make it sustainable. In many ways it was a long transition to get rid of old foods or a high cost to stock up on new foods. The secret for me has been to crowd out with good foods and make it as convenient as possible to make the right choices. After a while it becomes a habit. If I fall off the wagon for too long then I start to feel declines in energy and increases in weight that further incentivizes me to get back on track.
While change isn’t always the easiest thing to do, I like to think the long term benefits of these changes will save me a lot of trouble. And the incentive is the immediate results that I have seen and more importantly been sustaining. Even better is when you go to work and people compliment on how you look in your clean room suit! Let me tell you that you cannot hide your gut under one of those!
Now I am ever-vigilant to think about small ways to improve my health, evaluate them, learn from them, then modify or sustain my daily practice. In that spirit I am super excited for when I attend the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference next week as a culmination of what I have learned! Stay tuned for posts about my journey there!