I’ve always thought of myself as healthy. Annual doctor visits praised me for staying in above average health as I entered mid-life. Sometimes I even strutted out the doctor’s office with Staying Alive playing in my head.
Life was good…for a while.
As a technology engineer, I worked rotating shifts of 12 hours. Most of the time the job required me to sit all day at arm’s reach of a small buffet of muffins, donuts, and soft drinks. It was difficult to say no to the indulgence. Especially, since the baked products were all given with love from the team’s spouses. Ok, Ok, they were delicious too.
Additionally, I kept artisanal chocolates in my filing cabinet, along with the “emergency” Ring Dings and Yodels for those stressful or boring moments.
I was aware of my snacking. I thought I’d burn off the calories during my weekly exercise routine. Unfortunately, the rotating shifts, sugar crashes, and coffee crashes kept me tired — as in jetlag tired — causing many missed gym sessions.
I still remember the day my wife went to hug me and said, “I can’t wrap my arms all the way around you anymore, your belly’s getting in my way.” We laughed it off because, hey, most guys my age, in America, have a belly. It’s part of the midlife look — like the guys on TV.
Then, It Happened…And I Freaked
I began to develop midlife health problems you hear older, sick people get — fatty liver, elevated blood sugar (pre-diabetes), insulin resistance, and a few others. In a well-practiced, relaxed voice, the first doctor who gave me this news told me to exercise, eat better, blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t understand the rest of his recommendations because of the yelling in my head — WHAT?!!!! ME?!!! NO WAY!!! I’M A HEALTHY GUY!!!
I thought deeply about my health and my future.
Then, I put on my War Face and decided to do what I do in times of confusion and loss of direction — research the fuck out of this and build an attack strategy.
Help is Near
To my surprise, I came across online leaders in the new health movements sweeping the modern world. People like YouTube’s Dr. Eric Berg, Thomas DeLauer, Jeff Cavliere, Jeremy Ethier, Dr. Peter Attia, and the scores of medical specialists who rose from the red dot carpet of TED Talks and online lectures.
Many of these pioneers are well respected and passionate authorities in medicine. They lecture on traditional Western medicine failing people, including themselves, the doctors. They’ve gone as far as saying many of today’s medical practitioners are making people worse.
I’m often surprised by all the new health data contradicting decades of recommendations. One example is the recent media on Dr. Ancel Keys and his controversial role in pushing the low-fat eating plan into the American diet.
My own quest led me to experiment with the Paleo and Keto diets, and an exercise program of resistance training and cardio. To my shocking surprise, my plan worked. I lost 27lbs (12.24kgms) in under 6 months. This equates to about a pound per week.
Then, one afternoon I pondered two important questions, “Is this a trendy diet or will I change my life for the better?” I chose to change my life. The next question was, “Do I want to live forever?” Well, that may be impossible, at least for now. Then, what I want, is to live as healthy, strong, and disease free as possible.” Doesn’t everybody?
For the next 9 months, I continued to eat Paleo/Keto and worked out. It didn’t take long for me to reach intermittent periods of Ketosis through Fasting. Best of all, I fell in love with the feeling of being healthy and strong.
Oh, Sweet Success
The fatty liver problem has disappeared. Insulin and blood sugars are stable, although, I still get a little light headed every once in a while, from insulin resistance, when I have too many carbs. But life is much better. Gone are the pre-meal “Hangry” (angry when hungry), a source of arguments with my wife, and the post-meal brain fog.
The fact that I can Fast for many hours without feeling light-headed or hangry is a HUGE improvement.
To be frank I still love French pastries and other fine carbs and sugar products made by master chefs. But my indulgences are now infrequent, and I only buy the good pastries — paying close attention to how they affect me.
My wife helps too. She makes great chocolate fat bombs from good fats and no sugar, as part of our workout treats. Plus, her almond and coconut flour bread is superb.
Lifestyle Change, Lifestyle Change, Lifestyle Change
The two big question I get asked a lot is, “How did you do it and how are you keeping it up after a full year?” The first few times I answered with, “Um, well, I researched good diet and exercise plans and did the ones that suited me.” It sounded too elementary to me. What was I missing in providing a solid and helpful answer?
I later realized that the key to my success in staying healthy is the concept of preventing and reversing health issues through Lifestyle Change, and that diet, exercise, sleep, and stress interact with each other in the form of a balancing act.
After many Q&A sessions with friends, I’ve developed a two short lists of advice:
Quick fix for the beach season:
2. Work with a trainer or join a gym, and have a good time
Looking to improve their lives:
1. Must be willing to commit to a lifestyle change with the goal of staying strong and healthy into old age.
3. Work with a health and fitness trainer. At least until you feel comfortable to continue training yourself.
5. Tailor your lifestyle changes as needed, update your knowledge, and keep your routines interesting and enjoyable. You’re doing this for the rest of your life. Keep it interesting and fun.
One final mind blower. Do a YouTube search for “weight lifting 60 years old” and keep changing the numbers to 70, then 80. You may even come across the 95-year-old (You Go Dude!!). These folks helped change my life. Also, search the web for, “What happens in the first hour after drinking a coke.” This may change your life. It did for me.
I hope you found this insightful. I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. Please discuss any advice found here with your health practitioner before starting your own plan.
Thanks for reading.